MCC affirms right to campus free speech

September 17, 2018

Free speech is welcomed at Mohave Community College’s four campuses.

The college’s board voted 4-1 Friday to revise its policies on freedom of expression to make it clear the college believes in promoting an exchange of ideas rather than shielding students and staff from ideas and speech that some may consider offensive.

Free speech on college campuses has been in the spotlight recently, as some colleges have canceled controversial speakers from appearing on campus due to complaints from the public.

According to Danette Bristle, Mohave Communtiy College’s accreditation liaison, a change in Arizona law now requires colleges and universities to adopt policies of free expression. Specifically, according to meeting documents from the college’s governing board, a policy that emphasizes that an academic institution promotes “the discovery and dissemination of knowledge, not shield individuals from unwelcome or deeply offensive ideas and opinions, and present opportunities for open dialogue within the parameters of the First Amendment.”

The college’s existing “demonstrations on campuses” policy was revised to reflect the new freedom of expression policy, which states:

“Mohave Community College ensures the fullest degree of intellectual freedom and free expression and the right to assemble peaceably as guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

It previously stated that “the college shall ensure that demonstrations on the campuses of the college do not threaten persons or property.”

Board documents state that changes it the college’s procedures were made over the summer to become compliant with the new law, however, the policy’s language had not been finalized until recently.

The board passed the measure Friday in a 4-1 vote, with Susan McAlpine dissenting. She did not respond to an inquiry Friday afternoon from Today’s News-Herald.

“I just want to say I appreciate everyone’s work on this policy, I know it’s been very difficult, I’ve spent several years mediating civil suits in justice court so I am addicted to details versus generalizations, but thank you all very much,” she said before the vote.

According to Jarman, McAlpine stated to him that she voted no on the measure because “it lacked some specifics I needed to be comfortable with it as presented.”

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