I wrote about NDSU’s bias reporting system earlier this year and about how these kinds of systems are the newest way for colleges to infringe upon the free speech rights of college students and professors. These systems are making news right now as California Polytechnic Institute was going to implement a BIAS reporting incident in May, but after pressure from faculty and FIRE, they suspended the program and made a committment to protecting the free speech of their students and faculty.
FIRE commented on similar programs at the University of Minnesota Morris and the University of Minnesota Crookston and other public universities. NDSU has had a similar bias reporting system to that of Cal-Poly for the last couple of years, secretly hidden and buried on the NDSU website. Being bored today, I went perusing the NDSU webpages and stumbled upon one of the reports on the stats of the bias reporting system from the 2007-2008 school year.
The stats are surprising and disturbing in equal measure. Surprising was how few ‘incidents’ were reported during the school year. There were only 31 incidents mentioned in the report. Disturbing was that NDSU acted upon 26 of those incidents in closed door secret hearings and reprimands for ‘biased or hateful behavior. This proves that the bias system is beign used as a check on protected speech to chill and get rid of speech on campus the administrators of the program deem inappropriate.
Also disturbing was NDSU’s reach into off campus activity. While only one of the incidents was classified as off campus and I can not tell whether the incident was acted upon or not, this opens the door for NDSU to reach into the speech of students and faculty even when they are not on campus and in the privacy of their own home or internet domain. Such power is being abused at universities in Wisconsin and have met the full ire of FIRE and the news media. Campus administrators should not have the power to punish and investigate your speech off campus or on the internet, but increasingly they seem to be trying to.
Also disturbing was the classifications in the report. All but one of the classifications for bias, bigotry, and hate were protected speech. Verbal comments were the number one form of protected speech reported and thus also the most acted upon and punished. Biased posters were also a large proportion of complaints, as well as exclusion. This last category would be hilarious if it wasn’t so serious. Exclusion is now an actable offense at NDSU. If you don’t hang out with that inernational student you can be reported for bias and probably reprimanded or punished now. Hilariously disturbing.
This published report shows that NDSU is falling into the trap of political correctness and mandating behavior and attitudes on campus. This should worry everyone who attends NDSU since limits on free speech hurt everyone and lower the academic quality of this fine institution. Cal Poly’s illegal bias reporting system was effectively shut down, and two years of this crap at NDSU is more than enough.