3 Strikes and You’re Out - Disruptive Students to be Suspended, Expelled

3 Strikes and You’re Out - Disruptive Students to be Suspended, Expelled
Susan Dutca-Lovell

The University of Wisconsin may soon implement a policy that would suspend, and eventually expel, students who repeatedly disrupt campus speakers with opposing views. The policy also states that protests that disrupt the ability of others to listen or engage with free speech will not be allowed and "shall be subject to sanction."

On Friday, The University of Wisconsin's Board of Regents approved a 3-strike policy; students who are twice caught disrupting another person's free speech will be suspended for a minimum of one semester. Students who are disruptive for a third time will be expelled. The policy qualifies disruptive behavior as "violent or other disorderly misconduct that materially and substantially disrupts the free expression of others."

System President Ray Cross stated that, "Perhaps the most important thing we can do as a university is to teach students how to engage and listen to those with whom they differ...If we don't show students how to do this, who will?..." A similar policy already exists at the University of Virginia, where "any person who interrupts an invited speaker or event [is] requested to leave and removed if they refuse to leave or persist in interrupting any speaker or event." In 2016, University of Wisconsin-Madison students shouted down campus speaker Ben Shaprio, while also "trading obscene gestures." In the span of a few months, there have been violent protests at University of California-Berkeley's campus, and the school had to recently cancel an appearance by Milo Yiannopoulus.

Some critics believe this course of action will one "chill and suppress free speech on [this] campus and all campuses" or that the "policy doesn't clearly define what type of conduct is considered disruptive." In your opinion, should students be given warnings or punished for their disruptive or violent responses to campus speakers? Why or why not?

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