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NY Post
New York Post
17 Feb 2024


NextImg:Universities using Israel-Hamas war as excuse to crack down on free speech, watchdog group finds

Universities are increasingly using the devastating war between Israel and Hamas as an excuse to curb free speech on campus, according to a watchdog group.

Free speech on campus declined in 2023 according to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

In their 2024 report, FIRE said 20% of schools had received a “red light” ranking indicating a university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.

Princeton has recently become a flash point for campus free expression, FIRE found. Richard Harbus
20% of schools had received a “red light” ranking indicating a university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech, the watchdog group’s report found. Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

A further 65% of schools had a “yellow light” ranking from FIRE, indicating “that an institution maintains policies that restrict a more limited amount of protected expression or that, by virtue of their vague wording, they could too easily be used to restrict protected expression.”

The real-world effects of free speech limitations have come into sharp focus since Hamas’ Oct 7 terrorist massacre in Israel which left at least 1,200 dead, according to a report from the Times of Israel.

Alexandra Orbuch, a Princeton student and editor of the conservative campus newspaper The Princeton Tory, said she received a “no-contact order” from campus officials after pro-Palestinian students complained about her reporting.

The directive, which functions as a kind of campus restraining order, is typically reserved for cases of alleged sexual harassment or assault.

Alexandra Orbuch, a Princeton conservative, said she had been targeted by speech restrictions. Alexandra Orbuc/Facebook
Protestors holding signs and flags in a New York City demonstration in solidarity with anti-Israel protesters near Columbia University. Getty Images

“Princeton has now demonstrated on multiple occasions that if journalists with heterodox views attempt to cover anti-Israel rallies, the administration will grant no-contact orders against them,” told the Israeli paper. “The effect is that reporters are not only prevented from reporting but are effectively banned from certain spaces on campus, under the threat of punishments up to expulsion.”

At the University of Texas, administrators removed a “spirit rock” where students could make statements, after officials decided the messages had become too inflammatory.

The university placed the rock with trees, the Texas Tribune reported.