Fighting for free speech on campus

By: William R. Toler - Daily Journal Editor

I never made it to a four-year college.

For the most part, I never really wanted to — although I had considered it several times. After spending six years at Craven Community College, however, I figured that was enough schooling.

It was in those years that I became a staunch believer in liberty, thanks, in part, to former Daily Journal editor Corey Friedman and former CCC President Scott Ralls.

Working with Friedman on the Campus Communicator, the monthly student publication at the college, we became embroiled in several attempts at censorship by the administration for things that wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow on a university campus.

After reading “The Shadow University,” written by Harvey Silverglate and Alan Charles Kors, founders of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and watching the documentary “Indoctrinate U,” which highlighted cases of censorship from the campus Left, I kinda wanted to go back to school — just to raise hell.

In 2011, I took one class (which I aced) just so I could be a student and distribute a pamphlet I had developed: “Craven Communist College and Its Not-So-Good Track Record With the First Amendment.” It contained brief descriptions of the issues with the paper, as well as a paragraph on the college taking down a car hood painted by the automotive students just because it featured a caricature of the instructor with a cigar, allegedly violating the college’s tobacco-free policy. It also listed the college’s lowered rating by FIRE for its speech codes.

I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed I didn’t get in any trouble over that — especially since I violated the student code of conduct by doing so. I was hoping for at least a little bit of a fight.

Hopefully, future students won’t have to fight so hard for freedom of expression in the “marketplace of ideas.”

William R. Toler is editor of the Richmond County Daily Journal.

William R. Toler

Daily Journal Editor