Freedom Of Expression And The Code Of Conduct In University

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Private and public universities may seem different, but it is the same underlying Freedoms of Expression that continue to hold these two institutions at the same standards. The University of North Florida and the Catholic University of America are two universities who try to protect students’ expressions. The Catholic University of America is a private university located in Washington DC. This university is a nonprofit institution and is home to 3,200 students. It is a pontifical university of the Catholic Church in the United States. It is also the only institution of higher education that was founded by US Catholic Bishops. This school’s code of conduct goes into detail about its freedoms of expression and its academic freedom. The school censors speech that conflicts with their religious mission. This allows the school to have the freedom to decide the terms of their own communities. 

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The code of conduct uses the concept of ethos by implying that the school has the authority to enforce their own rules on the freedom of speech. The code of conduct goes on to describe a logos appeal of the procedure that will occur if someone says something negative in the eyes of the school. The Catholic University of America’s code of conduct goes on to affirm its commitment to academic freedom. Their main argument is their commitment to the tradition of higher learning. These are grounded on the respect for truth, social responsibility, and individual rights. The school encourages the freedom of open discussions and unrestricted exchange of ideas as an essential part to the pursuit of knowledge. In the “Soul of the First Amendment”, Abrams states, “All of these examples illustrate the degree to which the United States is an outlier in protecting speech that other democratic nations, in the service of other serious values, limit, punish or bar altogether. It is not that American law protects all speech of all people at all times.” 

Abrams goes into detail about how important free speech is, almost like it is a sacred human right, that the United States is an outlier in protecting speech. This is a positive addition because this allows for universities to take advantage of this and include it as one of their main points in their code of conduct. The president of the university, John Garvey, has been emphatic on the issue of free expression, stating that, “If a university doesn’t allow free inquiry, it won’t be able to teach students well or make progress in knowledge. You can’t have a university without freedom of speech.” This statement uses the concept of logos, to show that even the president, who is in the highest authority, encourages free speech. The university’s intentions are to place a particular set of moral philosophical and religious teachings about a commitment to free expression. Since the university is a private institution, it has every right to do so. The freedom to associate voluntarily with others around common goals or beliefs is an integral part of a pluralistic and free society. If the university states clearly and publicly that it values other commitments more highly than the freedom of expression, that institution has considerably more leeway in imposing its views on students, who have given their informed consent by choosing to attend that university. The school uses the pathos appeal in this section to try not to make the students feel uncomfortable. 

The University of North Florida is a public university located in Jacksonville, FL. This university is home to around 14,000 students. When it comes to the code of conduct of this university, it doesn’t emphasize much on the freedom of speech nor does it mention religion. The university uses the concept of logos in that it lays out the freedoms in the first paragraph of the code of conduct. The university supports and encourages full and open discourse of ideas and perspectives. The university’s use of pathos goes on to describe how individuals can express any ideas or opinions even if others may disagree with them or find them offensive. UNF’s code of conduct goes on to explain that they encourage this type of debate of divergent ideas because it helps people to develop the “intellectual skills necessary to argue through civil discourse.” The university uses the concept of ethos in that the institution has the right to restrict expression that is unlawful, such as true threats or defamation. In the section of the code of conduct labeled, “Freedom of expression in outdoor areas at UNF”, the university makes use of the pathos appeal. Stating that the personal freedoms, speech, expression and assembly are essential, and the university strives to protect them. They try to limit certain behaviors so that the recipient does not feel attacked. They also use this appeal to build rules inside of rules so that the university is not responsible if something wrong does happen. The University of North Florida and the Catholic University of America have the same underlying concepts of freedom of speech. Both Universities care about the student’s ability to express their views freely. They both follow Abrams ideas in that they encourage free speech. As he says in the “Soul of the First Amendment”, that the concept of the First Amendment would not be where it is today without the limitations that have been placed. Abrams gives the example of “a child whose religion forbade her from saluting the American flag could have been expelled from her public school for “insubordination” until she did so.” 

Without the concept of the first amendment, the child wouldn’t be able to not salute the flag. This is an example of how our freedom of expression would be attacked if this amendment wasn’t in place. Our expressions of being allowed to state our religion would not be at the standards and freedoms that it is at today. Universities see this ability to express one’s self as an important concept in a student’s mental growth. This is also openly expressed in the Catholic University of Americas’ presidents’ comment about free inquiry. It is also bluntly stated in UNF’s code of conduct. Although the only differing concept that I was able to find between the two was the concept of censor speech and religion. The University of North Florida does not mention restrictions of religion in the code of conduct. It only states that a student can freely express their beliefs. While at the Catholic University of America, students are allowed to express their religion but the university is allowed to censor speech that conflicts with their religious missions. The university has the capability of not allowing the student to attend their Institution. This concept is not fair because it directly interferes with the concept of the First Amendment. Although, some people believe that CUA’s code of conduct should be applied and enforced in this matter because why else would someone attend a Catholic University if they are not Catholic. I do not agree with this rule because what if a student attends a university as a catholic student, but then decides to change their religion. They should freely be able to express their feelings on this new religion that they have found. Students should also be able to freely express themselves because what if they have questions about Catholicism or if they question their own morals. 

The University of North Florida and Catholic University of America may seem different, but it is the same underlying Freedom of Expressions that continue to hold these two institutions at the same standards and allow for the students to express themselves in a protected manner. 

09 March 2021

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