State legislature launches investigation at Arizona State for alleged free speech suppression
July 21, 2023
If professors told students during class they should avoid an upcoming campus event featuring “white nationalist provocateurs,” drew national attention to the event, then protested at the venue entrance, would students at the mercy of their grading feel unconstitutionally chilled from attending the event or expressing agreement with the speakers?
The tensions between faculty and student speech was the subject of a hearing Tuesday of the Arizona Legislature’s four-day-old Joint Legislative Ad Hoc Committee on Freedom of Expression at Arizona’s Public Universities, whose members didn’t all know each other yet.
The hearing was prompted by Arizona State University’s decision to shutter the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development in its Barrett Honors College after benefactor Tom Lewis yanked the grant that funds 40% of the center to protest the “alarming and outright hostility” of Barrett faculty and administration toward speakers at its Feb. 8 “health, wealth and happiness” event.
ASU resisted pressure to cancel the event with conservative pundits and faculty-dubbed “purveyors of hate” Dennis Prager and Charlie Kirk, cardiologist Radha Gopalan and “Rich Dad Poor Dad” author Robert Kiyosaki, which officially drew about 600 paid attendees – students got in free – and 25,000 online.