Regulating Campus Hate Speech: Is It Constitutional?

Every year between 800,000 and one million American college students are victims of ethnoviolence. These incidents take the form of racist slurs and posters, racial harassment, and alleged racial intimidation; anti-Semitic remarks, graffiti, and posters; and harassment and threatening statements toward lesbians and gays. However, free speech issues have often overwhelmed the problem of ethnoviolence on our college and university campuses. In formulating policy, university administrators and legal counsel are now considering free speech issues as much, if not more, than the race conflict issue itself. The problem is that focusing exclusively on First Amendment concerns reflects not minority concerns, but the prejudicial priorities of some members of the dominant social order. Our universities as well as our culture must confront the dilemma presented by the extent to which free speech or racial conflict should be given priority.