UConn Students Fighting for Broader Free Speech Protections Face Backlash on Campus

Ella Lubell

Excerpt: "The University of Connecticut is permitted to, and will, limit expression in order to protect public safety and the rights of others," states the university's official policy regarding campus speech, adopted in 2017. "This includes expression that is defamatory, threatening, or invades individual privacy. Protected speech may also be reasonably regulated as to the time, place, and manner of the expression."

To Isadore Johnson, a rising senior at the University of Connecticut (UConn), this didn't sound like a very free speech–friendly policy at all. Johnson—a founder of UConn's Students for Liberty (SFL) chapter—delights in debating and befriending people he disagrees with across the political spectrum. He was determined to improve free speech rights on his campus, no matter the social cost. That commitment was put to the test after a statement he proposed to the student government to protect freedom of speech on campus created a storm of outrage from his peers.