Hit & Run

Elizabeth Nolan Brown on the Latest Campus Assaults on Free Speech

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Ali Cohen/Twitter

"Free speech all the time. Not just when admin says when, where, what about," read one side of the neon-yellow sign fielded by Ali Cohen, an education major at Coastal Carolina University, during a recent campus rally.

Cohen is one of a handful of Coastal students facing disciplinary action for sidewalk chalk messages protesting racial injustice and the non-indictment of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Three of the students—those caught in the act—were handcuffed and detained by CCU police. The university said it will not be pursing criminal charges, but Cohen and her chalk co-conspirators have been charged with violations of the university's conduct code, including vandalism and "unauthorized usage/entry." 

The situation at Coastal echoes other recent conflicts between university administrations and student activists, notes Elizabeth Nolan Brown. Across the country, student activism has been on an upswing. But with it has come increased efforts to suppress speech and exert control from college adminstrators.