Biden administration shuts down Trump-era free speech hotline for victims of campus censorship

Biden administration shuts down Trump-era free speech hotline for victims of campus censorship
U.S. Department of Education

Free speech is not important to the Biden administration, so it shut down the campus free-speech hotline, and ignored the pleas for help of victims of campus censorship who had contacted the Education Department.

“The U.S. Department of Education shut down its “free speech hotline” without fanfare or public announcement in July 2021 after the communication channel received about two dozen complaints during its eight-month lifespan,” reports The College Fix.

Copies of the complaints were handed over late last month by the federal agency to The College Fix after the filing of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in June to gain access. In a statement Friday to The College Fix, the education department said the hotline became inactive as of July 30, 2021.

The hotline was an email address — It was created in December 2020, in the waning days of the Trump Administration. At the time, officials said the hotline would be monitored by the Education Department’s Office of the General Counsel. Initiated by outgoing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, it served as a method for students, professors and others to file complaints if they believed their First Amendment rights were violated on campus. Following the rollout, a department spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal that every complaint will be reviewed, and investigations opened “where it is appropriate to do so.”

In April 2021, three months into the administration of President Biden, the email account began issuing an auto-reply stating the account would soon become inactive and to address complaints to the Office for Civil Rights, according to the Education Department statement…In the spring of 2021, The College Fix requested all the complaints filed with the hotline between Dec. 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Subsequent inquiries to the department seeking compliance with the request were to no avail. The FOIA lawsuit was filed in June 2022 [by attorney Hans Bader on behalf of The College Fix].

On July 29, the Education Department released a 727-page document dump to The College Fix consisting of all the emailed complaints and supporting documentation the hotline received during its lifetime….The documents do not show federal employees responding to the complaints with an emailed response from the account….For instance, one person asked when the University of Virginia will be “held accountable” for the “harassment I endured that destroyed my career as a patent holding Phd.” Another complainant reported there is a “shutdown of speech and lack of Academic Freedom and persecution of conservatives at Texas State University.”….“We have no indication that the Department ever took any substantive action in response to any case submitted to its hotline,” [attorney Adam] Steinbaugh [of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education] said.

Steinbaugh said that when public universities “fail to adhere to their obligations under the First Amendment or when private institutions refuse to honor their promises of free expression, students and faculty have few ways to protect their rights. Lawsuits can be stressful and lengthy, accreditors are unlikely to intervene, and the court of public opinion is inherently hostile to unpopular speech.”

“The Department’s initiation of a program to help vindicate those rights was welcome and we’re disappointed that it was not continued or, to our knowledge, ever given the time to be fully meaningfully implemented,” he said.

More details at this link:

LU Staff

LU Staff

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