The Contested Campus: Aligning Professional Values, Social Justice, and Free Speech

LaBanc et al. / NASPA / January 2020

Free speech and expression constitutes a cornerstone of higher education and the student experience. Issues of speech and expression, however, can result in tension and conflict on college and university campuses and beyond. A new era of student activism and protest—as well as concerns over controversial speakers—has only added to the challenges that higher education professionals face when navigating free speech matters on campus.

The Contested Campus combines consideration of contemporary legal issues and standards with the exercise of professional expertise and experience. Written for student affairs professionals of all levels and graduate students, this accessible and useful resource goes beyond discussion of legal compliance by bringing much-needed clarity and guidance on a wide array of complex campus free speech issues. Chapters feature proactive campus-based practices to consider as well as diverse voices and experiences to make the book directly relevant to practice. 

Alongside discussion of court cases, institutional policies and procedures, and examples drawn from practice, each chapter presents practitioner commentaries that elaborate upon the legal topics and themes covered, including:

Free speech and expression is debated almost daily in the media, online, and on college and university campuses. By framing and contextualizing issues of speech and expression as not singularly or primarily limited to legal analysis, The Contested Campus provides concrete guidance for professionals in navigating First Amendment concerns by balancing legal obligations, professional training, and institutional values.

Praise for The Contested Campus

“Having personally experienced managing an event in which a controversial speaker participated, I recommend The Contested Campus as a helpful resource for student affairs practitioners in responding to campus speech issues now or in the future. In particular, the proactive practices and practitioner reflections will be of great use for professionals in navigating campus free speech and expression.” —Walter Kimbrough, President, Dillard University

“This well-written book addresses the timeless topic of free speech on campus, demonstrating the complexities of the issues and the vital need to support students. A must-read for student affairs professionals to help us manage the social, legal, political and human aspects of these challenging situations.” —Lori Reesor, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, University of Wisconsin–Madison

The Contested Campus gets it right. The authors outline the legal framework for evaluating campus speech issues in clear, easy to understand language. But this book takes the practitioner beyond the First Amendment and other legal issues, recognizing that speech that is legally protected may nonetheless be harmful and threaten other university values and commitments. This is a must-read for student affairs professionals.” —Lee Tyner, General Counsel, Texas Christian University

Paperback | 2020 | 228 pages
ISBN: 978-1-948213-15-8