Multi-Forum Institutions, the Power of Platforms, and Disinviting Speakers from University Campuses

Public Affairs Quarterly 35 (2):94-118 (2021)
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Much attention has been devoted recently to cases where a controversial speaker is invited to speak on campus and subsequently some members of the university seek to have that speaker disinvited. Debates about such scenarios often blur together legal, normative, and empirical considerations. I seek to help clarify issues by separating key legal, normative, and empirical questions. Central to my examination is the idea of the university as a multi-forum institution—i.e. a complex public institution whose parts contain different types of forums. I conclude that it is sometimes legally and normatively permissible (1) for universities to disinvite speakers, and (2) for students to seek to get speakers they consider unacceptable disinvited. I also suggest that my arguments sometimes extent to shouting down speakers

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Mark Satta
Wayne State University


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