Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Speak Up for Free Speech at Universities Across America
Tuesday, November 2, 2021

 
I have spoken many times about the importance of our First Amendment freedom of speech.
 
Our commitment to the open discussion of ideas is one reason why America has been successful.
 
Unfortunately, it’s become increasingly difficult to have these conversations in our universities.
 
It seems like every week we hear new stories about speakers being shouted down or new limits on academic freedom.
 
That’s why alumni need to speak up.
 
Anyone who sees a radically different school than they graduated from needs to be willing to say so.
 
Today, I would like to highlight the work of organizations like the Alumni Free Speech Alliance.
 
This group was created by graduates of several colleges who noticed that their alma maters were becoming more hostile to freedom of speech.
 
The Alumni Free Speech Alliance partnered with organizations of alumni at each of their former colleges to pool their resources.
 
By working with those who support open discourse, they hope to make it easier to create these alumni groups at more colleges and grow the ones that exist.
 
They are right that alumni are often best suited to speak out about illiberalism on campus.
 
It is understandably hard for students and faculty to speak out about the atmosphere of intolerance they live and work in.
 
 But alumni can have an outsized voice.
 
This is one reason why I recently joined the Senate Campus Free Speech Caucus.
 
This caucus aims to bring together members who are interested in defending the rights of students on college campuses.
 
In addition, I was proud to co-sponsor the Campus Free Speech Resolution, which urges greater First Amendment protection at public universities.
 
Just as with private alumni, senators need to be willing to speak out and shine a light when students’ rights are being infringed.
 
I’ve heard countless examples of universities putting an emphasis on superficial definitions of diversity that focus only on physical characteristics.
 
The benefit of having people from different backgrounds is that they bring different viewpoints.
 
But that whole concept of diversity is turned on its head if only one point of view is ever allowed to be spoken.
 
Universities do a disservice to their students if they just tamp down any idea that their loudest activists disagree with.
 
Colleges should be a place of debate and discussion, not enforced intellectual rigidity.

Alumni need to be willing to speak out about these issues.