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Young America's Foundation launches Senate Campus Free Speech Caucus in collaboration with Senators Blackburn and Cotton

"A democracy that doesn't tolerate free speech will not remain a democracy for long," Senators Marsha Blackburn and Tom Cotton wrote.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Wednesday, Senators Marsha Blackburn and Tom Cotton and the Young America's Foundation (YAF) announced that they have partnered to create the Senate Campus Free Speech Caucus.

"The promise of American higher education has always been that it equips young people with the skills and the knowledge to be wise, productive members of society," wrote Cotton and Blackburn in an opinion piece for Fox News.

"Today, going to college is less promising and more perilous for the thousands of young people who head to campus and immediately encounter angry activists and administrators intent on stifling the speech of anyone who dares to question liberal orthodoxy," they wrote.

"Free speech is under relentless assault on campuses across the country. Professors and administrators have become almost uniformly liberal. This near-uniformity of belief has led to arrogant demands for conformity of belief," they continued, pointing to cases at Yale University and the University of Virginia School of Medicine in which students were punished and harassed for their speech on campus and in class.

Citing a recent survey conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, "60% of college students stated that they could not express their true opinions at school. Republican students were far more likely to self-censor than liberal students," the senators wrote.

The two senators wrote that campuses used to foster "free and open debate," but have become places where students are given safe spaces and are shielded from "difference, diversity of opinion, and dissent."

"This finding, which signals younger generations' willingness to view free speech as a conditional privilege, rather than a fundamental right, explains the rise of so-called 'shout down' or 'de-platforming' incidents, where students prevent someone from speaking by drowning them out with megaphones and disruptive behavior," they wrote.

"A democracy that doesn't tolerate free speech will not remain a democracy for long," they noted.

The two senators announced that they would be creating a new caucus in the senate that would fight to protect free speech on campuses. "This caucus, which already has the support of four of our Republican colleagues, will promote legislation to ensure that diverse viewpoints are respected and debated."

According to YAF, "The Senate Campus Free Speech Caucus will aim to drive legislation supporting students' First Amendment rights and educate other legislators about the clear bias against free speech on campuses across the country."

The organization stated that the caucus would meet monthly with YAF leadership and students to "learn about the latest attacks on free speech."

"Campus bias is a pivotal issue facing millions of students across the country. The creation of this caucus will ensure that free speech violations garner national attention through bicameral policy-making and robust discussion," wrote YAF.

The Senate caucus comes after the successful launch of a similar caucus in the House of Representatives, and will be announced alongside the introduction of Cotton's Campus Free Speech Restoration Act and Blackburn's Campus Free Speech Resolution of 2021 in the United States Senate.

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