TCU Daily Skiff Wednesday, February 11, 2004
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Brite e-mail chills student free speech
Administrators reluctant to settle speculation

So much for free comment or criticism. Obviously, that sort of freedom might be dangerous to Brite Divinity School.

An e-mail sent by a Brite administrator threatening to take disciplinary action against students who comment on possible allegations against faculty members squelches academic expression and free speech rights.

The warning came days after revelations of a regional church investigation of alleged sexual misconduct by Brite’s director of field education, according to court affidavits from Christian Church officials. Stephen Sprinkle has said that he was barred from interviewing ministerial candidates because of his homosexuality.

Bryan Feille, Brite’s associate dean for student affairs, told the Skiff that the e-mail was intended to stop innuendo and rumors from spreading.

Brite has said little about the alleged investigation. The irony is that such silence is what’s allowing these rumors to flourish. The lack of credible information has created an information vacuum, which has been filled by gossip. Speculation is a natural consequence.

But what’s most unjust is that this warning tramples the idea of free speech.

What is Brite afraid of its students saying? The school says it is not currently investigating any complaints. Then why the fuss about rumors of an investigation that doesn’t exist?

And what if students legitimately know something? Don’t they have the right to speak out?

Of course they do.

Brite does indeed have a responsibility to protect anyone who makes an accusation or is accused. But not by silencing free speech.
TCU Daily Skiff ©2004
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