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JMU says they must protect students’ free speech, even if hurtful or offensive

James Madison University sign
James Madison University sign(WHSV)
Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 6:25 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — James Madison University released a statement in response to university community members allegedly posting racist or offensive content online, but the university said it is legally required to protect free speech, even if it is hurtful or offensive.

The university said it cannot remove students from the university for posting offensive content online, but instead take an educational approach to help students understand the harm their words can cause, and help them “grow from the experience.”

“We stay true to our mission as a university to prepare students to be educated and enlightened citizens... However, if a student is using social media as a means to violate a university policy, such as bullying, hazing or sexual misconduct, that behavior may result in university sanctions,” JMU said in a statement.

JMU said they may reach out to students on a case-to-case basis.

“In that way, we stay true to our mission as a university to prepare students to be educated and enlightened citizens,” the university said.

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