Controversial campus speakers trigger debates about free speech on campus. Those who support allowing all controversial speakers to speak on campus tend to be treated as pro-free speech warriors. Those who support preventing some controversial speakers from speaking on campus tend to be painted as anti-free speech. That framing is not particularly helpful, as it may quickly lead to a debate on censorship and the First Amendment. Censorship is not an issue unless the controversial speaker is barred from speaking. A campus speaker’s speech can be discouraged before it is given, and that discouragement may lead the speaker to self-censor, but actual censoring very rarely occurs. In addition, the First Amendment is rarely relevant to a campus speaker’s speech unless a public college or university silences the speech. Private colleges and universities generally can regulate speakers on their campuses. General speech principles may be relevant, but the First Amendment is not at stake. [...]
Henry L. Chambers, Jr., Curating Campus Speakers, 53 U. Rich. L. Rev. Online 3 (2019).