Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Deron Boyles, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Robert Baker, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Chara Bohan, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Joyce King, Ph.D.


Despite assertions that the First Amendment is under attack on college campuses in the United States of America, evidence suggests that students today have more freedom to exercise their constitutional rights on campus than at any time in history. Prior to the 1960s, colleges operated within the doctrine of in loco parentis, which significantly limited students from participating in protests or other behaviors deemed inappropriate by faculty or administrators. The end of in loco parentis coincided with an increase in campus activim during the 1960s with students actively involved in the civil rights movement and protests against the Vietnam War. The students’ calls for a more just society were viewed as a threat to the status quo and conservative forces began an active campaign to discredit student activism. During the Nixon administration, student activism became a target for conservative politicians. Student activism was framed by conservatives as “campus unrest” and colleges and universities were derided by conservative politicians for “indoctrinating” students with liberal ideals and failing to manage “campus unrest.” Meanwhile, campus administrators were struggling to create campuses that were open and inclusive of increasingly diverse student populations. In subsequent years, the steps taken by campus administrators to limit racial and sexual harassment would be challenged by conservatives for limiting the First Amendment rights of students. Since the 1960s, conservative politicians, businesses, and organizations have successfully utilized the media, the courts, and the legislatures to create a narrative of higher education as hostile to the First Amendment. Today, campus administrators continue to struggle to find a balance between the goals of diversity and inclusion and the First Amendment rights of students.

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