Should Colleges Punish “Cyber-Bullying” by Their Students?

So argue two lawyers in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, warning of legal liability if colleges don’t take suitable steps to suppress such speech. The article is short on definitions of cyber-bullying, but calls for colleges to update their “anti-bullying and social-media policies to take into account the immediate and significant harm that can be inflicted when bullying behavior leaves the dormitory or the quad and goes online,” and to have administrative processes to “foster a safe and supportive” (and “more inclusive”) “environment for all of its students” by “[m]anaging the recent and exponential growth of social-media sites and digital forms of communication.”

This sounds to me like more than just a call for punishing constitutionally unprotected speech, such as threats of violence — though how much more is hard to tell. It will be interesting to see what new university speech codes aimed at preventing “cyber-bullying” are going to spring up in the coming years.