Cornell Law Review


Tort liability of universities


Against a backdrop of national political turmoil, universities have experienced volatile reactions from their student bodies and outsiders in protest of the inflammatory speakers that schools host on their campuses. This Note discusses the tension between First Amendment protections and tort liability in the context of higher education. Specifically, it focuses on the interplay between controversial, on-campus speakers and the violent protests that arise in reaction to them. While examining this interaction, this Note emphasizes the legal duties of academic institutions in facilitating these on-campus speakers while also protecting their students’ constitutional rights and safety. In examining these conflicts, the Note considers one overarching question: When faced with an impending speech from a controversial figure and the potential for resulting on-campus violence, how do higher-education institutions best protect themselves from both constitutional and tort liability?