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Students tend to think of themselves as a catalyzing force in society, bastions of freedom and righteousness in an unjust world.

But they're not treated that way, says Thor Halvorssen, whose experiences as a student at Penn led him to devote his career to defending human and free-speech rights, particularly on college campuses.

"Students are treated not as the adults that they are - free-thinking adults capable of critical thinking - but rather, they are treated like the ignorant progeny of society that need to be told what to think," Halvorssen said.

Now the president of the Human Rights Foundation, Halvorssen is back in the news with his new documentary, Indoctrinate-U.

Produced by Halvorssen's film company, the film deals with the lack of diversity of opinion and the obsession with political correctness on college campuses nationwide.

Indoctrinate-U "is an exhilarating, fun and entertaining look at a trend that is commonplace at colleges and universities across the country," Halvorssen said.

The film, which has generated considerable buzz since its premiere last month, has been noted for its in-your-face style and libertarian bent, sparking comparisons between the film's director, Evan Maloney, and his liberal counterpart, Michael Moore.

One deleted scene of the film has also spelled controversy for Columbia University. In the scene, a Columbia security guard stops Maloney from filming, and an administrator tells him that the film's content needs to be reviewed to ensure that Columbia is portrayed in a favorable manner.

While Halvorssen's company, the Moving Picture Institute, has become well-known for producing films that back a conservative agenda, Halvorssen says Indoctrinate-U was made to try to rid colleges of biases from either side.

"This film is not a film by conservatives," he said. "It is a film by people who care about a true liberal education."

A native Venezuelan whose lineage traces to the country's first two presidents, Halvorssen's association with Indoctrinate-U comes in part from free speech controversies during his years at Penn.

In 1995, Halvorssen became embroiled in a scandal involving the controversial conservative newspaper The Red and Blue, of which he was the editor-in-chief at the time.

After publishing an article on Haiti that many people found offensive, The Red and Blue was denied funding by the Student Activities Council, sparking a widely publicized debate on free speech.

Penn has also been involved in a series of other free-speech controversies, most notably the "water buffalo" incident involving then-Penn President Sheldon Hackney.

The University has since changed its policies to be more inclusive of divergent opinions, both Halvorssen and other free-speech advocates agreed.

Unlike Penn, other schools have free-speech codes that too-broadly define what counts as harassment, allowing them to limit protected free speech, said Samantha Harris, a spokeswoman for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a civil-liberties association on which Halvorssen served as the first executive director.

Halvorssen said he hopes the film will encourage students and other free speech advocates to expose those free speech violations at other colleges.

"There's this mistaken sense that on a college campus you have a right not to be offended," he said.

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