In the past two weeks, FIRE has been reviewing our many achievements of 2011 and counting down some of the top reasons to support us this year. You’ve heard about changes in the legal landscape and media reaction to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ April 4 "Dear Colleague" letter, read the two most egregious speech codes we encountered this year, and celebrated a banner year for our defense programs and outreach projects. Not only are such efforts representative of FIRE’s work this year, but they are also key examples of our broader mission to change the culture through systematic reform—the #1 reason to support FIRE this year.
Together with our work defending individuals whose liberty has been threatened and educating the public about their rights, FIRE works to reverse the culture of censorship on campus and restore universities to their vital roles as marketplaces of ideas. Our principled defense of free expression, nonpartisan nature, expert staff, and effective voice have made us a unique and powerful force on campus—one that continues to have a real impact with real victories.
FIRE knows that so long as dissent is not allowed on our nation’s campuses—or ceases to exist because of the fear of punishment—higher education, and in turn our democracy, are at risk. Whether one’s primary concern is diversity of opinion on campus, structural reform, grade inflation, lack of due process, freedom of conscience, or the decline of academic rigor, no real higher education reform can enjoy success if the freedom to dissent is not first protected and the culture on campus transformed.
And so, FIRE is fighting for a collegiate culture that respects and values the First Amendment by working for systematic change. Our educational initiatives and public outreach efforts are key parts of this work, inspiring thousands of students and citizens to learn more about rights on campus and how to defend them. Our defense work guarantees that schools know the risks of censoring speech, and our public awareness project ensures that violations of fundamental rights on campus get the shame they deserve while efforts to restore rights receive praise. Most importantly, FIRE’s reputation, knowledge, and efficacy form a foundation that will help us truly transform our campuses.
In the coming year, FIRE plans to use our unique position to advance this systematic reform, and we need your support. As we close out 2011, please consider donating today. Your support can help make FIRE’s voice even stronger in the battle over freedom on campus.