Boston College: Red Light Rating

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Boston College

Boston College (BC) promises that all of its students have the right “to learn, which includes the right of access to ideas, the right of access to facts and opinions, the right to express ideas, and the right to discuss those ideas with others.” At the same time, BC undercuts those promises with other restrictive policies, and it has taken several actions to interfere with these rights. BC thus misleads students who count on its promises of fundamental intellectual rights, restricting speech that would be protected on a public campus. Although BC is a private college dedicated both to “intellectual excellence” and its “Jesuit, Catholic heritage,” misleading students in this way is a serious problem, and BC has now earned FIRE’s worst, “red light” rating. Unless BC openly admits that it is not truly dedicated to free expression (which is its right as a private college) or removes its speech restrictions, BC will keep its “red light” rating so that prospective students know that BC will not honor its stated commitments to freedom of expression should they choose to attend.

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  • Boston College Fails to Live Up to Its Free Speech Promises, Earns Dishonorable ‘Red Light’ Rating

    August 7, 2009

    Boston College (BC) promises that all of its students have the right “to learn, which includes the right of access to ideas, the right of access to facts and opinions, the right to express ideas, and the right to discuss those ideas with others.” At the same time, BC undercuts those promises with other restrictive policies, and it has taken several actions to interfere with these rights. BC thus misleads students who count on its promises of fundamental intellectual rights, restricting speech that would be protected on a public campus. Although BC is a private college dedicated both to “intellectual excellence” […]

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  • FIRE Red Light Letter to Boston College President William Leahy, August 5, 2009

    August 5, 2009

    August 5, 2009 William P. Leahy, S.J., President Boston College Botolph House 18 Old Colony Road Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467 Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (617-552-3090) Dear Father Leahy: Prompted by ambiguities in Boston College’s policies and actions relating to free expression, FIRE wrote to you twice to ask you to clarify the status of the college’s commitment to free expression. We received no response to either of our letters, sent on April 2 and June 4. Copies of those letters are enclosed. FIRE maintains a well-known database of college and university speech codes in which we rate hundreds […]

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  • FIRE Second Letter to Boston College President William P. Leahy, S.J., June 4, 2009

    June 4, 2009

    June 4, 2009 William P. Leahy, S.J., President Boston College Botolph House 18 Old Colony Road Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467 Sent via U.S. Mail and facsimile (617-552-3090) Dear Father Leahy: It is with disappointment that FIRE must once again ask Boston College to clarify its commitment to free expression. We have received no response to our letter of April 2, in which we asked for a response by April 23. A copy of that letter is enclosed. Boston College, a private institution, has a First Amendment right to determine the standards of speech and conduct that it will enforce in […]

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  • FIRE Letter to Boston College President William P. Leahy, S.J., April 2, 2009

    April 2, 2009

    April 2, 2009 William P. Leahy, S.J., President Boston College Botolph House 18 Old Colony Road Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467 Sent via U.S. Mail and facsimile (617-552-3090) Dear Father Leahy: As we wrote you in January 2004, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE; www.thefire.org) unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, due process, legal equality, freedom of association, religious liberty, and freedom of speech and conscience on America’s college campuses. FIRE is concerned about the apparent contradiction between Boston College’s stated promises of […]

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