University of Florida: Reaffirmation of Right to Show Documentary

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Florida

The University of Florida drew criticism from FIRE after the administration was critical of students promoting an event showing the controversial film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” Several student groups-including UF’s Law School Republicans, College Republicans, Jewish Student Union, and Jewish Law Students Association-had posted fliers to advertise a November 13, 2007, screening of the film.  The fliers used the headline, “RADICAL ISLAM WANTS YOU DEAD.” Vice President for Student Affairs Patrica Telles-Irvin e-mailed all students at UF stating that “the groups that posted [the fliers] owe the campus, and particularly campus members of the Islamic faith, an apology and a clarification.” FIRE wrote to Telles-Irvin, reminding her that the students were protected under the First Amendment, and warning the administration’s message was creating a “chilling effect” on campus. Telles-Irvin then wrote all UF students, assuring them of their right to free speech, and making clear the students promoting the film would not be punished.

  • McCollum blasts UF over free speech

    December 12, 2007

    No stranger to free speech issues of late, University of Florida officials are now under fire for criticizing students who recently hung fliers on campus reading “Radical Islam Wants You Dead.” State Attorney General Bill McCollum claims UF officials stifled free speech by asking the students who posted the fliers to apologize for offending Muslims. In a Dec. 3 letter, McCollum accused Patricia Telles-Irvin, UF’s vice president for student affairs, of creating a “chilling effect on the free speech rights of students.” McCollum’s office said as late as Tuesday that he was still unsatisfied with UF’s response to his concerns, and he […]

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  • The strange case of ‘Obsession’ at the University of Florida

    January 28, 2008

    You know how colleges and universities write themselves off as bastions of free and controversial thought? Ha. Funny story. A couple of months ago, a number of student groups at the University of Florida-including the College Republicans, the UF Law School Republicans, the Jewish Student Union, Gators for Israel, and the Jewish Law Students Association-planned a showing of the documentary Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. In an effort to promote the film, the groups posted flyers with the headline “Radical Islam Wants you Dead.” One familiar with the sensitive culture on contemporary college campuses probably knows where this […]

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  • Florida Throws In the Towel

    December 14, 2007

    It seems that the administration at the University of Florida (UF) has completely capitulated in its conflict with the First Amendment. Last month, several student groups at UF posted flyers advertising the showing of a movie about Islamic terrorism with the headline, “RADICAL ISLAM WANTS YOU DEAD.” In response, Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin e-mailed all UF students, writing that the student groups “owe the campus, and particularly campus members of the Islamic faith, an apology and a clarification.” Dr. Telles-Irvin backed away from her claim that the students must apologize after FIRE wrote a letter defending the […]

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  • Coming attractions

    December 12, 2007

    A student advocacy group reports an administrator at the University of Florida has backed down after demanding an apology from a students showing a movie about radical Islam. Several student groups advertised a screening of a film called “Obsession—Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” On the fliers was the phrase—“Radical Islam wants you dead.” Florida vice president for student affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin e-mailed all students and said the groups owe the campus, and particularly Muslim students, an apology. But the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education quickly reminded Telles-Irvin that the flier was unquestionably protected free speech under the constitution. […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech at the University of Florida

    December 10, 2007

    GAINESVILLE, Fla., December 10, 2007—Student groups at the University of Florida (UF) will be allowed to freely promote the controversial film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” following a controversy with the school’s administration. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) intervened after a university official e-mailed the student body demanding an apology from the student groups sponsoring the film. “The University of Florida chilled expression on campus when it publicly demanded an apology from student groups simply for promoting a film,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “Now, all students have been assured that UF will support their […]

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