University of Georgia: Restriction on Fraternities’ Free Speech Rights

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Georgia

At the University of Georgia, controversy arose when an administrator in UGA’s Office of the Dean of Students emailed all fraternities on campus, instructing them to “make sure that no stars and bars flags/confederate flags (unless you are flying the pre-56) can be seen from any house windows.” This would include, of course, the state flag of Georgia itself. One student questioned the order, and was told by the administrator, that despite no formal policy banning the flag, such a display would “violate the diversity plan.” He warned that the University’s Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) “would bring any group up on violation” if it displayed the state flag. The student then alerted FIRE to this threat of free speech rights, and also informed UGA of FIRE’s involvement. Immediately, the administrator replied in an e-mail to the student that he had not meant that students “would” be brought up on charges by the IFC. FIRE nonetheless wrote to the school and Vice President for Student Affairs and Associate Provost Richard H. Mullendore assured that students’ rights to free speech were unequivocally protected.

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