The University of Massachusetts at Amherst campaigned to persecute nine students who were seen in photographs containing a caricature of one of them as the “Grand Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan. At a post-election party following the Student Government Association (SGA) elections, Patrick Higgins, a student defeated in a race for SGA President during which he was labeled a “racist,” was in attendance. Another student, in an effort to mock the charges of racism, drew a caricature of Higgins as a member of the Ku Klux Klan on a dry-erase board. A photo was taken of the caricature and later circulated around campus. After controversy erupted, UMass Amherst Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Gargano threatened a range of punishments, from community service to expulsion, charging nine students involved with “harassment conduct less than a physical attack.” Ultimately, despite FIRE’s letter to the university pointing out the violation of free expression, the students were forced to resign from their positions of leadership on the SGA.
March 11, 2005
The administrative Pooh-Bahs at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have demonstrated once again that they are too cynical, too cowardly, or a combination of both to recognize the difference between “hate speech” and parody. As we reported last fall (see “Send Out the Clowns,” News and Features, October 29, 2004), following a hotly contested student election in which one of the candidates had been unfairly branded a racist, a group of student leaders threw a party where they parodied the racism accusations. They took photographs of themselves posing in front of a cartoon depicting the candidate dressed in Ku […]» Read More
February 14, 2011
Under pressure from FIRE, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has revised its policy governing rallies on campus—and not a moment too soon. FIRE supporters will remember that the policy had earned UMass Amherst intensely negative attention, both here on The Torch and in the national media. In January, FIRE named the policy the 2010 Speech Code of the Year. In the post announcing this dubious distinction, Sam explained just why UMass Amherst’s policy was a cut above—or below—all the rest: While all 12 Speech Codes of the Month in 2010 flagrantly violated students’ right to free expression, one-the University […]» Read More