• Central Michigan University: Student Group’s Freedom of Association Under Attack

    March 16, 2007
    Category: Freedom of Conscience

    In an important victory for free association, Central Michigan University (CMU) has revised a policy that absurdly banned ideological and political groups from “discriminating” on the basis of “political persuasion.” FIRE urged CMU to change this policy after students hostile to the mission of the Young Americans for Freedom student group attempted to become members of the group in order to destroy it from the inside. FIRE informed CMU that freedom of association includes the right to exclude members who do not subscribe to a group’s mission. Thanks to FIRE’s intervention, CMU has rewritten its policy, informed student groups of […]

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  • Missouri State University: Political Litmus Test in School of Social Work

    March 14, 2007
    Category: Freedom of Conscience, Religious Liberty

    Emily Brooker sued Missouri State University (MSU) after she was threatened with expulsion and charged with violating MSU’s “Standards of Essential Functioning” for refusing to lobby the Missouri legislature on behalf of homosexual adoption. The lawsuit was settled in her favor. An outside investigation of the School of Social Work found ideological coercion on the part of the faculty against dissenting students and noted the chilling effect of its actions and policies on the school’s intellectual atmosphere.

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  • Hampton University: Gay and Lesbian Student Group Denied Recognition Without Explanation

    February 7, 2007
    Category: Freedom of Conscience

    For the second time in two years, Hampton University inexplicably denied official recognition to students seeking to start a gay and lesbian group on campus. The group, Students Promoting Equality, Action and Knowledge (SPEAK), contacted FIRE, which wrote a letter to Hampton on urging the university to recognize SPEAK or provide an adequate explanation for effectively banning the group from campus for the next two years.  However, Hampton remains silent on the issue.

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  • Marshall University: Racially Restricted Orientation Classes

    November 4, 2006
    Category: Freedom of Conscience

    When FIRE learned that Marshall University had limited enrollment in several “University Studies 101″ courses to “African American Students Only,” it letter to University President Stephen J. Kopp explaining that racially segregated courses are both unlawful and misguided. In Kopp’s response, he claimed that the courses were open to both white and African American students. FIRE noted that the course description effectively enforced segregation, regardless of the official status of the courses. In response to FIRE’s objections, Marshall has changed the course description for UNI 101, so that several sections in fall of 2007 will focused on “African American Student […]

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  • CSWE: Political Litmus Tests at Schools of Social Work

    October 25, 2006
    Category: Freedom of Conscience

    FIRE asked the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take action against political litmus tests in America’s schools of social work. HHS requires its social workers to have degrees from programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), whose standards require evaluating students on the basis of their beliefs. FIRE urged HHS to end its relationship with CSWE unless CSWE drops its vague and politically loaded standards, a request echoed in similar letters sent by the National Association of Scholars and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

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  • Columbia University: Ideological Litmus Tests at Teachers College

    September 15, 2006
    Category: Freedom of Conscience

    Columbia University’s Teachers College requires students to demonstrate a “commitment to social justice” and  employs “dispositions,” which it defines as “observable behaviors that fall within the law and involve the use of certain skills,” to evaluate students. These dispositions, “expected of Teachers College candidates and graduates” and “assessed at each transition point,” include “Respect for Diversity and Commitment to Social Justice.” FIRE criticized these and other requirements in several letters to Columbia University and Teachers College, arguing that evaluating students according to their commitment to an officially defined ideal is a violation of a student’s right to decide for himself […]

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  • Le Moyne College: Dismissal of Student Newspaper Adviser

    May 8, 2006
    Category: Freedom of Conscience

    Le Moyne College dismissed a school newspaper’s adviser for failing to exercise more control over the paper. Professor Alan Fischler had been the paper’s adviser since 1996, when he was chosen by the paper’s staff. When he was dismissed, he was informed by administrators that they wanted a more “hands-on” adviser who would supposedly make the newspaper a “showpiece” for the college. Fischler, who continues to teach at Le Moyne, was replaced by an adviser hand-picked by administrators-a move that spurred a months-long strike by the newspaper’s student staff.

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  • University of North Carolina System: State of the First Amendment

    January 10, 2006
    Category: Free Speech, Freedom of Conscience, Religious Liberty

    FIRE teamed up with the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy to release the Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System. The Report notes that UNC System’s many speech codes and illiberal restrictions on religious groups would likely not survive a legal challenge. It also reveals that “13 out of the 16 schools in the UNC System have at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”

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  • NCATE: Encouragement of Political Litmus Tests in Higher Education

    January 5, 2006
    Category: Freedom of Conscience

    The NCATE, a leading accreditor of education schools, agreed to drop the vague and politically loaded recommendation that education students demonstrate a belief in “social justice” in order to graduate. The standards required that candidates in an education program “demonstrate the content, pedagogical, and professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to help all students learn.” The NCATE language to be changed currently states that “dispositions” are “guided by beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice.” The standards essentially resulted in a political litmus test for teachers, as it was virtually impossible to […]

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