• Washington State University: Use of Dispositions Theory to Enforce Ideological Orthodoxy

    June 17, 2005
    Category: Freedom of Conscience

    Washington State University (WSU) repealed partisan evaluative criteria used to punish a student whose views on diversity and gun control differed with those of other professors at WSU. Student Ed Swan had received poor evaluative teaching marks on his “dispositions” criteria, which had “required students to have a commitment to vague ideological concepts such as “appreciat[ing] and valu[ing] human diversity,” sensitivity to “community and cultural norms,” and respecting “others’ varied talents and perspectives.” Swan was penalized for admitting that he opposes gun control and does not believe that white privilege and male privilege exist, and was forced to sign a […]

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  • Le Moyne College: Dismissal of Student for Dissenting Views

    February 3, 2005
    Category: Freedom of Conscience

    Graduate student Scott McConnell handed in an assignment in which he described his ideal classroom — environment which involved “strong discipline and hard work” and which included “corporal punishment.” Though he did well on the assignment, he was summarily dismissed two months later by the Education Department chair, despite his “excellent” evaluation for class work. She cited a “mismatch between [his] personal beliefs regarding teaching and learning and the Le Moyne College program goals.” FIRE wrote to the Le Moyne College president, urging him to honor the College’s commitments to academic freedom and due process. When Le Moyne declined to […]

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  • Rhode Island College: Violation of Student’s Freedom of Conscience

    January 28, 2005
    Category: Free Speech, Freedom of Conscience

    At Rhode Island College, graduate student Bill Felkner was asked to publicly advocate “progressive” social changes that he did not believe in. Social work professor Jim Ryczek suggested to Felkner in an e-mail that if he did not agree with the school’s political philosophy, he should consider leaving or finding another line of work. Shortly afterwards, Felkner learned that RIC’s School of Social Work not only recommended that he adopt a particular ideology but also mandated that he lobby the Rhode Island Legislature for one of several policy positions that he did not support. FIRE wrote to the school, and […]

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  • University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire: Unconstitutional Student Fee Funding Amendment

    December 16, 2004
    Category: Freedom of Conscience, Religious Liberty

    FIRE protested the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s (UWEC) Student Senate’s decision to withhold student fee funding from any student organization that espouses a “particular ideological, religious, or partisan viewpoint.” The rule, passed in March of 2005, came after a controversy regarding the approval of a new student magazine, The Flip Side, in December of 2004. A student senator was quoted in UWEC’s The Spectator as saying “We want to exclude any groups that would be religious in nature, political in nature or anything that would have a political agenda [from being funded through student segregated fees].” FIRE wrote Interim Chancellor […]

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  • Trinity College: New Social Code Erodes Freedom of Association

    August 20, 2004
    Category: Freedom of Conscience

    In October 2012, Trinity College’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the recommendations of a report prepared by the college’s specially created Charter Committee for Building Social Community at Trinity College. The report includes a new Social Code that imposes dramatic new regulations on “social organizations,” primarily fraternities and sororities. Among its numerous requirements, the code forbids selective membership, prohibits association with national single-sex social organizations, and requires them to achieve “minority gender” parity in membership and leadership. In addition, social organizations will be required to gain recognition from the administration and any students who associate with unrecognized groups will be […]

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  • University of South Carolina: Mandated Orthodoxy in the Classroom

    June 15, 2004
    Category: Free Speech, Freedom of Conscience

    FIRE protested University of South Carolina Professor Lynn Weber’s imposition of a political litmus test in order to succeed in “Women’s Studies 797: Seminar in Women’s Studies,” which was required of students who sought to earn a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies. Professor Weber’s “Guidelines for Classroom Discussion” required students to “acknowledge that racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and other institutionalized forms of oppression exist” and agree that “we are all systematically taught misinformation about our own group and about members of other groups.” The guidelines amounted to a loyalty oath to the professor’s ideology. USC President Andrew A. Sorensen defended them, […]

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  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech): Ban on Certain Viewpoints and Requirement of Prior Approval for Speech

    March 14, 2003
    Category: Free Speech, Freedom of Conscience

    The Attorney General of Virginia’s Office concluded that a new resolution from the Board of Visitors of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) that threatened freedom of speech and assembly at that public institution was unconstitutional and recommended that it not be implemented. The resolution would have declared that no individuals or organizations could meet on university property "if it can be determined that such persons or organizations advocate or have participated in illegal acts of domestic violence and/or terrorism," required all individuals or groups planning to hold a meeting to seek "approval [from] the President of the […]

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  • Citrus College: Compulsory Anti-War Speech

    March 7, 2003
    Category: Free Speech, Freedom of Conscience

    A Citrus College professor had compelled undergraduate students to write anti-war letters to President George W. Bush, penalizing the grades of students who dissented or refused to send the letters. After FIRE intervened, the Citrus College administration repudiated this outrage and resolved all issues in favor of freedom of conscience.

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  • Rutgers University: Refusal to Allow Christian Clubs to Require Christian Leadership

    December 27, 2002
    Category: Freedom of Conscience, Religious Liberty

    The InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship at Rutgers University was banned from campus because of its rule that "leaders must seek to adhere to biblical standards and belief in all areas of their lives." Rutgers ruled that allowing a religious student group to select its leadership on the basis of religion constituted discrimination. FIRE wrote to the president of Rutgers, to the members of the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors, and to the university’s major donors, urging the administration to undo the damage to the Fellowship. FIRE Legal Network attorney David A. French also filed a lawsuit against Rutgers […]

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  • Harvard University: Proposed Speech Codes

    November 12, 2002
    Category: Free Speech, Freedom of Conscience

    Harvard Law School considered adopting a new racial speech guide, under the typical guise of a harassment policy. FIRE chastised this illiberal move by such an elite institution.

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