The 2014 FIRE Student Network Conference begins today! Students from across the country are descending on Bryn Mawr College for FIRE’s largest student conference to date. The conference will kick off this evening with an introductory dinner followed by an address from noted youth advocate and Free-Range Kids author Lenore Skenazy.
Tomorrow, attendees have a packed day with talks from FIRE staff on student rights and break-out sessions on topics such as “First Amendment on Campus: Case Law” and “America’s Worst Speech Codes.” Students will also hear from Robert Corn-Revere, an expert in First Amendment law and a partner [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
As Torch readers are aware, one of the initial lawsuits in FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, Gerlich v. Leach, involves a challenge to Iowa State University’s unconstitutional trademark policy that ISU administrators have used to silence a student group advocating for the legalization of marijuana. Yesterday, the Iowa State Daily published a letter to the editor by Kenneth Currie, an ISU alumnus. ISU’s associate general counsel didn’t listen to us when we wrote him to say that ISU’s policies were unconstitutional. Maybe the administration will listen to Dr. [...] » Read More
Citrus College’s First Amendment troubles didn’t just start when an administrator stopped student Vinny Sinapi-Riddle from gathering petition signatures on campus last September 17, Constitution Day. In fact, as FIRE’s Will Creeley wrote for the Los Angeles Register earlier this month, Citrus was trying to keep Sinapi-Riddle inside precisely the kind of “free speech area” that Citrus agreed to eliminate in 2003 after another student took Citrus to court to challenge its restrictions on speech.
In his article, Will takes Citrus to task:
The last time the college was sued by a student over its free [...] » Read More
Zoe Kuenstler is a FIRE summer intern.
One needs only to flip five pages into the University of Pittsburgh’s Student Code of Conduct and Judicial Procedures to find “The Pitt Promise: A Commitment to Civility” (the “Pitt Promise,” or “the Promise”)—a list of pedagogical principles and values to which students are expected to adhere. In principle, the pledge is morally sound and perhaps desirable, but, as FIRE has explained, mandating civility clauses infringes on students’ First Amendment rights. As a current student at the University of Pittsburgh, a public institution of higher education that is bound by [...] » Read More
FIRE is thrilled to announce that we have added another outstanding employee to our team. Katie Barrows has joined us as our new Communications Coordinator. Katie’s interest in the U.S. Constitution and free speech issues brought her to FIRE.
Katie is a Pacific Northwest native who graduated cum laude from the University of Washington with a B.A. in political science and a minor in history. As an undergraduate, Katie was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and was involved in College Democrats. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Katie worked on the 2012 Washington state governor’s race as a field [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
Last Friday afternoon, I received an email from Tyler Kingkade, an associate editor at The Huffington Post who has been covering the issue of sexual assault on college and university campuses. Kingkade was asking about FIRE’s case at Occidental College, where a student was found “responsible” for sexual assault despite the fact that the district attorney refused to charge him with any crime, and text message evidence indicates that both parties consented to having sex.
Four weeks after North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law a bill that allows religious and political student groups at the state’s public colleges and universities to limit their leadership to students who are committed to the group’s mission or faith, the debate continues over whether this was the right step to take to protect student rights. Last week, William R. Toler relayed some of the arguments for and against the bill in an article for The Richmond County Daily Journal.
According to the Daily Journal, State Representative Garland Pierce argued that the law [...] » Read More
Stephanie Keaveney is a FIRE summer intern.
Last year, I received a few hours of training on a Friday afternoon and a copy of my university’s code of conduct, officially becoming a member of Southern Oregon University’s (SOU) pool of “specially trained students” deemed competent to decide if my peers were “more likely than not” to have violated university standards.
The training was far less than extensive. It included what one could expect to encounter as a conduct board member, such as the types of cases we would be hearing and the general format for hearings. This came with specific [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
Andrew Breland is a FIRE summer intern.
Almost ubiquitously, colleges mention some online component to their curriculum in their advertisements and promotions. Prominent national institutions like the Fletcher School at Tufts University advertise online classes as a boon to students. At that school, they advertise a one-year Global Master of Arts Program, prominently displaying the “33 weeks of internet mediated learning” requirement. Relatedly, Arizona State University recently signed an agreement with Starbucks to offer discounted online bachelor’s degrees to Starbucks employees. During the announcement, Arizona State President Michael Crow called the online programs “a first-class college education.”
Most [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
FIRE, the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho (ACLU-ID), and the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) all wrote to Boise State University (BSU) recently to voice concerns about the institution’s decision to charge the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) an unconstitutional security fee for hosting a presentation by gun rights activist and successful Supreme Court litigant Dick Heller. Last week, BSU rescinded its invoice to YAL for $465, but Vice President and General Counsel Kevin D. Satterlee maintains that having security staff at the event “was the only rational response” to one [...] » Read More