It’s almost Halloween, and that means that college students across the country are waging war against costumes that they deem culturally insensitive or otherwise offensive. In an article for The Daily Caller today, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley takes a look at some of the party themes that have been landing college and university students in trouble lately.» Read More
Torch readers know that FIRE and other free speech advocates have had much to criticize the University of California, Berkeley about lately. Many have pointed out that UC Berkeley’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement rings somewhat hollow in light of its numerous speech codes. And last month, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks caused alarm with an email in which he argued for civility as a necessary limit on free speech. Happily, following widespread criticism, Dirks soon sent an email clarifying that freedom of expression should not be hindered in this manner.» Read More
This past June, FIRE reported on the case of a former Occidental College student who had filed a pseudonymous lawsuit against the private institution in California after being expelled for an alleged sexual assault. John Doe was found “responsible” for the violation despite significant evidence that the sexual encounter in question was consensual. (Readers can find exculpatory text messages and other materials on our Occidental case page.) Doe argued in his complaint that Occidental denied him key due process protections and failed to follow its own written policies in adjudicating the case.
Now Doe has also filed a Title IX complaint against the college with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), alleging that Occidental discriminated against him as a male student by refusing to investigate the sexual misconduct allegations he made against his accuser.» Read More
One of the most gratifying and inspiring parts of my job here at FIRE is seeing our work on behalf of student and faculty rights help spark changes in an institution’s approach to freedom of expression. I’m very pleased to pass along news of just that sort of positive change today from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, which recently released an excellent new policy statement on student press rights (PDF).» Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: University of Wisconsin – Stout
Cases: University of Wisconsin – Stout: Censorship, Referral to Threat Assessment Team, and Threat of Criminal Charges after Professor Puts Posters Outside Office Door
Today, FIRE’s Catherine Sevcenko wrote to the Iowa State Daily to explain to students that not only are ISU’s speech codes “broken,” they pose a serious threat to students’ rights.» Read More
In a victory for free speech, New Jersey’s Bergen Community College (BCC) has rescinded its punishment of an art professor it placed on leave and forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation for posting a picture of his daughter wearing a Game of Thrones T-shirt.» Read More
Last Thursday, FIRE and friends gathered in Manhattan to celebrate 15 years of defending and advancing civil liberties on campus. Along with presentations from students who have benefited from FIRE’s assistance and a special address from First Amendment champion Floyd Abrams, attendees had the distinct pleasure of hearing a keynote address from Steven Pinker, Harvard University psychology professor and bestselling author.» Read More
Category: The Torch
Most often, when FIRE talks about “disinvitations,” the conversation revolves around colleges formally rescinding invitations to speakers because of something controversial associated with the speaker, or students protesting the speaker so much that the school either withdraws its invitation or the speaker backs out “voluntarily.” In more extreme cases, sometimes students will shout down the speaker on stage.
However, a different type of disinvitation happened last week at Utah State University—thanks to a heckler’s veto of the worst kind.» Read More
All too often, FIRE’s message—that engaging in meaningful debate with controversial speakers is more useful than censoring them—falls on deaf ears.
However, Miami University (OH) bucked the growing disinvitation trend by refusing to rescind its speaking invitation to columnist George Will, despite pressure to do so from students and faculty. By refusing to abandon its commitment to the marketplace of ideas, the university allowed debate to flourish on campus last night. This is welcome news, especially after Scripps College denied its students the opportunity to engage in meaningful debate by disinviting Will in response to his controversial column on sexual assault.» Read More
Last night, FIRE celebrated 15 years of defending student and faculty rights on the nation’s college and university campuses at our anniversary gala in New York City. It was a spectacular evening. Guests had the opportunity to meet some of the student-plaintiffs defending their free speech rights as part of our Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. Attendees could share whatever messages they wanted on a “free speech wall” or through a projector in the dining hall. And we heard from distinguished free speech advocates like Harvard University professor and bestselling author Steven Pinker, as well as legendary First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams.» Read More
Category: The Torch