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    Princeton Admins Force Censorship of Interactive Art Installation

    By on April 22, 2014

    From April 13 through May 3, a group of students at Princeton University are asking, “What will you bring to The Surface?”

    “The Surface” is an interactive art installation consisting of approximately 224 square feet of white wooden boards set up on the lawn on which anyone can draw or paint—or even censor— the work of visitors before them. Veterans of free speech walls would not be surprised by what the students have brought to the installation thus far: a range of thought-provoking questions, angry rants, cute drawings, some profanity—and the inevitable penis drawing. But the last of these was apparently a step too far for Princeton administrators. A panel containing such an illustration was removed, and was returned to the project’s creators only when the offending material was painted over.

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    Category: The Torch Schools: Princeton University


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    FIRE’s ‘Spotlight’ Database Featured in New ACTA Report

    By on April 22, 2014

    Today, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) released a report (PDF) finding that America’s leading public colleges and universities boast exorbitant costs and education services that don’t match their price tags. In addition to shedding light on problems like excessive administrative overhead, the new ACTA report claims that free speech on campus is in trouble.

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    Category: The Torch


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    Student Spotlight: Kelly Barber, a Leader for Liberty and Student Rights at U. of Florida

    By on April 22, 2014

    Kelly Barber stands out as a leader at the University of Florida (UF) and has been actively involved with FIRE, most recently attending FIRE’s Leaders in Student Rights Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Kelly, now a member of Students For Liberty’s North American Executive Board, says she experienced the undeniable benefits of free and open debate when she began attending College Libertarian meetings, where she was “blown away by the environment of integrity, critical thinking, and tolerance they created” that allowed students “to exchange ideas on a level much higher than anything I ever experienced in classes.”

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    Category: The Torch Schools: University of Florida


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    U. of Jamestown Students and Staff Push Freedom of the Press Legislation

    By on April 21, 2014

    A group of students and staff at the University of Jamestown (UJ) in North Dakota are pushing for legislation that would protect student journalists. Though the text of the bill has not yet been finalized, its advocates intend the “New Voices Act” to be a comprehensive law that would protect the expression of students in high school and public and private colleges.

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    Category: The Torch


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    C-SPAN Airing FIRE Debate Tonight!

    By on April 21, 2014

    Tonight at 8:00 p.m., C-SPAN will be airing FIRE’s “State of Free Speech in America” panel discussion and debate held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Audience members enjoyed a stimulating conversation that ranged from international censorship of speech to academic freedom to the efficacy of the First Amendment in the new digital age. The panelists’ spirited but respectful disagreements over the fundamental necessity of freedom of expression made for an exciting event, so be sure to catch this broadcast!

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    Category: The Torch


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    Western Michigan University Bans Rapper, Burdens Free Expression

    By on April 18, 2014

    Have you ever been a participant in, or vocally supportive of, the “Occupy” movement? Have you ever spoken in favor of (or against) a controversial cause or idea? Is there something about you that is susceptible to being unreasonably interpreted as even mildly suspicious? If you answered any of these questions in the affirmative, good luck speaking your mind on Western Michigan University’s (WMU’s) campus—at least without the watchful gaze of law enforcement constantly surveilling you and your listeners.

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    Category: The Torch Schools: Western Michigan University


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    Mark Steyn on ‘The Slow Death of Free Speech’

    By on April 18, 2014

    Conservative commentator Mark Steyn criticized the line-drawing frequently employed to limit freedom of speech in a column for The Spectator (UK) this week. Censors, he argues, say they are “striking [a] balance” between freedom and equality, but they are essentially declaring certain topics closed for debate. And though some at least claim that they will “defend to the death” someone’s right to share opinions with which they disagree, others have abandoned that commitment completely.

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    Category: The Torch


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    Facing Mounting Criticism, Bergen Community College Mans The Wall

    By on April 17, 2014

    Yesterday, my colleague Sarah McLaughlin reported on Bergen Community College’s asinine decision to place Professor Francis Schmidt on unpaid leave pending psychiatric evaluation for posting a picture on Google+ of his young daughter wearing a shirt containing a quote from the popular Game of Thrones series.

    This morning, facing mounting criticism and bewilderment, BCC doubled down on its claim that administrators were dutifully investigating a possible threat to campus.

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    Category: The Torch Schools: Bergen Community College


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    FIRE Welcomes Nate O’Connor

    By on April 17, 2014

    FIRE is pleased to announce that we have another addition to our outstanding staff. Nate O’Connor has joined FIRE as the Executive Assistant to our President, Greg Lukianoff. Nate’s passionate belief that free and open discourse facilitates a better, more informed society is what led him to FIRE.

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    Category: The Torch


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    Boring Campuses: Not Just the Fault of Helicopter Parents

    By on April 16, 2014

    In a new article, Slate’s Rebecca Schuman laments the phenomenon of colleges and universities becoming toned-down, less playful, even boring. Schuman argues that this is in part due to parents over-planning their kids’ lives, leaving them incapable of finding creative ways to have fun when they’re older and on their own: A recent trip back to my beloved alma mater, Vassar—combined with my interactions with students where I teach and some disappointing sleuthing—has made it apparent that much of the unstructured free play at college seems to have disappeared in favor of pre-professional anxiety, coupled with the nihilistic, homogeneous partying […]

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    Category: The Torch Schools: University of Alaska Fairbanks Vassar College Tufts University University of Central Florida Yale University University of California, Berkeley
    Cases: University of Alaska Fairbanks: Complaint Over Student Newspaper’s Articles Results in Months-long Harassment Investigation Tufts University: ‘Cox’ T-shirt