Northern Illinois University (NIU) has enacted a stunningly restrictive network use policy and is enforcing it through a filter that blocks or tags websites based on content—including speech clearly protected by the First Amendment.
NIU’s policy is in the news after one NIU student posted to Reddit a “Web Page Access Warning” he received while trying to visit the Wikipedia page about the Westboro Baptist Church from his dorm room. Betabeat reported on this and other student experiences with the filter, criticizing the public university for blocking access to a wide range of online expression.
The [...] » Read More
With the new academic year almost here, we at FIRE want to make sure college students, faculty, and administrators know exactly where to find all the resources they need to make sure free speech, due process, and other individual rights are protected on their campuses.
Torch readers already know they can find the speech codes of over 400 institutions of higher education in FIRE’s Spotlight database, and those new to the database can start by reading about how our ratings system works. If you can’t find your college or university in Spotlight or if you [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
FIRE’s Director of Policy Research Samantha Harris appeared on Al Jazeera America’s “The Week Ahead” segment on Sunday night to talk with Thomas Drayton and victims’ rights advocate Sabrina Kowaleski about what colleges and universities can and should be doing to address the problem of sexual assault on campus.
Kowaleski emphasized the need for more support services from universities, and Samantha agreed, saying that colleges are “in an excellent position to provide support services to victims and to provide Title IX remedies like changing of class schedules and dorm assignments.” Samantha warned, though, that “when it comes to adjudicating [...] » Read More
FIRE President Greg Lukianoff joined Trevor Burrus and Jason Kuznicki on the Cato Institute’s “Free Thoughts” podcast yesterday. Through a freewheeling discussion, the trio discussed intellectual diversity, the role of censorship in polarizing American life, and troubling new developments in the attitudes of students. On that last point, Greg discusses his forthcoming book, Freedom from Speech, and says:
I’ve spent my career defending the rights of students, primarily, and I’ve been generally optimistic and pleased with them. They were generally much better on speech issues than professors or administrators, by a long shot. But lately, over the [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
In recent months, lawmakers in Congress and in states across the country have proposed legislation addressing sexual assault on college campuses. Here on The Torch, we’ve written about the federal efforts as well as California’s troubling affirmative consent bill, SB 967.
With the focus on those bills, little attention has been paid to Connecticut’s new campus sexual assault law. In May, Connecticut passed House Bill 5029, yet another bill that is likely to do little to protect students from sexual assault but certain to reduce accused students’ due process rights and imperil [...] » Read More
FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be appearing on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane this Tuesday at 10 a.m.
Greg’s appearance will preview speech-related issues on college campuses for the upcoming academic year. FIRE launched its Stand Up For Speech litigation project in July—a national effort to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes through targeted First Amendment lawsuits. The Stand Up For Speech project and other speech-related subjects, including trigger warnings and the disinvitation of commencement speakers, will be topics of discussion on Tuesday’s show. Greg will also be talking about his upcoming book, Freedom from Speech, which will be [...] » Read More
Back in February, FIRE expressed concerns about California’s Senate Bill 967, which attempts to address the issue of campus sexual assault by requiring colleges receiving state-funded student aid to implement an “affirmative consent” standard in their sexual assault policies. Yesterday, KPBS in San Diego shared FIRE Legislative and Policy Director Joe Cohn’s comments about why the bill will endanger due process for students accused of sexual assault, as well as statements from supporters of the bill that are worth discussing.
To review, SB 967 defines affirmative consent as “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage [...] » Read More
Torch readers may remember that in our most recent case at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), the university’s Student Government Association (SGA) put itself on the wrong side of free speech when it wrongly denied the recognition of the student group JHU Voice for Life. Unfortunately, the SGA has been at it again in recent months, and this time its actions threaten an even wider swath of student expression at JHU.
Despite facing a severe backlash, JHU’s SGA reclassified three student organizations—the College Republicans, the College Democrats, and the Hopkins Feminists—this past spring. Formerly classified as “Special Interests and Hobby” [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: Johns Hopkins University
Cases: Johns Hopkins University: Viewpoint-Based Rejection of Pro-Life Group
Adam Kissel, formerly of FIRE, took to Minding the Campus on Tuesday to remind readers of why advocates for free speech should be concerned that Professor Steven Salaita had his employment offer rescinded by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) following controversy over his tweets about Israel. Those who refuse to defend Salaita’s right to share these tweets, Kissel argues, will have a hard time defending the public speech of any other faculty member who voices opinions that others find offensive.
Kissel reminds readers of what the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: University of North Carolina – Wilmington
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Cases: University of North Carolina – Wilmington: Professor Files Lawsuit Alleging Retaliation for Political Columns
Earlier this year, the University of Delaware (UD) considered a tobacco-free campus policy that contained a provision (PDF) that would have forbidden “[u]niversity programs, departments, and student organizations, including campus publications … from accepting money, advertising, and gifts from tobacco companies.” Thankfully, after a UD professor spoke up about the overly broad reach of this provision, the university dropped this language from the policy and implemented a version more respectful of free speech and academic freedom on August 1.
Campus tobacco-free and smoke-free policies do not typically raise concerns for FIRE. This limitation on accepting funding, however, [...] » Read More