Office for Civil Rights to Investigate Title IX Claim by Brandeis Student Accused of Sexual Misconduct
Torch readers won’t be surprised to hear that the list of colleges and universities under investigation by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for possible Title IX violations is still growing. The list included 55 institutions in May and now nears 80 schools. What’s newsworthy this week, though, is that OCR is now investigating Brandeis University after a student who was found responsible for sexual assault claimed that he was denied a fair hearing. This investigation stands in contrast to the many cases initiated by students who argue that their universities failed to properly respond to their claims that they were victims of sexual assault.» Read More
Yesterday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published an editorial lamenting that students are returning to college campuses where free speech too often falls victim to speech codes.
As the editorial notes, opposition to the First Amendment is all too common on campus. Using FIRE’s recent case at the University of Oregon as an example, where a student was hit with five conduct charges for a four-word joke (“I hit it first”), the Review-Journal points out that many universities enforce broad harassment policies against their students in an attempt to create an environment of tolerance.
FIRE rightly and specifically noted [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: University of Oregon
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
University of Florida
Cases: University of Oregon: Student’s Four-Word Joke Results in Five Unconstitutional Disciplinary Charges
NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ and ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’ on Campus Sexual Assault and Due Process
National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) Tovia Smith spoke with both due process advocates and victims’ rights advocates on “Morning Edition” today, illuminating the serious problem of college students who are accused of sexual assault being denied a fair hearing. The report included comments from FIRE’s Robert Shibley, claimants’ attorney Colby Bruno, an unnamed former student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who was expelled for an alleged sexual assault, and several others.
As Smith reports, some students who claim they were incorrectly found responsible for sexual assault without receiving adequate due process are now suing their institutions—in the case at [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: University of North Dakota
University of Massachusetts – Amherst
Cases: University of North Dakota: Accuser Is Criminally Charged with Lying to Police, But School Refuses to Reopen Misconduct Case
To celebrate the September 9 release of Freedom From Speech, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff’s forthcoming new (short) book, FIRE will be hosting a book launch party on Wednesday, September 10 at The 201 Bar in Washington, D.C.—and you’re invited!
If you live in the Washington, D.C., area and would like to attend the event, please RSVP today to reserve a ticket, since space is limited. Attendees will have the opportunity to mingle with the author and FIRE staff over drinks and appetizers, as well as purchase signed copies of the book. Doors open at 6:00 [...] » Read More
My colleague Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program, published an op-ed in The Huffington Post yesterday with an important back-to-school message for college administrators: Eliminate speech codes, or get ready to head to court.
Reminding readers of the outcome of the now-infamous Constitution Day case at Modesto Junior College, in which the college “agreed to eliminate a horrendous and unconstitutional ‘free speech zone’ policy, open up the public areas of its campus to expressive activity, and pay $50,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs” after facing a First Amendment suit from a student, Azhar writes:
[T]his [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: Modesto Junior College
University of Florida
Cases: FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project Modesto Junior College: Students Barred from Distributing Constitutions on Constitution Day
Northern Illinois University’s (NIU’s) student newspaper the Northern Star reported last week that after significant media criticism, the university will revise and clarify its Acceptable Use Policy for information technology resources.
As FIRE reported here on The Torch, the policy states that members of the NIU community may not use the network for “political activities,” and students reported being unable to access social media websites. Additionally, one student posed a screenshot of a warning from NIU stating that it was “highly probable” that accessing the Wikipedia page about the Westboro Baptist [...] » Read More
PHILADELPHIA, September 2, 2014—As millions of college students arrive on campus this fall—many for the first time—few of them realize that nearly 59 percent of our nation’s colleges maintain policies that clearly and substantially restrict speech protected by the First Amendment. Too many students will realize that the rights they took for granted as Americans have been denied to them only after they face charges and disciplinary action for speaking their minds. But this year, campus censorship faces a new deterrent: FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, which aims to finally bring an end to [...] » Read More
Category: Press Releases
Schools: Citrus College
University of Hawaii at Hilo
Northern Illinois University
University of Oregon
Iowa State University
Cases: University of Oregon: Student’s Four-Word Joke Results in Five Unconstitutional Disciplinary Charges FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project Citrus College – Stand Up For Speech Iowa State University – Stand Up For Speech Ohio University – Stand Up For Speech University of Hawaii at Hilo – Speech Code Litigation
The Student Press Law Center reports that on August 28, more than 1,000 copies of The Auburn Plainsman were stolen, costing Auburn University’s student newspaper nearly $800. The newspapers disappeared from seven locations throughout Auburn’s campus. So far no one has claimed responsibility for the theft, but the paper’s editors believe that one of its stories may have been the cause.
The Plainsman’s potentially controversial stories included an editorial criticizing Auburn’s Student Government Association, a story on a council member who blamed his election loss on voter fraud, and the content of the regular Crime Reports feature, which often [...] » Read More
Craig Keefe, a former student at Central Lakes College (CLC) in Minnesota, is appealing a U.S. district court’s dismissal of his claims that the college violated his First Amendment and due process rights when it expelled him in December 2012 for remarks he had made on Facebook.
Keefe, then a nursing student, posted some comments on Facebook that expressed negative feelings towards his classmates and included profanity. All of his comments fell far outside the narrowly defined categories of speech unprotected by the First Amendment, such as “true threats.” Nevertheless, the public institution expelled Keefe [...] » Read More
The University of South Alabama (USA) student group Students for Life USA filed suit against the university in federal court in April, alleging that by restricting the group’s speech to a tiny “speech zone” on campus, the university violated members’ First Amendment right to freedom of expression, as well as their Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection. Earlier this month, USA revised a solicitation policy at issue in the lawsuit, but according to Students for Life USA and the group’s counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the second policy identified in the suit still infringes on [...] » Read More