College Officials Vote ‘Yes’ on Free Speech

March 23, 2004

PHILADELPHIA, PA and COLLEGE STATION, TX —In a major development in the struggle against speech codes on our nation’s campuses, the Association for Student Judicial Affairs (ASJA)—the nation’s largest professional association of campus judicial administrators—has adopted a resolution calling upon colleges and universities to reflect their institutions’ legal and moral obligations to freedom of speech in policies governing student life.

"FIRE applauds the 1,250 members of ASJA for affirming a commitment to principles of free speech. Although it is overdue, this is a great day in the fight for free speech on campus," said Greg Lukianoff, director of legal and public advocacy for FIRE. "FIRE is pleased to have another crucial ally in the fight against overbroad and repressive campus speech codes." FIRE has engaged in dialogue with members of ASJA for several years, has attended its conferences, and was recently invited to lead an ASJA seminar on freedom of speech.

Founded sixteen years ago, ASJA is a 1,250-member professional association of college administrators representing 900 campuses. ASJA educates and consults with university administrators who develop student disciplinary procedures and who oversee campus judicial systems. The organization has considerable influence on administrators who enforce and often write campus policies—including speech codes. ASJA’s website may be found at asja.tamu.edu.

David Parrott, the president of ASJA, announced on March 22, 2004, that the free speech resolution had passed and that "an overwhelming majority of those who voted were in favor of this resolution." The resolution acknowledges that "in public institutions, policies, rules, and procedures that are vague and overbroad in limiting student expression are unconstitutional," and calls on all institutions to "review policies, rules, and procedures regularly to ensure that they do not impose illegal or unconstitutional limits on student speech and expression." It also calls for ASJA to set up a task force to provide guidance on this issue to its members. FIRE has offered, and stands ready, to assist the ASJA task force in its vital work.

Lukianoff concluded, "The resolution’s passage demonstrates that FIRE’s consistent and principled legal and public advocacy on issues of liberty on our campuses has successfully influenced the very individuals who conceive and enforce campus policy. FIRE has changed the debate and is changing the culture on behalf of free speech on campus."

FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, civic leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and due process on our nation’s campuses. Please visit www.thefire.org to read more.

CONTACT:

Greg Lukianoff , Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, FIRE: 215-717-3473; greg@thefire.org

David W. Parrott, President, Association for Student Judicial Affairs (ASJA): davep@studentlife.tamu.edu

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