FIRE Addresses College and University Presidents

March 4, 2004

MIAMI BEACH, FL—In a landmark event for free speech and expression on America’s campuses, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) was invited to address university chancellors and presidents at the 86 th Annual Meeting of the American Council on Education (ACE), an organization that represents about 1,800 institutions of higher education nationwide. The panel and audience of chancellors and presidents heard FIRE’s critical concerns and constructive proposals regarding the state of civil liberties on our nation’s campuses.

“FIRE is changing the culture on behalf of liberty. We thank ACE for the opportunity to discuss college and university policies that affect student and faculty rights on America’s campuses,” said Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s director of legal and public advocacy. Based in Washington, D.C., ACE is the major coordinating body of higher education and helps to set priorities for higher education, train college presidents, and influence public policy. The organization’s web site may be found at www.acenet.edu .


Lukianoff addressed a conference session entitled “The Effect of Outside Organizations on Campus Politics.” FIRE was the only outside organization to address the session. In his remarks, Lukianoff discussed FIRE’s grave concerns about the state of free speech on campus and proposed ways that colleges and universities can work cooperatively with FIRE to ensure that student and faculty rights are protected.


Lukianoff noted, “As the highest authorities at their institutions, these individuals have the power to ensure that America’s colleges and universities are beacons of freedom, frankness, and fairness.”


FIRE’s invitation from ACE came at a moment when FIRE has drawn increased national attention to free speech issues on campus. Since its founding in 1999, FIRE has worked to expose and eliminate the suppression of free expression and the denial of due process on campus. Its Speech Codes Litigation Project has already overturned several unconstitutional public university speech codes, most recently at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania . In addition to appearing at the ACE conference, FIRE has spoken about speech codes and the rights of a free people to others who can work positively for change on behalf of liberty. In February 2004, FIRE addressed the Association for Student Judicial Affairs, and in October 2003, FIRE testified about campus speech codes before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.


“ACE’s invitation to FIRE represents a unique opportunity for a national dialogue on student and faculty rights,” said Lukianoff. “We are optimistic that cooperation with college and university presidents in crafting policies respectful of student and faculty rights will play an important role in our ability to enhance both freedom of expression and fairness on America’s campuses.”


FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience on our campuses of higher education. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty at campuses across America can be seen by visiting www.thefire.org.


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