FIRE Challenges Yale to Stand Up for Free Speech on Campus

By June 22, 2011

In a letter to Yale University President Richard Levin, FIRE is asking the university to "stand firm against federal pressure to punish protected expression." This spring, Yale abandoned its historic commitment to free speech as its "paramount obligation" by suspending the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity for five years for sexually themed chants that were part of a pledge activity. Yale made its decision under considerable pressure from a complaint filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and OCR’s own recent guidance mandating a lowered evidentiary standard by which such disputes are to be judged. FIRE’s letter cites not only Yale’s tradition of respect for freedom of expression, but also Supreme Court precedent to remind the university that "the courts remain open to Yale" should OCR insist that the fraternity be punished for its protected speech.