In yesterday’s edition of the Boston Herald, FIRE was fortunate enough to be the subject of two separate articles. The first featured FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate and his quest to land a spot on Harvard University’s Board of Overseers—something we have been championing since his bid was announced back in December. As quoted in the Herald, Harvey explains why he wants to join the board:
"I hope to make Harvard a better place," said Silverglate, a Harvard Law School grad, who needs 219 signatures from Harvard degree-holders to appear on the ballot. "It saddens me that Harvard persists in having, and enforcing, its speech codes, where students get in trouble for telling a joke or engaging in satire or parody deemed offensive to some ethnic, religious, racial or other group."
Silverglate is seeking the slot just as the free-speech group he co-founded, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, has its 10th birthday.
The second article in the Herald offers a quick glimpse at how FIRE defines speech codes at colleges and universities:
FIRE defines a speech code as any regulation that punishes, forbids, heavily regulates or restricts a substantial amount of protected speech. FIRE said this definition is needed because colleges rarely label restrictions as "speech codes" in handbooks. Instead, they call their codes "harassment" codes or "civility codes," while what they do is prohibit free speech.
The article continues with summaries of FIRE’s cases at the University of New Hampshire, where a student was kicked out of his dorm room and forced to live in his car after posting a satirical flyer; at Tufts University, where students were found guilty of racial harassment for publishing factually true, if unflattering, statements about radical Islam; and at Brandeis University, where a long-time professor was found guilty of racial harassment for critiquing the term "wetbacks" in a Latin American Politics class.