FIRE Letter to Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow and Tufts Board of Trustees, December 5, 2007

By December 5, 2007

President Lawrence S. Bacow

Ballou Hall

Tufts University

Medford, Massachusetts 02155

Sent by U.S. Mail and Facsimile (617-627-3300)

Dear President Bacow:

FIRE is very disappointed to have to write you again to express our deep and continuing concern about Tufts University’s punishment of the student journal The Primary Source (TPS).

Despite receipt of FIRE’s April 24 and July 31 letters and numerous public admonitions, Tufts has refused to reverse its ruling that TPS’ December 2006 and April 2007 issues constituted harassment and created a hostile environment for Tufts students. To be clear: while Tufts has acted appropriately in rescinding the initial punishment meted out to TPS, it has failed to rescind its finding that TPS was in fact guilty of hostile environment harassment.

This finding cannot stand. As we have explained at length in our previous letters (July 31, 2007 letter attached), neither TPS’ December Christmas carol nor its April parody of “Islamic Awareness Week” constitute “hostile environment harassment.” Each article was unquestionably a work of political satire, and students were under no obligation whatsoever to read either piece.

That TPS remains guilty of hostile environment harassment, despite the subsequent amelioration of the sanctions levied against it, is incompatible with your public pronouncements of the value of free expression on campus.

As we explained in our July 31 letter, because of Tufts’ reluctance to fully honor its commitment to freedom of speech, FIRE has placed the university on our Red Alert list—a distinction indicating that Tufts has demonstrated an ongoing disregard for their contractual or constitutional commitments to uphold students’ fundamental rights. FIRE’s Red Alert list serves to warn current and prospective students and parents that once enrolled, Tufts students are not fully free to speak their minds. As long as the harassment finding against The Primary Source remains, students at Tufts are in danger of being censored and sanctioned merely for expressing unpopular opinions on campus.

FIRE asks once again that Tufts reverse the “harassment” finding against TPS. We request a response to this letter by December 21, 2007.

Sincerely,

Greg Lukianoff

President

cc:
Jamshed Bharucha, Provost, Tufts University
Margaret E. Newell, Vice Provost, Tufts University
Suna Grassi, Assistant Provost, Tufts University
Bruce Reitman, Dean of Students, Tufts University
Marisel C. Perez, Associate Dean of Students, Tufts University
Veronica Carter, Judicial Affairs Officer, Tufts University

Shiva Bhashyam, Vice Chair of Tufts Community Union Judiciary, Tufts University
Jodie Nealley, Director of the Office of Student Activities, Tufts University
Dickens Mathieu, General Counsel, Tufts University
Lisa Coleman, Executive Director of Institutional Diversity, Tufts University

James A. Stern, Chair, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Joseph Neubauer, Vice Chair, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Thomas M. Alperin, Tufts University Board of Trustees

A. Dana Callow, Jr., Tufts University Board of Trustees

Kathryn Chenault, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Peter R. Dolan, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Steven B. Epstein, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Fares I. Fares, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Joanne Gowa, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Martin Granoff, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Sharon M. Halverson, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Irwin Heller, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Jane C. I. Hirsh, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Jeff Kindler, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Abby Kohnstamm, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Daniel A. Kraft, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Ellen J. Kullman, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Andrew N. Liveris, Tufts University Board of Trustees

David J. McGrath III, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Ioannis N. Miaoulis, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Kathleen O’Loughlin, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Pierre M. Omidyar, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Wilmer R. O’Reilly, Jr., Tufts University Board of Trustees

Karen Pritzker, Tufts University Board of Trustees

William Richardson, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Andrew Safran, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Alan D. Solomont, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Edward M. Swan, Jr., Tufts University Board of Trustees

Alfred I. Tauber, Tufts University Board of Trustees

William C. Thompson, Jr., Tufts University Board of Trustees

Jonathan M. Tisch, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Judith L. Vaitukaitis, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Agnes Varis, Tufts University Board of Trustees

Thomas F. Winkler III, Tufts University Board of Trustees
Nat Hentoff, FIRE Board of Advisors

Michael Meyers, New York Civil Rights Coalition

Dorothy Rabinowitz, The Wall Street Journal
John Leo, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Jason Millman, The Boston Herald

Encl.

Schools: Tufts University Cases: Tufts University: Conservative Student Journal Found Guilty of Harassment