FIRE President Greg Lukianoff has a new post at The Huffington Post comparing FIRE’s recent cases at the University of Oklahoma and Quinnipiac University.
Greg begins his comparison by mentioning our recent victory at the University of Oklahoma, where the college president recently rescinded a campus-wide ban on political emails. Greg explains that "it is rare that one sees a college president flatly and publicly reverse him or herself" which is why "President Boren should be commended for clarifying this murky policy."
But as Greg is quick to mention, the positive development at OU stands in sharp contrast to the attacks on press freedom at Quinnipiac University. At that school, the college administration has gone so far in its persecution of an independent student paper that it has threatened to disband a recognized student group for "any further interaction or endorsements" of the paper. Greg mentions the irony that while Quinnipiac is "known for its omnipresent political polls so popular with journalists, [they are] apparently no fan of their own student journalists."
As he puts it, "This kind of aggressive suppression of the press is more reminiscent of the old Eastern Bloc than Hamden, Connecticut, and certainly bad form for a liberal arts college." As the abuses of authority at Quinnipiac begin to gain more notoriety, we hope that President John L. Lahey will reconsider his stance on press freedom.
But if Lahey remains headstrong in the face of opposition, Greg has some advice for the press:
My thinking is, if Quinnipiac is going to show such contempt for its own student journalists, journalists around the country should start ignoring their polls. There are plenty of polls to go around, but not nearly enough respect for good ol’ campus free speech this season.
Greg’s comparison between OU and QU reminded me of the old cartoon strip Goofus and Gallant that I read as a kid in Highlights for Children magazine. In that famous cartoon, Gallant always takes the high road, while Goofus invariably exhibits irresponsible behavior. Judging the responses of OU and QU to free speech controversies on campus, I think it’s pretty clear which school is which.