2013 was a significant year for FIRE. We welcomed two new schools to our exclusive “green light” list, we celebrated a number of vital policy revisions, we hosted more than 70 students at our annual conference, we secured 17 victories on behalf of students and faculty members across the country, we struck down two unconstitutional speech codes in court, and we did much, much more.
FIRE also marked an impressive year in the public eye. In 2013, FIRE was featured in more than 320 news articles in over 150 unique publications. FIRE staff members also spoke on 38 radio broadcasts, appeared on seven television programs, and made 53 public speaking appearances. Many of these numbers more than double FIRE’s total recorded impact in 2012, a reflection of our growing public influence.
While FIRE is proud to record such impressive figures, we also recognize that they represent something far more profound than numbers—they represent results. Without our public awareness work, many of FIRE’s accomplishments wouldn’t be possible. In fact, this year’s successes made the impact of our public awareness efforts more evident than ever before.
For example, FIRE’s media campaign in response to the federal government’s problematic May 2013 “blueprint” for sexual harassment policies resulted in significant coverage in more than 150 articles and blog posts. Thanks to that wide exposure, thousands of Americans called for reform, policy makers across the country joined our efforts, and the government was eventually forced to reverse course. Likewise, public awareness efforts also helped generate attention and secure victories in key FIRE cases, exposing censorship at schools like Montclair State University and Modesto Junior College.
This year, FIRE reached influential journalists such as George Will and James Taranto, who chronicled new government threats and ongoing due process concerns; attracted coverage in leading national outlets such as The New York Times and USA Today, which turned to FIRE for commentary on key trends in higher education or breaking campus controversies; gained support from editorial boards at The Washington Times and Los Angeles Times, which highlighted our advocacy efforts; and expanded our ability to seek new avenues for public awareness through multimedia initiatives, which gave a voice tostudent activists and provided reporting outlets for ongoing cases. In each of these instances, FIRE’s 2013 public awareness efforts created the momentum necessary to spark discussion and drive reform, once again proving former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ maxim: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”
None of this work would be possible without support from our donors.
FIRE knows that in order to win the fight for free speech on campus, we need to leverage every tool at our disposal. In the coming year, with your support, FIRE can take advantage of the power of public pressure to win cases, secure policy revisions, and spark reform. Please consider donating today! Gifts to FIRE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, are tax-deductible.
Image: “Female DJ working in front of a microphone” – Shutterstock