Introducing FIRE Summer Intern Tim Nuccio

By June 10, 2009

Tim Nuccio is a senior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he majors in Economics. Before attending the University of Illinois, Tim served in the United States Army and the Illinois Army National Guard, worked for the US Postal Service, and attended the Illinois Institute of Technology. Tim is president of Illini on Target, the campus shooting club.

Tim is no stranger to FIRE. Last October, I blogged when Tim joined the Campus Freedom Network. During election season, Tim alerted FIRE to the University of Illinois’ policy banning faculty and staff from having bumper stickers, buttons, t-shirts or any other paraphernalia supporting a political candidate. That case and other cases like it were the impetus for FIRE’s Policy Statement on Political Activity on Campus.

On how he learned about FIRE and why he came to intern here, Tim writes,

I learned about FIRE from several of my fellow attendees at a summer seminar for the Institute for Humane Studies when I shared a story involving past abuses of power at my school.  When it happened to me, I thought I was all alone and that it was relatively uncommon for school administrators to harass and attempt to prosecute students for protected speech.

When I learned about FIRE, started reading The Torch, and began to understand the current status of speech codes at American universities via Spotlight, I quickly realized that I was not alone.  Many students face oppressive administrators like I did, most unaware that school policies violate the Constitution, or even worse, that administrators twist policies to stifle protected expression even in places where robust free speech protection exists.

I have long believed that robust protection for speech and expression is essential to the educational process.  I refuse to submit to censorship in the name of some overbroad claims of "decency," or against "harassment" or speech that tends to offend.  Published scholars disagree all the time, and because of their disagreement, we know more about the world than we did before.  Free expression and thought is a net benefit to every member of the university community, with skepticism the ultimate check on the perpetuation of ignorance.

I am here at FIRE to share in the responsibility of defending our individual liberty against threats that already enjoy broad protection in our Constitution.  Working at FIRE has helped me to become better versed in the case law that executes this broad protection, and to assist in FIRE’s mission to combat speech codes that destroy the most valuable aspect of any university communitydialogue.