Lecture to Address Freedom of Speech at Bucknell

October 17, 2005

LEWISBURG, Pa., October 17, 2005—David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), will speak at Bucknell University on Thursday, October 20.  The speech is open to the public, and free copies of FIRE’s Guide to Free Speech on Campus, which French co-authored, will be available.
 
French’s speech, entitled “How Bucknell Can Restore Free Speech and Freedom of Conscience,” will take place at 7 p.m. in Bucknell’s Gallery Theatre, 301 Langone Center.  In the speech, French will discuss Bucknell’s speech code, which in FIRE’s estimation “both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”
 
“FIRE classifies speech codes according to a ‘traffic light’ system,” French explained.  “Like many universities in Pennsylvania, Bucknell gets a glaring ‘red light.’  At a university that claims to be committed to “openness and freedom of expression,” such a code is highly inappropriate—and at a public university, it would be unconstitutional.”
 
Bucknell policies ban speech such as “disparaging or condescending remarks about a person’s nationality, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation,” “sexual innuendoes made at inappropriate times,” and “inappropriate remarks about one’s body or clothing” as harassment.  Incoming freshmen are also required to sign an Orwellian pledge to “respect individual differences” lest they suffer sanctions up to “separation from” Bucknell.
 
Before becoming FIRE’s president, French was a partner at the law firm of Greenebaum Doll & McDonald.  French also served as religious freedom counsel for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and as a member of FIRE’s Legal Network.  He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, a former lecturer at Cornell Law School, and the author of two books.  His speech is sponsored by the Bucknell University Conservatives Club (BUCC) and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).
 
“We are thrilled that David French has agreed to speak at Bucknell,” remarked Bucknell senior Matt Gabler, who serves as president of the BUCC.  “Bucknell students and faculty from across the political spectrum have long been active in fighting Bucknell’s speech code.  It will be a pleasure to hear an expert perspective on how Bucknell can change its policies so that they respect liberty.”
 
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty in Pennsylvania can be viewed at thefire.org/pa.
 
CONTACT:
Charles Mitchell, Program Officer, FIRE: 215-717-3473; charles@thefire.org
Matt Gabler, President, BUCC: 814-771-1558; president@bucknellconservatives.org
Doug Schneider, Director of Institutional Marketing, ISI: 302-652-4600; dschneider@isi.org