Liberty in the Balance in North Carolina

By February 1, 2006

The number of battles FIRE has had to fight in North Carolina is staggering. Even before our recent (and victorious) headline-grabbing case at UNC Greensboro, we have defended embattled professors at UNC Wilmington, Shaw University, Forsyth Technical Community College, and Duke University; two Christian groups at UNC Chapel Hill; a student newspaper under attack at Craven Community College; and red-light speech codes across the state. The place clearly needs help, and that is exactly what FIRE is trying to give it.

Last month, we (along with the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy) released the landmark Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System. And not to no avail: not only did the Report make all the papers, but it’s already having a concrete impact on university policies. As yesterday’s press release revealed, UNCG student Allison Jaynes, already a free-speech heroine for leading the charge against UNCG’s unconstitutional “free speech zones,” read the report and was appalled that her university had an unconstitutional “nondiscrimination” policy that  required political groups like hers to admit members of opposing political parties. Note the verb tense there: “required.” After Jaynes made the leader of the UNCG College Republicans aware of the policy and the two protested it, UNCG political groups’ freedom of association has been restored.

Not only that, but Jaynes’ crusade against the “free speech zones” is bearing fruit. The press release also notes that UNCG’s counsel asked FIRE for advice on better speech policies, which we just provided. Now the ball is in UNCG’s court. Will the school cease turning the vast majority of its campus into a censorship zone? Only time will tell, but we are pleased with recent developments and look forward to seeing the fever swamp of campus repression that is North Carolina disinfected.

Schools: Forsyth Technical Community College Craven Community College University of North Carolina – Wilmington University of North Carolina – Greensboro Shaw University Duke University University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill