Marquette University’s censorship of a Dave Barry quote
was one of the more confounding cases of 2006. Marquette’s reaction to the quote—a benign criticism of the government—went from baffling to exasperating when administrators tried to justify the censorship, first by claiming
that the quote was “patently offensive,” then
that office doors are not “free speech zones,” then
that it was only in “the context of a complaint” that Marquette is willing to forsake its community members’ free speech rights.
In the hope that Marquette will push past these excuses to clarify whether students and faculty are allowed to express themselves in even the most traditional and banal manner, FIRE wrote to Marquette once again
on Friday, January 12. This time, we attempted to elicit a direct statement about free speech at Marquette from President Robert Wild by writing:
Despite our numerous correspondences, three questions remain: First, was Stuart Ditsler within his rights to post the Barry quote? Second, are students and faculty free to post materials on their office doors, free from viewpoint discrimination? Third, do students and faculty at Marquette enjoy free speech rights comparable to those at any state college?
Until Marquette abandons its multifarious obfuscations and answers these questions directly, students and faculty remain unsure about the level of free expression that is permissible at Marquette.