Rights in the News: At Maryland, Virginia Tech, UMass and Elsewhere, FIRE Cases Grabbing Headlines

By April 10, 2009

Another week, another crush of FIRE cases from around the country battling for headlines. I’ll start with Greg’s Huffington Post blog on the controversy swirling around the University of Maryland campus in the wake of a legislator’s threat to pull funding from the university if it allowed students to screen an adult film on campus—which, after a hiccup or two, they went ahead and did anyway.

Elsewhere, Robert addressed a brewing controversy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst via a column in The Boston Globe, while Adam took to the editorial pages of Virginia Tech’s student newspaper The Collegiate Times for the second time in recent weeks—submitting this week a rebuttal to a column from a faculty member criticizing FIRE’s stance on VT’s diversity requirements for faculty tenure and promotion.

Adam is also quoted today in a lengthy Inside Higher Ed feature on Bowdoin College’s academic investigation of economics professor Jonathan Goldstein, which is also covered in today’s issue of The Bowdoin Orient. Adam also offers commentary for a WFPL News feature on former nursing student Nina Yoder’s hearing at the University of Louisville (UL), which expelled her based on the content of her blog. (WFPL reports now that the hearing was cancelled at UL’s request; her lawsuit against the university presses on.) Speaking of Kentucky stories, The Eastern Progress, a student newspaper at Eastern Kentucky University, runs a feature on Luke’s recent visit to EKU, where he delivered a speech on campus speech codes.

FIRE celebrated (in a manner of speaking) the dishonoring of Lone Star College and Tarrant County College, both of which were awarded "Jefferson Muzzles" by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, placing them in league with the nation’s most egregious violators of First Amendment rights. Those who have followed their cases on The Torch know that this “honor” is well-earned. And with the publication of Kelly’s law review article in the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights, FIRE has added an important chapter to the debate over the in loco parentis powers of the university. Thanks to Kelly for producing this much needed piece of scholarship!

Schools: Lone Star College-Tomball Tarrant County College Bowdoin College University of Louisville Eastern Kentucky University University of Massachusetts – Amherst University of Maryland – College Park