Rights in the News: FIRE Brings the Heat to Binghamton

By February 21, 2009

Adam’s speech at Binghamton University (BU) came at a time of high tensions on the public university campus, as the BU social work faculty continues its assault on graduate student Andre Massena. The Binghamton Review (also one of the joint hosts of Adam’s speech) sat down with Adam for an interview on Binghamton’s speech codes prior to his visit, in addition to publishing an article on BU’s attempts at academic retaliation against Massena, and FIRE’s efforts to win justice on his behalf. FIRE figures as well in an article examining proposed changes to BU’s code of conduct, and is given not one but two full-page ads in this month’s Review. Students at BU would do well to pick it up.

They should also make a point of picking up a copy of the Pipe Dream, another independent BU student newspaper, which highlights Adam’s speech in an article published today. As Erin noted earlier, Adam had quite the local media turnout as well, despite the snowy conditions. We’ll have much more to come from BU next week.

Add Playboy magazine to the list of publications to pick up on Kara Spencer’s "spamming" case at Michigan State University. The "Newsfront" section of the March 2009 Playboy (whose namesake foundation honored FIRE President Greg Lukianoff with its inaugural Freedom of Expression Award last fall) carries a brief mention of the guilty finding initially lodged against Spencer after the student government leader selectively e-mailed 391 faculty members over a proposed change in university policy. Spencer’s verdict has, of course, now been withdrawn, but Michigan State remains on FIRE’s Red Alert list so long as the questionable "spam" policy used to prosecute her remains in place. Caroline Tenenbaum, writing for the First Amendment Center, has a worthy piece on Spencer’s case as well.

Lastly, a column on FIRE’s speech code efforts, penned by Campus Freedom Network member Charles Johnson, a student at Claremont McKenna College, was singled out for praise by the Cato Institute this week. Johnson’s column, published last August in The Claremont Independent, uses FIRE’s extensive research on university speech codes to examine the recent history of free speech abuses at the Claremont Colleges. Johnson’s column was named one of two op-eds of the month by Cato on Campus and Johnson, according to Cato’s website, "will also be considered for the Cato on Campus Op-Ed of the Year, with a chance of receiving a full scholarship to Cato University." Congrats to Charles from FIRE on this achievement! 

Schools: Binghamton University, State University of New York Michigan State University Claremont McKenna College