Rights in the News: FIRE Stands up for Virginia Tech Faculty

By on March 27, 2009

As you may have read in The Torch this week, FIRE is leading the charge against requirements at Virginia Tech that tie tenure and promotion to a commitment to "diversity"requirements that amount to a political loyalty oath for faculty members. Such requirements, as FIRE and others have written, are a serious threat to academic freedom and freedom of conscience.

In addition to Adam’s coverage of FIRE’s efforts at Virginia Tech, Robin Wilson of The Chronicle of Higher Education has written on the growing criticism directed at the guidelines (subscription required). Ashley Thorne at the National Association of Scholars notes FIRE’s involvement as well, and she probes the doublespeak from the Virginia Tech administration in light of an earlier memorandum that seems to demand that Virginia Tech’s department heads institute "diversity" requirements for their faculty members. FIRE will of course keep Torch readers up to date on our progress at Virginia Tech. (Also read the excellent staff editorial this week from Virginia Tech’s student newspaper The Collegiate Times, which stands in firm and principled opposition to the guidelines.)

Elsewhere, Daniel Ortner, writing for The Brandeis Hoot, highlights FIRE’s involvement in recent security fee disputes at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of California at Berkeley, applying the lessons from those cases to a current dispute at Brandeis over fees for a proposed event with Bill Ayers and Robert H. King. Meanwhile, FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff, from his perch at The Huffington Post, has continued to keep asking about Oklahoma legislators’ attempts to investigate a speech by Richard Dawkins at the University of Oklahoma.

This week we’ve also seen both of FIRE’s co-founders in action: Harvey Silverglate has taken his campaign for Harvard University’s Board of Overseers to Forbes.com, and Alan Charles Kors continues to enlighten and delight students at the University of Pennsylvania, as reported by The Daily Pennsylvanian. Not making a point of attending one of his lectures stands out as a regret from my days at Penn.

Finally, Fred Beukema of Minneapolis, Minn., has won in the neighborhood of $50,000 on Jeopardy! over the past two days. This I report because tonight I take the Jeopardy! stage to try and take him down. We’ll see tonight if I’m up to the challenge.

Schools: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University University of Colorado at Boulder University of California, Berkeley