Rights in the News: Media Campaign Ignites Firestorm in Allegheny County

By May 29, 2009

In the last twenty-four hours, FIRE has twice updated Torch readers on the swift and far-reaching impact of its exposure of the Community College of Allegheny County’s (CCAC’s) suppression of the free speech and association rights of student Christine Brashier, who was prevented from forming a campus chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. Not that FIRE is complaining about the widespread coverage!

Since issuing our press release on Wednesday, a storm of press and commentary from a variety of wire services, newspapers, local news affiliates, blogs, and opinion sites—not to mention dozens of e-mails to the CCAC administration from concerned citizens—has bolstered FIRE’s efforts to win justice for Brashier, who was told by CCAC administrators that the subject of concealed carry of firearms was not to be debated at CCAC, period. The Volokh Conspiracy and Instapundit quickly arrived on the scene, soon followed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Reporting on the controversy by the Associated Press and United Press International has been picked up by dozens of regional and national outlets (not to mention this one in India). And in case they’d missed it, the higher education community read about it today in a feature in Inside Higher Ed.

And as Brandon noted earlier today, the uproar has prompted the chair of CCAC’s board to apologize (as reported by the Tribune-Review) for the delay in the college’s response to FIRE’s April 29 letter, and to promise that one is forthcoming. Readers can rest assured that as this story continues to catch fire (excuse the pun), FIRE will continue to keep the public pressure on CCAC. As the last few days have shown, a well-coordinated public campaign gets results.

Schools: Community College of Allegheny County Cases: Community College of Allegheny County: Student Denied Right to Start Advocacy Organization