Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Website: http://www.harvard.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Harvard University has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.

  • Harvard University: Professor Fired for Newspaper Column

    July 16, 2011

    On July 16, 2011, in response to a terrorist bombing in Mumbai, India, Harvard University economics professor Subramanian Swamy published a critical column in the Indian Daily News & Analysis newspaper. Swamy’s controversial column offered ideas on how to “negate the political goals of Islamic terrorism in India,” including a call to “[r]emove the masjid [mosque] in Kashi Vishwanath temple and the 300 masjids at other temple sites.” In response, several Harvard students circulated a petition demanding that Harvard terminate Swamy’s employment. Harvard Summer School Dean Donald H. Pfister initially said that Harvard would give the case “serious attention,” prompting […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard University: Administration Threatened to Cancel ‘Barely Legal’ Party Due to Event’s Name

    May 8, 2008

    Harvard University threatened to cancel a party planned by two Harvard student groups simply because of the party’s name: “Barely Legal.” The Latino Men’s Collective (LMC) and Fuerza Latina proposed that a party be held in the Adams House Dining Hall. Adams House administrators agreed to host the party, but once the party was publicized using the “Barely Legal” name, several students complained to the House masters. The student leadership of both LMC and Fuerza Latina publicly stated that they meant no offense by the party’s name and did not intend to glorify or encourage illegal activity. Nevertheless, Adams House […]

    » Read More
  • Mohammed Cartoon Controversy: FIRE Response to Intimidation and Newspaper Disputes

    February 22, 2006

    As a result of worldwide controversy regarding caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, first published in a Danish newspaper, free speech was being openly disregarded on American college campuses. In the weeks following the printing of the cartoon, students, professors, and student publications not only reprinted the controversial cartoons but even created their own satirical cartoons depicting Mohammed. Chilling of speech in relation to the cartoon was found at Century College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and New York University, amongst others.

    » Read More
  • Harvard University: Denial of Due Process for Student Acquitted of Criminal Charges

    January 4, 2004

    A Harvard graduate student was barred from continuing his studies because a fellow student accused him of sexual assault in January of 2002. The student was acquitted on all six counts of rape and assault by Middlesex Superior Court and his accuser was shown to be fabricating parts of her story at the trial. Despite this, Harvard has not readmitted him and has not dropped its own charges against him.

    » Read More
  • Harvard University: Due Process Debate

    April 1, 2003

    In an extremely important victory for fundamental fairness on our nation’s private as well as public campuses, the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) dismissed a complaint against Harvard University. Wendy Murphy, a Boston lawyer, had alleged that revisions to Harvard’s disciplinary procedures—changes devised to eliminate baseless charges of misconduct between students—violated federal anti-discrimination laws. The OCR pointedly observed that Harvard’s new procedures are not unlawful, since the law "does not prohibit the use of due process. FIRE actively advised various critics of the old policy on what kinds of changes were needed, and it vigorously […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard University: Threat to Discipline Student Newspaper Staff for Publishing Satirical Cartoon

    November 19, 2002

    The Harbus, a student newspaper at Harvard Business School (HBS), ran an editorial cartoon that criticized the school’s Career Services for severe and chronic technical problems during a crucial week for student job searches. The cartoon showed a computer screen with pop-up announcements about the incompetence and inefficiency of the program. One announcement had two words expressing the exasperation of HBS students: “incompetent morons.” The administration issued a verbal warning, causing the editor-in-chief to resign. Following public criticism by FIRE, HBS issued a statement detailing its regret that the incident chilled free expression on campus and affirmed its commitment to […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard University: Proposed Speech Codes

    November 12, 2002

    Harvard Law School considered adopting a new racial speech guide, under the typical guise of a harassment policy. FIRE chastised this illiberal move by such an elite institution.

    » Read More

Red Light Policies

  • Handbook for Students: General Regulations- Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    The College defines racial harassment as actions on the part of an individual or group that demean or abuse another individual or group because of racial or ethnic background. Such actions may include, but are not restricted to, using racial epithets, making racially derogatory remarks, and using racial stereotypes.

    » Read More

  • Free Speech Guidelines 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    There are obligations of civility and respect for others that underlie rational discourse. Racial, sexual, and intense personal harassment not only show grave disrespect for the dignity of others, but also prevent rational discourse. Behavior evidently intended to dishonor such characteristics as race, gender, ethnic group, religious belief, or sexual orientation is contrary to the pursuit of inquiry and education. Such grave disrespect for the dignity of others can be punished under existing procedures because it violates a balance of rights on which the University is based.

    » Read More

  • Handbook for Students: Regulations for Independent Student Organizations- Religion 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    The ability to express one's views regarding religion is a significant freedom of speech that the College upholds. In some instances, this type of expression becomes an avenue for persuasion to affiliate with a particular religion. Discussion in this vein is prohibited when the educational and work environment of an individual or the community is jeopardized. Harassment is defined as actions on the part of an individual or group which demean or abuse another individual because of religious beliefs or that continue after the affected individual has requested a termination of that type of discussion. In all instances in which a particular religion sponsors an event or discussion, the individual or group initiating such contact must clearly identify its sponsorship or the sectarian religious nature of its agenda.

    » Read More

  • Sexual Harassment and Unprofessional Conduct: Guidelines in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    The determination of what constitutes sexual harassment will vary with the particular circumstances, but it may be described generally as unwanted sexual behavior, such as physical contact or verbal comments, jokes, questions, or suggestions.

    » Read More


Yellow Light Policies
Green Light Policies
  • Free Speech Guidelines 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Statement

    Free speech is uniquely important to the University because we are a community committed to reason and rational discourse. Free interchange of ideas is vital for our primary function of discovering and disseminating ideas through research, teaching, and learning. Curtailment of free speech undercuts the intellectual freedom that defines our purpose. It also deprives some individuals of the right to express unpopular views and others of the right to listen to unpopular views.

    Because no other community defines itself so much in terms of knowledge, few others place such a high priority on freedom of speech. As a community, we take certain risks by assigning such a high priority to free speech. We assume that the long-term benefits to our community will outweigh the short-term unpleasant effects of sometimes-noxious views. Because we are a community united by a commitment to rational processes, we do not permit censorship of noxious ideas. We are committed to maintaining a climate in which reason and speech provide the correct response to a disagreeable idea.

    Members of the University do not share similar political or philosophical views, nor would such agreement be desirable. They do share, however, a concern for the community defined in terms of free inquiry and dissemination of ideas. Thus, they share a commitment to policies that allow diverse opinions to flourish and to be heard. In the words of the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities, the University must protect "the rights of its members to organize and join political associations, convene and conduct public meetings, publicly demonstrate and picket in orderly fashion, advocate and publicize opinion by print, sign, and voice."

    » Read More


  • Is Michael Bloomberg Persona Non Grata at Harvard?

    March 17, 2014

    By Avi Snyder at National Review Online Another day, another college, another effort to protest a commencement speaker. The Harvard Crimson reports that some students have expressed opposition to Harvard’s selection of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg as this year’s commencement speaker. At issue is Bloomberg’s vigorous support for stop-and-frisk policing policies. Harvard College Black Men’s Forum President Rodriguez S. Roberts ’15 also raised questions about the selection of the former mayor. “Harvard’s bringing him to deliver the commencement address could be taken as either an endorsement of this policy or as simple ignorance thereof,” Roberts wrote in an email. “To be honest, […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Disinvitation Season’ Begins on College Campuses

    March 14, 2014

    By Adam Kissel at Minding the Campus A college commencement is a splendid time to celebrate student achievement. But it’s “disinvitation season” again, as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education observes: the time when intolerant students and faculty advocate against their school’s choice of commencement speaker, sometimes causing the speaker to be disinvited. These power-hungry protesters demonstrate how little they have learned about tolerance in a diverse society where people say and do things that others dislike. And all too often, as at Harvard and at Rutgers, they have learned this intolerance from their own professors. Is former New York mayor […]

    » Read More
  • Are US colleges and universities becoming free-speech-free?

    March 10, 2014

    by Richard Cameron at Communities Digital News WASHINGTON, March 10, 2014 – Earlier this month, a Harvard senior named Sandra Y.L. Corn wrote an opinion piece in the university’s student publication, Crimson, arguing that academic freedom be tossed overboard in favor of an arbitrary standard of ‘academic justice’. The idea was that because Harvard still permits Professors to even discuss ideas, concepts and theories which the majority (or perhaps – bellicose minority) of the student body considers politically incorrect, a narrow, sanitized curriculum should be adopted, which entirely excludes opposing propositions. A tsunami of intolerance among progressives is leaving academic blight in it’s wake […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard or Big Brother? Secret Email Search Provokes Outrage

    March 13, 2013

    Harvard University has been plunged into controversy following a Boston Globe report from this weekend revealing that university administrators covertly accessed and searched the email accounts of 16 resident deans this past fall. The secret search, conducted without notice and in apparent violation of institutional policies governing faculty email, was undertaken to identify the source of a leak to the media about the school’s high-profile and widespread cheating case, which resulted in the expulsion of an estimated 70 students. The Globe reports that Harvard administrators ordered information technology staff members to conduct the search of the resident deans’ administrative email accounts. The resident dean determined to […]

    » Read More
  • Two Blind Sociologists and an Elephant

    March 7, 2013

    The easy criticism of a book like Becoming Right is that it falls into the “conservatives in the mist” genre, in which liberal academicians and journalists venture forth into the world of heartland conservatism, Tea Party ferment, or in this case right-wing campus activism only to find their biases confirmed. Some have already accused this book of a similar hackish approach. Yet the label doesn’t quite fit. The thesis here is fairly limited, and the authors, UCSD sociologist Amy Binder and Ph.D. Student Kate Wood, are reasonably fair toward their subjects—though one wonders why they feel the need to put phrases like “politically correct” […]

    » Read More
  • 6 of 10 universities can’t figure out 1st Amendment

    December 20, 2012

    by Bob Unruh at WND More than six of 10 colleges and universities across the United States have yet to figure out the First Amendment, because their “speech codes” conflict with the Constitution, according to a new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “FIRE surveyed 409 schools for this report and found that over 62 percent maintain severely restrictive, ‘red-light’ speech codes – policies that clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech,” said the executive summary. “That this figure is so large is deeply troubling, but there is good news: for the fifth year in a row, the percentage of schools maintaining […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Geniuses Re-Open the Old “Racism or Satire” Debate

    December 14, 2012

    When you think Harvard, you think highbrow. It’s an institution where serious people go to study serious subjects, like law and underwater lacrosse-stick weaving. Chances are their senses of humor are also erudite: if a Harvardian laughs at a fart joke, it must have included an especially obscure T. S. Eliot reference. (Five bucks to the person who can make that joke.) Recently some fun-loving Harvard students pulled a prank that was either a boorish insult to minorities and women or a delightful piece of lampoonery. (Lampoonery is a real word, although I had to look that up, because I […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard, Legendary Home Of Harvard Lampoon, Strangles Campus Satire

    December 12, 2012

    The culprit? A flyer supposedly advertising The Pigeon, a new “final club” at Harvard. (Final clubs are Harvard’s unrecognized but influential substitutes for fraternities.) Applicants were told to show up at a frozen yogurt shop inCambridge two minutes after closing time, wearing the required “semi-bro” attire. But what really raised hackles were the asterisked qualifiers at the end: “Jews need not apply”; “Seriously, no fucking Jews. Coloreds OK”; and “Rophynol” (the last a misspelling of the “date-rape drug”, Rohypnol). These asterisks were linked to the “values” of Inclusion, Diversity, and Love, respectively.Harvard University should be no stranger to satire. Home of the famous Harvard […]

    » Read More
  • Introduction To Irony: Or, How To Take A Joke 101

    December 4, 2012

    I know a few Holocaust jokes. I learned them from the children of survivors. I suspect they’d disagree with the Harvard student who declared that pain was no laughing matter. “I don’t think that jokes should trigger on any type of pain,” 20-year-old Dakota Rot explained to the Boston Globe. She was responding to satirical fliers distributed on campus advertising a fake social club, noting “Jews need not apply,” and “Coloreds Okay,” and including a reference to date rape. “If you’re a person that’s part Jewish or a person of color or a woman who’s has been in any dangerous situation, you […]

    » Read More
  • COOL JUSTICE: Shouting fire: Antidote for mind-numbing political correctness

    November 27, 2012

    Bad news for high school and college students and, of course, the work force: The thought police never go away. They just get more sophisticated and have fancier titles.On the good news front, once in a while the thought police suffer a well-deserved but overdue thrashing. While these victories are heart-warming, they tend to come many years after students have suffered grossly unjust punishments at the hands of villainous academics, cops or prosecutors.Enter Greg Lukianoff, a Danbury native and author of a new book, “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.” As president of the Foundation for […]

    » Read More
  • Free Speech on FIRE

    November 10, 2012

    The essentiality of freedom in the community of American universities is almost self-evident,” wrote Earl Warren in a 1957 Supreme Court opinion. Apparently, American universities themselves have come to disagree. In Unlearning Liberty, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) president Greg Lukianoff demonstrates that the First Amendment is in serious danger at many institutions of higher learning. Where universities once went to court to protect campus speech from state intrusion, students and even professors must now go to court to keep schools from censoring them. Sometimes schools go beyond censoring unapproved viewpoints, and simply compel students to express the […]

    » Read More
  • Feigning Free Speech on Campus

    October 24, 2012

    DESPITE high youth voter turnout in 2008 — 48.5 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds cast ballots that year — levels are expected to return to usual lows this year, and with that the usual hand-wringing about disengagement and apathy among young voters. Colleges and universities are supposed to be bastions of unbridled inquiry and expression, but they probably do as much to repress free speech as any other institution in young people’s lives. In doing so, they discourage civic engagement at a time when debates over deficits and taxes should make young people pay more attention, not less. Since the 1980s, in […]

    » Read More
  • Not at Liberty to Discuss

    September 14, 2012

    Last week, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) published its second annual list of the “Seven Best Colleges for Freedom of Speech” on The Huffington Post. As FIRE’s president and a HuffPo contributor for the past five years, I knew what was coming next — and sure enough, the predictable culture war arguments were quickly trotted out by commenters. I wasn’t surprised. After all, the college campus should serve as a kind of national free speech laboratory, where all ideas are freely debated. So naming some schools better or worse at facilitating this kind of dialogue always strikes a chord with readers. Some […]

    » Read More
  • 5 More of the Worst Free Speech Violations on College Campuses

    September 12, 2012

    On Tuesday, I shared the first half of my list of ten of the most common free speech violations which the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE ) encounters in its work defending campus expression. As I noted yesterday, the list is far from comprehensive, and the offenses listed are in no particular order. They do, however, give a sense of the depth and variety of ways free speech is threatened at our colleges and universities. Here are five more of the most common violations against free speech on campus. Be sure to visit yesterday’s post for the first half of […]

    » Read More
  • On-campus free speech slowly improving

    April 5, 2012

    Although only 12 are listed on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education‘s (FIRE) list of “Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2012,” the organization asserts that the roll could be much longer. FIRE vice president Robert Shibley says the list includes institutions that severely violate the speech rights of students, faculty members — and sometimes both. “Our number-one was the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, where they limit demonstrations, pickets and rallies to only one-tenth of one percent of their campus – and you have to reserve that ten days in advance,” he details. That is a small portion of the […]

    » Read More
  • Don’t speak: Report ranks 2012’s ‘Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ in the country

    April 2, 2012

    Last week, the Foundation For Individual Rights in Education released its second-annual “Worst Colleges for Free Speech” list. The Philadelphia-based nonprofit named 12 U.S. colleges and universities that, in its view, continue to impose limits on student speech — even after intense pressure from FIRE and others.  FIRE president Greg Lukianoff released the list on his Huffington Post blog.  Topping the dozen was the University of Cincinnati, due to a pending civil rights lawsuit filed against them by Young Americans for Liberty, a Ron Paul-inspired activist group. In February, the officially sanctioned student organization was limited to a small “free […]

    » Read More
  • The top 12 worst colleges for free speech

    March 28, 2012

    Who doesn’t love a good awards show? The gowns, the acceptance speeches, the brutal infringements of civil liberties … the excitement just never ends. Once again, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, where I work), has sorted through the hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation that severely restrict the First Amendment rights of their students, and is ready to present a “dirty dozen” of colleges that have attacked freedom of speech with such zeal that we cannot help but (dis)honor them. While it was difficult to choose from such a wide talent pool, certain schools took our breath […]

    » Read More
  • Over the Line

    December 8, 2011

    In an unusual move, Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted this week to eliminate two summer school courses in economics because of anti-Muslim statements the instructor made in an op-ed published in India. When word about the op-ed spread in July, some Harvard students demanded that Subramanian Swamy be fired. At the time, Harvard pledged to look into the situation, but noted that it is “central to the mission of a university to protect free speech, including that of Dr. Swamy and of those who disagree with him.” But faculty members this week cited the nature of his statements as […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard instructor under fire for anti-terrorism op-ed attacking Muslims

    August 1, 2011

    A Harvard Summer School economics instructor is under fire and facing calls for his termination after publishing an article calling for strong political action to combat Islamic terrorism in India. On July 16, Harvard instructor Subramanian Swamy wrote an op-ed in the Indian newspaper Daily News and Analysis, “How to Wipe Out Islamic Terror,” in response to the July 13th Mumbai bombings that killed 23 people. In the op-ed, Swamy wrote that Muslims in India “are being programmed by a slow reactive process to become radical and thus slide into suicide against Hindus.” The solution, Swamy wrote, is a unified […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Instructor May Face Removal Over Anti-Muslim Op-Ed

    July 30, 2011

    Subramanian Swamy, a Harvard Summer School economics instructor and a political leader in India, wrote an op-ed called “How to Wipe Out Islamic Terror” for the Indian newspaper Daily News and Analysis on July 16, in response to the July 13th Mumbai bombings that killed 23 people. The article, that “many have called offensive and inflammatory,” according to the Harvard Crimson, has since spurred over 200 people to sign a petition demanding that the administration “repudiate Swamy’s remarks and terminate his association with the University.” In the op-ed in question, Swamy proposes the following response to Islamic terrorism in India: […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard backs off media policy

    September 2, 2009

    Harvard Medical School is backing off a new student policy that would have restricted interaction with the news media after students complained it would chill their ability to talk about current issues in medicine, school officials said Tuesday. “We need to be very careful,” said Dr. Nancy E. Oriol, the dean of students, who helped develop the policy. Promising it would be revised, she said the policy was intended to help students, rather than limit speech or control what they say on controversial topics. But several students said the policy was an attempt to keep them quiet about issues like […]

    » Read More
  • Why the ‘Harvard Law Review’ comment defending campus speech codes matters

    August 20, 2009

    by Greg Lukianoff The Huffington Post Today the good folks over at the Law Librarian Blog (LLB) picked up on the recent kerfuffle surrounding a student-authored case comment that appeared in the April issue of the Harvard Law Review. The HLR comment–published unsigned, per the journal’s policy–strongly criticized the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s 2008 decision to overturn Temple University’s speech code, arguing that speech codes are constitutional and that the case (DeJohn v. Temple University, 537 F.3d 301 (3d Cir. 2008)) was wrongly decided. Kelly Sarabyn, my colleague at the Foundation for Individual Rights In […]

    » Read More
  • Free speech at Harvard

    February 25, 2009

    ONE OF THE elections I’m fascinated with this year is for . . . Harvard’s Board of Overseers. Why, you say, should we non-Harvard types care about an election for the lesser of Harvard’s two governing boards? Because two outspoken candidates are trying to storm the gates, arguing that the storied university needs to embrace free speech unambiguously, reform its disciplinary procedures, and focus more on its students. And because what happens at Harvard doesn’t stay at Harvard, but rather reverberates throughout the academic world. As co-founder of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Cambridge lawyer and writer Harvey […]

    » Read More
  • Silverglate seeks spot as university overseer

    February 19, 2009

    On October 19, 1869, during his inaugural address as President of Harvard College, Charles William Eliot described the central role alumni would play in the governing of the University: “The real function of the Board of Overseers is to stimulate and watch the President and Fellows. The Overseers should always hold towards the Corporation an attitude of suspicious vigilance. They ought always to be pushing and prying.” The Board of Overseers is a group of 30 alumni, five of whom are elected by the over 300,000 University alumni each year to serve six-year terms. This year, alumni will choose a […]

    » Read More
  • What you can’t say at Harvard Law School

    September 24, 2008

    Harvey Silverglate is a lawyer, newspaper columnist, blogger, civil liberties activist and author (“The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses,” written with Alan Charles Kors). I’ve known him for many years, and consider him as close to a free-speech absolutist – in the worthy tradition of former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black – as anyone currently engaged in the never-ending battle against censorship. One doesn’t have to agree with every position Silverglate takes – I doubt he expects that. But it’s good for the culture and the country to have him out there, arguing, badgering, publicizing, provoking. […]

    » Read More
  • Network Aims to Help Harassed Campus Conservatives

    December 26, 2005

    WASHINGTON—Though Christopher Flickinger calls himself “dean” and poses in parodistic photos waving a small American flag and looking stern, he says he’s never been more serious about eliminating what he claims is pervasive anti-conservatism on college campuses today. “When I was on campus, I had no help,” the recent Ohio State University graduate told FOXNews.com. “I was harassed, intimidated, shouted down.” Flickinger, schooled in broadcast journalism, said he wants to provide the support he never had as a lonely conservative in college. That’s why in November he launched the Network of College Conservatives to act in part as “a link […]

    » Read More
  • Codes censor speech

    September 1, 2005

     Given the section you are reading, it should come as no surprise that I describe myself as a very opinionated person. But, as somewhat of a pessimist, my columns usually focus on what’s wrong with policy X or ideology Y, and my usual targets are conservative, right-wing issues. I tend to focus on criticizing the right-wing because of its current political prominence. However, I have a confession to make: There are many liberal left-wing ideas I’m equally unimpressed with, but haven’t written about. For example, I disapprove of gay adoptions, believe immigration laws should be inflexible and feel popular feminists […]

    » Read More
  • Polly gaffes

    April 16, 2005

    By Mark Bergin at World Magazine Scott McConnell disputes the postmodern fads of elementary pedagogy, calling multiculturalism and lax discipline educational stumbling blocks. The former graduate student at Le Moyne College in Syracuse advocates a more traditional classroom—complete with cultural value judgments and corporal punishment. Such ideas, according to Le Moyne officials, merit expulsion. Mr. McConnell’s story tops the Collegiate Network’s 2005 Campus Outrage Awards, an annual listing of ridiculous happenings in academia. The Pollys—so dubbed in mockery of political correctness run amok—are meant to incite more than just chuckles among conservatives. “We want to focus national attention on the absurdity […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Pollys’ Spotlight Politically Correct Excesses On U.S. Campuses

    April 14, 2005

    By Jim Brown at Agape Press A higher education watchdog group has unveiled its annual “Campus Outrage Awards,” documenting the worst “absurdities” and most egregious examples of political correctness on college campuses this year. The president of Harvard University receiving a faculty vote of no confidence for suggesting that innate differences might account for some of the inequalities between men and women in certain fields of endeavor; and Duke University hosting a Palestine Solidarity Movement conference with a segment designed to recruit students for terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad — those are just two of the dubious honorees […]

    » Read More
  • 2005 Campus Outrage Awards

    April 1, 2005

    Collegiate Network Duke spends over $50,000 on a tactical training session for activists dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel, while a graduate student at LeMoyne College is expelled for writing that light spanking has a legitimate role in classroom discipline. A UNLV professor is engulfed in a whirlwind of controversy after making a remark about the financial planning habits of homosexuals, while a student at Occidental College is convicted of sexually harassing the whole school over the radio. Ward Churchill is defended by the academic community for declaring that victims of the World Trade Center bombing deserved […]

    » Read More
  • Insults and the Constitution

    March 7, 2005

    Insult is powerful. Insult begets both rage and humor, and often at the same time. Consider the dialogue in “Romance,” a new play by David Mamet in New York. A cast of six characters, all of themmen, some gay and at least one of them Jewish, goesafter each other. A Protestant defense lawyer and the Jew he’s in court to defend hate eachother. “You people can’t order a cheese sandwich without mentioning the Holocaust,” shouts the lawyer. “I hired a goy lawyer,” responds his client. “It’s like going to a straight hairdresser.” The satire aims for humor, but it’s humor […]

    » Read More
  • Colleges value civility over free expression

    February 8, 2005

    Write about free speech on American college campuses occasionally, and you quickly come to realize that a good many people honor the concept mostly in the breach. Every column defending free expression generates a number of emails with this basic message: Of course I support free speech, I just don’t think someone should be allowed to say that. The anti-speech sentiment is not always couched quite that explicitly, of course. Usually the caveat is about the need to realize just how hurtful a controversial statement is to this group or that, whose self-image or self-confidence or self-worth will be irreparably […]

    » Read More
  • Why Feminist Careerists Neutered Larry Summers

    February 5, 2005

    Like religious fundamentalists seeking to stamp out the teaching of evolution, feminists stomped Harvard University President Lawrence Summers for mentioning at a January 14 academic conference the entirely reasonable theory that innate male-female differences might possibly help explain why so many mathematics, engineering, and hard-science faculties remain so heavily male.Unlike most religious fundamentalists, these feminists were pursuing a careerist, self-serving agenda. This cause can put money in their pockets.Summers’s suggestion — now ignominiously retracted, with groveling, Soviet-show-trial-style apologies — was that sex discrimination and the reluctance of mothers to work 80 hours a week are not the only possible explanations […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard flap prompts query: How free is campus speech?

    January 28, 2005

    BOSTON AND CHICAGO – In the two weeks since Harvard University president Lawrence Summers suggested that innate differences between the sexes may partly account for male dominance in science and math, the ensuing frenzy of discussion has become a kind of national Rorschach test. Editorialists excoriate his sexism or applaud his candor. The National Organization for Women has called for his resignation. Academics are poring over studies that deal with nature, nurture, and gender differences. Dr. Summers’s comments – which he said were intended to provoke discussion about why women were underrepresented in top science posts – have ended up […]

    » Read More
  • Say it ain’t so

    January 28, 2005

    THE INMATES TOOK over the asylum at Harvard last week, thanks to President Lawrence Summers’s ignominious, ill-considered, and likely ill-fated retreat in the face of an organized assault by highly politicized feminist academics and their allies. At issue were comments Summers made, at a January 14 conference, merely stating the obvious: that genetic differences between the sexes might in part account for women’s underrepresentation in math, science, and engineering, and that research must be conducted to answer the hard questions and devise remedies. He should have known, however, that in the modern academy, it is no longer acceptable to speak […]

    » Read More
  • Campus Christians: not always at ease

    January 25, 2005

    When Chris Gruener moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to begin graduate school, he looked forward to experiencing the region’s renowned tolerance of all people and lifestyles. Mr. Gruener was raised in a devout Christian family near Seattle and attended a Baptist high school and a Christian college, where he studied business. His passion, however, was literature, and so he was excited to begin a master’s program in English at Sonoma State University. But during his first semester, a classroom incident put a damper on Gruener’s ardor. While lecturing on James Joyce’s rejection of the church, a professor drew […]

    » Read More
  • Speech Codes: Alive and Well at Colleges…

    August 1, 2003

    By Greg Lukianoff at The Chronicle of Higher Education

    » Read More
  • Fire on American Campuses

    May 7, 2003

    By Richard L. Cravatts at The Washington Dispatch

    » Read More
  • ‘Harvard Crimson’ Column: Time to Get Rid of Academic Freedom

    February 21, 2014

    Harvard University student Sandra Y.L. Korn has a provocative column in The Harvard Crimson that has been making the rounds. The column has a bold thesis: We should get rid of academic freedom as our standard for what ideas should be admitted to the university sphere, and replace it with what she terms “academic justice.” In Korn’s concept of academic justice, “When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.” The concept of academic freedom Korn seeks to supplant is long-established and enshrined in, among other statements, the American Association […]

    » Read More
  • The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2013

    December 27, 2013

    College is where inquisitive minds go to be exposed to new ways of thinking. But on some campuses, the quest for knowledge is frustrated when administrators censor speech they would prefer be kept out of the marketplace of ideas. To close out the year, we at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) want to highlight some of the worst colleges for free speech since March 2012—the last time we published this list. (Our first list, from 2011, is here.) Most of the schools we include in this year’s list are public colleges or universities bound by the First Amendment. But some of […]

    » Read More
  • Harvey Silverglate on the ‘Slow Death of Free Speech at Harvard’

    November 5, 2013

    Late last month, FIRE co-founder and chairman (and Harvard Law School alumnus) Harvey Silverglate delivered a speech to the Harvard Law School class of 1958 at its 55th reunion. Harvey used the occasion to share an eye-opening series of stories that reveal Harvard University’s accelerating trend of censorship and compelled speech. Harvey started by recalling a case early in his career in which he defended a group of students whose speech would almost certainly be punished under harassment codes today. He reviewed the creation of Harvard Law’s sexual harassment policies, and Harvard Business School’s threatening student journalists over an innocuous cartoon. More recently, […]

    » Read More
  • Report on Harvard’s Secret Email Search Released

    July 25, 2013

    In the fall of 2012, Harvard University administrators secretly searched the email accounts of 16 “resident deans.” They did so in an attempt to catch the resident dean whom they suspected of releasing, to student reporters, an email about how to advise students implicated in the Harvard cheating scandal. In other words, Harvard administrators wanted to plug a leak.  Harvard’s faculty email policy promises complete confidentiality in faculty email accounts—except in extraordinary circumstances, in which case the Dean of the Faculty and General Counsel must both approve the searches. Faculty whose email accounts are to be searched are additionally entitled […]

    » Read More
  • 16th Annual ‘Campus Muzzle’ Awards Feature Yale, Tufts, Harvard

    June 27, 2013

    The “Muzzles” live! The 16th annual “Campus Muzzle” Awards, previously featured in the now-sadly-defunct Boston Phoenix, have found a new home this year on WGBH News online, as well as in the Portland Phoenix. FIRE co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate awards the Campus Muzzles each year to the worst universities in New England for First Amendment rights. (Harvey’s Campus Muzzles are a sidebar to Dan Kennedy’s Muzzle Awards, which feature his selection of the worst free speech violators off-campus in New England.)  This year, Yale University “wins” for its disturbing disregard for free speech on its new overseas campus in […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Communications Office As Large As Its Physics Department

    June 3, 2013

    According to The Harvard Crimson’s graduation issue, the Harvard Public Affairs and Communications (HPAC) office now employs 59 people—and that figure doesn’t even include the communications staffs of Harvard’s 12 schools. As Daniel Luzer points out at the Washington Monthly, Harvard’s bureaucratic army of message-shapers is now about as large as its physics department. All these administrators need something to do, and, as we’ve written many times on this blog, superfluous administrators too often keep busy by limiting campus free speech and due process rights.  At Harvard, the president, provost, vice presidents, and top deans have made work for HPAC […]

    » Read More
  • Tyga Comes to Campus: Penn Students Call for Dialogue, Harvard Students Call for Cancellation

    April 3, 2013

    More than 1,800 Harvard students have signed a Change.org petition asking the Harvard administration to rescind its invitation to hip-hop artist Tyga to headline the university’s annual Yardfest, because of Tyga’s “explicitly and violently misogynistic lyrics.” The petition states: We demand that Harvard rescind its offer to Tyga, because we believe that Harvard should not provide a platform for music that promotes sexism and rape culture. What a missed opportunity this is. Can you imagine the powerful message that Harvard students would have sent the administration—and society at large—by boycotting Tyga’s performance en masse, and by sharing, via social media […]

    » Read More
  • Really, Harvard? You Read More Emails? I Mean, Really?

    April 3, 2013

    Concept of hacker and virus with laptop - Shutterstock  For better or for worse, when something happens at Harvard University, it’s news. So it was big news early in March when Harvard admitted that it had secretly scanned faculty members’ emails. As FIRE’s Will Creeley put it in The Huffington Post on March 13, “The secret search, conducted without notice and in apparent violation of institutional policies governing faculty email, was undertaken to identify the source of a leak to the media about the school’s high-profile and widespread cheating case, which resulted in the expulsion of an estimated 70 students.”  I […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE’s Shibley in ‘Forbes’ on Harvard E-mail Scandal

    March 12, 2013

    FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley offers his thoughts on the Harvard University e-mail scandal for Forbes this morning. Criticizing Harvard’s emphasis on public relations at the expense of faculty privacy, Robert writes:   If a liberal arts education is supposed to be a “marketplace of ideas,” putting message control above all else is anathema. Students and faculty members must be free to explore ideas and to criticize bad decisions, or the marketplace will not function. They can’t do that if they believe that Harvard is going to read their email if they happen to forward something that makes life […]

    » Read More
  • If You Work For Harvard, It’s Possible You’re Being Watched By Harvard

    March 12, 2013

    by Robert Shibley Forbes.com   Did you ever get that sneaking suspicion that someone’s watching you? As it turns out, if you work for Harvard University, you might have good reason for it. The fallout from Harvard’s 2012cheating scandal, in which dozens of students werereportedly  forced to withdraw from school for cheating on a take-home exam, continued this weekend with the revelation inThe Boston Globe that Harvard administrators scanned the email of 16 “resident deans” to see who might have leaked to the press an internal email about the situation. (Resident deans live in Harvard dorms, teach classes, and sit on the campus […]

    » Read More
  • Answering ‘The Harvard Crimson’ on ‘Unconstructive’ Flyers

    December 10, 2012

    In the wake of a controversy at Harvard University following the anonymous distribution of satirical flyers advertising a fake “final club,” the editorial staff of The Harvard Crimson published a column on the incident last week. Rather than take on Harvard’s condemnatory response to this clearly satirical flyer, and reports that Harvard is actively searching for the flyer’s author(s), the Crimson‘s editors tackle the culture of final clubs. They write:  While we too find the flyers tasteless and their use of inflammatory language inappropriate and unconstructive, a response to the prank cannot be properly made without a meaningful appraisal of […]

    » Read More
  • Wendy Kaminer Tackles Harvard’s Laugh-Free Culture

    December 4, 2012

    A controversy over an anonymously distributed flyer that was distributed in several of Harvard’s residence halls is roiling the Harvard community this week. The satirical flyer advertised a fake “final club” called “The Pigeon.” In context, the flyer—with statements such as “Jews need not apply” and “Coloreds OK”—is a biting satire of the exclusivity and old-world roots of final clubs, which are fully independent from Harvard and do not allow female members. As lawyer, author, and FIRE Board of Advisors member Wendy Kaminer notes at WBUR’s Cognoscenti blog, however, the humor seems to have been lost on students. Kaminer notes […]

    » Read More
  • Changes to Harvard Student Disciplinary Process Reviewed

    November 7, 2012

    In 2009–2010, Harvard University’s Administrative Board (widely known as Ad Board) implemented a series of changes to its student disciplinary process. Over the last two weeks, The Harvard Crimson has published a four-part series to evaluate those reforms now that they have been implemented and utilized for nearly 2 years.  The first article of the series explores whether the Ad Board’s purpose was more pedagogical or punitive. The second article in the series addresses whether accused Harvard students, who are not permitted representation by lawyers during the disciplinary process, receive adequate counsel. The third piece scrutinizes the change in evidentiary […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE Chairman Takes On Harvard’s Renewed Civility Push

    September 24, 2012

    Writing for Minding the Campus with Juliana DeVries, FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate weighs in on new reports of “sensitivity” training for incoming freshmen at Harvard University.  As the Harvard Crimson reported earlier this month, Harvard incorporated the sensitivity training into its programming for freshmen this year in lieu of the controversial “kindness” pledge instituted last fall and later modified after extensive criticism. The Crimson quotes Dean of Freshmen Thomas Dingman defending the new initiative:  The Freshman Dean’s Office set aside the controversial freshman pledge this year, opting instead for additional programming for the class of 2016 during Opening […]

    » Read More
  • Is Harvard More Repressive Than the Town That Banned Swearing?

    July 2, 2012

    That’s the question FIRE Chairman and Co-Founder Harvey Silverglate asks in his latest letter to The Boston Globe about Harvard University and the town of Middleborough, Massachusetts, which recently banned curse words (punishment: a $20 fine). Harvey makes the connection between the two:  [I]t should come as no surprise that a municipality makes the assumption that it has the legal power and moral authority to dictate what its citizens may not say. Since the mid-1980s our institutions of so-called higher learning have been instituting ever-stricter speech codes that make it a punishable act for one student to offend another by […]

    » Read More
  • Compelling ‘Civility’

    June 1, 2012

    Earlier this week, an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) discussed the growing popularity on college campuses of programs aimed at promoting civility. While one might reasonably ask whether there is a connection between exorbitant tuition rates, administrative bloat, and programs such as the “transformational, saturation approach” civility projects discussed in the article, there is no problem from an individual rights standpoint with colleges promoting civility. The individual rights problem, which the article barely even hints at, is that a large number of colleges and universities actually compel civility rather than simply encouraging it.  The article focuses […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Crimson’ Reports on Due Process Concerns as Harvard Revises Sexual Assault Policy

    May 14, 2012

    Last Friday, The Harvard Crimson updated readers on Harvard University’s ongoing study of its sexual assault policies, noting that the university’s policy options have been affected by the controversial April 4, 2011, “Dear Colleague” letter from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Zeroing in on the ongoing debate about OCR’s decision to mandate the use of the “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof in campus sexual misconduct proceedings, Crimson staff writer Rebecca D. Robbins writes: As Harvard’s peer institutions move to update their sexual misconduct policies by lowering the standard of evidence required for a guilty […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Business School Fails to Live Up to Its Own Standards

    May 8, 2012

    “The teaching of ethics here is explicit, not implicit,” proclaims the Harvard Business School (HBS) website, as the school sets for itself the goal of constructing “a model of the highest standards essential to responsible leadership in the modern business world.” But the case of Ben Story, a student who recently ran afoul of the HBS administration, seems to demonstrate the illusory nature of the school’s proud claim.  A student proudly displayed on the HBS website, Ben Story graduated from UCLA with a degree in theater and hopes to pursue a career that combines business and art, “something in media and entertainment.” […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Free Speech Week’ Celebrated on Campuses Nationwide

    April 13, 2012

    FIRE celebrated Free Speech Week last week by teaming up with Students For Liberty to send FIRE speakers and materials to student groups across the country. We’re pleased to announce it was a great success!   To mark the occasion, 72 student groups distributed FIRE materials and pocket-sized Constitutions on campus. More than 20 student groups also organized expressive events. Many decided to build Free Speech Walls at schools including American University, Boston University, Harvard University, Kansas State University, Winthrop University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Texas San Antonio. FIRE’s Campus Freedom Network (CFN) also worked with […]

    » Read More
  • Does Harvard Deserve to be on the ‘Worst Colleges’ List?

    April 5, 2012

    This week, a staff editorial in the Harvard University student newspaper The Harvard Crimson takes issue with FIRE’s inclusion of Harvard in our list of the 12 “Worst Colleges for Free Speech.” Our list, which appeared on The Huffington Post, has generated a good amount of online comments and discussion, student press coverage, and attention in major media outlets.  Of course, we understand that folks may disagree vehemently with us when their school appears on the list, and that they may take issue with the criteria we use for naming our “Worst 12.” However, the points raised by the Crimson […]

    » Read More
  • ‘12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ List in the News

    March 30, 2012

    Tuesday, The Huffington Post released FIRE’s list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2012. In addition to the social media storm the story generated, the list caught the attention of a number of media outlets:  University of Cincinnati’s appearance at the top of the list garnered the attention of Cincinnati City Beat. In “UC Gets Drawn into Free Speech Battle,” University of Cincinnati spokesman Greg Hand mischaracterizes the school’s “free speech zone” policy, so FIRE responded to his claim here. Syracuse, New York, press Syracuse.com, CNYCentral.com, and WSYR-TV (Channel 9 in Syracuse) have noted Syracuse University’s placement […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE’s 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2012

    March 27, 2012

    Here’s today’s press release:  PHILADELPHIA, March 27, 2012—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released its 2012 list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in The Huffington Post today. Harvard is new to the list this year, joining Yale, Syracuse, and the University of Cincinnati at the top of the list. “These colleges and universities have deeply violated the principles that are supposed to animate higher education,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “Sunlight is one of the best disinfectants, and the public needs to know which schools to watch out for.”  Although schools appear on the list in no particular […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Harvard Crimson’ Exposes Violations of Free Speech in Policies Identified by FIRE

    January 30, 2012

    FIRE’s annual report on campus speech codes has reached more and more college and university campuses since we released it a few weeks ago. Today The Harvard Crimson‘s Rebecca D. Robbins reports on Harvard’s poor, “red light” speech code rating in FIRE’s report. We explained Harvard’s rating in detail a couple of years ago, showing how Harvard’s policies violate its own promises of free expression: Even Harvard’s Free Speech Guidelines [adopted by Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) in 1990], which extol the university’s unique status and its unique commitment to free speech, take with one hand as they […]

    » Read More
  • This Month in FIRE History: Controversy at Harvard Business School

    January 19, 2012

    Nine years ago this month, FIRE happily announced the resolution of a case at Harvard Business School involving an overzealous administration and an egregious violation of free speech. Unfortunately, almost a decade later, Harvard continues to be host to such violations of liberty.  The case began in October 2002, when The Harbus, a student newspaper at Harvard Business School, ran an editorial cartoon that criticized the school’s Career Services office for severe and chronic technical problems during a crucial week for student job searches. The cartoon suggested that members of the office were “incompetent morons.” In response, the school issued […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE Speaker in Philadelphia Thursday

    January 18, 2012

    Tomorrow, January 19, FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel will lead a dinner discussion hosted by the Harvard Radcliffe Club of Philadelphia. Adam, a Harvard alumnus, will discuss “Harvard’s Tradition of Oppressing Controversial Speech,” including several recent cases: In 2011, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted to fire a professor of economics after he published a controversial op-ed in India. Last fall, the dean of Harvard College instituted a Freshman Pledge stating that “kindness” was “on a par with intellectual attainment” at Harvard, and pressured students to publicly pledge to such official Harvard College values. In 2010, the […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE Intervenes at Harvard after Faculty Fires Economics Professor over Political Article Published in India

    January 5, 2012

    Today, FIRE has asked Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) to reverse its action against a controversial economics professor after it canceled all of his courses due to an op-ed he published in India in the wake of last year’s Mumbai terrorist bombings. Although Harvard’s administration had defended Professor Subramanian Swamy’s rights after intervention by FIRE, FAS blatantly and shamefully violated them in its meeting in December. Anyone reading the op-ed will have no trouble detecting why it was controversial, but this action by the Harvard faculty places speech and academic freedom in danger at Harvard. On July 16, 2011, Swamy published an […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Faculty Fires Economics Professor over Political Article Published in India

    December 8, 2011

    Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) has effectively fired a controversial economics professor by canceling all of his courses due to an op-ed he published in India in the wake of the July 13 Mumbai terrorist bombing. Although Harvard’s administration had defended Professor Subramanian Swamy’s rights after intervention by FIRE, FAS blatantly and shamefully violated them in its meeting on Tuesday. Anyone reading the op-ed will have no trouble detecting why it was controversial, but this action by the Harvard faculty places speech and academic freedom in danger at Harvard. On July 16, 2011, Swamy published an opinion piece in the Indian newspaper Daily News & Analysis in response to series of […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Enthusiastic Consent’ at Harvard

    October 18, 2011

    On Friday, The Harvard Crimson ran an article on the university’s decision to postpone seeking student input into the reform of its sexual misconduct policies. Based on some of those students’ statements to the paper, Harvard should reconsider whether to take their input seriously. Samantha Meier ’12, one of the student representatives appointed to the policy review committee, told the Crimson that Under most legal definitions, forced sexual intercourse can be considered rape or sexual assault only when the victim said “no” or was incapable of doing so due to the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to Meier. Meier said […]

    » Read More
  • Victory at Harvard: University Stands Up for Rights of Controversial Professor

    September 22, 2011

    While Harvard has been the target of much deserved criticism of late due to its stumbles with the new “Class of 2015 Freshman Pledge” pressuring students to commit to vague notions of “kindness” as well as “inclusiveness and civility,” it has acquitted itself better in one recent situation where many students—on their own—have been pushing their own values to a fault. Against student pressure to fire him, Harvard has successfully defended free speech for economics instructor Subramanian Swamy, who published a controversial column in an Indian newspaper advocating drastic solutions to the issue of Islamic terrorism in India. Swamy’s ideas […]

    » Read More
  • Joanne Jacobs on the Harvard ‘Kindness’ Pledge

    September 19, 2011

    Education blogger Joanne Jacobs has a good roundup of commentary on the Harvard “kindness” pledge controversy. Included are comments from FIRE President Greg Lukianoff and Board of Directors member Virginia Postrel. If you can’t think of why anyone could possibly object to a pledge to be kind, this roundup will provide good food for thought.

    » Read More
  • Virginia Postrel on Harvard’s Kindness Pledge

    September 16, 2011

    Author and FIRE Board of Directors member Virginia Postrel’s latest column for Bloomberg View covers the Harvard “kindness” pledge that all freshmen were pressured into signing this year (the signed pledges were to be posted in every dormitory—a plan that has now been abandoned). FIRE has covered the problems with this pledge in several articles and blog entries, as has former Dean of Harvard College Harry Lewis, but Postrel points out a new problem with making kindness king: Meanwhile, to their peers, Harvard students may, if anything, be a little too nice. Some veteran faculty members tell me that the […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE’s Harvey Silverglate and Adam Kissel Take on Harvard’s Civility Pledge at ‘Minding the Campus’

    September 13, 2011

    In an excellent article published today at Minding the Campus, FIRE Co-founder and Board Chairman Harvey Silverglate and FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel take on Harvard College’s recently enacted civility pledge for students. We have written about the pledge here on The Torch, as well as The Huffington Post and PolicyMic. Commenting on Harvard’s unprecedented and ill-conceived move, Harvey and Adam write: Harvard College’s Class of 2015 found something unprecedented awaiting their arrival on campus: an ideological pledge. It was framed as a request for allegiance to certain social and political principles. No such request had been made […]

    » Read More
  • Peter in ‘PolicyMic’ on Harvard Freshman Pledge

    September 12, 2011

    FIRE’s Peter Bonilla has a new article in PolicyMic today discussing Harvard College’s “Class of 2015 Freshman Pledge,” which, as Peter points out, “asks incoming freshmen to sign a statement saying that they are ‘expected to act with integrity, respect, and industry, and to sustain a community characterized by inclusiveness and civility.’” In its 375-year-long history, Harvard has never asked any of its students to sign a pledge to uphold certain values, as former Dean of Harvard College Harry Lewis pointed out in his own blog entry on the subject. Is that a tradition worth preserving, or does such a pledge […]

    » Read More
  • Greg Examines Harvard’s New Civility Pledge in ‘The Huffington Post’

    September 8, 2011

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff writes today in The Huffington Post on the introduction of a civility pledge at Harvard College, the undergraduate college at Harvard University. The “Class of 2015 Pledge” commits students to building a “place where all can thrive and where the exercise of kindness holds a place on a par with intellectual attainment.” But as Greg points out, this type of oath has no place in the academy: Higher education is at its best when it understands that bold, free-wheeling intellectual experimentation is what you want to cultivate if you want a genuinely innovative and dynamic environment. […]

    » Read More
  • In Unprecedented, Ill-Considered Move, Harvard Pressures Freshmen to Sign Civility Pledge

    September 1, 2011

    Administrators at Harvard College are pressuring the Class of 2015 to do something no other student class has ever been asked to do in 375 years: Sign a civility pledge. As the Harvard Crimson details in a story this morning, the “Class of 2015 Freshman Pledge” was presented to students before an opening convocation. Harry Lewis, former Dean of Harvard College and current Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science, has published the full text of the Pledge: At Commencement, the Dean of Harvard College announces to the President, Fellows, and Overseers that “each degree candidate stands ready to advance knowledge, […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard, India, Swamy, and the Right to Advocate for Radical Social Change

    August 1, 2011

    Last week, FIRE wrote Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust after learning from The Harvard Crimson that the university was giving “serious attention” to student calls to fire economics professor Subramanian Swamy because of his expression in a column he wrote for a newspaper in India. The news of FIRE’s involvement has gone worldwide, appearing in the Times of India, Deccan Herald (India), Oman Tribune, North Korea Times (yes, that’s weird), and elsewhere, mainly via an Indo-Asian News Service article based on an update in the Crimson. Swamy’s July 16 column, in response to a terrorist bombing a few days earlier in Mumbai, offered ideas on how to […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Must Remember Free Speech Promises, End Investigation of Professor’s Newspaper Column

    July 28, 2011

    FIRE has written to Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust after learning from The Harvard Crimson that the university was giving “serious attention” to student calls to fire economics professor Subramanian Swamy because of his expression in a column he wrote for a newspaper in India.  On July 16, in the Indian newspaper Daily News & Analysis, Swamy wrote  the column in response to a terrorist bombing a few days earlier in Mumbai, offering strongly-worded ideas on how to “negate the political goals of Islamic terrorism in India.” Among his ideas were that India “[e]nact a national law prohibiting conversion from Hinduism to any other religion,” “[r]emove the masjid [mosque] […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Harvard Law Review’ Note Tackles Complex Issue of Distinguishing Government Versus Private Speech

    January 31, 2011

    A student note published in the most recent volume of the Harvard Law Review advances a cogent approach to differentiating between government and private speech that would lend clarity to First Amendment law. Unfortunately, the note (Three’s a Crowd – Defending the Binary Approach to Government Speech, 124 Harv. L. Rev. 805 (2011)) supports a very robust usage of the “government speech doctrine” that might prove too deferential to the government. According to the note, With its 2009 decision in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, [129 S. Ct. 1125 (2009)], the Supreme Court held that a Ten Commandments monument placed by a city in a public […]

    » Read More
  • Dartmouth Newspaper Notes College’s ‘Green-Light’ Rating and Poor Performance of Ivy Peers

    January 6, 2011

    Writing for The Dartmouth, student Brendan Woods is pleased to note Dartmouth College’s status as one of the 12 schools in our most recent national survey of college speech codes to receive FIRE’s green-light rating (a designation, by the way, that did not come without a lot of work on FIRE’s part). Most of Dartmouth’s peer institutions, on the other hand, did not make out nearly so well, with the Ivies coming in for particular scrutiny. Brendan writes: Given that free speech is at the heart of the academic process, one would expect colleges and universities to be the most […]

    » Read More
  • Silverglate: Why Did Harvard Leave Out Education?

    December 13, 2010

    In a letter to the editor today in the Boston Globe, FIRE Chairman Harvey Silverglate opines on the historic restructuring of Harvard’s main governing board, asking why the university did not include education in its recent reexamination. Harvard’s focus on capital planning and risk management, Harvey writes, further evinces what he has called the “corporatization” of higher education.

    » Read More
  • Harvard-Yale 2010 T-shirt Wars Begin; No Free Speech Casualties … Yet

    November 9, 2010

    The 2010 Harvard-Yale T-shirt wars are officially under way, in anticipation of the schools’ annual football game on November 20. The Yale Daily News reports that Yale College’s Freshman Class Council (FCC) has released its official design for The Game 2010, a riff on the recent movie The Social Network:   The blank space at the end leaves room for Yalies to insert the kindest, most highbrow compliments they can conceive of their intellectual equals at Harvard. (Or, you know, not.) Meanwhile, the Harvard flyby, a blog hosted by The Harvard Crimson, points to this design as the winner of […]

    » Read More
  • After Retraction of ‘Media Policy,’ Harvard Med School Updates Faculty Conflict Rules

    August 31, 2010

    Starting in January 2011, Harvard Medical School (HMS) will change how it regulates the nature and extent of medical industry ties among the school’s 11,017 faculty members, HMS officials announced in late July. The updated policies, the product of a sustained student-led movement, include a ban on faculty accepting personal gifts from medical companies and a requirement to disclose commercial payments of more than $5,000. What’s notable about these changes, at least from FIRE’s vantage point, are not so much the details of the updated HMS conflict-of-interest policies. Rather, the interplay between student activists and HMS administrators—in particular, the seemingly […]

    » Read More
  • In Case You Couldn’t Find Harvard’s Free Speech Policy …

    August 11, 2010

    Yesterday we noticed that Harvard University no longer lists its “Free Speech Guidelines”–Harvard’s decades-long promise of free speech–in its usual place. It used to be at http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~secfas/public/FreeSpeech.html in a text-searchable HTML file. In case you were looking for it, the only copy we can find right now on Harvard’s website is linked from the bottom of this page in a non-searchable PDF of the 1990 document. Of course, if you want a searchable version, FIRE still has one online here. Meanwhile, Harvard should immediately fix the many embarrassing broken links now strewn about its site, lest vistors be unable to find the Guidelines. […]

    » Read More
  • New England Ivies Earn ‘Muzzle Awards’ from FIRE Chairman

    July 2, 2010

    With Independence Day on the horizon, the Boston Phoenix turns its annual spotlight upon those who have ignored our nation’s founding freedoms. The “Muzzle Awards” are the undesired accolades reserved for the self-appointed censors of New England—politicians, police officers, judges, and public transportation officials, to name a few. This year, in the 13th installment of this award-winning series, special attention is devoted to colleges and universities, courtesy of FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate. Harvey focuses the 2010 Campus Muzzle Awards on transgressions at Harvard University (his alma mater) and Yale University, both of which “have helped pave the censorial […]

    » Read More
  • Money Talks at Harvard, Even When Speech is Chilled

    May 10, 2010

    Further proof of the indisputable chilling effect that Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow’s denunciation of the private e-mail of one of her students has had on the community arrived in FIRE’s mailbox last week, in the form of a gracious letter and donation from Harvard employee Gary McGath. His letter reads in relevant part: Enclosed please find a check for $250 payable to FIRE. I am making this special contribution on behalf of the students at Harvard University who have felt the chilling effect of Dean Minow’s denunciation of a student for raising taboo questions in a private e-mail discussion.  FIRE thanks Mr. […]

    » Read More
  • Dean’s Handling of Harvard Law E-Mail Controversy Continues to Generate Criticism

    May 10, 2010

    Last week Adam commented on Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow’s denunciation of a student’s e-mail showing openness to the results of research about the role of genetics in differences in intelligence by race, pointing out that the dean’s denunciation was anti-intellectual:  For the sake of human inquiry and knowledge a free university in a free society should not place any topic entirely out of bounds for discussion because an academic community, in human humility, does not really commit itself to declaring which view is true until we see the conclusive evidence. Even then, we must acknowledge that we may […]

    » Read More
  • Speech Chilled at Harvard Law

    May 3, 2010

    The prominent law-oriented blog The Volokh Conspiracy has been remarking extensively on the latest speech-related controversy at Harvard Law School (HLS), where Dean Martha Minow publicly mischaracterized and then criticized a private e-mail sent by one of the school’s students to, it seems, a small number of colleagues several months ago. UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, in a four-part series on The Volokh Conspiracy that begins here, takes essentially the same view that I took last Friday. The point is that by so strongly criticizing a privately expressed opinion, Dean Minow has declared that certain ideas—even certain academic questions—are not […]

    » Read More
  • Minority Views Unsafe at Harvard Law; Dean Betrays Marketplace of Ideas

    April 30, 2010

    If you value a true marketplace of ideas, beware of Harvard Law School unless you are able to handle being denounced by the dean. According to Dean Martha Minow, it is shameful even to be intellectually open to considering certain scientific questions. The case in point involves a third-year law student who, in a private e-mail to a small number of colleagues, examined the possibility of … well, does it matter to you what the possibility is? Or are some ideas simply so toxic that questions about them cannot ever be asked, the research never done? For the sake of […]

    » Read More
  • Beat Harvard – Just Don’t Call Them Sissies

    November 24, 2009

    When I was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, our various class councils endlessly outdid themselves in the art of emasculating the Princeton tiger, mascot of our archrival. Our depictions of the tiger, emblazoned on T-shirts, ran the gamut from gentle mockery to representations of acts that would be illegal in most if not all of the fifty states. Of course, Penn students bought them in droves, myself included. For Yale University’s Freshman Class Council (FCC), then, to print a F. Scott Fitzgerald quote—”I think of all Harvard men as sissies”—on T-shirts would not seem to invite controversy. After […]

    » Read More
  • Withholding of Report on Harvard Disciplinary Body Shows Hypocrisy

    November 20, 2009

    The Harvard College Administrative Board—the school’s main disciplinary body that applies and enforces “undergraduate academic regulations and standards of social conduct”—has long been the subject of calls for reform. Potential conflicts of interest in student representation, the intimidating structure of Ad Board hearings, and a general lack of transparency have been cited by students and faculty members, as well as campus outsiders, as imperatives for change. So in November 2007 when administrators announced the creation of an Administrative Board Review Committee, it was seen as a major step forward. A year and a half later, the committee’s report was presented […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE Chairman on Harvard’s Censorship of Controversial Speaker

    October 23, 2009

    In this week’s Boston Phoenix, FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate weighs in on the latest free speech controversy at Harvard College. An anti-immigration speaker, invited to speak on an undergraduate-organized panel on the future of U.S. immigration, was disinvited last week by student organizers, the Harvard Crimson reported. Samantha pointed out that this latest flap at Harvard was yet another disturbing example of students “unlearning liberty” and actively seeking to suppress unpopular or offensive speech—speech that is constitutionally protected outside the campus gates. Harvey, in large part, echoes this sentiment, but he points to Harvard’s speech codes, “devised by […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Students Unlearn Liberty

    October 20, 2009

    We speak and write often at FIRE about the phenomenon of college students “unlearning liberty.” In our educational system, students are too often taught by example that censorship is an appropriate response to unpopular or offensive opinions. The result is a disturbing number of cases in which students themselves act as censors. One such incident has just occurred at Harvard University, where anti-illegal-immigration activist Jim Gilchrist was recently uninvited from a student-run conference. According to the Harvard Crimson, Gilchrist was set to participate in a panel on immigration at the Harvard Undergraduate Legal Committee’s annual Public Interest and Law Conference […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Medical School to Drop Policy Restricting Students from Speaking to Media

    September 2, 2009

    Last night, New York Times journalist Duff Wilson reported that Harvard Medical School (HMS) is dropping a recent policy that seemed to require students to have any and all communications with the media cleared ahead of time by both the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Public Affairs. Wilson consulted with Harvey Silverglate, co-founder of FIRE and Chairman of FIRE’s Board of Directors, and with me yesterday as he investigated the policy, and mentions both FIRE and Harvey in his article. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis was right that sunlight is one of the best disinfectants, although […]

    » Read More
  • Jessica Corry Weighs in on ‘HLR’ Case Comment at ‘Human Events’

    August 28, 2009

    Jessica Corry is the latest commentator to criticize the Harvard Law Review (HLR) for its indefensible defense of speech codes, in an article posted yesterday at Human Events. Corry is an attorney and policy analyst with the Independence Institute in Colorado. The HLR, as Torch readers are no doubt aware of by now, published a case comment (pdf) criticizing the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in DeJohn v. Temple University and arguing that speech codes are in fact constitutional. Following a thorough dismantling of its research and analysis by Kelly Sarabyn, the HLR comment has come under attack from […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard’s sad censorship campaign

    August 27, 2009

    by Jessica Peck Corry Human Events   Poor, poor Harvard. The prestigious institution has once again found itself in the embarrassing position of defending a push for campus censorship. This round’s sad irony: student leaders are now the ones trying to throw the First Amendment out the school bus window. The Harvard Law Review, a student-edited publication claiming President Barack Obama and four current U.S. Supreme Court justices as alumni, recently endorsed a major screw up on its own pages after it ran an eight-page factually-void analysis of the nation’s latest First Amendment case law. The piece, authored and edited […]

    » Read More
  • In ‘The Huffington Post,’ Greg Points out Dangers of Pro-Speech Code ‘Harvard Law Review’ Comment

    August 21, 2009

    In his blog at The Huffington Post, Greg elaborates on an observation made by the Law Librarian Blog (LLB) regarding FIRE’s harsh criticism of a comment defending speech codes in the Harvard Law Review.  “Obviously,” LLB comments, “FIRE is trying to minimize the impact the comment may have by all means possible.” Exactly right, says Greg, who then lays out in detail four reasons why this is so:  First, despite all the law to the contrary and no less than eight prior decisions ruling speech codes unconstitutional, what some might consider to be the premier law journal in the country […]

    » Read More
  • More Fallout from Shoddy Scholarship in Harvard Law Review

    August 14, 2009

    The reactions to Kelly’s dismantling of a sloppy case comment published in the Harvard Law Review‘s April edition continue to roll in. The comment, published unsigned as per HLR policy, maintained that DeJohn v. Temple University was incorrectly decided, that speech codes on campus are constitutional, and that workplace harassment standards should be applied to the educational setting. Making matters yet worse, the comment’s author and the HLR‘s editors somehow forgot to cite any of the many federal decisions striking down speech codes precisely like the one at issue in DeJohn as unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. This incredible oversight […]

    » Read More
  • David French on Sloppy Speech Code Comment in ‘Harvard Law Review’

    August 11, 2009

    In a blog entry penned for Phi Beta Cons yesterday, Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel and former FIRE president David French directs his readers to Kelly’s thorough critique of a “Recent Cases” comment published in the Harvard Law Review‘s April edition. Shockingly, the Harvard Law Review comment argues that the precedential speech code decision DeJohn v. Temple, 537 F.3d 301 (3d Cir. 2008) is wrongly decided and that speech codes on public campuses are constitutional. Just as disappointing and surprising as this wrongheaded conclusion, however, are the shoddy arguments the comment slaps together to support it. Kelly’s devastating riposte—which David deems a […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Harvard Law Review’ Gets Lazy: Prestigious Journal Publishes Article Ignoring Case Law, Defending Speech Codes

    August 3, 2009

    In its April issue, a case comment in the Harvard Law Review (HLR) analyzes one of FIRE’s favorite legal victories, DeJohn v. Temple University, 537 F.3d 301 (3d Cir. 2008). As Torch readers will remember, in DeJohn, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit struck down Temple University’s broad sexual harassment policy on First Amendment grounds for proscribing a great deal of protected speech. Prior to the ruling, FIRE submitted an amicus brief to the Third Circuit urging it to reach precisely the result it did; and since the landmark victory, we’ve notified colleges across the country that yet another speech code has fallen in court. And we’re not the only ones who think DeJohn was a big deal: Just […]

    » Read More
  • Silverglate on Gates Arrest and the First Amendment Right to be Rude

    July 30, 2009

    FIRE Co-founder Harvey Silverglate, who is also Chairman of FIRE’s Board of Directors, published a terrific piece in Forbes this week on the “First Amendment right to be rude to a cop.” The context was the “unconstitutional arrest” of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., by a city policeman, but the argument is a powerful reminder to college students that they have a First Amendment right to say uncivil things to campus police (and others on campus) as well. Not following lawful orders is one thing, but being rude is another thing entirely—especially when one thinks the officer deserves it—and, […]

    » Read More
  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Harvard University

    July 2, 2009

    Since January, FIRE has been exposing the speech codes silencing students at America’s most prestigious colleges and universities in our “State of Free Speech on Campus” blog series. Today we come to the final institution in our series: Harvard University. To many, Harvard may be the quintessential liberal arts university. Certainly, the university appears to view itself that way, waxing poetic about the importance of free speech to its core purpose: Because no other community defines itself so much in terms of knowledge, few others place such a high priority on freedom of speech. As a community, we take certain […]

    » Read More
  • Rights in the News: FIRE’s Thought Reform Efforts Continue to Resonate

    May 1, 2009

    It seems like every week we’re reporting that FIRE’s short film on the University of Delaware’s experiment in thought reform has doubled the amount of views received on YouTube from the week before—a trend I’m all too happy to continue. This week the folks at Reason (which—throwback!—published Alan Charles Kors’ article “Thought Reform 101″ back in 2000) gave FIRE an extra hand by blogging about the video on their website, helping to push it toward 50,000 views. Thought reform at Delaware was also the subject of Robert’s article this week for Pajamas Media. Robert also discussed Virginia Tech’s efforts at […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard and Dartmouth Oppose Petition Candidates and Independent Trustees

    April 29, 2009

    College and university presidents gathered last week to discuss what they need from trustees in times of economic uncertainty. Difficult discussions often arise, and the best board members are “strong enough to say, ‘No, that is a bad idea,’” a university chancellor explained at the annual meeting of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. Principled oversight is an oft-cited value. In practice, however, colleges and universities aren’t always eager to hear—and some actively oppose—independent-minded board members. Such opposition was recently on display at Dartmouth College and Harvard University, which allow alumni to choose representatives in annual governing […]

    » Read More
  • Outside Input Unwanted: A Brief History of Petition Candidacies in University Governance

    March 24, 2009

    In cases of campus speech restrictions, the path to censorship is paved with seemingly benign intent: see, for instance, bans on “rude, disrespectful behavior,” as in the case of Johns Hopkins University (covered extensively yesterday by Samantha). Yet the inherent conflict between free speech and open inquiry on one hand and enforcing “civility” on the other is unmistakably clear—those with the power to define “civility” also define an orthodoxy of conduct. Hopkins is not the only university with a wrongheaded (and at public universities, legally questionable) civility provision. To pick just two examples, Bergen Community College and the University at […]

    » Read More
  • Harvey Silverglate Makes Case for Harvard’s Board of Overseers at Forbes.com

    March 23, 2009

    For weeks now, FIRE—along with a diverse array of supporters—has trumpeted the candidacy of co-founder Harvey Silverglate for Harvard University’s Board of Overseers, for which he was officially nominated in February. Today Harvey makes his case at Forbes.com in an article jointly written with fellow petition candidate Robert Freedman. Driven by the steadfast belief that both Harvard and America’s higher education system “[are] in need of independent oversight from those beyond the ivory gates,” Harvey and Robert cite a laundry list of problems familiar to FIRE supporters: an overly protective and politicized campus culture, “Star Chamber-like disciplinary tribunals,” and the […]

    » Read More
  • Rights in the News: Harvey’s Harvard Candidacy Continues to Grab Headlines

    February 27, 2009

    As April’s election for Harvard University’s Board of Overseers draws nearer, the candidacy of FIRE co-founder and chairman Harvey Silverglate continues to attract attention and enthusiasm. Scot Lehigh’s excellent column in The Boston Globe is just the latest testament to this, as Adam wrote earlier for The Torch (and as the Cato Institute’s Cato @ Liberty blog briefly noted as well). Even unlikely supporters such as this blogger in Falmouth, Nova Scotia have taken notice of Harvey’s candidacy. FIRE expects the energy to continue to rise in the final weeks before voting ballots are sent out to Harvard alumni. Hopefully […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Boston Globe’ Columnist on Harvey’s Harvard Candidacy

    February 25, 2009

    The energy around Harvey’s candidacy for Harvard Board of Overseers is growing. Today, Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh shares his excitement on behalf of “non-Harvard types” like himself: Why, you say, should we non-Harvard types care about an election for the lesser of Harvard’s two governing boards? Because two outspoken candidates are trying to storm the gates, arguing that the storied university needs to embrace free speech unambiguously, reform its disciplinary procedures, and focus more on its students. And because what happens at Harvard doesn’t stay at Harvard, but rather reverberates throughout the academic world… These two are energetic and […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Harvard Law Record’ Discusses Individual Rights with Harvard Board of Overseers Candidates

    February 19, 2009

    The Harvard Law Record has published a very good interview with Harvey Silverglate, FIRE’s co-founder and Chairman of FIRE’s Board of Directors—and petition candidate for Harvard University’s Board of Overseers—and with petition candidate Robert Freedman. Of course, Harvey and Bob have a lot to say about Harvard in addition to discussing free speech and due process, but here are some excerpts of interest to Torch readers: You have described the Administrative Board [Harvard's student disciplinary body] as “one of the worst, if not the worst, student disciplinary tribunal in the country.” What will you do to change the way the […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE Co-founder Nominated for Harvard Board of Overseers

    February 17, 2009

    It’s official: Harvey Silverglate, FIRE’s co-founder and chairman, has been nominated as a petition candidate for Harvard’s Board of Overseers, a vital governing body of the University. For the past two months, Harvey has been collecting Harvard alumni signatures to qualify as a candidate, attracting coverage from the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, as well as legal and academic blogs, in the process. Now, the campaign begins for a seat on the inside and an opportunity to change the culture to one of freedom, fairness, and true tolerance of dissenting views. Many thanks are due to those who requested to sign Harvey’s nomination forms. Regular Torch readers, among others, helped Harvey […]

    » Read More
  • Attorney Harvey Silverglate fights with FIRE

    February 1, 2009

    After fighting Harvard University for years over its campus speech policies, 66-year-old civil liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate is ready to beard the lion in its den to force change at the nation’s most influential university. Silverglate will seek a spot on the school’s powerful 30-member board of overseers, one of its two governing bodies. Its members are elected by the school’s alumni. “I hope to make Harvard a better place,” said Silverglate, a Harvard Law School grad, who needs 219 signatures from Harvard degree-holders to appear on the ballot. “It saddens me that Harvard persists in having, and enforcing, its […]

    » Read More
  • Eliminating Unconstitutional Speech Codes: A Nonpartisan Issue

    January 14, 2009

    Commentators and academic organizations from a variety of political viewpoints have recently denounced campus speech codes, echoing the alarm that FIRE has sounded for the past decade. In a January 2 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Peter Berkowitz discussed the need for fellow conservatives to find common ground after what many interpreted as a national repudiation of their views in the November elections. Social conservatives and libertarian conservatives, the Hoover Institution research fellow argued, must “concentrate their attention on the constitutional order and the principles that undergird it,” ushering in a new era of constitutional conservatism. One of the leading items on this agenda: A demand that public universities abolish speech codes and […]

    » Read More
  • Harvey’s Harvard Board of Overseers Run: A Follow-Up

    December 22, 2008

    On December 12, we announced that Harvey Silverglate, FIRE’s co-founder and chairman, is running for the Harvard Board of Overseers. Harvey says that he has since been “overwhelmed” by the response. More than 100 Harvard alumni have, upon learning of Harvey’s candidacy, reached out and offered to sign his nomination form, putting him well on his way to gathering the required 219 signatures to qualify as a petition candidate in the April 2009 election. Harvey has also received messages of support from people—Harvard grads and other, and from all ends of the political spectrum—cheering him on and offering support. Todd […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Persists in Supporting Censorship of ‘Barely Legal’ Party

    July 7, 2008

    At Harvard University, free expression only goes so far. Student publications that publish nude photographs of Harvard students are OK at Harvard, but the words “Barely Legal” are off limits if you want to hold a party with that name with the permission of Harvard’s Adams House. After the Latino Men’s Collective and Fuerza Latina, two Harvard student groups, publicized their party on the Adams House e-mail list using the “Barely Legal” name this spring, several students responded with complaints. The student leadership of both organizations publicly stated that they meant no offense and did not intend to glorify or […]

    » Read More
  • Maybe Harvard Thought It Was The ‘Manifestly Illegal’ Party?

    June 24, 2008

    For better or worse, Harvard University is enshrined in the popular imagination as our nation’s premier liberal arts institution. While I blame Elle Woods, the fact is that every aspect of Harvard’s institutional conduct is examined and imitated by the rest of the academy. Simply put, Harvard is a trend setter. So when Harvard does something foolish- like censoring a proposed student party because of its mildly risque name- it’s kind of a big deal. And that’s exactly what Harvard did during the spring semester, breaking its own extensive promises of an unfettered right to free expression on campus. Here’s […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard’s Weak Response Fails to Address Censorship of Party Name

    June 11, 2008

    Last week, FIRE issued a press release detailing Harvard University’s recent censorship of a party proposed by two student groups due to the party’s name, “Barely Legal.” Specifically, Resident Dean Sharon Howell of the university’s Adams House threatened to reverse the residence hall’s initial acceptance of the party proposed by the Latino Men’s Collective and Fuerza Latina unless the party’s name was changed. Under pressure (and despite making public statements apologizing for any offense the name may have caused), the student groups acceded to Adams House’s demand and changed the party name. Concerned about this coercive censorship, FIRE wrote to […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Censors Student Groups because of Party’s Name

    June 5, 2008

    As described in FIRE’s press release today, Harvard University imposed a blatant act of censorship and double standard on two of its student groups because they had planned to host a party called “Barely Legal.” As we wrote: In April, the Latino Men’s Collective (LMC) and Fuerza Latina proposed that a party be held in the Adams House Dining Hall. Adams House administrators agreed to host the party—but once the party was publicized using the “Barely Legal” name, several students complained to the House masters. The student leadership of both LMC and Fuerza Latina publicly stated that they meant no […]

    » Read More
  • Censorship at Harvard University: Administration Threatened to Cancel ‘Barely Legal’ Party Due to Event’s Name

    June 5, 2008

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 5, 2008—Harvard University threatened to cancel a party planned by two Harvard student groups simply because of the party’s name: “Barely Legal.” The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has asked Harvard to reaffirm its commitment to its students’ right to freedom of expression. “Today is Harvard’s commencement, where students are celebrating their achievements and the completion of study at a world-renowned university. It is a shame that administrators at Harvard have cheapened those degrees by standing by a silly act of censorship and gross double standards,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “The truly mild idea […]

    » Read More
  • Hypocrisy and the Harvard Faculty

    November 16, 2007

    FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate has a great blog post over at The Free For All discussing a recent resolution at a Harvard University faculty meeting: The latest head-shaking Harvard story is that anthropology professor J. Lorand Matory introduced a one-sentence resolution at a faculty meeting stating that “this Faculty commits itself to fostering civil dialogue in which people with a broad range of perspectives feel safe and are encouraged to express their reasoned and evidence-based ideas.” Professor Matory, according to the Harvard Crimson, “has claimed that critics of Israel, like himself, ‘tremble in fear’ of repercussions for their views.” To […]

    » Read More
  • U. of Delaware Story Hits Student Press

    November 9, 2007

    The college media has taken note of FIRE’s recent case at the University of Delaware.   This morning, the University of Pennsylvania’s Daily Pennsylvanian ran a feature story on the controversy. And on Thursday, The Harvard Crimson ran a staff editorial critical of Delaware’s program. The Crimson staff wrote: This is not the stuff of cultural cohesion. Rather, the program at the University of Delaware represents the worst mechanisms for building diversity on a college campus: Its methods were to victimize and criminalize, and its effects were to polarize.   […]   We are relieved that the University of Delaware […]

    » Read More
  • Professor, Examine Thyself

    October 8, 2007

    Check out Peter Berkowitz’s op ed, “Ethics 101,” in today’s Wall Street Journal. In his article, Berkowitz points out that, while centers to study ethics exist at many campuses across the country, including some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, few spend much time examining ethical issues relating to higher education. He writes: Celebrating its 20th anniversary last spring, the Harvard University Program on Ethics and the Professions is among the nation’s oldest and most distinguished. Yet of the more than 130 public lectures by eminent visitors sponsored over the last two decades by the Harvard ethics program, only three […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Free Speech and Double Standards’

    October 3, 2007

    Be sure to check out Stuart Taylor’s hard-hitting piece in the National Journal on “Free Speech and Double Standards” in academia. With regards to Columbia’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Taylor points out: It would be easier to stomach the free-speech grandstanding of Lee Bollinger, Columbia’s president and Ahmadinejad’s histrionically hostile host, and others of Bollinger’s ilk if they were a bit less selective in their devotion to the First Amendment. When a student group recently canceled an event featuring an anti-illegal-immigration speaker for fear of a hecklers’ veto by leftist students, for example, Bollinger had nothing to say. Taylor also brings much-needed […]

    » Read More
  • Larry Summers and ‘Academia at Its Worst’

    September 19, 2007

    It was disappointing to learn that the University of California (UC) withdrew its speaking invitation to former Harvard president Lawrence H. Summers after the invitations had gone out.   The main pressure appears to have originated with a petition organized by faculty at UC Davis who argued that Summers “has come to symbolize gender and racial prejudice in academia.” His defenders, as well as some of his earlier critics at Harvard, criticized the decision in their remarks to the Harvard Crimson. “To deny him the opportunity to speak is … academia at its worst,” Harvard professor N. Gregory Mankiw told […]

    » Read More
  • Silverglate: Universities Take Over Alumni Magazines

    November 17, 2006

    Harvey Silverglate, FIRE’s co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors, writes in The Boston Phoenix this week about the alarming trend among major universities towards university-controlled alumni publications. Silverglate points out that just like politicians and major corporations, universities are increasingly concerned about “controlling the message”—a stance that means traditional independent alumni publications become little more than unwanted interference. The result? Alumni are subjected to an avalanche of puff pieces, self-congratulatory blather, and thinly-veiled donation requests. Surveying the alumni publications of Harvard, Boston College, and Boston University, Silverglate discovers that all three gloss over controversies on campus for rosier, […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Football Coach Tosses Player for ‘Mean-spirited Attack’

    September 26, 2006

    In July I wrote about the increased restrictions student-athletes may face once they join an intercollegiate athletic team. At that time, the Athletic Director at Kent State University had announced that all student-athletes needed to remove their profiles from Facebook.com (he later reversed the decision). I said in the post, “ADs and coaches seem most concerned about the images of the school, the athletic department, and the teams that these [Facebook] profiles can portray.” The Harvard football coach has given further evidence of this phenomenon.   The Boston Globe reported this weekend that Coach Tim Murphy cut wide receiver Keegan Toci after […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Inside Higher Ed’ Reports on Recent Cases of Censorship on Campus

    September 12, 2006

    As classes begin this fall across the nation, debate over censorship on university campuses continues to rage. Inside Higher Ed had an article yesterday, on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, detailing several recent controversies. Some involve the censorship of controversial ideas and figures by the university, others the defense of those ideas.   At Brigham Young University, a professor has been relieved of his two courses because of his statements supporting a conspiracy theory that explosives led to the collapse of the World Trade Center. An art exhibit at the University of Maine was shut down by […]

    » Read More
  • Journalism Association Condemns Press Freedom Violations

    August 16, 2006

    Yesterday, the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) reported the August 4 decision by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) to censure a community college in New Jersey for violating freedom of the press. Ocean Community College (OCC) has already been censured by the College Media Advisers, Inc. (CMA), a national organization that advocates for best practices among college media outlets.   According to the SPLC, the AEJMC passed the resolution of censure following the OCC Board of Trustees’ December decision not to renew student newspaper advisor Karen Bosley’s contract.   Bosley’s “offense” was allowing the newspaper […]

    » Read More
  • More Shocking Offensiveness from a College Newspaper

    May 9, 2006

    With the ongoing censure of and strike at Le Moyne College that FIRE reported on yesterday, FIRE was reminded that there are many reasons that college administrators have decided that a free press is simply not something with which they should have to contend. The Missouri State cartoon we reprinted on the blog yesterday is a great example. Here’s another one, from Harvard Business School in 2003. See if you can figure out what about this cartoon was so offensive that Dean Kim B. Clark of Harvard Business School considered a violation of Harvard’s “community standards code”:     This […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Law: A Parody of Freedom

    March 27, 2006

    Every year, Harvard Law School holds a parody show, called “the Parody,” that lampoons professors, students, and various issues at Harvard Law School. Last year, I blogged about the controversy surrounding the Parody’s satirical song about Professor Lawrence Tribe (sample lyric: “He’s Jesus Christ/He’s Larry Tribe/Not just Harvard’s best professor/But the smartest man alive…”). Well, this year, according to an article in the Harvard Law Record newspaper, controversy once again surrounds the Parody. Assuming this article is not itself a parody (once you read it, you’ll know why I say this), it appears that the big problem this time is […]

    » Read More
  • Constructive Criticism for Campus Administrators in ‘The Economist’

    March 13, 2006

    A fantastic editorial in the latest issue of The Economist (subscription required) warns that many prestigious American universities are coasting on their reputation and no longer deliver the robust marketplace of ideas and innovation they once promised. Instead they end up catering to entrenched interests and so shortchange the vitality and rigor of their students’ education—in other words, they are “run for the convenience of producers rather than their customers.”   Of particular note is The Economist’s take on the recent resignation of President Larry Summers at Harvard University and the climate of orthodoxy and censorship that so many colleges […]

    » Read More
  • Celebrating One Year of ‘The Torch’

    February 28, 2006

    One year ago this month, FIRE launched The Torch as a decisive step into the daily debate over civil liberties on campus. The blog format has proved to be a great forum for FIRE staff members to introduce and follow up on FIRE cases, discuss current legal and policy issues affecting campus rights, point out interesting articles and other blog posts, and present FIRE’s reflections on campus controversies that have not been adopted as FIRE cases.   We are especially proud of the scrutiny of misguided campus policies that has been generated by The Torch’s “Speech Code of the Month” […]

    » Read More
  • ‘If Harvard’s President Can’t Be Provocative, Who Can?’

    February 24, 2006

    FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff is quoted in the current issue of USA Today responding to the deeply troubling idea that Lawrence Summers’ ouster is some sort of victory for “diversity.” Here’s Greg’s take: Summers’ ouster is a victory for intellectual intolerance, not diversity. Are some arguments now forbidden on campus? And if Harvard’s president can’t be provocative, who can? Read the whole thing in USA Today.

    » Read More
  • The Speech Larry Summers Should Have Given

    February 24, 2006

    FIRE cofounder and board member Harvey Silverglate’s column yesterday in the Boston Phoenix relates the speech that Harvard President Larry Summers, who is stepping down this year in the wake of numerous ideological conflicts with faculty members, “should have given six months ago.” It’s a ringing defense of academic freedom and the right to speak out freely on controversial topics. Too bad Summers never gave it. An excerpt: From the outset, my tenure as Harvard’s president has been punctuated by a series of phony crises. Some of these episodes were blamed on my lack of personal sensitivity, others on my […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard mea culpa by rich, white males

    February 23, 2006

    Harvard University President Lawrence Summers quit his job this week. The real losers in the yearlong controversy over his leadership were rich, powerful white males who have dominated the university’s governing board. Summers put his clumsy foot in the mouth of his well-educated head more than a year ago when he suggested innate differences between women and men are the reason fewer females succeed in math or science. That controversy resulted in a “no confidence” vote on Summers by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in March. But the Harvard Corp., the university’s governing board, kept up its support of […]

    » Read More
  • Larry Summers Announces His Resignation from Harvard

    February 21, 2006

    It’s official; after a rancorous tenure, Harvard President Lawrence Summers resigned today. I share the concerns of Harvard’s Professor Alan Dershowitz (a member of FIRE’s Board of Editors for its series of Guides to Student Rights on Campus) who wrote in the Times Online about the most notorious controversy surrounding Larry Summers. As many will remember, much of the current kerfuffle began when Summers gave a controversial speech indicating that there might be different levels of aptitude for science between men and women at the highest cognitive levels. Professor Dershowitz writes: The problem is that if a university president were […]

    » Read More
  • Wendy McElroy Lauds FIRE

    December 21, 2005

    Friend of FIRE Wendy McElroy has an excellent article on foxnews.com about FIRE’s new Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus. McElroy writes: The Guide is yet another indication that political correctness is faltering on campuses across North America. To those who value the right of individuals to a conscience—that is, to judge right and wrong for themselves—this is welcome news. McElroy makes the case that political correctness, which she describes as the “belief that certain ideas and attitudes are improper and, so, should be discouraged or prohibited by punishing those who advance them,” has overtaken college campuses, […]

    » Read More
  • Campus Conscience Police?

    December 21, 2005

    “Over one’s inner mind, and self, no one has coercive power.” So write attorneys Jordan Lorence and Harvey A. Silverglate, authors of the just-published Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The Guide is yet another indication that political correctness is faltering on campuses across North America. To those who value the right of individuals to a conscience—that is, to judge right and wrong for themselves—this is welcome news. Political correctness is the belief that certain ideas and attitudes are improper and, so, should be discouraged or prohibited by […]

    » Read More
  • Truth in Advertising at Harvard

    June 15, 2005

    At FIRE, one of our core beliefs is that universities must engage in truth in advertising. That is, if a university restricts and/or punishes student or faculty speech, it should say so openly so that prospective students can decide to attend that college or university with full information. Sadly, many colleges and universities do not do this. A look through FIRE’s database of speech codes reveals that many universities with restrictive speech codes advertise themselves to prospective students as bastions of free expression.   A striking example of this has just arisen: CNN is reporting that “[a] Harvard brochure sent […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Training,’ Not Education

    May 31, 2005

    I wanted to further highlight FIRE cofounder Harvey Silverglate’s strong critique of portions of the reports by Harvard’s Task Force on Women Faculty and Task Force on Women in the Sciences and Engineering. Money graphs: The report on women in the sciences and engineering recommends that doctoral students in those fields (and eventually grad students in all departments) be required to complete a training course with a component on gender bias. The report also recommends that search committee members undergo mandatory training in implicit bias. Implicit bias (a concept pioneered by Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji, among others) refers to supposed […]

    » Read More
  • Silverglate in Sunday’s ‘Boston Globe’

    May 31, 2005

    Check out FIRE cofounder Harvey Silverglate’s op-ed, “Thought Reform in Disguise,” in Sunday’s Boston Globe.

    » Read More
  • Thought Reform in Disguise

    May 29, 2005

    THE DEVIL may be in the details of the reports of The Task Force on Women Faculty and The Task Force on Women in Science and Engineering, issued earlier this month at Harvard. Though generally greeted with hosannas, the reports contain recommendations for a form of attitudinal indoctrination that is disturbing. A panicked and compliant atmosphere has settled over Cambridge since mid-January, when Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers got sent to the woodshed for merely suggesting that research be done into whether biological factors might be partially responsible for the dearth of women in the hard sciences and engineering. Predictably, […]

    » Read More
  • Summers’ Time and the Livin’ is Easy…

    May 17, 2005

    Just in before the end of the school year, the Harvard community has now got something to look forward to over the summer—a new “$50 million initiative to address the dearth of female students and faculty in the University’s science departments.” A Harvard Crimson article reported yesterday that the university had just announced the new initiative, which includes the creation of a “new senior administrative post to spearhead an increase in the hiring of female and minority faculty,” and other programs to support women and underrepresented minorities.   I wonder if any of this would have come about if President […]

    » Read More
  • ‘¡Viva el Presidente Summers!’

    May 2, 2005

    In other news, a debate between two professors organized to address Larry Summers’ January “flap” about “innate differences” took place on Friday, April 22. Johnstone Professor of Psychology Steven Pinker and Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Spelke engaged in “a showdown of the sexes” to analyze “the data behind University President Lawrence H. Summers’ controversial January comments on women in science.” While The Crimson reports that several audience members thought Spelke “won” the debate with her arguments that discrimination more likely accounts for the under-representation of women in science than does innate gender differences, note that a student “sported a Che-Summers […]

    » Read More
  • Students Sift Through Summers’ Spiel

    May 2, 2005

    In response to the controversy over Harvard University President Larry Summers’ comments on innate gender differences and on Native American history, a couple of students opined on freedom of speech on campus in The Harvard Crimson over the past weeks. Their articles are worth a read. In “The Death of Discourse,” freshman Ashish Agrawal writes: When I received a copy of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Handbook last summer, I did what any diligent Harvard student would do: I read it. Or, to be fair, I skimmed it very carefully, and I found one important morsel. Having just finished […]

    » Read More
  • Another Summers Offense Resurfaces—Seven Months Late

    April 20, 2005

    The headline news story of The Crimson today reports that remarks made by Harvard President Larry Summers back in a September 2004 conference on Native American studies has resurfaced as scholars now report that they were offended, insulted, and appalled by his speech. Summers released the transcript of the speech yesterday. He has been accused of being insensitive and condescending by implying that the genocide of Native Americans was “coincidental” and by criticizing their “dependency” on the government. As reported in The Crimson, Summers has defended himself by saying: “I was attempting to make the point from a policy perspective […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Harvard Says Nizzo to Snoop Dogg’

    April 18, 2005

    Harvard decided not to invite Snoop Dogg to perform at an upcoming concert, apparently for cost concerns—and his offensive lyrics about slapping women. (You can also read about this in The Crimson and The Columbia Spectator.)

    » Read More
  • Transparency or a ‘Selig Strategy’?

    April 1, 2005

    As Commissioner Bud Selig and several prominent players attempted to evade subpoenas for recent House of Representatives hearings on baseball’s steroid problem, Rep. Henry Waxman observed, “What strikes me is that baseball doesn’t want to investigate it and they don’t want us to investigate it.” The California congressman summed up baseball’s policy as “don’t know, don’t tell.”   This “Selig Strategy” could also describe the academy’s response to indications that the nation’s humanities and social sciences departments suffer from a lack of intellectual and programmatic diversity. Calls for outside inquiries have been denounced as violations of academic freedom, while few […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE’s French on Fox News Today

    March 30, 2005

    FIRE President David French will be on Fox News Channel’s Your World w/ Neil Cavuto today at 4:40 p.m. (ET) discussing the controversy surrounding Harvard President Larry Summers. If you’re near a TV, don’t miss it!

    » Read More
  • More ‘Mallard Fillmore’

    March 30, 2005

    For the third day in a row, Mallard Fillmore focuses on the problem of campus speech codes. In recent months, as the Larry Summers, Ward Churchill, and Columbia MEALAC department controversies have dominated the news, I think we are beginning to reach a “tipping point” of public awareness on the problems on our campuses. With the release of a new study demonstrating the overwhelming ideological dominance of the left in university faculties, there is little question that Americans will increasingly set their sights on reforming the Shadow University. As we have often said, FIRE’s goal is to create a true […]

    » Read More
  • College free speech shouldn’t be muzzled

    March 30, 2005

    COLLEGE campuses are supposed to be places that would make Thomas Jefferson and James Madison proud. However, the free exchange of ideas has suffered both from the stranglehold of political correctness and a spiral of silence stifling expression of student views held in opposition to those of their professors. No one ever predicted democracy would be easy, not even Madison or Jefferson. And today, no one can dispute that freedom of speech on college campuses is in danger of petering out. Put into that larger context, a bill proposed by state Sen. Bill Morrow goes in the wrong direction by […]

    » Read More
  • Free Speech and Harvard Law

    March 28, 2005

    I received today a promotional copy of The People v. Harvard Law: How America’s Oldest Law School Turned its Back on Free Speech by Maricopa County, Arizona, District Attorney (and HLS alum) Andrew Peyton Thomas. I’ll be interested to read what Mr. Thomas has to say. As someone who received threatening messages (such as “I want you to die, you f***king fascist”) when I wrote a pro-life letter and as someone who was once shouted down by my own professor during what I thought was a civil debate over abortion, my personal experience with the marketplace of ideas at Harvard […]

    » Read More
  • Silence in the Unfair “Marketplace

    March 25, 2005

    As free speech advocates, sometimes we forget that silence is also a form of speech that people engage in all the time.  We have a right to express an opinion and we also have the right to refrain from doing so.  What is key here is that a decision to exercise either right should stem from having free will and the opportunity to choose.  True freedom of choice and equal opportunity to exercise that freedom, however, comes from having the essential information about and awareness of the freedoms and limits established by the law of the land and the politics […]

    » Read More
  • The Latest on Summers: Students (Just Barely) Reject Their Own No-Confidence Vote

    March 24, 2005

    Here is the latest on the Summers case from the Boston Globe. After the faculty’s vote of “no confidence” in Harvard President Larry Summers, the graduate students decided to have a vote of their own:   The graduate student vote of no confidence failed by a margin about as slim as last week’s vote by the faculty passed, with 699 opposed, 608 in favor, 90 abstaining, and 146 saying they needed more information.   The vote on the second motion passed by 945 in favor to 362 against, with 149 abstaining and 87 saying they needed more information. Even Pyrrhus himself […]

    » Read More
  • A PC postscript

    March 24, 2005

    In the meekest of ways, Harvard President Lawrence Summers has become something of a cause celebre among conservatives for challenging the ultra-liberal orthodoxy dominating American universities. It was meek because that wasn’t what Mr. Summers had in mind when he suggested that genetic differences might help explain why more men pursue careers in the hard sciences and mathematics than women. But that’s also the point: By daring to question the conventional thinking of his profession, however it happened, Mr. Summers committed the ultimate sin. For his crimes, Mr. Summers has had to apologize profusely, meet with feminist student and faculty […]

    » Read More
  • Free speech on campus

    March 24, 2005

    LET’S DISPENSE with some tangents right off. It’s a bad idea for teachers to spank students. There’s evidence that women are not innately handicapped when it comes to math and science. And it’s offensive hyperbole to cast the World Trade Center victims of the 9/11 attacks as “little Eichmanns.” But that aside, we don’t have any problems with a student writing a school paper supporting corporal punishment, a university president raising the issue of possible gender differences, and a professor espousing radical ideas. In fact, our society and our universities are better off if faculty and students are allowed to […]

    » Read More
  • Sommers Speaks About Summers

    March 23, 2005

    FIRE Board of Advisors member Christina Hoff Sommers has written an interesting article on the Larry Summers controversy at Harvard. While the bulk of the piece addresses the way in which the media have covered the underlying gender difference debate, the last paragraph resonated with FIRE’s experience and work: Of course, offending feminist professors was not Summers’s only crime. He is outspoken, direct, and does not suffer fools gladly. Not only did he violate the holy dogma of social constructionism, he regularly violates a sacred commandment of modern education: Thou shalt be sensitive, nurturing, and protective of everyone’s self-esteem. Such […]

    » Read More
  • A No-Confidence Vote in Academia?

    March 16, 2005

    In the past few weeks, more scrutiny has been paid to the direction of higher education than perhaps ever before. Driven by the twin pillars of the Ward Churchill affair and the Larry Summers controversy, the American press and public are increasingly taking a look at the state of academia—and they don’t like what they see. A vast number of factors are coming together to prompt people to ask the question “What’s wrong with our colleges?” Just off the top of my head, I can think of a number of contributing factors: attention because of the Churchill and Summers stories, […]

    » Read More
  • Makin’ Some Harvard Lemonade

    March 8, 2005

    As the old saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It looks like Harvard President Larry Summers is trying hard to do just that with the lemons being pelted at him after making what some believe are pretty sour remarks about the possibility that innate gender differences explain the lack of women in the field of science. While at the Alumni of Color Conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) this weekend, I got the vibe on campus that the anger is not just over what Summers said, but his having said it in light of […]

    » Read More
  • Insults and the Constitution

    March 7, 2005

    There is a nice piece by Suzanne Fields today in the Washington Times. In her column she discusses the recent controversies at Harvard and the University of Alabama. She also quotes from FIRE’s letter on the Ward Churchill case: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (thefire.org), which revels in its acronym FIRE because it turns up the heat on campuses that attempt to melt down guarantees of free speech, makes this point in a letter to the Interim Chancellor at the University of Colorado at Boulder: “Supreme Court case law makes it quite clear that ‘if there is a […]

    » Read More
  • Jada Pinkett Smith: In Her Own Words

    March 3, 2005

    What did Jada Pinkett Smith say that caused such outrage at Harvard? I was unable to find a transcript, but thanks to ace blogger Mickey Kaus, we located a Harvard Crimson article that quotes some of her “heteronormative” statements: After being honored, Pinkett Smith gave a warm, teary thanks and shared life lessons with the audience. “Don’t let anybody define who you are,” she said. “Don’t let them put you in a box. Don’t be afraid to break whatever ceiling anybody has put on you.” She told the audience about her childhood with teenage parents both addicted to heroin, but […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Loves Free Speech

    March 3, 2005

    Some things are beyond parody or comment. Apparently, at Harvard, there is a move to ensure that comments from outside speakers are no longer “heteronormative” (implying that “standard sexual relationships are only between males and females”). The outrage was generated by the notorious cultural firebrand Jada Pinkett Smith, star of such films as Collateral, Matrix: Revolutions, Woo, and The Nutty Professor. Here’s a summary from the Harvard Crimson: After some students were offended by Jada Pinkett Smith’s comments at Saturday’s Cultural Rhythms show, the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA) and the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race […]

    » Read More
  • Dershowitz on Summers

    March 1, 2005

    Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz (a member of FIRE’s Board of Editors for its series of Guides to student rights on campus), writes in the Times Online about Larry Summers. Dershowitz locates the controversy where it belongs—within the larger context of campus speech policies and censorship: The problem is that if a university president were to be fired because he expressed the views put forward by Summers, it would become only a matter of time before professors, researchers and students would also be subjected to discipline for expressing similar views. Once a point of view becomes an impermissible one on a university […]

    » Read More
  • ‘The Economist’ on Summers

    February 28, 2005

    There is an outstanding article (link requires subscription) in The Economist summarizing the Larry Summers fiasco at Harvard. While acknowledging that faculty discontent with Summers predates his speech that mentioned possible innate gender differences at the high end of the math and science world, the article properly notes the chilling effect of the p.c. backlash. Money quotes: Reading the transcript…one begins to wonder what kind of examination of female scientists would not offend some people. Mr Summers does not blame anything on anything; instead, he advances—with plenty of caveats and an uncharacteristic dose of humility—three hypotheses. First, that discrimination and […]

    » Read More
  • A Rare Opportunity

    February 28, 2005

    Over the past month, I think I have been interviewed no less than 50 times by various media outlets—national (ABC, Time, U.S. News & World Report), international (Reuters), regional, and local. The questions most frequently revolve around Larry Summers and Ward Churchill—two men who are calling unprecedented attention to academic freedom in America’s universities. The more I think about their cases, the more I think that we might be enjoying a rare opportunity to do serious damage to a concept that has done more to harm free expression on campus than anything else—the idea that “offensive” speech is somehow less […]

    » Read More
  • International News Lights on FIRE

    February 25, 2005

    What do Larry Summers, Ward Churchill, and David French have in common? They were all featured in an article published on Aljazeera today that discusses academic freedom in the United States. The article mentions recent controversies at Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of Colorado, and includes statements from David that highlight the issue of free speech on our nation’s campuses. Looks like FIRE’s work is grabbing the world’s attention.

    » Read More
  • Are Things Getting Worse?

    February 25, 2005

    A FIRE supporter writes with an interesting question: Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that your two latest cases (and some of your other more recent reports from other campuses) almost seem to indicate a “ratcheting up” on the part of those who wish to squelch free speech on campus. The brazenness of their actions is breathtaking. The Summers incident at Harvard comes to mind as well. Do you think this might represent some “last gasp” from these folks? Are they trying to get a few more punches in before they lose whatever semblance of control they have left? Their […]

    » Read More
  • Free speech furore breaks out in US

    February 25, 2005

    When Harvard University President Lawrence Summers suggested women might be innately less suited to scientific study than men he crossed a line that critics say is stifling US academic freedom. Summers sparked a furore last month when he theorised that “intrinsic aptitudes” may explain why more men work in the academic sciences than women. Although he said he was intentionally trying to provoke and that he wanted to be proven wrong, his comments brought calls for his resignation from faculty and students who accused him of insensitivity. “Larry Summers is Exhibit A in how you can step into the culture […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Controversy Inspires Student Activism

    February 23, 2005

    Calling for everything from Larry Summers’ resignation to more benefits for Harvard workers to the “democratization” of the Harvard Corporation, student activists have taken advantage of the public attention garnered by the recent controversy to demand numerous changes on campus at a student-organized “Speak Out for an Anti-Sexist Harvard” rally. “Students for Larry,” a group of students concerned with preserving academic freedom on campus, also turned out to speak in defense of the Harvard president. Summers’ words have clearly provoked public discussion of real issues that impact students, staff, and faculty—but Summers, who only became Harvard as president in 2001, […]

    » Read More
  • Marketplace of Fear

    February 21, 2005

    Last week, we received a long and thoughtful e-mail regarding political uniformity at major universities as well as its consequences for students. The author, a professor, closed his message with the following statement: [P]lease don’t print this—I have too much fear of what would happen to me if my name became too prominent. As a result, I will not print any excerpt of his substantive remarks lest anyone recognize the argument and attribute it to him, nor (of course) will I print his name. I wanted to note the closing comment because it is representative of dozens of similar messages […]

    » Read More
  • The Summers Transcript

    February 18, 2005

    The transcript of Larry Summers’ controversial speech on the relative lack of women faculty in the hard sciences is now available. Here is the first paragraph: I asked Richard, when he invited me to come here and speak, whether he wanted an institutional talk about Harvard’s policies toward diversity or whether he wanted some questions asked and some attempts at provocation, because I was willing to do the second and didn’t feel like doing the first. And so we have agreed that I am speaking unofficially and not using this as an occasion to lay out the many things we’re […]

    » Read More
  • Let’s hear all voices

    February 10, 2005

    What a relief that Assumption University refused to be intimidated by religious zealots. If the venerable Catholic institution at the University of Windsor had buckled under pressure from anti-abortion activists and rescinded its invitation to Stephen Lewis to speak Sunday, it would have been a body blow to free expression and to the U of W’s already shaky credibility. Lewis, arguably the finest orator Canada has produced in half a century, is that rarest of individuals, a prominent ex-politician who chose service to humanity over money-grubbing self-aggrandizement. While his peers scrambled to join corporate boards, feed at the public trough […]

    » Read More
  • Welcome to ‘The Torch’

    February 8, 2005

    Today is the first official day of the new FIRE blog. Those who are familiar with weblogs will recognize both the format (the “group blog”) and the tone (slightly more familiar than the formal press releases on our home page). This blog represents FIRE’s decisive step into the daily debate over academic freedom and individual liberty on campus. While our work has had national impact, recent events—such as the Ward Churchill case and the ongoing controversies at Columbia and Harvard—demonstrate the need for FIRE’s unique nonpartisan voice in the blogosphere. Regular contributors will include FIRE Director of Legal and Public […]

    » Read More
  • The Re-‘Invasian’

    February 7, 2005

    The recent firestorm over Larry Summers’ remarks regarding gender and science has caused me to recall a free speech issue from my days as a Harvard undergraduate. One of the most controversial incidents I remember had to do, of course, with “offensive” speech—in particular, an article published by The Harvard Crimson in its weekend magazine, Fifteen Minutes, during spring of 2001. Called “The Invasian,” the article was a satirical commentary on racial self-segregation written by my classmate Juice (a.k.a. Justin Fong). The article sparked so much outrage so quickly that I actually learned about the article when friends attending other universities forwarded […]

    » Read More
  • The Censors’ Favorite Team

    February 4, 2005

    Tens of millions of people across America will watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX this Sunday night. In a gesture of magnanimity before the big game, those of us at FIRE’s headquarters here in Philadelphia would like to tip our hat to all the New England college administrators we’ve dealt with throughout the years. Not far from New England’s home of Foxboro Stadium near Boston lies Harvard University, home of the Crimson, censorship of business students, and a whole host of due process concerns. Meanwhile, Patriot-supporting administrators at nearby Tufts University in Medford have […]

    » Read More
  • Say It Ain’t So!

    January 27, 2005

    FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate has written an article in the Boston Phoenix on the controversy at Harvard involving Larry Summers. While I am undeniably biased (Harvey is one of my heroes), I consider this the best, most intelligent and most informed article on the topic so far. The saddest aspect of the controversy is that Summers had an opportunity to turn it into a lesson on how open discourse and free inquiry should work. Instead, Summers’s retreat has transformed this incident into an cautionary tale about the risks of opening your mouth on controversial subjects on the modern college campus.  […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Seeking Women

    January 22, 2005

    [NOTE: FIRE's Co-founder and Vice Chairman Harvey A. Silverglate appears in the video available at CBS News' online coverage. See the video "Kelly Cobiella reports on the continuing debate...."] A week after he was criticized for suggesting there are biological differences in men’s and women’s scientific abilities, the president of Harvard University said he initiated a new program to recruit women to the prestigious institution. Lawrence H. Summers told The Boston Globe for a story in Saturday’s editions that he has appointed historian Drew Gilpin Faust, the dean of Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, to oversee the initiative. The institute […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Injustice: Kafka on the Charles

    January 4, 2004

    A Harvard graduate student has been barred from continuing his studies because a fellow student accused him of sexual assault in January of 2002. The student was acquitted on all six counts of rape and assault by Middlesex Superior Court last August and his accuser was shown to be fabricating parts of her story at the trial. Despite this, Harvard has not readmitted him and has not dropped its own charges against him. Download FIRE’s Guide to Due Process and Fair Procedure on Campus.

    » Read More
  • Letter from the Office for Civil Rights to Harvard University President Larry Summers, April 1, 2003

    April 1, 2003

    Dear Dr. Summers: This is to advise you that the Office for Civil Rights has completed our consideration of the above-referenced complaint, which was filed against Harvard University. The Complainant alleged that revisions to the peer dispute administrative procedures of Harvard College (College) discriminated against students, mostly female, who filed complaints of sexual assault. Specifically, the Complainant alleged that the amendments to the grievance procedure would deprive students of access to a prompt and equitable resolution of complaints, as required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), by requiring grievants to present information showing “sufficient independent […]

    » Read More
  • Letter from Harvard Business School Dean Kim B. Clark to FIRE, January 2, 2003

    January 2, 2003

    2 January, 2003 Alan Charles Kors Harvey A. Silverglate Foundation for Individual Rights in Education 210 West Washington Square, Suite 303 Philadelphia, PA 19106 Dear Messrs. Kors and Silverglate, Your recent letter touches on fundamental principles that comprise the very essence of a vibrant academic environment such as Harvard Business School. Let me assure you that I believe strongly in freedom of speech and in the independence of the Harbus, which has played a central role on our campus since it was established 65 years ago. Since mid-November, I have sought a wide range of opportunities — including lunches and […]

    » Read More
  • ACLU Sues U. Maryland Over So-Called ‘Free-Speech’ Zones

    December 19, 2002

    By Sarah Lesher at University Wire

    » Read More
  • FIRE Letter to Harvard Business School Dean Kim B. Clark, November 19, 2002

    November 19, 2002

    November 19, 2002 Kim B. Clark, Dean Harvard Business School Morgan Hall 125 Soldiers Field Boston, MA 02163 Dear Dean Clark, As you can see from our Directors and Board of Advisors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education unites leaders in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, freedom of religion, academic freedom, due process, legal equality, and, in this case, freedom of speech and expression on America’s college campuses. We are profoundly alarmed by what we have learned from students, news sources, […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE Letter to Harvard Law School Dean Robert Clark, November 12, 2002

    November 12, 2002

    November 12, 2002 Dean Robert Clark Harvard Law School Cambridge, MA 02138 Dear Dean Clark: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (“FIRE”) is a non-profit civil liberties organization dedicated to the promotion of academic freedom, free speech, and fair procedures in American higher education. As you can see from our Board of Advisers, listed on this letterhead and on our Website (www.thefire.org), FIRE is non-partisan and enjoys the advice, support, and respect of public intellectuals, academics, journalists, and others who have in common their concern for these crucial areas of American public life. We are writing to you because […]

    » Read More
  • Letter to the Editor

    September 20, 2002

    To the editors: Your editorial (“Title IX Complaint Questionable,” Sept. 18) exhibits myopic and wishful thinking divorced from “real world” experience. My 35 years in criminal defense and civil liberties litigation give me a very different perspective. While Harvard would do well to re-think all of its disciplinary policies and procedures (not just in sexual assault cases), which have been notoriously deficient for both complainant and defendant for decades, the attempt to superimpose a rational screening mechanism before a case is sent to a full Administrative Board hearing is a step in the right direction. It does not unfairly disadvantage a […]

    » Read More
  • Harvard Students Protest Crimson Article

    March 20, 2001

    CAMBRIDGE — In a clash pitting racial sensitivities against free speech, 100 protesters marched to the Harvard Crimson yesterday and denounced the campus newspaper for publishing an opinion piece that criticized the university’s Asian-American students. ”It’s like Ku Klux Klan propaganda; newspapers wouldn’t print that,” said Alice Wong, 19, a Harvard freshman. In a weekend magazine piece titled ”The Invasian,” Harvard sophomore Justin Fong assailed Asian-American students for what he called a culture of ”self-segregation” at Harvard. Yesterday, after protesters accused him of using hurtful language and perpetuating racist attitudes, Fong, a sixth-generation Asian-American, said the article in Fifteen Minutes […]

    » Read More
  • Thought Reform 101

    March 1, 2000

    At Wake Forest University last fall, one of the few events designated as “mandatory” for freshman orientation was attendance at Blue Eyed, a filmed racism awareness workshop in which whites are abused, ridiculed, made to fail, and taught helpless passivity so that they can identify with “a person of color for a day.” In Swarthmore College’s dormitories, in the fall of 1998, first-year students were asked to line up by skin color, from lightest to darkest, and to step forward and talk about how they felt concerning their place in that line. Indeed, at almost all of our campuses, some […]

    » Read More