Marquette University

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Website: http://www.marquette.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 7th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Marquette 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.

  • Marquette University: Political Quote Banned from Office Door

    September 27, 2006

    In August 2006, a PhD student at Marquette University, Stuart Ditsler, posted a Dave Barry quote on his office door. The quote read, “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.” In September, the University administration had the quote taken down because it was “patently offensive.” On September 5, Distler received an email from the Philosophy Department Chair, James South, stating that there had been several complaints about the quote and that it had been removed as a result. […]

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Red Light Policies

  • Acceptable Use Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Users may not do the following: … Engage in activities that harass, degrade, intimidate, demean, slander, defame, interfere with, or threaten others.

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  • Student Handbook: Harassment Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment is defined as verbal, written or physical conduct directed at a person or a group based on color, race, national
    origin, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation where the offensive behavior is intimidating, hostile or demeaning, or which could or does result in mental, emotional or physical discomfort, embarrassment, ridicule or harm.

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  • Student Conduct Code: Community Expectations 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Marquette expects its members to behave toward one another with sensitivity, consideration, understanding, tolerance and an active concern for the welfare of others. The university is particularly concerned that its members show respect for others regardless of race, creed, gender, disability, sexual orientation or nationality and avoid all forms of harassing or offensive behaviors.

    The following acts may subject students to disciplinary action: … Participating in stalking, hazing or harassment, which includes actions or situations that do or could result in mental, emotional or physical discomfort, embarrassment, ridicule or endangerment whether intentionally, for fun or by consent. …

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Residence Hall Policies – Solicitation 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies

    Solicitation is defined as any activity that seeks to entice or gain support from resident students at Marquette. Therefore, this policy applies to a wide range of activities, all of which are prohibited unless specifically approved by Residence Life. These activities may include advertising, selling, petitioning, campaigning for political candidates, distributing flyers in mail boxes and surveying residence hall students by telephone, mail or in person.

    Posters and signs in student rooms and windows are permissible provided they are in good taste. Residents may post signs, notices or posters on their doors as long as they do not damage the doors. Students may be asked remove items from their doors if the item may be considered offensive to their community. Students are not allowed to post unapproved items in common areas. See the hall director for approval.

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  • Student Handbook: Policies and Procedures for the Distribution of Literature, the Sponsorship of Visiting Speakers and Public Performances, and the Screening of Films 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes

    Student organization requests for the distribution of literature, the sponsorship of visiting speakers and public performers and the screening of films will be considered in light of the educational purposes and the Catholic identity of Marquette University. Specific attention, therefore, will be paid to the context and purpose of the proposed material.

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  • Student Conduct Code: Community Expectations 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility

    The following acts may subject students to disciplinary action: … Physically or verbally abusing or threatening any person, on or off the campus, including especially such persons as student staff and Public Safety officers. … Engaging in behaviors that are disruptive to the educational community, in or out of the classroom.

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Demonstrations Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    It is clearly inevitable, and indeed essential, that the spirit of inquiry and challenge that the university seeks to encourage will produce many conflicts of ideas, opinions and proposals for action.

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  • Sexual Misconduct Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advances, demands, requests for sexual favors, innuendoes or any other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: … Such conduct is sufficiently severe and pervasive so as to alter the conditions of, or have the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with, an individual’s academic performance or work by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational, residential, or working environment.

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  • Neil Gaiman and fans of sci-fi classic ‘Firefly’ save free speech on campus!

    December 28, 2011

    Despite my 10 years working to defend free speech on campus, university censors keep finding new ways to surprise me. This year a campus in the University of Wisconsin system managed to do something that offended me both as a First Amendment lawyer and as a sci-fi fan, two parts of my life that I thought would never intersect. As I reported back in September, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, James Miller, was threatened with potential criminal charges just for posting a quote from the beloved but short-lived sci-fi classic Firefly outside his door and, then, for having the temerity to object to the […]

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  • Banned in Marquette: No free speech zone for the words of Dave Barry

    September 29, 2009

    I worked for three years on the sixth floor of One Herald Plaza and never bumped into the infamous Dave Barry. He never invited me up to the roof to fire potatoes into Biscayne Bay from his gas-powered spud gun. I worked for the afternoon Miami News and he for the morning Miami Herald. I did sit at home on Sunday mornings and laugh till I cried over his humor column in the Tropic Sunday supplement section of the Miami Herald. I especially enjoyed his surprised discovery of the unique flora and fauna of Dade County when the paper finally […]

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  • Campus Alert: Banning Dave Barry

    June 11, 2007

    As college students head off to summer vacation, it’s time to look back at the academic year’s most ridiculous case. When it came to being just plain nuts, one university distinguished itself above all others this year: Marquette University in Wisconsin and its crackdown on Dave Barry. That’s right: Even all-American humorist Dave Barry is subject to censorship on our nation’s college campuses, as Ph.D. student Stuart Ditsler found out last fall. Ditsler didn’t think he was doing anything objectionable by posting a Dave Barry quote on his office door last October—but James South, the head of Marquette’s philosophy department, […]

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  • It’s all a free-speech zone

    October 22, 2006

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   Editorial We were under the impression that the entire United States is a free-speech zone. Which is why the phrase’s use is puzzling in the case of a teaching aide and graduate student at Marquette University who had a quote from a well-known humorist removed from his office door recently. The quote from Dave Barry was, “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.” Philosophy department chairman and associate professor James South called the quote […]

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  • University bans humor quotation from student’s door

    October 19, 2006

    by Nathan Burchfiel Cybercast News Service Officials at Marquette University have ordered a Ph.D. student to remove a quotation critical of the federal government from his office door, because the hallway the door faces is not a “free speech zone.” In August, Stuart Distler, a doctoral student teacher, posted a quotation from humor columnist Dave Barry on his office door. “As Americans, we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless,” the sign stated. “I refer, of course, to the federal government.” On Sept. 5, Philosophy Department Chairman James South […]

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  • Free speech group ridicules Marquette for removal of Barry quote

    October 19, 2006

    A national free speech group lambasted Marquette University administrators Wednesday for removing a quote by humorist Dave Barry from a graduate student’s office door. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education criticized a Marquette administrator for removing this Barry quote from the office door of doctoral student Stuart Ditsler last month: "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." Philosophy Department Chair James South said in a Sept. 5 e-mail that he removed the quotation, which was posted in […]

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  • I am not making this up: Dave Barry is “patently offensive”

    October 18, 2006

    The free-speech fun squad at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reports on the latest suppression of expression on campus: In August, a grad student at Marquette University in Milwaukee posted a Dave Barry quote on his office door. The quote reads: “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.” On September 5, says FIRE: Philosophy Department Chair James South sent [student Stuart] Ditsler an e-mail stating that he had received several complaints and therefore removed the […]

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  • Marquette University Threatens Academic Freedom with Chilling Investigation of Classroom Speech

    December 29, 2011

    Over at the blog Marquette Warrior, John McAdams provides a good example of how unwarranted investigations of campus speech can cause a deeply problematic “chilling effect” at a university. Universities must not pursue investigations of protected expression just because someone submits a complaint; as soon as it is clear that the expression in question is protected speech, the inquiry must end, even if there are other factual disputes. Prolonging the investigation tells everyone on campus that the university will pursue charges against you no matter how frivolous or malicious the complaint. The likely result is that people self-censor and keep […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Muzzling Dave Barry at Marquette

    October 17, 2011

    Fresh on the heels of our case at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, it seems appropriate to look back five years at a similar case involving an overzealous administration and an “offensive” poster. In October 2006, Marquette Ph.D. student Stuart Ditsler came to FIRE for help after Philosophy Department Chair James South removed a flyer quoting well-known humor writer Dave Barry from his office door. The quote read, “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.” Despite the fact that […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Dave Barry Speaks Out on College Censorship

    July 30, 2010

    Exactly one year ago, FIRE released a video of Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry in which he discusses the value of free speech on college campuses. The video, which now has over 24,000 hits, shows Barry’s perspective on FIRE’s work and why it’s so important. In 2006, Barry’s writing was the subject of a FIRE case when a Ph.D. student at Marquette University posted a quote from one of Barry’s columns on his office door that the administration deemed “patently offensive”—a legal term of art usually used in the context of evaluating hardcore pornography. The quote read, “As Americans we […]

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  • Marquette’s Strained Relationship with Freedom of Expression

    May 11, 2010

    Marquette University made headlines recently for offering the job of Dean of Arts and Sciences to sexuality and gender scholar Jodi O’Brien. Marquette is a major Catholic university, and although O’Brien is open about being a lesbian, there is no evidence that this was an obstacle for either the search committee or Marquette administrators. Marquette, after all, has an anti-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation as a protected status. But that’s not why the appointment made headlines. The reason the story is in the news is that, shortly after offering O’Brien the deanship, Marquette rescinded the offer. Marquette President Father […]

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  • Dave Barry, Award-Winning Humorist, Speaks Out on College Censorship in New FIRE Video

    July 30, 2009

    Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist and author of more than 30 books, is no stranger to critics trying to censor his writing. The nationally syndicated humorist has written some of our nation’s funniest columns—and with the First Amendment on his side, he’s been winning the battle for free speech for over 25 years. Today, we are releasing a new video that features Barry discussing why freedom of expression is important to him and how today’s politically correct college campuses are creating a culture of censorship that stifles humor writing and the opinions of millions of students across the country. […]

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  • Dave Barry, Award-Winning Humorist, Speaks Out on College Censorship in New FIRE Video

    July 30, 2009

    PHILADELPHIA, July 30, 2009—Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist and author of more than 30 books, is no stranger to critics trying to censor his writing. The nationally syndicated humorist has written some of our nation’s funniest columns—and with the First Amendment on his side, he’s been winning the battle for free speech for over 25 years. Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) releases a new video that features Barry discussing why freedom of expression is important to him and how today’s politically correct college campuses are creating a culture of censorship that stifles humor writing and […]

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  • Radical Speech: Dave Barry Talks About Politically Correct Campuses

    July 30, 2009

    Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist and author of more than 30 books, is no stranger to critics trying to censor his writing. The nationally syndicated humorist has written some of our nation’s funniest columns—and with the First Amendment on his side, he’s been winning the battle for free speech for over 25 years. This new video from FIRE features Barry discussing why freedom of expression is important to him and how today’s politically correct college campuses are creating a culture of censorship that stifles humor writing and the opinions of millions of students across the country.

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  • Today’s ‘Campus Alert’: Banning Dave Barry

    June 11, 2007

    Our Campus Alert column in today’s New York Post focuses on the FIRE case we have crowned our most ridiculous case of the past academic year—Marquette University’s banning of a Dave Barry quote.   Last October, Ph.D. student Stuart Ditsler posted a Barry quote on his office door that read, “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.” Within days, Philosophy Department Chair James South deemed the quote “patently offensive” and ordered its removal, all the while maintaining in […]

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  • Looking for a Straight Answer from Marquette University

    January 15, 2007

    Marquette University’s censorship of a Dave Barry quote was one of the more confounding cases of 2006. Marquette’s reaction to the quote—a benign criticism of the government—went from baffling to exasperating when administrators tried to justify the censorship, first by claiming that the quote was “patently offensive,” then that office doors are not “free speech zones,” then that it was only in “the context of a complaint” that Marquette is willing to forsake its community members’ free speech rights.    In the hope that Marquette will push past these excuses to clarify whether students and faculty are allowed to express […]

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  • Still No Answer from Marquette

    December 27, 2006

    As the year draws to a close and we reflect on all of FIRE’s activities in 2006, the case of Stuart Ditsler at Marquette University stands out not only for its absurdity but also because the case has yet to be resolved.   Torch readers will recall Ditsler’s case from earlier this fall, when administrators removed a Dave Barry quote from his office door in Marquette’s philosophy department because they deemed it “patently offensive.” The quote—which could not be considered “patently offensive” (a term usually reserved for hardcore pornography) by any stretch of the imagination—read: “As Americans we must always […]

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  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Questions Marquette

    December 5, 2006

    The AFT features FIRE in its new AFT On Campus column “Academic Freedom Forum.” Discussing the Stuart Ditsler case, the column reads: We think of faculty doors as a place for posting office hours, inspiring quotes, and other provocative or silly items at the occupant’s discretion. But at Marquette University, one philosophy grad student has found Dave Barry is beyond the pale.  After briefly discussing the details of the case, the column asks, “A free speech violation, or just an indignity of the academic pecking order?” Perhaps it is both, but as FIRE points out in its latest letter to […]

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  • FIRE Continues to Follow Dave Barry Incident at Marquette

    November 15, 2006

    FIRE continues to follow the case of Stuart Ditsler, the graduate student at Marquette University who was forced to remove an innocuous political quote by humorist Dave Barry from his office door. Although the Marquette administration claimed that the situation was resolved within the philosophy department, Ditsler told FIRE he was never notified of this alleged resolution. So the question remains: are students and faculty now permitted to post materials on their office doors at Marquette?   FIRE wrote to Marquette a second time, hoping to clarify the university’s position and establish a firm commitment to free speech on campus. […]

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  • Student Editorial Highlights FIRE Case at Marquette University

    November 8, 2006

    A recent editorial in The Daily Barometer, the student newspaper at Oregon State University, picked up on the absurdity of FIRE’s recent case at Marquette University where the chair of the philosophy department, Dr. James South, removed a quote from humorist Dave Barry from a graduate student’s office door because South found the quote “patently offensive.” The quote read:  As Americans, we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.  If the quote doesn’t seem adequately nocuous to create any sort of […]

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  • Marquette’s Student Newspaper on Censorship at Marquette

    October 30, 2006

    The Marquette Warrior blog brought to my attention an editorial by the Marquette Tribune, Marquette’s student newspaper, on the university’s failure to respond to FIRE’s letter about the philosophy department’s censorship of a Dave Barry quote.  Usually, student newspapers are fairly reliable friends of liberty on campus. However, this does not appear to be the case with the Marquette Tribune, which criticizes Marquette President Robert Wild for not answering FIRE’s letter on time, but adds: The university could have easily defended South’s actions with its Student Handbook policy. Despite the romantic impressions of some, Marquette is a private institution—not a […]

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  • A Belated Response from Marquette

    October 24, 2006

    FIRE just received Marquette University’s response to our September 27 letter. Marquette said publicly that it sent us the letter on October 16, and the letter is indeed dated October 16, but the postmark is dated October 19, the day after FIRE’s press release on Marquette’s censorship of a Dave Barry quote. Curious indeed.   Even more curious is the explanation that Marquette President Robert Wild gives for censoring the quote. He writes, “the original difficulty arose out of a misunderstanding… [W]hen the quotation cited was posted, it was without attribution; therefore, someone reading the quotation may not have understood […]

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  • No Marquette Letter Yet

    October 20, 2006

    Although it has appeared on several blogs, FIRE has still not received the response from Marquette University it claims to have sent on October 16. Perhaps the letter got lost it the mail, or perhaps Marquette backdated the letter in order to appear responsive to FIRE’s concerns. In any event, FIRE hopes that it will soon be able to see this mysterious letter.

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  • Jesuit university faces fresh heat

    October 20, 2006

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is petitioning Marquette University to reconsider allowing a graduate student to post a quote by humorist Dave Barry on the student’s office door. The quote, which was removed two months ago by MU Philosophy Department Chair James South, is “pretty tame,” according to FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “Marquette has very strong and clear promises of free speech,” Lukianoff said. “But they wouldn’t even tolerate a quote by light-hearted humorist Dave Barry.” The quote that appeared on the door, according to FIRE, read: “As Americans, we must always remember that we all have a […]

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  • ‘Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’ Covers Marquette/Dave Barry Controversy

    October 19, 2006

    The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered FIRE’s recent case at Marquette University where an administrator removed an innocuous quote by comedian Dave Barry from the office door of graduate student Stuart Ditsler, claiming the quote was “patently offensive.” The quote read: “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.”   In a bizarre twist, the article claims that Marquette President Robert Wild sent a letter to FIRE dated October 16, claiming that the offending quote was removed from the door […]

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  • Marquette Controversy Rapidly Gaining Attention

    October 19, 2006

    FIRE’s involvement at Marquette University has been picked up by the Associated Press, Special Report with Brit Hume on Fox News, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Add to this blogs on several websites—from organizations including the John Locke Foundation and the Cato Institute to Dave Barry himself—and numerous responses from individuals who have written to Marquette’s administration in support of Stuart Ditsler. Considering the amount of feedback FIRE has received on this case, we hope the university will soon see the error of its ways and decide that office doors (which have traditionally been places where professors and students post […]

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  • TV Critic Glenn Garvin Calls Evil by its Name: Dave Barry

    October 18, 2006

    Miami Herald television critic Glenn Garvin has caught wind of FIRE’s recent case at Marquette University, where an administrator removed a quote from comedian (read: Evil Incarnate) Dave Barry that a graduate student had posted on his office door. Garvin came down squarely against the raw tyranny of freedom of expression and against the “practically unfathomable evil of Dave Barry.” On the Changing Channels blog of the Miami Herald, Garvin lauds the bravery of the “heroic Anti-Dave Freedom Fighters of Marquette University,” especially “Thought Police Chief James South,” chair of the Marquette philosophy department, whose quick thinking saved Marquette University […]

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  • The Good, the Bad, and the Just Plain Silly

    October 18, 2006

    As a free speech organization, we see pretty much every type of censorship out there. People are frequently censored at colleges and universities for engaging in controversial political speech. Other times, people are censored for engaging in speech that is crude and repugnant, but that is wholly protected. And then there are times that people seem to be censored for no reason at all. Today’s case at Marquette University is one of those instances. In the spirit of levity, here are a few more of the silliest instances of censorship we’ve seen here at FIRE:  Gonzaga University tried to punish […]

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  • Dave Barry Quote Sparks Dispute at Marquette University

    October 18, 2006

    Today’s press release highlights a free speech dispute at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Philosophy Ph.D. student Stuart Ditsler posted a quote by writer and humorist Dave Barry on his office door. The quote read, “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.” Seems harmless enough.   But within days, Ditsler received an e-mail from Philosophy Department Chair James South, who had removed the quote after receiving complaints. South wrote, “I’m afraid that hallways and office doors are not ‘free-speech […]

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  • Marquette Bans Dave Barry Quote from Office Door

    October 18, 2006

    MILWAUKEE, Wis., October 18, 2006—Writer and humorist Dave Barry probably never expected that one of his jokes would spark a university free speech dispute. But in early September, a Marquette University administrator removed a Barry quote about the federal government from Ph.D. student Stuart Ditsler’s office door because the quote was “patently offensive.” Facing this arbitrary exercise of political censorship, Ditsler contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “There have been several high-profile free speech controversies on campuses recently, such as at Columbia this month. But incidents like this one at Marquette and on other campuses […]

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  • Free speech group ridicules Marquette for removal of Barry quote

    October 18, 2006

    A national free speech group is criticizing Marquette University administrators today for removing a quote by humorist Dave Barry from the office door of a graduate student. The Barry quote on Stuart Ditsler’s door read: “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.” Philosophy Department Chair James South says he took the quotation down after receiving several complaints. An e-mail released by Philadelphia’s Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says South explained that the hallways and office doors at […]

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  • Free-speech group decries Marquette removal of quote

    October 18, 2006

    Marquette University came under attack from a national free-speech organization on Wednesday after a university administrator refused to allow a quote from humorist Dave Barry to remain posted on the office door of four teaching assistants. The quote: “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.” Stuart Ditsler, a teaching assistant and graduate student in the philosophy department, said he put it on the door of an office he shares with several other graduate students several weeks before classes […]

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  • FIRE Letter to Marquette University President Robert A. Wild, September 27, 2006

    September 27, 2006

    September 27, 2006 President Robert A. Wild, S.J. Marquette University O’Hara Hall, 101/102 P.O. Box 1881 Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1881 Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (414-288-3161) Dear President Wild: As you can see from our directors and board of advisors, FIRE unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, due process, legal equality, voluntary association, and, in this case, freedom of speech and academic freedom on America’s college campuses. Our website, www.thefire.org, will give you a greater sense of our identity and of our activities. FIRE […]

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  • Prof sails against liberal tide

    April 17, 2005

    WILMINGTON — The door to the office of Mike Adams, associate professor of criminal justice at UNC-Wilmington, seems more like a window into his soul. The bumper stickers, fliers, advertisements, printouts and photographs attached to the door provide a vivid sociopolitical view of the office’s occupant.Can’t feed ‘em, Don’t breed ‘emEvery fourth baby dies from ChoiceStraight white male — The final minoritySo you’re a feminist. Isn’t that cuteThe door is so cluttered that its earlier decorations have been all but covered — most notably the sign declaring Adams’ office to be the campus “Men’s Resource Center.” The center’s mission, Adams […]

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