Princeton University

Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Website: http://www.princeton.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 3rd Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Princeton 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.

  • Princeton University: Refusal to Recognize Religious Group

    April 19, 2005

    Princeton Faith and Action, a student organization at Princeton University, was given recognition after being arbitrarily denied such. PFA is associated with the Christian Union, an off-campus ministry serving Ivy League universities whose own request to apply to have a full-time chaplain on campus was rejected by Dean of Religious Life Thomas Breidenthal. After being blocked from reserving spaces on campus through an existing recognized Christian student group, students organized PFA in order to hold activities independently. When they approached the student government to apply for official recognition, however, student government officials explained that because their group was religious in […]

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Red Light Policies

  • Rights, Rules, Responsibilities: University-Wide Regulations – Respect for Others 12-13

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

    Actions which make the atmosphere intimidating, threatening, or hostile to individuals are therefore regarded as serious offenses. Abusive or harassing behavior, verbal or physical, which demeans, intimidates, threatens, or injures another because of personal characteristics or beliefs or their expression, is subject to University disciplinary sanctions as described above. Examples of personal characteristics or beliefs include but are not limited to sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, and handicap.

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  • Princeton University Information Technology Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    When using the campus technologies or access to network technologies provided by the University, or in any other venue in which you are acting as an agent of the University, you must refrain from creating and sending, posting, or displaying, or causing to be sent or posted, or displayed, or assisting to create and send or cause to be sent, posted, or displayed, any malicious, harassing, or defamatory messages or statements regarding another person, via email, instant message, text message, Twitter or voice mail, by posting to message boards, mailing lists, social networks or newsgroups, by posting to the World Wide Web or Google Plus, by issuing as a virtual reality avatar, or by inclusion in a video produced for broadcast via the campus network, TigerTV, or YouTube or similar service.

    You must be sensitive to the public nature of shared facilities, and take care not to display on workstations in such locations inappropriate images, sounds or messages which could create an atmosphere of menace or harassment for others.

    You also must refrain from transmitting to others in any location inappropriate images, sounds or messages that are clearly threatening, hostile, or harassing in contradiction to the code of civility defined in RRR.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Nondiscrimination/Anti-Harassment Policy and Grievance Procedures 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Listed below are examples of behavior that can constitute sexual harassment. The list is not all-inclusive; in addition, each situation must be considered in light of the specific facts and circumstances to determine if sexual harassment has occurred. * Pressure for sexual activity or sexual favors; * Unwelcome touching of a person’s body, hair or clothing; * Unwelcome sexual jokes or comments (including favorable comments about someone’s gender, body, clothing, appearance, etc.); * Disparaging remarks to a person about his/her gender or body; * Asking about a person’s sexual fantasies or sexual activities; * Repeatedly asking for a date after the person has said no; * Nonverbal behavior, such as making sexual gestures with hands or through body movements; * Displaying sexually explicit posters or pictures; and * Electronic communications, such as e-mail, text messaging and internet use, that violate this Policy.

    Listed below are examples of behavior that can constitute [discriminatory] harassment. The list is not all-inclusive; in addition, each situation must be considered in light of the specific facts and circumstances
    to determine if harassment has occurred.
    * Unwelcome jokes or comments about a legally protected characteristic (e.g., racial or ethnic
    jokes);
    * Disparaging remarks to a person about a legally protected characteristic (e.g., negative or
    offensive remarks or jokes about a person’s religion or religious garments);
    * Displaying negative or offensive posters or pictures about a legally protected characteristic;
    * Electronic communications, such as e-mail, text messaging and internet use, that violate this
    Policy; and
    * Stereotyping

     

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  • Rights, Rules, Responsibilities: University-Wide Regulations- Distribution of Written Materials by Members of the University Community 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies

    Anonymous public postings without sponsorship of a registered University organization shall be removed or deleted if a complaint by a member of the University is lodged with the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students or the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School.

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  • Rights, Rules, Responsibilities: University-Wide Regulations- Peaceful Dissent, Protests and Demonstrations 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    All individuals and groups planning to engage in activities of the sort described in the previous paragraph should seek approval from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students. … In asking groups and individuals to seek prior approval for schedule and location, the University’s goal is not to restrict free speech or peaceable assembly. Rather, it is to give the University the opportunity to provide space that accommodates the reasonable needs of both the University community and those engaged in acts of speech or protest. The University reserves the right to determine the time, place, and manner of all such activities.

    The University reserves the right to refuse permission to use a particular area for protests or demonstrations, including those on the designated area list. When such a decision is reached, the University will provide reasons when asked.

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  • Rights, Rules, Responsibilities: University-Wide Regulations- Sexual Misconduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexually Inappropriate Conduct: Unwelcome sexual conduct that may not rise to the level of sexual harassment or sexual exploitation, but that is sexual in nature. Examples may include: obscene or sexually offensive gestures and comments; and lewdness.

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Green Light Policies
  • 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 […]

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  • The hidden scandal of Princeton’s speech code

    September 11, 2008

    by Michael Davidson The Daily Princetonian Over the past three years at Princeton, every time I saw another student publication at my door, a demonstration in front of Frist, or heard of our administration’s continued support for the academic freedom of Peter Singer, I became more confident that our marketplace of ideas was alive and well. I was also impressed by the appropriately restrained reaction on the part of the administration during both of the major free speech controversies that have occurred while I have been a student. First, The Daily Princetonian’s 2007 op-ed parodying then-Yale freshman Jian Li resulted […]

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  • Students fight for rights

    June 22, 2006

    There may be an end in sight to the long reign of one-sided intellectual discourse on the nation’s colleges and universities. New, on-campus movements by students as well as interest from state and federal lawmakers are beginning to make headway in guaranteeing intellectual freedom for all students. According to Sara Dothan, campus director for Students for Academic Freedom (SAF), students at more than 150 campuses across the country have started SAF chapters to fight for the passage of an academic bill of rights. The organization is growing rapidly and having an impact on campuses, Dothan said. “One of the biggest […]

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  • Princeton recognizes Christian group initially denied campus sanction

    May 11, 2005

    PRINCETON, N.J. — After being initially rebuffed by a Princeton University official, a group of evangelical Christian students who wanted access to facilities and the chance to apply for funds has won a victory. After the university’s dean of religious life refused recognition for Princeton Faith and Action, the group appealed to a campus rights group that successfully lobbied the university to change its procedures. “We found Princeton’s quick and fair response very encouraging. We’ve found other colleges who haven’t been particularly fair to religious groups, sometimes in an unconstitutional way,” said Greg Lukianoff, an official with the Philadelphia-based Foundation […]

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  • In defense of freedom in academia

    April 17, 2003

    Alan Kors, from the Adam Smith tie around his neck to the “Liberty” flag on his wall, makes no bones about his libertarianism. His files, refusing to conform to anyone’s concept of order but their own, apparently share it. “Can you believe the kid won?” Kors asks, holding up an old envelope covered in scribbled names, numbers and reminders that, along with the mountains of scrap paper, xeroxes and formal reports from which it came, once played its part in Kors’ struggle against Penn’s prosecution of Eden Jacobowitz. “This is what his defense looked like,” Kors says, spreading the piles […]

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  • Princeton Admins Force Censorship of Interactive Art Installation

    April 22, 2014

    From April 13 through May 3, a group of students at Princeton University are asking, “What will you bring to The Surface?”

    “The Surface” is an interactive art installation consisting of approximately 224 square feet of white wooden boards set up on the lawn on which anyone can draw or paint—or even censor— the work of visitors before them. Veterans of free speech walls would not be surprised by what the students have brought to the installation thus far: a range of thought-provoking questions, angry rants, cute drawings, some profanity—and the inevitable penis drawing. But the last of these was apparently a step too far for Princeton administrators. A panel containing such an illustration was removed, and was returned to the project’s creators only when the offending material was painted over.

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  • Princeton Students Form Much-Needed Free Speech Advocacy Group

    December 10, 2012

    Students at Princeton University have formed a new group “to encourage campus-wide conversation and protect student speech,” The Daily Princetonian reported yesterday. The group, called Princetonians for Individual Rights in Education (PIRE for short; no affiliation with FIRE, although we are flattered that we were reportedly part of the inspiration for the group), was started by Vivienne Chen and Elan Kugelmass, two members of Princeton’s class of 2014. Such a group is sorely needed at Princeton, which makes lofty commitments to free speech but then places serious restrictions on students’ expressive rights (such as prohibiting speech or expression that “demeans” […]

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  • AP: Sexual Assault Claims on Campus a ‘Legal Minefield’

    April 23, 2012

    This weekend, Justin Pope of the Associated Press came out with a pair of thorough and insightful articles about the “legal minefield” in which universities currently find themselves when it comes to addressing claims of sexual assault on campus. As Pope explains, Typically, colleges enjoy wide leeway in responding to student misconduct, whether that means using a disciplinary board to enforce their own rules or simply punting the matter to law enforcement. But as Title IX is now interpreted — and would be reinforced under a new version of the Violence Against Women Act awaiting a Senate vote — colleges […]

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  • Harvey Silverglate and Samantha Harris on Free Speech in ‘Princeton Alumni Weekly’

    October 26, 2011

    Check out FIRE Chairman Harvey Silverglate and Director of Speech Code Research Samantha Harris’ essay on free speech at their mutual alma mater in this week’s Princeton Alumni Weekly. Harvey and Samantha point out to Princeton alumni how their college’s policies leave today’s Princeton students subject to punishment for speaking their minds on controversial issues, or even for sending emails that administrators could deem “hostile.” In the article, Harvey and Samantha, who as alumni of Princeton are particularly concerned with free speech at the college they attended (FIRE Co-Founder Alan Charles Kors happens to be another notable alumnus), discuss what led to their writing this […]

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  • More Unsavory Disinvitations: This Time, Nonie Darwish at Princeton and Columbia

    December 10, 2009

    More points were scored recently for the angry “heckler’s veto” when protesters (including at least one Princeton administrator) successfully pressured Nonie Darwish’s student hosts to cancel her speaking events at Princeton and Columbia universities. Darwish is Founder and Director of Former Muslims United. Darwish’s November 18, 2009, speech at Princeton was canceled the evening before she was scheduled to speak, according to The Daily Princetonian, because of her previously expressed views. Both student groups that were sponsoring the event, Tigers for Israel and the American Whig-Cliosophic Society (Whig-Clio), withdrew. Each group gave a different, strange reason for withdrawing. For Tigers […]

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  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Princeton University

    June 22, 2009

    Throughout the spring semester and into the early summer, FIRE is drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). We have now come to our final two universities: Princeton and Harvard. Today we review policies at my alma mater, Princeton University, which FIRE has given a red-light rating for maintaining policies that prohibit protected speech on campus. Although Princeton is private, its policies contain robust protections for free speech. The Rights, Rules, Responsibilities handbook states that The central purposes of a University are the pursuit […]

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  • Upon Return to Princeton, FIRE Intern Advocates for Reform

    September 11, 2008

    2008 FIRE summer intern Michael Davidson alerts us this morning to his op-ed in today’s edition of The Daily Princetonian, Princeton University‘s student newspaper. Mike’s opinion piece, entitled “The hidden scandal of Princeton’s speech code,” alerts the Princeton community to its designation by FIRE as a red-light school. (To earn a red-light rating, a school must have at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.) In Princeton’s case, FIRE has taken issue with the school’s overbroad harassment policy. As Mike explains, “A student can be subject to University disciplinary sanctions if their ‘abusive’ behavior ‘demeans’ […]

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  • Freshman Orientation: Education? Or Indoctrination?

    September 19, 2007

    Harvey Silverglate, FIRE co-founder and board chairman, discusses freshman orientation programs on The Phoenix’s “Free for All” blog. Spurred by an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal written by a Princeton graduate about the sex education portion of the school’s orientation, Harvey reflects on these programs. He writes: Instead, these administrators [involved with the orientation programs] disguise their social engineering as education, and that’s where civilized and rational people have to draw the line and respond with “surely you jest that this is education.”

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  • FIRE’s Samantha Harris Profiled in the ‘Daily Princetonian’

    February 20, 2007

    Yesterday’s Daily Princetonian, Princeton University’s student newspaper, carried an article well worth reading—a profile of FIRE’s own Samantha Harris, Director of Legal and Public Advocacy. Sam well deserves the honor with the outstanding work she does for FIRE. Click on the link above to read more about the person Professor Robert George calls “one of the finest students I’ve encountered in more than 20 years of teaching at Princeton.”  

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  • At Princeton, a (Mostly) Satisfactory Resolution to the Satire Controversy

    January 24, 2007

    In a refreshing development, The Daily Princetonian joke op-ed controversy will resolve itself through campus discussion, not through administrative intervention. Even though the op-ed garnered a good amount of media attention—enough to be featured in The New York Times—administrators at Princeton have limited their involvement to a strongly worded letter to the editor. While Janet Smith Dickerson, Vice President for Campus Life, and Kathleen Deignan, Dean of Undergraduate Students, do make some statements with which I disagree (like the implication that offensive satire and parody are not “productive ways to engage an academic community,” a statement disproved by this incident), […]

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  • Here We Go Again: A Satire Uproar at Princeton

    January 19, 2007

    A mock op-ed published in the joke issue of The Daily Princetonian has ignited one of the first major free speech controversies of the new semester. The column, written by the paper’s managing board, “ran with the byline ‘Lian Ji,’ referring to Yale freshman Jian Li, who filed a bias complaint against the university last year, alleging that the Admissions Office discriminates against Asian applicants,” according to an article in the Princetonian. Written in broken English, the managing board packed the column with almost every Asian stereotype.   The controversy, only a few days old, has been discussed on blogs outside of […]

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  • FIRE Letter to the Editor in ‘The Daily Princetonian’

    October 4, 2006

    In response to boos from the audience during a portion of Princeton’s “Sex on a Saturday Night” play when two males kissed, Andy Brown, the play’s co-director, wrote an editorial in The Daily Princetonian condemning those who jeered. He wrote that:  The LGBT Center notes [Princeton’s] definition [of sexual harassment] to the realm of sexual orientation on their website: “Harassment based on sexual orientation is unwanted verbal or physical conduct based on a person’s perceived sexual orientation.” Booing the portrayed scene was harassment based on sexual orientation. This means that the booing was completely unacceptable by University standards.  This policy […]

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  • Are Pictures of Abortion ‘Hate Speech?’

    May 11, 2006

    Last week, Phi Beta Cons noted a story in the Bellingham (Wash.) Herald describing yet another instance of vandalism of a pro-life display. According to the Herald, Western Washington University student David Janus Zhang was so enraged by a “display showing pictures of aborted fetuses next to images of genocide” that he jumped over a fence and tried to destroy it. Zhang inflicted $2,700 worth of damage in the course of what a university police officer called “a rampage.” He was arrested and jailed; he now faces charges of malicious mischief and disorderly conduct charges.   Now, in response to […]

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  • 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, […]

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  • 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 […]

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  • Christian Student Group at Princeton Wins Religious Freedom Victory

    May 17, 2005

    Princeton University has decided it will no longer deny official recognition to an evangelical Christian student group. The school’s Dean of Religious Life, Thomas Breidenthal, had withheld recognized status from Princeton Faith and Action, but the university administration reversed course after an advocacy group intervened. Princeton Faith and Action (PFA) is associated with the Christian Union, an off-campus ministry that had its own request to apply to have a full-time chaplain on campus rejected by Dean Breidenthal last year. In March 2005, after being blocked from reserving campus space through an existing recognized Christian student group, students organized PFA in […]

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  • Princeton Changes Policy on Religious Groups

    May 16, 2005

    Following the victory FIRE announced last week, the Daily Princetonian reported on Friday that Princeton has moved quickly to fulfill its promise to FIRE that it would make any changes necessary for its student organization recognition procedures to be consistent with student’s freedom of expression and legal equality. The article reports: Under the new policy, religious student groups with ties to faith organizations without established “campus ministries” will be considered for official student group status using the same criteria as other groups. Previously, such student groups were denied recognition. As David and Greg have highlighted in previous posts, Princeton’s swift […]

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  • University reverses policy on faith groups

    May 13, 2005

    Nassau Hall has reversed its policy on the recognition of religious student groups after being contacted by an outside civil liberties organization that protested the treatment of one such group as an “ongoing injustice.” Under the new policy, religious student groups with ties to faith organizations without established “campus ministries” will be considered for official student group status using the same criteria as other groups. Previously, such student groups were denied recognition. The policy change allowed Princeton Faith and Action (PFA), a new evangelical group, to seek official student group status — which it was recently granted. PFA is affiliated […]

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  • Princeton Victory Covered by AP

    May 12, 2005

    Check out the short and sweet article by Associated Press writer Chris Newmarker about the Princeton religious liberty victory we announced yesterday. I was quoted: “We found Princeton’s quick and fair response very encouraging. We’ve found other colleges who haven’t been particularly fair to religious groups, sometimes in an unconstitutional way,” which captures what I find refreshing about this case.   Princeton joins schools like LSU in working in good faith to treat religious students fairly after FIRE raised concerns. This is in stark contrast to schools like UNC-Chapel Hill which would rather duke it out in court than allow […]

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  • Princeton Does the Right Thing

    May 11, 2005

    If there is one constant in modern academic censorship it is that conservative or orthodox religious groups consistently face high hurdles to recognition and campus existence. Whether administrative objections are rooted in concerns about “homophobia” or “religious discrimination” or simple distaste for “controversy”, Christian and now Muslim student organizations are facing an epidemic of attacks on basic free association rights. For a time, it looked as if Princeton University was going to join Tufts University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Rutgers University and many others in the religious liberty “hall of shame.” Princeton had denied recognition to […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of Association and Religious Liberty at Princeton University

    May 11, 2005

    PRINCETON, N.J., May 11, 2005—In an important victory for religious liberty and freedom of association, Princeton University has decided to recognize a Christian student group that had been arbitrarily denied official recognition. After the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) wrote to Princeton on behalf of the Princeton Faith and Action (PFA) student group to remind the school of its stated commitments to freedom of religion and association, the university quickly moved to restore PFA’s rights and to recognize the group on an equal basis with other student organizations. Princeton also pledged to re-examine a policy that unfairly singles […]

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  • For the Sake of Student and Faculty ‘Diversity’

    April 20, 2005

    The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article today (account required to access) that discusses the importance of racial and ethnic diversity in higher education. While I personally agree that such diversity, along with other forms of diversity, is important and plays a significant role in shaping the educational experience of all members of the academic community, I am troubled by the emphasis on minority ethnic and racial status as the only factors for what becomes a superficial diversification of student and faculty bodies. The article reports: [Princeton University President] Tilghman warned that colleges would suffer if they did not […]

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  • FIRE Letter to Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman, April 19, 2005

    April 19, 2005

    April 19, 2005 President Shirley M. Tilghman Office of the President 1 Nassau Hall Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey 08544 URGENT   Sent by U.S. Mail and Facsimile (609-258-1615) Dear President Tilghman: As you can see from our Directors (including FIRE co-founders and Princeton University alumni Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate) 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 and—in the matter of the Princeton Faith and Action student group—voluntary association, freedom of speech, and religious […]

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  • The Un-Freedom of Association

    April 13, 2005

    A reader just wrote in to inform us of a recent student government proposal at Princeton University to add a “nondiscrimination” statement to its constitution that may infringe on students’ rights to freedom of association. The Daily Princetonian reports: The amendment as it stands would add a non-discrimination clause to the [University Student Government] constitution that would prohibit the USG from funding or recognizing any group that discriminates in its membership on the basis of several factors. Those factors encompass the criteria listed in “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities,” and extend also to gender identity and expression, marital status, national origin, parental […]

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