State University of New York – Fredonia

Location: Fredonia, New York
Website: http://www.fredonia.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 2nd Circuit

Speech Code Rating

State University of New York – Fredonia 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.

  • State University of New York at Fredonia: Professor Punished for Public Expression

    July 7, 2006

    State University of New York at Fredonia Professor Stephen Kershnar, apart from his faculty duties, authored a biweekly opinion column for the Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer local newspaper. Kershnar’s column had been critical of university policies including SUNY Fredonia’s Affirmative Action policy; Kershnar also publicly criticized a new student conduct policy. In response, President Dennis L. Hefner denied his promotion to full professor due to his “deliberate and repeated misrepresentations of campus policies and procedures,” without presenting evidence of any such violations. Hefner proposed a severely strict arrangement that would indefinitely require Kershnar to get “unanimous consent” from a university committee for […]

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Red Light Policies

Yellow Light Policies
  • Judicial Affairs: General Policy 13-14

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

    Orderly and dignified expression and conduct are expected.

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  • Judicial Affairs: Student Rights and Responsibilities- Specific Standards of Behavior 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Engaging in any action or situation which endangers the mental or physical health of any member of the university or local community.

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  • Judicial Affairs: Student Rights and Responsibilities- Specific Standards of Behavior 13-14

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

    [A]ll members of the community are expected to conduct dialogues with mutual respect and courtesy.

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  • Judicial Affairs: University Policies- Sexual Discrimination and Sexual Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual harassment may include repeated unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature carried out by someone in the workplace or educational setting. Such behavior may offend the recipient, cause discomfort or humiliation and interfere with job or school performance.

    Peer Harassment – Students have a right to an environment free from sexual harassment, not only by persons in positions of power, but by any member of the university community. Sexual harassment constitutes a serious threat to the free interaction and exchange necessary for educational and personal development.

    Sexual harassment may range from inappropriate sexual innuendos to coerced sexual relations. It can happen to both men and women, but a woman is more often the victim.

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  • Information Technology Services: Computer and Network Usage Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Using computers or networks to harass, abuse or intimidate another person is prohibited. Users shall not develop or use programs that harass other users. Users shall be sensitive to the public nature of shared facilities, and take care not to display on screens in such locations images, sounds or messages that could create an atmosphere of discomfort or harassment for others. 

    Obscene language in electronic mail, messages, process names, file names, file data, and other publicly visible forms is prohibited.

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  • Judicial Affairs: University Policies- Bias Crimes Prevention 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech

    In addition to preventing and prosecuting hate/bias crimes, State University of New York at Fredonia Police also assist in addressing bias-related activities that do not rise to the level of a crime. These activities, referred to as bias incidents and defined by the
    University as acts of bigotry, harassment, or intimidation directed at a member or group within the Fredonia community based on national origin, ethnicity, race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, color, creed, or marital status, may be addressed through the State University’s Discrimination Complaint Procedure or the campus conduct code. Bias incidents can be reported to University Police as well as to the Office of Student Affairs.

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  • Dennis the First Amendment Menace

    September 4, 2006

    Although I’ve been writing about free speech issues for years, I’ve never actually called for the immediate firing of a university president. That is, until today. Anyone remotely familiar with the part SUNY-Fredonia President Dennis Hefner (716-673-3456; hefner@fredonia.edu) played in denying the promotion of Stephen Kershnar must surely agree. Kershnar is a brave academic dissident who has challenged the politically correct student conduct and affirmative action policies at his university via a series of columns written for a local paper. He paid a price for his bravery recently when was denied promotion to full professor. This was despite a stellar […]

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  • FIRE hails free speech win for conservative SUNY Fredonia prof

    August 28, 2006

    A philosophy professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia, who says he was denied a promotion by the school for expressing conservative views, is now being promoted. Stephen Kershnar claims SUNY denied him advancement to a full professorship after he wrote three opinion articles criticizing the university for its affirmative action policy, its student code, and its lack of conservative professors. However, less than three weeks after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) publicly accused the school of violating Kershnar’s free-speech and academic-freedom rights, SUNY-Fredonia’s President Dennis Hefner notified Kershnar that he was “promoted to […]

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  • Fredonia professor granted promotion

    August 15, 2006

    In a dramatic turn of events, the State University of New York at Fredonia (SUNY Fredonia) has promoted the embattled ‘Professor Stephen Kershnar to full professor. In April, SUNY Fredonia denied Kershnar’s promotion because he had publicly disagreed with the university’s policies and practices. Less than three weeks after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) brought this abuse of free speech and academic freedom to public attention, the administration reversed its decision and promoted Kershnar. “This is a tremendous victory not only for Stephen Kershnar, but also for professors at institutions across America,” stated FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. […]

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  • SUNY-Fredonia Denies Promotion to Faculty Member Who Criticized a Rule

    August 4, 2006

    PRIOR RESTRAINT?: The State University of New York at Fredonia is drawing criticism for denying a promotion to a tenured faculty member after he publicly criticized several university policies in the local news media. The university’s president, Dennis L. Hefner, said in a letter to Stephen Kershnar, an associate professor of philosophy, that he would not be promoted to full professor because he had made “deliberate and repeated public misrepresentations of campus policies and procedures.” To read the full article, please click here: http://chronicle.com/free/v52/i48/48a00701.htm

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  • No free speech for SUNY profs?

    August 1, 2006

    SUNY-Fredonia recently denied a promotion to professor Stephen Kershnar explicitly because of his out-of-classroom speech – a violation of his basic free-speech rights. Famous professors like Paul Krugman and Noam Chomsky regularly make public comments on controversial issues, but those who lack the protection of fame or tenure can risk their careers by saying something that administrators do not like. In Kershnar’s case, he publicly criticized a policy that said students could be in violation of rules “if they fail to remove themselves from situations and/or report the incident to the proper authorities,” observing that this would “turn the student […]

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  • Steve Kershnar of Fredonia’s philosophy department believes denial was due to his beliefs

    July 31, 2006

    A professor at Fredonia State University who was denied a promotion is stirring some controversy. Professor Stephen Kershnar, an associate professor of philosophy, was nominated for promotion to full professor in January, with support from his colleagues, department head, and top administrators, because of his outstanding professional record. However, Kershnar’s promotion was recently was denied — and he believes it is because of his public writings against Fredonia State policies. Kershnar has written pieces questioning Fredonia’s policies — titled ‘‘Against Affirmative Action’’ and ‘‘Are Conservatives Being Shut Out of the Academy?’’ — for the Observer in Dunkirk. In his affirmative […]

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  • Professor claims criticizing policies cost him a promotion

    July 28, 2006

    A Fredonia State College instructor said he is being denied a promotion for speaking out against campus policies in the media. Stephen Kershnar, an associate professor of philosophy, was nominated in January for promotion to the rank of professor. While he received support from his department’s chairman, dean and vice president, the request was turned down by Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner. Kershnar said he is being punished because he wrote a column in the Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer charging that the college’s affirmative-action policies lower academic standards. And Kershnar was critical of the college last year in a Buffalo News story […]

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  • Prof levels attempted viewpoint censorship charge at SUNY

    July 28, 2006

    A professor at the State University of New York-Fredonia is accusing the school of punishing him for expressing conservative viewpoints. Philosophy Professor Stephen Kershnar claims he was denied a promotion to a full professorship after he wrote three opinion articles criticizing the university’s affirmative action policy, its student code, and its lack of conservative professors. In a letter, SUNY-Fredonia President Dennis Hefner told Kershnar he would not be promoted because of his “deliberate and repeated misrepresentations of campus policies … to the media.” Hefner later told the professor that, if he wanted a promotion, he would have to agree to […]

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  • SUNY at Fredonia Denies Promotion to Professor, Citing Public ‘Misrepresentation’ of Campus Policies

    July 26, 2006

    The Chronicle of Higher Education   The State University of New York at Fredonia is drawing criticism for denying a promotion to a tenured faculty member after he publicly criticized several university policies in the local news media. The university’s president, Dennis L. Hefner, said in a letter to Stephen Kershnar, an associate professor of philosophy, that he would not be promoted to full professor because he had made “deliberate and repeated public misrepresentations of campus policies and procedures.” …   To read the full article, please click here: http://chronicle.com/temp/reprint.php?id=f2yplf7xf3gj1ch4jzq0q9gj8tzvqs45 View this article at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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  • Prior Restraint on Speech?

    July 26, 2006

    The president of the State University of New York at Fredonia offered to promote a faculty member to full professor if he would agree, among other things, to subject any writing or public statements about the institution to prior review for approval. The professor and a free-speech group backing him say that the offer demonstrates the university’s willingness to censor faculty views, especially if they are conservative. But Fredonia officials say that — while the proposal was a mistake — the professor brought it on himself. The dispute centers on the promotion bid of Stephen Kershnar, an associate professor of […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: SUNY Fredonia Professor Targeted for Political Expression

    July 19, 2011

    In July 2006, Steven Kershnar, a professor at the State University of New York, Fredonia, came to FIRE for help after he was denied promotion for publicly disagreeing with university policies. As a columnist for a local newspaper, Kershnar had written a number of pieces that questioned the school’s student conduct policies, examined affirmative action practices at SUNY Fredonia, and highlighted what he perceived to be the unbalanced political makeup of the broader academic community. This earned the attention of SUNY Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner, who called Kershnar’s articles “misrepresentations.” Soon thereafter, Kershnar received a letter from Hefner explaining […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Victory for Professor’s Rights at SUNY Fredonia

    August 6, 2007

    It was one year ago this month that FIRE announced a victory in the case of Professor Stephen Kershnar at SUNY Fredonia. FIRE fans will remember that Kershnar was denied a well-deserved promotion because of his public criticism of the university on issues ranging from the school’s oppressive student conduct code to its affirmative action policies. Kershnar came to FIRE with his outrageous tale of censorship-run-amok at SUNY Fredonia, where President Dennis Hefner not only denied Kershnar a promotion, but drew up a contract that would grant the university prior review over any public comments Kershnar made. When Hefner was […]

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  • Year in Review: Punished for Public Expression, Professor Finds Exoneration with FIRE

    December 28, 2006

    2006 saw a lot of extraordinary cases for FIRE: the censorship of a Dave Barry quote at Marquette; thought reform at Michigan State; harassment charges at the University of Central Florida because one student called another “a jerk and a fool” online at Facebook.com. But one case in particular arguably holds the dubious distinction of being 2006’s most egregious violation of constitutional rights on a college campus. At the State University of New York at Fredonia, Professor Stephen Kershnar endured a tumultuous summer, almost losing his promotion for refusing to acquiesce to an unconstitutional “prior review” of his public statements […]

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  • Mike Adams Calls for SUNY Fredonia President to be Fired

    September 5, 2006

    Yesterday, on Townhall.com, columnist Mike S. Adams called for SUNY Fredonia President Dennis Hefner’s termination for his handling of the promotion of Professor Stephen Kershnar. Adams wrote: Although I’ve been writing about free speech issues for years, I’ve never actually called for the immediate firing of a university president. That is, until today. Anyone remotely familiar with the part SUNY-Fredonia President Dennis Hefner (716-673-3456; hefner@fredonia.edu) played in denying the promotion of Stephen Kershnar must surely agree. As loyal Torch readers know, Professor Kershnar was denied a promotion explicitly because of his outside writings and comments critical of university policy regarding […]

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  • Media Attention Not Reason for Promotion, SUNY Fredonia Claims

    August 18, 2006

    In an article in yesterday’s edition of The Buffalo News, Christine Davis Mantai, director of media relations and website for SUNY Fredonia, said Professor Stephen Kershnar’s promotion “was not a reversal of the decision made on the previous application,” but “was a new decision made on a new application, which built a stronger case in the area of service.”   Originally, SUNY Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner wrote that Kershnar should not be promoted because of his “deliberate and repeated misrepresentations of campus policies and procedures…to the media.”   Heaven forbid the university acknowledge its wrongdoing and take responsibility for […]

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  • This Just In: SUNY Fredonia President Hearts Free Speech

    August 17, 2006

    Yesterday afternoon, SUNY Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner sent an e-mail to all faculty members reassuring them that he has always supported free speech and diversity of opinions, his recent foray into censorship, prior review, and meddling with a professor’s livelihood notwithstanding. He wrote, Dear Colleagues:   I would like to clarify a recent subject of campus concern. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a requirement for pre-approval of faculty writings as a condition for promotion. As a member of this campus, I have always supported free speech and have always encouraged activities that nurture and foster […]

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  • A Victory for the Most Basic of Rights at SUNY Fredonia

    August 14, 2006

    Three weeks ago FIRE announced the shocking case of Professor Stephen Kershnar at SUNY Fredonia.  Kershnar was denied a well-deserved promotion because of his public criticism of the university on issues ranging from its oppressive student conduct code to its affirmative action policies.  After intense media scrutiny resulting from FIRE’s press release, the university relented: on Friday Professor Kershnar was notified he will receive the promotion he deserves.   In my five years working at FIRE I have seen so many outrageous cases; we have directly helped thousands of students, and indirectly—through our guides, speech codes database and speech codes […]

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  • Victory at SUNY Fredonia: Professor Promoted, No ‘Prior Consent Committee’ Required

    August 14, 2006

    BUFFALO, N.Y., August 14, 2006—In a dramatic turn of events, the State University of New York at Fredonia (SUNY Fredonia) has promoted the embattled Professor Stephen Kershnar to full professor. In April, SUNY Fredonia shamefully denied Kershnar’s promotion because he had publicly disagreed with the university’s policies and practices. Less than three weeks after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) brought this abuse of free speech and academic freedom to public attention, the administration reversed its decision and promoted Kershnar. “This is a tremendous victory not only for Stephen Kershnar, but also for professors at institutions across America,” […]

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  • FIRE in the ‘New York Post’ on Scandal at SUNY Fredonia

    August 1, 2006

    Today’s issue of the New York Post features an editorial by FIRE President Greg Lukianoff and Vice President Robert Shibley discussing SUNY Fredonia, where the administration recently denied Professor Stephen Kershnar promotion because he publicly opined on university policies and practices. SUNY Fredonia President Dennis Hefner even attempted to require that Kershnar submit all of his written material to a university committee before publishing—an egregious abuse of Kershnar’s academic freedom and free speech rights. As Lukianoff and Shibley wrote, “While free speech too often comes under assault on campuses these days, President Hefner’s brazen attempt to control a professor’s public […]

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  • Higher Ed Journals Cover the Kershnar Case

    July 26, 2006

    Today both the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed contain coverage of FIRE’s outrageous case at SUNY Fredonia, where Professor Stephen Kershnar was denied promotion because he publicly criticized the university. The most significant development in these articles appears to be that university president Dennis Hefner now considers his proposal that all of Kershnar’s writings be subjected to prior review to be “a mistake” or an “aberration.”   The Chronicle, in fact, points out that “[b]oth Mr. Kershnar and Mr. Hefner said they now regretted suggesting such a committee.” But there is a critical difference here: Kershnar made […]

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  • SUNY Punishes Professor Flatly Because of His Protected Speech

    July 24, 2006

    I have been working in this field for a long time now, and I would like to say that nothing surprises me anymore, but today’s release about a college professor denied promotion explicitly because of his outside writings criticizing the university’s student conduct code, affirmative action, and student conduct policies is really something else. I am not exactly shocked that a public university would engage in viewpoint discrimination against a professor or student for voicing unpopular opinions. Sadly, this happens all too often. Nor am I particularly surprised that a professor was denied a promotion because of his political point […]

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  • SUNY Fredonia Punishes Professor for Political Expression

    July 24, 2006

    BUFFALO, N.Y., July 24, 2006—A professor at the State University of New York, Fredonia (SUNY Fredonia) has been denied promotion for publicly disagreeing with the university’s student conduct policies and affirmative action practices. SUNY Fredonia’s president later agreed to approve the promotion only if the professor would submit all of his public writings to prior university review. Professor Stephen Kershnar declined the offer and sought help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “Professors must be able to publicly and frankly express their opinions if the ‘marketplace of ideas’ is to survive,” stated FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “SUNY Fredonia’s bungling attempt to […]

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