Location: Fredonia, New York
Federal Circuit: 2nd Circuit
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.
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 […]» Read More
Red Light Policies
creating in a situation that results in the discomfort of, or harassment or excessive ridicule of a member of the college community.
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.
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.
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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.» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More