Syracuse University

Location: Syracuse, New York
Website: http://www.syracuse.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 2nd Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Syracuse 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.

  • Syracuse University: Education Student Expelled over Facebook Comments

    January 10, 2012

    Syracuse University’s School of Education effectively expelled a graduate student from its teaching program after he complained on Facebook about a racially charged comment made in his presence by a community leader that student teachers were coming from Syracuse rather than historically black colleges. Matthew Werenczak was required to undergo a special course of diversity training and counseling for “anger management” just to earn a chance of readmission. Just hours after FIRE took the case public on January 18, 2012, Syracuse readmitted Werenczak but blamed its actions on the standards of its accreditor, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

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  • Syracuse University: Police Threaten to Censor Halloween Costumes

    November 18, 2010

    Anthony Callisto, Director of Syracuse University’s Department of Public Safety, told student newspaper The Daily Orange that DPS would require students to remove “offensive” Halloween costumes and would report students wearing such costumes to Syracuse’s Office of Judicial Affairs. Callisto said that “If we detect that there’s a person with an offensive costume, we’d likely require them to remove it, and we would file a judicial complaint” (Daily Orange, October 14, 2010). This article appeared three days after Thomas V. Wolfe, Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs, e-mailed the student body encouraging students to “be thoughtful and sensitive when choosing [their] costume[s]“ because they put […]

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  • Syracuse University: Disciplinary Investigations of Satirical Law School Blog

    October 25, 2010

    Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) student Len Audaer was told on October 18, 2010, that he was being investigated for harassment for his alleged involvement with the anonymous, satirical blog SUCOLitis about life in law school, which was meant to emulate The Onion. The blog included a disclaimer stating, “No actual news stories appear on the site.” “Independent prosecutor” and SUCOL professor Gregory Germain had threatened Audaer with expulsion, without ever revealing what expression in particular justified the charges or even who was charging him. Just days after FIRE named Syracuse in The Huffington Post as one of the […]

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Red Light Policies

  • Syracuse University Policies: Computing and Electronic Communications Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    The following are examples of improper use of the Computer System:

    Harassment: Harassing others by sending annoying, abusive, profane, threatening, defamatory or offensive messages is prohibited. Some examples include: obscene, threatening, or repeated unnecessary messages; sexually, ethnically, racially, or religiously offensive messages; continuing to send messages after a request to stop; and procedures that hinder a computer session.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Syracuse University Policies: Student Code of Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Conduct, including but not limited to bullying–whether physical, verbal or electronic, oral, written or video– which threatens the mental health, physical health, or safety of any person or persons including, but not limited to hazing, drug or alcohol abuse, and other forms of destructive behavior.

    Harassment, whether physical or verbal, oral or written, which is beyond the bounds of protected free speech, directed at a specific individual(s), easily construed as “fighting words,” and likely to cause an immediate breach of the peace.

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  • Syracuse University Policies: Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Assault Prevention 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Syracuse University defines sexual harassment as unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that relates to the gender or sexual identity of an individual and that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile environment for study, work, or social living.

    Sexual harassment … encompasses the full range of coercive, unwelcome behavior, from subtle psychological force, to gross physical abuse. These acts may be visual (e.g., leering, ogling, and physical gestures conveying a sexual meaning), verbal (e.g., sexual innuendoes, suggestive remarks, sexually derogatory jokes), written (e.g., sexually suggestive e-mail, cartoons or letters), or physical (e.g., hugging, pinching or fondling).

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  • Bias Incident Reporting Form 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech

    As a student of SU, you have an obligation to take an active role in fostering an appreciation for diversity and sending the message loud and clear that bias-related acts will not be tolerated.

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  • STOP Bias: What is Bias 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech

    Some examples of bias incidents include: * Telling jokes * Name-calling * Stereotyping * Offensive graffiti or images/drawing * Avoiding or excluding others … *Making jokes or using stereotypes when talking about someone … * Making comments on social media about someone’s disability, ethnicity, race, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, or political affiliations/beliefs … * Displaying a sign that is color-coded pink for girls and blue for boys ….

    Bias-related incidents are defined as behavior which constitutes an expression of hostility against the person or property of another because of the targeted person’s age, creed, disability, ethnic or national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, political or social affiliation, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Even when offenders are not aware of bias or intend to offend, bias may be revealed which is worthy of a response and can serve as an opportunity for education.

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Green Light Policies
  • College’s email censorship policy unconstitutional

    October 1, 2013

    Despite being warned last year by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a New York university still has done nothing to remedy their unconstitutional speech policies. Syracuse University was named by F.I.R.E. as September’s Speech Code of the Month. Their policy prohibits students from using school computers to send "sexually, ethnically, racially, or religiously offensive messages." Robert Shibley of F.I.R.E. explains why that’s a problem. He says Syracuse has been a perennial offender of free speech even though it promises students "freedom of discussion." "While all of those things sound unpleasant, the problem is what is offensive to one person […]

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  • Syracuse University criticized for restrictive electronic communications policy

    September 9, 2013

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has named Syracuse University its monthly "speech code" college of the month for September 2013.FIRE defines a "speech code" as any university regulation or policy that prohibits expression that would be protected by the First Amendment in society at large. FIRE has developed a system that uses ‘red,’ ‘yellow,’ and ‘green’ identifiers to rate how well policies at colleges and universities comport with the First Amendment. Syracuse University earned FIRE’s ‘red’ designation, its most restrictive speech code category.The Syracuse policy that FIRE criticizes is the university’s computing and electronic communications policy .The policy prohibits using the […]

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  • ‘Unlearning Liberty’

    January 3, 2013

    by Allie Grasgreen Inside Higher Ed In spring of 2007, Valdosta State University student Hayden Barnes was expelled for posing a “clear and present danger” to campus. To protest an expensive and environmentally unfriendly parking garage, Barnes had created a collage illustrating potential dangers the garage might cause (smog, environmental destruction, etc.) and posted it on Facebook, calling the project the “[Valdosta State President Ronald] Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage. The “memorial” bit referred to Zaccari’s calling the garage part of his legacy, but the president, who had been assured Barnes was harmless, claimed to take it as an “indirect” threat […]

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  • 2012: a tough year for free speech on campus

    December 26, 2012

    There’s no place in the world where speech is freer than the United States of America. It’s a vital part of the attraction our land has always had for those around the world who find themselves marginalized, persecuted, or worse because of what they say or what they believe. Unfortunately, our college campuses are an exception to our exceptional freedom — and for those of us who care about freedom in academia, 2012 was another tough year. First, some good news: the latest numbers, just released by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, where I work), show that when […]

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  • College to student group: No selling Christmas trees, only ‘holiday’ trees

    November 28, 2012

    by Robert Shibley The Daily Caller   I’m not a big believer in the “war on Christmas” rhetoric that we often hear around this time of year. In a religiously diverse and pluralistic society like ours, politicians, corporations, and other institutions are naturally going to adjust the way they express themselves in order to avoid offending their constituents or customers. But every so often in my work at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), I see an example of seasonal political correctness so ridiculous that it makes me want to put my head down on my desk. Such is the […]

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  • On-campus free speech slowly improving

    April 5, 2012

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

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

    April 2, 2012

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

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  • The top 12 worst colleges for free speech

    March 28, 2012

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

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  • Syracuse University makes list of worst schools for free speech

    March 28, 2012

    SYRACUSE – For the second year in a row, Syracuse University makes the list of the worst colleges and universities for free speech. SU was called out by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) following the expulsion of a students for posting comments on his Facebook page that the University said was racially insulting. The university later reversed its decision to punish the student. “Before they sign on the dotted line, prospective college students should consider the free speech record of the school they choose to attend,” said FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley. “Don’t believe universities’ paper promises of free speech if they are […]

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  • Syracuse University among worst colleges for free speech for second straight year

    March 27, 2012

    Syracuse University was named one of the worst colleges in the nation for freedom of speech for the second year in a row, according to a list published by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) on Tuesday. Syracuse was ranked second on the 2012 list after appearing at the top of the 2011 list. Greg Lukianoff, President of FIRE, wrote in The Huffington Post that the list includes repeat offenders that “[refuse] to undo serious punishments of what should be clearly protected speech on campus.” Lukianoff attributed SU’s selection this year to a controversial case involving School of Education graduate student Matt Werenczak. […]

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  • List names SU as one of the worst colleges for free speech

    March 27, 2012

    Syracuse (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse University has a less than desirable new title. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education puts SU at number two on its list of schools that are the worst colleges for free speech.  They attribute the story of SU grad student Matthew Werenczak, who we first told you about back in January.  Werenczak was expelled from SU after making a comment on his Facebook page that SU deemed “offensive and insensitive.” He was then asked to complete anger management counseling and write a paper. He was then reinstated. The University of Cincinnati came in at number one on the […]

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  • Syracuse reverses course after expelling student for Facebook post

    January 23, 2012

    College students and activists on Twitter and Facebook this week dubbed Syracuse University a campus “where free speech goes to die” after the school’s second social media controversy since 2010. Syracuse readmitted a graduate student Jan. 19 after a free-speech organization publicized the university’s punishment for posting racially tinged comments on Facebook. Matthew Werenczak, a graduate student in Syracuse’s School of Education, was a student teacher at a local middle school in July when he heard a representative from the Concerned Citizens Action Program (CCAP) say that the school should hire student teachers from historically black colleges, not Syracuse. Werenczak complained on […]

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  • SU grad student expelled, then readmitted over Facebook comment

    January 18, 2012

    Syracuse (WSYR-TV) — Last summer, a Syracuse University grad student was expelled from the SU School of Education after making a comment SU deemed “unprofessional, offensive and insensitive.”  SU grad student Matthew Werenczak was student teaching at Danforth Middle School last year when something was said inside that he didn’t particularly like, so he made his feelings known on Facebook and two months later he was temporarily removed from the program What Werenczak took offense to was a comment made by an African American community activist inside Danforth — “We need to start hiring out teachers from historically black colleges.”  […]

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  • 2L Glad He’s No Longer a ‘Pariah’ After Syracuse Drops Probe of Satirical Blog

    February 2, 2011

    A Syracuse University law student is feeling relief now that the school has dropped a harassment probe for his satirical blog posts. Syracuse ended the investigation after the student, Len Audaer, e-mailed apologies to several students who had complained about the SUCOLitis blog, which had used real names and fake quotes, according to the Post-Standard and the Daily Orange. Audaer says he was one of several people who contributed to the blog. Posts covered everything from urinal etiquette to attractive 1Ls to sex with a dead school administrator. “I think the one word that I feel right now is, ‘elated,’ […]

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  • Syracuse University law student learns there’s a limit to free speech

    February 1, 2011

    by Abram Brown syracuse.com   Syracuse, NY — A controversy over a satirical blog that commented on everything from professors to bathrooms to sex at Syracuse University’s College of Law came to an end Tuesday afternoon. SU, which was named “the No. 1 worst campus for free speech in America” over this issue, by a free speech advocacy group, decided to stop the investigation into the SUCOLitis blog and not to file charges against one of the student authors, according to Kevin Quinn, SU’s vice president of public affairs, in a news release. “We have determined it is in the […]

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  • Is Syracuse University the worst college for free speech?

    January 27, 2011

    Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), deals with hundreds of student rights violations every year. In an editorial on Huffington Post, he named Syracuse University the worst school in the nation for freedom of speech. Why? In October, the SU College of Law came under fire over its response to a satirical blog called SUCOLitis. At least one student named in the blog felt it contained harassing statements, and asked the university to investigate. The alleged author, law student Len Audaer, was charged with harassment and issued a gag order. The SUCOLitis site is […]

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  • Law school gagging speech

    December 19, 2010

    A Law student at Syracuse University is facing possible expulsion for “harassment,” but he doesn’t know who his accusers are or even why he’s in trouble. The source of all the trouble is a fake news blog called SUCOLitis. It’s like The Onion, but it focuses on making fun of life in law school. In one post, the “Faculty Committee on Aesthetic Standards” names the Class of 2013 “Most Attractive in History.” In another, a beer bong is elected class president. Harassment? Far from it. Very far, under any meaningful definition. Humor, parody and satire are huge parts of our […]

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  • Law school student on ‘Trial’ for harassment

    December 15, 2010

    by Thomas Mitchell Las Vegas Review-Journal   The textbook at Syracuse University College of Law must be Kafka’s “The Trial.” According to information posted on the website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, yes, the acronym is FIRE, Syracuse law student Len Audaer has spent two months under the threat of harassment charges, supposedly related to content on a satirical WordPress blog called SUCOLitis, yes, your colitis in Spanish. The rub is: The university refuses to tell him who is his accuser or what he may have written that might constitute harassment. Now, says FIRE, the university is […]

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  • Blog Satirizes Law-School Life, but Syracuse U. Officials Aren’t Laughing

    December 14, 2010

    by Marc Parry The Chronicle of Higher Education SUCOLitis aspires to be something like The Onion of law-school life. The Syracuse, N.Y., satirical news blog has attracted thousands of views with fake headlines about beer pong, third-year students serving burritos, and the election of the university’s “sexiest Semite.” It delights in attributing fake quotes to students and faculty, as well as to famous alumni like Vice President Joe Biden, who is quoted as calling SUCOLitis “even funnier than me.” Syracuse University officials aren’t laughing. The law school has threatened “harassment” charges against a student who is allegedly a writer for the anonymous […]

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  • Law Student Rights at Issue at SU

    November 11, 2010

    SYRACUSE, NY (wrvo) – A Syracuse University law student accused of harassment says the investigation itself has turned into a punishment with no trial. Len Audaer, a second-year law student at Syracuse University’s College of Law, found out a month ago that the school is investigating him for harassment. Audaer was informed that he could face serious charges of violating the school’s honor code, after complaints from un-named students about an anonymous blog called SUCOLitis. He was asked to meet with the faculty prosecutor assigned to the investigation, Prof. Gregory Germain, who said he could not discuss the case due […]

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  • College Athletes Caught in Tangled Web

    May 24, 2006

    Four San Diego State students recently logged on to a computer and did what thousands of other college students do these days during their spare time. They were having fun on MySpace.com, posting personal party pictures and commentaries about life in college. Some included references to drinking alcoholic beverages and snide remarks about recent soccer practices, according to a student colleague of the four. But because the four students were athletes – in this case women’s soccer players – they suffered a penalty for it. When they didn’t heed their coach’s warning to stop posting on the site, they were […]

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  • Schools discipline students over Internet content

    February 22, 2006

    Four Syracuse University students punished for trashing their teacher on Facebook.com joined the growing number of students nationally whose school has held them accountable for what they put on the Internet. “Criticism can be considered a matter of free speech. In this particular situation it was the content, and the content was considered as being reviewable as a possible violation of the university code of student conduct,” said Kevin Morrow, speaking for SU. “The language and the phrasing of these Facebook postings were extreme.” Some students use Facebook.com as their personal diary. They post pictures and information such as their […]

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  • Trumping Moses and Matthew

    November 7, 2005

    By Suzanne Fields at Townhall.com What do the Bible and the “The Vagina Monologues” have in common? Not much. But surely we can all agree that both are covered by the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Well, that’s not so at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. At UWEC you can live in a dorm and watch a performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” but you can’t join a Bible studies group. Any resident assistant, or RA, as the live-in student counselors are called, can put on a performance of the play, and one has, but leading […]

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  • Syracuse University head shuts down student TV station

    October 27, 2005

    NEW YORK —The student-run television station at Syracuse University was shut down last week because administrators said one show on the station continually violated university policy. Chancellor Nancy Cantor revoked the status of HillTV last Thursday as a recognized student organization in a meeting with the student staff. The revocation has sparked outcry from HillTV alumni. Staffers said they appealed the decision. The controversy has centered on a show called “Over the Hill,” which went on the air less than a year ago, said Steven Kovach, news editor of The Daily Orange, the student newspaper at Syracuse. The show made […]

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  • Vandals at Syracuse University Demonstrate How Not to Advocate for Free Speech

    December 10, 2013

    The Daily Orange reports that in an unfortunate incident, a number of buildings at Syracuse University were vandalized with spray paint on Sunday night. It’s not yet clear who is behind the vandalism. What makes this incident noteworthy for FIRE is the content of one of the vandal’s (or vandals’) messages. Scrawled on the wall of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, immediately below the oversized text of the First Amendment etched into its windows, appear the words: #1 in communication LAST in free speech Indeed, Syracuse has made more than its fair share of free speech blunders in recent years, despite being home […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Syracuse University

    September 6, 2013

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for September 2013: Syracuse University.  Syracuse has just one “red light” speech code on its books, but it’s a doozy. The university’s Computing and Electronic Communications Policy (PDF) prohibits using its computer systems to send “offensive messages,” including “sexually, ethnically, racially, or religiously offensive messages.” This broad policy could apply to virtually any online expression that another person finds offensive, including earnest discussions of politically charged topics like immigration, affirmative action, and gay marriage. As such, it is wholly inconsistent with Syracuse’s commitment to “freedom of discussion” and “the expression of dissent.” […]

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  • Censorship at Syracuse, Part II: No Excuse at Syracuse for Gagging Student Satire (VIDEO)

    May 23, 2013

    "Syracuse University tried to derail my legal career simply because of a blog that satirized life in law school." In 2010, Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) student Len Audaer was summoned to a meeting with Associate Professor of Law Gregory Germain, where he was told he was being investigated for "extremely serious" charges, which included allegations of "harassment."The charges being investigated stemmed from Audaer’s alleged involvement with SUCOLitis, an anonymous, satirical blog about life in law school meant to emulate The Onion."[The posts] were extremely frivolous in nature and there was nothing malicious about [them]," says Audaer in FIRE’s […]

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  • Censorship at Syracuse, Part I: School Expels Student Over Facebook Comments (VIDEO)

    May 9, 2013

    With three FIRE cases in the last three years, Syracuse University has been on FIRE’s list of serial violators of student and faculty free speech rights for some time now. In fact, in 2011 and 2012, the school was featured prominently on our annual Huffington Post “Worst Colleges for Free Speech” list. FIRE’s next few videos will chronicle Syracuse’s abysmal record protecting rights on campus by revisiting two of the school’s most headline-grabbing cases. We start this week with the case of Matthew Werenczak, a School of Education student who was expelled over comments he posted on Facebook:  “I was […]

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  • The Unique Free Speech Challenges Facing Student Satire and Humor

    February 1, 2013

    As we wrap up Free Press Week, we take a look today at the unique challenges that college students face when engaging in satire and humor on campus, from humor magazines and editorial cartoons to satirical flyers and blogs. Like newspaper theft and denial of newspaper funding (which we have already explored this week), this is an issue that FIRE has seen time and time again on university campuses over the years. For any number of reasons, parody, jokes, and satire-whether in print or otherwise—tend to rankle students and university administrators alike as few other forms of expression do. Consequently, […]

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  • Syracuse’s Troubled Relationship with Free Speech

    December 23, 2012

    Syracuse University can be a real puzzler. Renowned for its journalism school and home to the Tully Center for Free Speech, one would think that Syracuse, while private, would be a safe haven for freedom of expression and for the marketplace of ideas. One would be wrong.  In fact, Syracuse has become a watchword around FIRE’s office for horrendous abuses of students’ rights to free expression. When we get a case submission from Syracuse, we all think, “oh great, not again.” The cases of Matthew Werenczak (kicked out of the education program for complaining about racism on Facebook) and law […]

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  • N.Y.’s ivory towers vs. free speech

    November 11, 2012

    by Greg Lukianoff NY Daily News   When politicians talk about college, their thrusts are usually about getting more people to attend or helping more families afford it. Now and then, we discuss what students are actually learning.   But there’s another profoundly important concern that far too often falls off our radar screen: the frequently poisonous culture of our campuses, which discourages free thought and debate.   It is shockingly easy for college students to be punished just for saying the “wrong” thing. As a First Amendment lawyer and the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, […]

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

    March 30, 2012

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

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

    March 27, 2012

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

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  • Gregory Germain Isn’t the Only One at Syracuse Who Disdains Free Speech

    February 15, 2012

    Remember Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) “independent prosecutor” Gregory Germain, who complained at a law student meeting last year that “I think there are a lot of people who have a sense of entitlement to free speech”? He’s at it again, this time in Syracuse’s student newspaper, The Daily Orange, and he’s not the only one disdainful of free speech rights. Journalist Debbie Truong’s article, “A blurry line: Following criticism, faculty struggle to distinguish between free speech, harassment,” shows that Syracuse has quite a long way to go just to define basic terms.  For example, take harassment in the […]

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  • Syracuse University’s Student Paper Laments Poor Speech Code Rating

    February 13, 2012

    The editorial board of The Daily Orange, the daily student newspaper at Syracuse University (SU), writes today of the effect that FIRE’s “red light” rating of the university’s speech codes may have on future admissions numbers: If the trend of incidents involving free speech continues at SU, it may have an effect on application numbers. Students will not want to come to a school that has poor free speech rankings because it can make for an uncomfortable learning environment. The incidents at the College of Law and School of Education made headlines and applicants across the country could have heard […]

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  • Robert in ‘Daily Caller’: Syracuse’s Free Speech Promises Are Worthless

    January 23, 2012

    FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley’s latest piece for The Daily Caller highlights our recent case at Syracuse University’s School of Education, which effectively expelled graduate student Matthew Werenczak from its teaching program after he posted on Facebook about a racially charged comment made in his presence by a community leader. Thankfully, just hours after FIRE took the case public on January 18, Syracuse readmitted Werenczak, but blamed its actions on the standards of its accreditor, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). About this latest blow to free speech at Syracuse, Robert writes: We’ve been hearing about […]

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  • Will to Discuss Syracuse Expulsion Case on ‘Vicki McKenna Show’: Tune In at 6

    January 19, 2012

    FIRE’s Will Creeley will be discussing our case at Syracuse University today at 6:09 p.m. Eastern Time on The Vicki McKenna Show, broadcasting in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin.Tune in!

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  • Victory: Syracuse Drops Expulsion Hours after FIRE Press Release

    January 19, 2012

    Here is today’s press release: SYRACUSE, N.Y., January 19, 2012—Syracuse University’s School of Education has readmitted a graduate student it had expelled from its teaching program after he complained on Facebook about a racially charged comment made in his presence by a community leader. Syracuse had told Matthew Werenczak that his only chance for reinstatement was to undergo a special course of diversity training and counseling for “anger management”—all because he expressed annoyance over a community leader’s complaint that student teachers were coming from Syracuse rather than historically black colleges. Within hours of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education […]

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  • At Syracuse, Expelling a Student without Charges or a Hearing is ‘Standard Process’

    January 19, 2012

    Today, FIRE announced a free speech victory at Syracuse University, whose School of Education (SOE) expelled a graduate student due to his expression of concern on Facebook over a city leader’s comment about hiring teachers from historically black colleges versus Syracuse University. SOE never filed any charges against the student, Matt Werenczak, and never gave him a disciplinary hearing. But when SOE expelled him, the school gave him two unappealing choices: he could withdraw and never be seen again, or he could undergo anger management counseling and a special cultural sensitivity course and write a paper demonstrating growth “regarding cultural […]

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  • Victory: Syracuse Drops Expulsion Hours after FIRE Press Release

    January 19, 2012

    SYRACUSE, N.Y., January 19, 2012—Syracuse University’s School of Education has readmitted a graduate student it had expelled from its teaching program after he complained on Facebook about a racially charged comment made in his presence by a community leader. Syracuse had told Matthew Werenczak that his only chance for reinstatement was to undergo a special course of diversity training and counseling for “anger management”—all because he expressed annoyance over a community leader’s complaint that student teachers were coming from Syracuse rather than historically black colleges. Within hours of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) bringing his case to […]

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  • Syracuse Folds on Ed Student’s Expulsion

    January 19, 2012

    Things have moved quickly at Syracuse University since FIRE issued its press release yesterday calling out Syracuse’s appalling treatment of graduate student Matthew Werenczak. As we reported, Werenczak was effectively expelled from Syracuse’s School of Education (SOE) after posting a comment on his Facebook page in response to a racially tinged remark made by a local official visiting a school where Werenczak was working as a tutor. When the SOE got wind of this, it removed him from his student teaching assignments and gave him two unappealing choices to avoid expulsion: withdraw immediately from the program, or submit to a […]

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  • Syracuse Expels Ed Student for Complaining on Facebook about Racial Comment

    January 18, 2012

    Here’s our press release today: SYRACUSE, N.Y., January 18, 2012—Syracuse University’s School of Education has effectively expelled a graduate student from its teaching program after he complained on Facebook about a racially charged comment made in his presence by a community leader. Syracuse told Matthew Werenczak that his only chance for reinstatement was to undergo a special course of diversity training and counseling for “anger management”—all because he expressed annoyance over a community leader’s complaint that student teachers were coming from Syracuse rather than historically black colleges. After completing all requirements but still being denied readmission, Werenczak turned to the […]

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  • Syracuse Expels Ed Student for Complaining on Facebook about Racial Comment

    January 18, 2012

    SYRACUSE, N.Y., January 18, 2012—Syracuse University’s School of Education has effectively expelled a graduate student from its teaching program after he complained on Facebook about a racially charged comment made in his presence by a community leader. Syracuse told Matthew Werenczak that his only chance for reinstatement was to undergo a special course of diversity training and counseling for “anger management”—all because he expressed annoyance over a community leader’s complaint that student teachers were coming from Syracuse rather than historically black colleges. After completing all requirements but still being denied readmission, Werenczak turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in […]

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  • ‘SUCOLitis’ Case at Syracuse Named One of 2010′s Most Notable Events in ‘Daily Orange’

    August 24, 2011

    As colleges and universities across the nation are welcoming back returning students and greeting the new ones, Syracuse University’s (SU’s) student newspaper The Daily Orange rounds up 10 notable events that happened during SU’s 2010-11 academic year. Interestingly, the investigation of Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) student Len Audaer is on the list. Audaer was told on October 18, 2010, that he was being investigated for harassment for his alleged involvement with a blog called SUCOLitis, which was meant to emulate The Onion. The blog included a disclaimer stating, “No actual news stories appear on the site.” Yet “independent […]

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  • Adam to Speak at American, Syracuse This Week

    April 13, 2011

    FIRE’s Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel will speak at two colleges this week whose recent free speech controversies have drawn FIRE’s scrutiny. Today, Adam will speak at American University (AU) in Washington, D.C. He will discuss AU’s speech codes, as well as a recent incident concerning the AU Student Government’s (AUSG’s) punishment of a student organization that had endorsed AUSG election candidates by revoking the group’s endorsement “privileges.” Then, on Thursday, Adam will address students at Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL). Syracuse earned a spot on FIRE’s “12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech” list in The Huffington Post […]

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  • This Week in the News: Greg’s Dirty Dozen Causes Big Vibrations, and Syracuse Drops Investigation of Alleged Blogger

    February 4, 2011

    This has been quite the week for FIRE. No less than 21 articles mentioned our involvement in defending free speech on campus! Greg’s Huffington Post article, “The 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech,” was noted by numerous news sources across the country. Marshall University garnered the most numerous citations by far. Davin White, writing for the Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.), quotes Robert’s and Sam’s opinions on the dangers of Marshall’s speech codes, while mentioning the university’s plans to discuss changing the speech codes. Tony Rutherford of Huntingtonnews.net quotes Greg’s explanation of how schools made the “dirty dozen” list, cites Sam’s […]

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  • Victory: Syracuse University Drops Allegations Against Student Blogger

    February 2, 2011

    Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) has dropped its outrageous prosecution of law student Len Audaer more than three months after threatening him with severe punishment for “harassment” over his role in a fake-news parody blog about life in law school. “Independent prosecutor” and SUCOL professor Gregory Germain had threatened Audaer with expulsion over satire posted anonymously on the blog, SUCOLitis, without ever revealing what expression in particular justified the charges or even who was charging him. Audaer came to FIRE for help back in October 2010, after he was summoned to a meeting with SUCOL Associate Professor of Law […]

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  • Victory: Syracuse University Drops Allegations Against Student Blogger

    February 2, 2011

    SYRACUSE, N.Y., Feb. 2, 2011—Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) has dropped its prosecution of law student Len Audaer more than three months after threatening him with severe punishment for “harassment” over his role in a fake-news parody blog about life in law school. “Independent prosecutor” and SUCOL professor Gregory Germain had threatened Audaer with expulsion over satire posted anonymously on the blog, SUCOLitis, without ever revealing what expression in particular justified the charges or even who was charging him. Audaer came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “Sunlight has again proved one of the […]

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  • Statement of February 1, 2011, from Len Audaer

    February 1, 2011

    It Ends February 1, 2011 Today I received a letter from Faculty Prosecutor Professor Gregory Germain via my lawyer Mark Blum. In the letter, Prof. Germain announced that he had decided that it was not in the best interests of the school to proceed with any charges. The SUCOLitis investigation is over, 109 days after it began. I am extremely relieved. Moreover I am indebted to my lawyer Mark Blum, to Adam Kissel and the good people of FIRE, and to my countless supporters and friends. Without them I could never have made it this far. Thank you.

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  • Syracuse Law Student Apologizes, Claims ‘School Betrays Promises Made In Negotiations’

    January 31, 2011

    Syracuse University and the Syracuse University College of Law have continued to botch the prosecution of an innocent student, but it looks like Syracuse might finally have a way out now that the student has apologized for having a role in the fake-news blog SUCOLitis. Law student Len Audaer has been under threat of expulsion for months for “harassment” because of the anonymous blog. Robert explained on Friday how Syracuse University Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric Spina cemented his university’s spot on FIRE’s list of the 12 Worst Schools for Free Speech, which we published last week on The Huffington Post. […]

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  • Syracuse Statement Cements School’s Top Spot on ’12 Worst Schools for Free Speech’ List

    January 28, 2011

    Yesterday, FIRE placed Syracuse as number one on the list of the 12 Worst Schools for Free Speech that we published on The Huffington Post. Fittingly, on that very day Syracuse cemented its spot on the list by releasing a statement about its persecution of law student Len Audaer–a statement so deceptive and dishonest that we are frankly shocked that Syracuse released it. (For those just tuning in, FIRE has posted an extensive Q&A about the case.) You can read the entire text of Syracuse’s statement on its own website, but it is so atrocious that the only way to thoroughly address it is to take […]

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  • Statement of January 28, 2011, from Len Audaer

    January 28, 2011

    School Betrays Promises Made In Negotiations January 28, 2011 In an act of staggering naïvety, Faculty Prosecutor Professor Gregory Germain today asked if I was still willing to take the deal that the school is offering me. That comes despite their utter betrayal yesterday by releasing a substantially more incendiary version than the last one Prof. Germain himself had submitted to us! FIRE’s truly awesome assessment of the university’s statement can be found here. My response, to all parties, was as follows: What I had understood from our discussions was that a public apology and admission of complicity was to […]

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  • Adam on ‘The Big Talker’ to Discuss Syracuse and the other ‘Dirty Dozen’ Schools

    January 28, 2011

    FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel will be featured on Syracuse, New York’s The Big Talker radio show with Gary Nolan on WXTL 105.9 FM at 5 p.m. ET today. Tune in or listen live to hear him discuss why Syracuse landed at the top of our Huffington Post list of the 12 worst schools for free speech and which other schools comprise the “dirty dozen.”

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  • FIRE in ‘The Huffington Post’ on America’s 12 Worst Schools for Free Speech

    January 27, 2011

    Today, The Huffington Post published FIRE’s list of America’s 12 Worst Schools for Free Speech. An expansion of FIRE’s Red Alert List of the “worst of the worst” schools for student and faculty rights, this “dirty dozen” slideshow includes the schools that come onto FIRE’s radar screen again and again for their repeated and egregious violations of fundamental rights, as well as schools whose policies are so bad that they simply had to be included. For longtime Torch readers, the presence of most of these schools on our list won’t come as a surprise. But we don’t want to give it all away here. Is […]

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  • Syracuse Prosecutor: ‘There are a lot of people who have a sense of entitlement to free speech’

    January 24, 2011

    Last Tuesday, Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) faculty prosecutor Gregory Germain appeared before the SUCOL Law Student Bar Association to explain the latest developments in his absurd prosecution of a student for “harassment” based on the expression on a satirical law school blog called SUCOLitis. His comments reveal an unfortunately unsurprising lack of understanding of, and even disdain for, the principles of free speech on SUCOL’s campus. The most revealing lines of all in the meeting minutes come from Professor Germain, who reportedly said: I think there are a lot of people who have a sense of entitlement to […]

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  • Syracuse Law School Blasted by ‘Daily Orange’ for Prosecution of Innocent Student

    January 24, 2011

    Over the weekend, Syracuse University student newspaper The Daily Orange blasted Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) for prosecuting innocent expression posted on a satirical blog called SUCOLitis, which made fun of life in law school—like SUCOL’s version of The Onion. For more than three months, law student Len Audaer has been under investigation with the threat of expulsion for “harassment” because of the expression on the blog, even though: he has never acknowledged writing any of the blog posts on SUCOLitis; he has never been told which expression on the blog he is being investigated for; he has never […]

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  • Instead of Slaying a Beast, Syracuse Creates a Monster

    January 10, 2011

    Those who wish to censor are often shocked to discover that the harder they try to suppress speech, the more widely known it becomes. This phenomenon is certainly true for the investigation of Len Audaer, the alleged author of the satirical blog SUCOLitis at Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL). Alex Piliouras of Syracuse Basement, another humor blog, explains how SUCOL’s attempts to silence SUCOLitis have given it a much louder voice: For another thing, blogs aren’t exactly pulling in millions of viewers. They’re blogs. It’s the equivalent of vomiting on a keyboard because you’re bored. However, once there’s the […]

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  • At Syracuse University, Does ‘Harassment’ Mean Whatever Gregory Germain Thinks It Means?

    December 30, 2010

    A couple of weeks ago, I reported on an e-mail conversation that Gregory Germain, the self-styled “independent prosecutor” in FIRE’s case at Syracuse University College of Law, had with me and with FIRE supporter David Ross. In the case, Germain is prosecuting law student Len Audaer because of satirical expression on an anonymous blog named SUCOLitis, which is like The Onion and satirizes life in law school. Professor Ross and Professor Germain continued their conversation—you can find the latest over at Popehat—but I wanted to point out this gem from Professor Germain: Mr. Ross seems to believe that all terms […]

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  • FIRE’s Kissel in ‘New York Post’ on Syracuse’s War on Satire

    December 21, 2010

    Yesterday’s New York Post featured an article by FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel about Syracuse University’s ongoing and unjustifiable war on satire and parody. Syracuse’s College of Law has been investigating student Len Audaer for more than two months over his alleged involvement in the anonymous SUCOLitis satire blog, which aimed to be like The Onion for the law school community. As Adam says in the article, instead of teaching the lessons of American freedom, “Syracuse is teaching the next generation of lawyers that the right not to be offended trumps the rights of free speech and due process.”

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  • Q&A on the Syracuse Free Speech Case

    December 17, 2010

    FIRE has learned that Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) Dean Hannah Arterian have been replying to the many messages they have received from supporters of free speech in the case of the wrongful investigation of law student Len Audaer (see FIRE’s case page for details). Their replies essentially say that Syracuse is right and FIRE is wrong (they are long on complaint and short on evidence). Obviously, we disagree. FIRE does not get involved in a case unless we have clear and convincing documentation of a rights violation on campus. The bottom line is that […]

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  • FIRE Supporters Making Voices Heard on Injustices at Syracuse

    December 16, 2010

    As FIRE supporter David Ross has illustrated, Syracuse University College of Law’s (SUCOL’s) chilling investigation of law student Len Audaer over the publication of an anonymous, satirical website has prompted strong reactions from supporters concerned about the state of free speech at Syracuse. Since we issued our press release, dozens (that we know of) have used our website to write letters to the university, calling for an end to the investigation. Many additional supporters have written to us to convey their shock and outrage. Thank you! Public interest in the case continues to grow, meanwhile, with publications like The Chronicle […]

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  • Peter’s Letter to the Editor on Syracuse Case in ‘The Daily Orange’

    December 16, 2010

    FIRE’s Peter Bonilla has written an excellent letter to the editor appearing in The Daily Orange about our ongoing case at Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL). We have written extensively about the astonishing case of SUCOL student Len Audaer here on The Torch recently, so I don’t need to do much in the way of introduction. In a nutshell, Audaer has now been under investigation for two months (and counting) for allegations of “harassment” due to the content of an anonymous, satirical blog, SUCOLitis. Though SUCOLitis explicitly states that it is a satirical fake news site, and though the […]

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  • ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’ and ‘Las Vegas Review-Journal’ on Syracuse Case

    December 15, 2010

    In the “Wired Campus” section of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Marc Parry writes about FIRE’s case at Syracuse University College of Law: SUCOLitis aspires to be something like The Onion of law-school life. The Syracuse, N.Y., satirical news blog has attracted thousands of views with fake headlines about beer pong, third-year students serving burritos, and the election of the university’s “sexiest Semite.” It delights in attributing fake quotes to students and faculty, as well as to famous alumni like Vice President Joe Biden, who is quoted as calling SUCOLitis “even funnier than me.” Syracuse University officials aren’t laughing. The law school has threatened “harassment” charges […]

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  • Syracuse Faculty Prosecutor Melting Down: If You Can’t Stand the Heat …

    December 15, 2010

    One of FIRE’s longtime allies, David Ross, keeps a list of people interested in FIRE issues and of administrators who have been involved in some way in a FIRE case. When he gets a press release from FIRE about a violation of someone’s rights, he often copies this list when he writes the university to ask for an explanation. After he wrote Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor about our outrageous case at Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL), he received a response from the faculty prosecutor, SUCOL Professor Gregory Germain. I replied to it, and that’s when Germain started to […]

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  • Rogue Syracuse Prosecutor Reveals Gag Order and His Contempt for Free Speech

    December 15, 2010

    Yesterday, in a message that we will reveal soon, Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) Professor Gregory Germain (self-described as “the ‘Prosecutor’”) revealed to a large group of e-mail recipients nationwide that he had filed a motion for a gag order on Len Audaer and his attorney Mark Blum in Audaer’s free speech case. We reported the details of the case in a press release yesterday. In short, Audaer was told he was under investigation for “harassment” because of the content of an anonymous, satirical blog about life in law school, named SUCOLitis. The content of the blog, however, comes […]

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  • ‘Normal Circumstances’ at Syracuse?

    December 15, 2010

    As you may know by now, Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) is asking the law school’s judicial system to issue a “protective order” (read: gag order) that would severely hamper Len Audaer’s efforts to bring public attention to SUCOL’s ongoing investigation of his protected expression.  In documents filed yesterday, faculty “prosecutor” Gregory Germain sheds some additional light on his reasons for seeking the order, namely: The [SUCOL student conduct] Code did not envision a charged student seeking public attention for the proceedings. The Code was designed to protect the privacy rights of charged students, who in normal circumstances would not […]

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  • Syracuse University Threatens ‘Harassment’ Charges over Satirical Blog, Seeks Gag Order on Alleged Author

    December 14, 2010

    Today’s press release provides a sad update on FIRE’s case at Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL), which has threatened a student with “harassment” charges for the last two months because of the content of a satirical blog about life in law school. Two months later, the university has refused to tell him what expression in particular justified the charges or even who is charging him. Worse still, the faculty prosecutor, Professor Gregory Germain, is now demanding a gag order on law student Len Audaer, his attorney Mark Blum (SUCOL ’91), and any media outlets that receive information about the […]

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  • SU’s STOP Bias Program Endangers a Wide Swath of Protected Speech

    November 29, 2010

    Last week, Adam wrote about Syracuse University (SU) encouraging its students to help them crack down on “offensive” Halloween costumes and other “bias incidents” as part of its STOP Bias program.  To help students detect “bias incidents,” SU has a webpage that defines bias and provides examples. The definition and examples—which include things like “telling jokes” and “stereotyping” on the basis of “political or social affiliation”—are both laughably broad. The STOP Bias program could silence a large amount of fairly innocuous speech. As FIRE supporter Betsy Speicher comments on our Facebook page: According to the Syracuse University web page “What is bias” […]

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  • National Public Radio Affiliate Latest to Cover Syracuse’s Investigation of Law Student

    November 16, 2010

    National Public Radio affiliate WRVO, in Oswego, NY, published a story Friday on FIRE’s ongoing case at Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL), where law student Len Audaer continues to face possible disciplinary charges for his alleged role with the satirical blog SUCOLitis. Torch readers will remember that Audaer is being investigated for harassment due to the content of the blog, which makes clear that it is a satirical publication that contains no actual news. SUCOL Professor Gregory Germain has been leading the investigation, a fact which would be unexceptional were it not for the numerous statements Germain has made […]

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  • Syracuse University College of Law Still Investigating Alleged Author of Satirical Blog

    November 10, 2010

    Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) student Len Audaer is still being investigated for “harassment” by his school, which suspects that he authored anonymous posts for the explicitly satirical blog SUCOLitis. (For our previous posts on this issue, click here, here, here, and here.)  On October 25, 2010, FIRE sent a letter to Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor, urging her to drop the investigation of Audaer. We reminded her that Syracuse is legally and morally required to uphold the free speech promises that Syracuse makes to its students and that the expression on the blog does not come close to meeting the […]

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  • Robert Takes On Syracuse University College of Law in ‘Pajamas Media’

    October 29, 2010

    Today in Pajamas Media, Robert criticizes Syracuse University College of Law’s (SUCOL’s) investigation of the satirical blog SUCOLitis and one of its alleged authors. These lines about sum it up: Nobody forced Syracuse to build a giant building with the First Amendment emblazoned on the side. Having done so, however, one would think that the university would at least have the shame to try to live up to it. And: Unfortunately, Syracuse’s recent assault on the free speech of its students has shown that this private university’s voluntary commitment to the principles of the First Amendment may be nothing more […]

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  • Media Interest Heightens in Syracuse’s Investigation of Satirical Law Blog as FIRE Intervenes

    October 27, 2010

    Public interest continues to heighten over the Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) investigation of SUCOL student Len Audaer, an alleged author behind the anonymous satirical blog SUCOLitis. Audaer, as we reported here earlier, is currently being investigated for “harassment” on the basis of the blog’s content—though he remains unaware of the identity of whomever has brought the complaint. SUCOLitis is now private and requires a password for access, but there is no indication from Syracuse that it will stop the investigation. FIRE has transitioned from concerned onlooker to active participant in this worrying case, as The Daily Orange reports […]

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  • ‘Above the Law’ on Syracuse Law School Parody Site

    October 21, 2010

    Popular legal blog Above the Law comments this afternoon on the controversy sparked by a satirical student blog at Syracuse University College of Law, a contretemps Peter discussed here on The Torch earlier today. Above the Law‘s analysis of the situation is a must read, and I can’t help but share some of author Elie Mystal’s observations here. For example, Mystal’s initial reaction is one that I’m willing to bet will resonate with most FIRE supporters: “I’m telling you guys, this country is going to hell, one ridiculous overreaction at a time.” And check out Mystal’s reaction to Professor Gregory […]

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  • Syracuse University Law Student Charged with Harassment for Satirical Website

    October 21, 2010

    At the Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL), student Len Audaer is being investigated—by both the law school and Syracuse University’s judicial affairs office—for allegedly being one of the writers of a satirical blog called SUCOLitis, which lampoons the people and affairs of the law school. According to student paper The Daily Orange in an article published yesterday: SUCOLitis, a WordPress blog, began publishing online at the beginning of October. A group of second- and third-year law students write on the website with the goal of entertaining those in SU’s College of Law, according to the blog. But some officials and […]

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  • Syracuse Ends Limits on Distribution of Student Magazine

    February 19, 2010

    Syracuse University’s alternative monthly publication Jerk Magazine was at the center of a campus debate about freedom of the press this week after it was told by administrators from the school’s Dining Services department that no publication except the official Daily Orange student newspaper was allowed in the dining halls. When the students asked why, they were informed that it was a “longstanding policy.” However, when they made further inquires, they were told that the mysterious policy was in fact unwritten. FIRE is understandably uncomfortable with “unwritten” policies that ban student publications from parts of campus. So is The Daily Orange itself, which ran […]

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  • Facebook and the Campus Communication Explosion

    January 12, 2007

    Looking back on FIRE’s work last year, several trends stand out: the disturbing rise of student-led censorship, the increased public awareness of the importance of the right of private conscience, the continued pervasiveness of speech codes and the often willful misinterpretation of “harassment” to squelch speech. One trend, however, strikes me as being truly unique to 2006: the rise of censorship cases and other administrative abuses involving social networking websites like Facebook.com.   In 2006, FIRE witnessed a dramatic increase in case submissions involving social networking websites like Facebook.com and Myspace.com. In February, we exposed an incident at the University of […]

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  • Emmett Hogan on 2006: The More Things Change…?

    January 5, 2007

    Emmett Hogan is a student at University of Michigan Law School and a luminary early FIRE employee. As we looked back on 2006 in campus rights and abuses I wanted to check in with him for his thoughts on the past year in FIRE history. This was his thoughtful response: One of FIRE’s most gripping cases from 2006 involved a breathtaking exercise in thought reform by Michigan State University. FIRE publicly challenged what MSU calls a “Student Accountability in Community Seminar” (SAC) which is intended to address student behavior that administrators consider unacceptable; the seminar is successful only when it […]

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  • ‘I Am All for Free Speech—But I Draw the Line at People Making Fun of Me!’

    May 30, 2006

    For those of you who didn’t get to see me on MSNBC this weekend, it was a fun time, and a chance to talk about the striking rise we have noticed in students getting into trouble for their speech on sites like MySpace.com or Facebook.com. As loyal Torch readers know, FIRE recently successfully aided a student at University of Central Florida (UCF) who was brought up on harassment charges for calling a student government candidate a “jerk and a fool.” Meanwhile, at Syracuse University, students who created a Facebook group to make fun of a teaching assistant were expelled from […]

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  • Organization rates university’s free speech policies

    December 9, 2005

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has concluded that Syracuse University isn’t doing enough to protect free speech. While some faculty members and students also said they feel SU does not do enough to protect their First Amendment rights, others think F.I.R.E., a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia, is off-base. F.I.R.E. analyzes policies at universities across the country and evaluates them using its Speech Code Rating System. Each university gets a picture of a red, yellow or green traffic light next to its name on Spotlight, F.I.R.E.’s university database. Red lights connote the most severe free speech violations, and […]

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  • Thought Reform 101

    March 1, 2000

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

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