University of Alabama

Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Website: http://www.ua.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 11th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Alabama 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.

  • University of Alabama: Pro-Choice Group Ordered to Get Permit for Non-Disruptive Expression or Face Arrest

    May 22, 2013

    UA police approached students handing out pro-choice flyers and ordered them to stop, warning them that without a grounds use permit they were subject to arrest for their activity.

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  • University of Alabama: Faculty Senate ‘Hate Speech’ Resolution

    November 11, 2004

    The University of Alabama (UA) Student Senate passed a “free speech” resolution that directly opposes a “hate speech” resolution previously passed by UA’s Faculty Senate. The students’ move comes after close consultation with the FIRE, and the resolution follows an open letter FIRE sent to the UA community to protest the faculty’s proposed regulations. After UA’s Faculty Senate resolution condemning hate speech, FIRE wrote an open letter to UA in opposition to the hate speech resolution reminding UA that the policy restrictions were unconstitutional and recommended the Faculty Senate rescind the resolution. Heeding FIRE’s advice, the Student Senate unanimously passed […]

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  • University of Alabama: Disparate Treatment of Conservative Organizations

    June 16, 2004

    The University of Alabama (UA) ordered a faculty group that is critical of the university’s grading policies to pay a rate eight times higher than that paid by other faculty organizations for use of the university’s mail system. In an edition of its newsletter, The Alabama Observer, the Alabama Scholars Association (ASA) presented evidence of what it saw as grade inflation at UA. After the ASA mailed that issue of the newsletter, the administration informed the ASA that it would no longer be allowed to send mail using the discount rate enjoyed by other faculty organizations, thus making it prohibitively […]

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  • University of Alabama: Ban on Window Displays

    July 15, 2003

    The administration of the University of Alabama (UA) has "indefinitely" tabled a policy outlawing all window displays in student dormitories. This instance of UA’s censorship of student expression began when administrators ordered a student to remove a Confederate flag from his window, citing a draft of a university policy that forbade putting up any displays "in view of the general public" that were "inconsistent with accepted standards or University policies." FIRE wrote UA President Robert E. Witt pointing out that the university’s requirement that window displays meet "accepted standards" was so vague that it would allow administrators to choose what […]

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  • University of Alabama: Attempt to Limit Freedom of Speech and Right to Petition

    April 4, 2002

    The Faculty Senate of the University of Alabama (UA) has threatened the First Amendment rights both of free speech and of petitioning the government for the redress of grievances by initiating an investigation into the Alabama Association of Scholars’ communication with faculty members and legislators over proposed mandatory diversity training seminars in UA’s College of Engineering. FIRE protested the mandatory seminars as part of a letter writing campaign after UA first implemented them, writing administrators to note that “mandatory workshops espousing a particular orthodoxy on issues of race and ethnicity would violate the moral and, indeed, constitutional obligations of a […]

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Red Light Policies

  • Housing and Residential Communities: Community Living Standards 13-14

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

    Residents, students, HRC staff, visitors, and any other person are to be free from all forms of (1) intimidation, bullying, and harassment, including, but not limited to, physical, online/electronic, sexual, telephone, verbal, non‐verbal, and written communications; (2) threats of violence, including, but not limited to, physical, online/electronic, sexual, telephone, verbal, non‐verbal, and written communications; and (3) discriminatory or inflammatory language, including, but not limited to, online/electronic, telephone, verbal, non‐verbal, or written communications with the intent to harm or incite.

    You are responsible for respecting the rights of all others in the residence hall community, and to act with civility at all times.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Codes of Conduct- Proscribed Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, stalking, intimidation, harassment, sexual misconduct, coercion, and/or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person. This paragraph is intended to include any contact or communication
    which threatens, harasses or injures a person.

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  • Office of Equal Opportunity Programs: Harassment Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    A. Definition of Harassment

    Harassment is abusive or hostile conduct which is directed toward or inflicted upon another person because of his or her race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or veteran’s status and which, because of its severity or pervasiveness, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance or creates a hostile or abusive work or learning environment for that individual’s work, education, or participation in a University activity. Harassment is typically based on stereotyped prejudices and includes, but is not limited to, slurs, jokes, objectionable epithets, or other verbal, graphic, or physical conduct that demeans, insults, or intimidates an individual because of his or her race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or veteran status.

    B. Sexual Harassment Defined

    Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of employment or academic advancement; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance as an employee or student or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment.

    C. Factors Considered in Assessing Whether Harassment Exists

    In determining whether conduct constitutes prohibited harassment, the following understandings shall apply:

    1. Harassment must be distinguished from behavior which, even though unpleasant or uncomfortable, is appropriate to the carrying out of instructional or supervisory responsibilities (e.g., criticism of work, corrective discipline, performance evaluation; discussion of controversial topics germane to an academic subject);
    2. The totality of the circumstances must be evaluated to determine whether a particular act or course of conduct constitutes harassment, including the frequency, severity, and context of the questioned conduct and whether the conduct was physically threatening and humiliating or a mere utterance;
    3. The conduct alleged to be harassment will be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in a similar situation and not simply the particular sensitivity or reaction of an individual;
    4. An isolated incident of hostile behavior, although offensive, usually will not be sufficient to establish a claim of illegal harassment. For example, generally, a single sexual joke, offensive epithet, or request for a date does not constitute sexual harassment; however, being subjected to such jokes, epithets or requests repeatedly may constitute sexual harassment. However, administrators and supervisors should take corrective action when such isolated incidents occur, in order to ensure that repetition of that or similar conduct does not rise to the level of illegal harassment; and
    5. Although repeated incidents of hostile conduct generally create a stronger claim of harassment, a serious incident, even if isolated, may be sufficient.

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  • Student Handbook: Codes of Conduct- Proscribed Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Use of computing facilities to send obscene or abusive messages.

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  • Student Handbook: Grounds Use 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    Other than uses for casual recreational or social activities, reservations must be made for the use of buildings and grounds under the control of the University. Requests for reservations will be granted in accordance with the priorities of the designated area. The request must be made by a signed, written application to the appropriate office as set out in the procedures referenced below.

    The use of loudspeakers or any other type of amplified sound or musical instruments on the University grounds is by permission only.

    Printed materials may be distributed on public sidewalks.

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  • Office of Information Technology: Guidelines for Computer and Network Use 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    While the constitutional right of free speech applies to communication in all forms, we encourage civil and respectful discourse. University policy and local, state and federal law do prohibit some forms of communication, to include:

    * obscenity
    * defamation
    * advocacy directed to incite or produce lawless action
    * threats of violence
    * disruption of the academic environment
    * harassment based on sex, race, disability or other protected status
    * anonymous or repeated messages designed to annoy, abuse or torment

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  • Student Organizations Manual: Advertising and Soliciting on Campus 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies

    All posters, signs, and bumper stickers should be in good taste. Any questions that arise concerning the interpretation of good taste should be directed to the Auxiliary and Support Services Office.

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Codes of Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    The University of Alabama aspires to transmit knowledge, to develop its students, and to promote the quality of society. In seeking these goals, the University recognizes the significance of student rights. These rights include freedom of expression, autonomy, procedural protection and the integrity of people and their property. By ensuring these individual rights, the University fosters an environment conducive to student success and well being.

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  • Bama pro-lifers claim victory after official admin apology

    February 18, 2014

    by Robby Soave at The Daily Caller Pro-life students at the University of Alabama notched a victory on Tuesday after campus administrators apologized for taking down a pro-life display. “Please accept my apology that your display was removed without your knowledge two days before your reserved time expired,” said Carl Bacon, Assistant to the Vice President for Collaboration, in an email to Bama Students for Life. Bacon said the group would be allowed to put the display back up for the last two days of its reserved time. The display was initially taken down after students complained to an administrator that […]

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  • U. of Alabama censors pro-life students for ‘offensive’ poster

    February 13, 2014

    by Robby Soave Administrators at the University of Alabama secretly removed an anti-abortion display because some students found it offensive — a clear violation of pro-life students’ First Amendment rights, according to a free speech group. Student Claire Chretien, president of Bama Students for Life, reserved space in the Ferguson Student Center to display a pro-life poster featuring pictures of aborted fetuses and a caption insisting that abortion is a human rights violation. But last week, she noticed that the poster was missing from the display case, according to Campus Reform. A visit to University Events Coordinator Donna Lake resolved […]

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  • US democracy: most American universities discourage free speech – report

    January 23, 2014

      According to a new study carried out by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), most US universities establish rules that severely restrict free speech on the campus. Out of 427 schools surveyed in the report, one in six enforced “free speech zone” policies, which means that student protests and other “expressive activities” are restricted to small and isolated parts of the campus. “The US Supreme Court has called America’s colleges and universities ‘vital centers for the Nation’s intellectual life.’ However, the reality today is that many of these institutions severely restrict free speech and open debate. Speech […]

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  • Censorship 1, Fun 0: U of Alabama Frosh Ticketed for Harlem Shake Video Shoot

    February 19, 2013

    The Crimson Tide was ready to Harlem Shake — but then the police showed up and shut down a student’s music video. Yesterday afternoon, University of Alabama freshman Nojan Radfar learned a hard and fast lesson about the absurdity of campus censorship. Like countless others across the nation, Radfar wanted his fellow students to represent their beloved school by putting a unique University of Alabama twist on the “Harlem Shake” phenomenon currently enthralling our country. Before we go any further with Radfar’s story, here’s the obligatory “Harlem Shake” primer for those readers over the age of 25 and/or living in a cave: […]

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  • Race at Alabama February 11, 2011

    February 11, 2011

    In less than a week, two racially charged incidents that were witnessed by few but now have been discussed by thousands have prompted the president, faculty members and students at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa to publicly decry racism on campus. On Friday, a member of a white fraternity shouted racial epithets from inside the group’s house at passing student Justin Zimmerman, who is black. The fraternity member, whose name has not been released, reportedly called Zimmerman a “nigger,” then called out, “come here, boy.” Zimmerman alerted a faculty member, and the next day President Robert E. Witt sent […]

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  • Free speech or disorderly conduct?

    March 8, 2008

    A protest at the University of Alabama to bring attention to the war in Iraq has itself become the center of attention at the school and sparked anew the debate over the limits of free speech on college campuses. For some, particularly UA administrators, the issue is one of public safety, not free speech, an argument that the students behind the protests reject, saying it ignores constitutional rights and the intent of the staged mock military raid in a crowded corner of campus. “We are a public university so we are very receptive to free speech, but I don’t think […]

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  • Resolution wrong way to fight against bias

    April 5, 2006

    I read with dismay the news that the SGA Senate has passed a resolution that attempts to assert SGA control over The Crimson White. This is a clear violation of freedom of the press. This resolution should be rescinded immediately. I agree fully with the sentiment that The CW is grossly biased toward the left, but this resolution is the wrong way to fight back against that bias. The right way to fight back against the bias of Chris Otts and his cohorts is to write your own conservative opinion pieces. I have done just that consistently for the last […]

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  • The AHA’s Double Standard on Academic Freedom

    March 1, 2006

    by David Beito, Ralph Luker, and Robert “K. C.” Johnson Perspectives (American Historical Association) Has the AHA turned its back on academic freedom? In January, members present at its business meeting rejected a resolution to condemn attacks on academic freedom, whether from the right or from the left. Instead, they passed a weaker resolution that selectively condemned only threats coming from the right.We weighed into this controversy as part of a three person “left/right” coalition for academic freedom. Our chances were slim and we knew it. Only in December did we learn that the AHA business meeting would consider a […]

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  • ‘We Don’t Need That Kind of Attitude’

    December 16, 2005

    Partway through her teacher-training program, Karen K. Siegfried started pulling her red compact car to the far end of the campus parking lot. She didn’t want her professors at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks to see her bumper stickers: One proclaims her opposition to abortion, and the other is emblazoned with the name of one of Alaska’s Republican senators.”It worried me what they could do based on my politics,” says Ms. Siegfried, who had already clashed with education professors over her views on affirmative action and gun control. When Ms. Siegfried disagreed with one professor’s contention that video games […]

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  • Troy art student sues after nude photos banned

    November 1, 2005

    An art student sued Troy University on Monday, saying the school violated his free speech rights by censoring his artwork and implementing a campus speech code that unconstitutionally restricts speech. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Montgomery, contends Troy officials removed portions of Blake Dews’ artwork because it featured female nudity. The university issued a statement defending its decision on Dews’ art. ”The photographs in question displayed male full frontal nudity and the university did not consider the photographs to be consistent with our community ‘s standards,” the statement said. ”This is a matter now under litigation and […]

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  • 10 great cigars and why I smoked them

    June 13, 2005

    By Mike Adams at Townhall.com For years, communism has been preventing me from enjoying a lot of good cigars. That used to bother me, until I found a way around the problem. As many of my readers know, there are more communists teaching on the average American campus than there are teaching in all of Cuba. And, of course, these communist professors do a lot of stupid things, most of which violate the United States Constitution. I have learned that fighting American communist professors is fun, largely because they are so easy to beat when challenged. That’s why I smoke […]

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  • Consulting All Sides on “Speech Codes”

    May 1, 2005

    By David T. Beito, Ralph E. Luker, and Robert David Johnson, Organization of American Historians Newsletter Few controversies have polarized higher education more than that of Ward Churchill at the University of Colorado (CU). Many conservatives, including Governor Bill Owens of Colorado and Newt Gingrich, have demanded that Churchill be dismissed for characterizing the victims of 9/11 as “Little Eichmanns.” Professors and students at CU and elsewhere have responded with rallies and petitions to defend Churchill’s academic freedom. They emphasize that the health of the academy rests on the toleration of controversial, even repellant, ideas. Joining in, the faculty of […]

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  • Speech resolution draws ire

    November 15, 2004

    The UA Faculty Senate is a free speech violator and created a “speech code” with its resolution that condemns hate speech, officials at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education say.   In response to an incident at an event sponsored by University Programs where a comedian directed homosexual jokes toward a student, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution condemning “hate speech” and advised that UA administration institute policies that UA sponsored speakers should not be able to make racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic, homophobic or ethnic statements.   Officials at FIRE are concerned that the resolution will limit freedom of […]

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  • Cal Poly Student Government Changes Rules to Allow Some Early Candidate Speech, But Not Enough

    March 17, 2014

    Following widespread criticism, the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) at California Polytechnic State University has revised its election policies to allow students running for ASI positions to be quoted in the media outside of the “active campaigning period,” which begins just 10 days before elections. Previously, students were prohibited from being identified as candidates in written materials prior to the beginning of the active campaigning period, which began on April 13 this year.

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  • Cal Poly and U. of Alabama Students Limited by Election Policies

    March 12, 2014

    Add this to the ever-growing list of sneaky tactics employed to suppress student speech: At California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and the University of Alabama (UA), student speech about upcoming student government elections may violate election codes at their respective schools.

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  • Student Papers at U of Alabama, U of Vermont Demonstrate the Value of a Free Press

    February 27, 2014

    In case Torch readers wanted more examples of the value of a free student press on college and university campuses, recent columns in student newspapers at the University of Alabama (UA) and the University of Vermont (UVM) fit the bill.

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  • U. of Alabama Apologizes to Student Group But Must Take Additional Steps to Protect Free Speech

    February 18, 2014

    Last week I reported on the University of Alabama’s (UA’s) removal of a pro-life poster from a hallway display case that the student group Bama Students for Life (BSFL) had reserved in advance. A school administrator told BSFL President Claire Chretien that the display had been removed because the school received complaints that some of the pictures included were too graphic.

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  • U. of Alabama Removes Pro-Life Display, Citing ‘Complaints’

    February 12, 2014

    In January, University of Alabama (UA) student group Bama Students for Life reserved a hallway display case and set a pro-life poster inside it in accordance with the school’s written policies. But when group president Claire Chretien checked the case last week, the poster had been removed. Chretien smartly turned on her camera to record her subsequent conversation with Ferguson Student Center Event Coordinator Donna Lake, in which she asks why the display was removed and receives an answer that reveals a stunning ignorance of UA’s legal obligation as a public school to abide by the First Amendment. Lake makes […]

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  • The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2013

    December 27, 2013

    College is where inquisitive minds go to be exposed to new ways of thinking. But on some campuses, the quest for knowledge is frustrated when administrators censor speech they would prefer be kept out of the marketplace of ideas. To close out the year, we at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) want to highlight some of the worst colleges for free speech since March 2012—the last time we published this list. (Our first list, from 2011, is here.) Most of the schools we include in this year’s list are public colleges or universities bound by the First Amendment. But some of […]

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  • ‘Tuscaloosa News’ Dings U of Alabama for Censorship of Pro-Choice Speech

    July 15, 2013

    Administrators at the University of Alabama (UA) are doing the seemingly impossible: bringing pro-choice and pro-life forces together to agree with one another. Unfortunately for the university, what both sides agree upon is that UA administrators are completely in the wrong when it comes to free speech.  UA’s decision to order the pro-choice Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice (AASRJ) student group to stop passing out flyers in response to a pro-life display on campus has been roundly bashed, even by the sponsors of the pro-life display, Bama Students for Life. On Sunday, the editors of UA’s hometown newspaper, […]

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  • U of Alabama Expresses Concern over Safety During … Leafleting?

    July 12, 2013

    The University of Alabama (UA) has yet to yield to the strong and justified pressure from students and free speech advocates to revise its grounds use policies, which require 10 days’ notice for even quiet and peaceful speech by student groups on campus. With the UA administration seemingly alone in defending the policies, it’s useful to take a look at the school’s stated reasons for hanging on to them. The Crimson White covered the controversy on Wednesday, and relayed comments from Cathy Andreen, AU’s director of the Office of Media Relations: “The grounds use permit process ensures that events, speeches, […]

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  • FIRE’s Peter Bonilla on U of Alabama and Restrictions on Spontaneous Expression

    July 10, 2013

    In an article for PolicyMic today, director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program Peter Bonilla wrote to discuss the compelling reasons why free speech advocates are putting pressure on the University of Alabama to revise its grounds use policies, which require 10 days’ notice for protests—even quiet, peaceful ones—on campus. In his article, Peter explains the common sense problem with such a requirement, particularly as applied to students who want to engage in real-time discussions on current events. He notes that while narrowly-tailored time, place, and manner restrictions on speech are allowable in some circumstances in order to prevent disruption […]

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  • The Crimson Tide Rolls: Right Over Pro-Choice Students’ Rights

    July 10, 2013

    by Peter Bonilla PolicyMic   Here’s a bit of non-news for you: The debate over abortion rights isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This is doubly true in the college community. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has long recognized the importance of keeping public universities fully open to debate and discussion, finding the campus to be “peculiarly the ‘marketplace of ideas’” in 1972’s unanimous decision inHealy v. James. The University of Alabama seems to have missed this memo, however, given itsrecent treatment of a pro-choice student group. Rewind to April 9 of this year, when a UA student group, the Alabama Alliance for […]

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  • Please Explain Why Putting University Administrators in Charge of Judging Speech Is a Good Idea

    July 9, 2013

    Architect Rolls and Plans - Shutterstock My colleagues have done a thorough job of explaining why defenders of the Department of Education’s “blueprint” for preventing campus sexual harassment are on very shaky legal and logical ground. They have pointed out that some of ED’s allies have misquoted the findings letter and mocked Senator John McCain’s serious questions about the threat to free speech and about OCR’s authority to impose this blueprint. Other defenders of the blueprint have brushed away concerns by portraying its definition of sexual harassment as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” as simply a way of encouraging reporting. […]

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  • U of Alabama Fails to Respond to Letter on Speech Code; Students Consider New Strategies

    July 8, 2013

    Flyer graphic background – ShutterstockMore than six weeks after FIRE sent University of Alabama (UA) President Judy Bonner a letter explaining how UA’s grounds use policies unconstitutionally restrict students’ free speech rights, UA has still not responded, and students are expressing doubt that the university will revise the policies without legal pressure. To recap: Members of the Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice (AASRJ) student organization were threatened with arrest for leafleting on campus without a permit. The act of leafleting was AASRJ’s peaceful and timely response to a demonstration by Bama Students for Life on the same day. […]

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  • University of Alabama doesn’t respond to calls for policy revision following abortion debate

    July 5, 2013

    by Melissa Brown AL.com   TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – The University of Alabama appears to have no plans to modify its contentious grounds use policy following a public letter admonishing UA’s protection of students’ First Amendment rights and calling for change. On July 1, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) posted a letter to their website addressed to UA President Judy Bonner on behalf of an abortion rights student group who say police ordered them to stop distributing flyers on campus during the spring semester. The letter, originally sent in late May, requested comment from Bonner by mid-June. As of Friday, FIRE has […]

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  • U of Alabama Policy Draws Criticism from Students, Free Speech Advocates

    July 2, 2013

    Melissa Brown wrote for AL.com (the online presence of several Alabama newspapers) yesterday to bring local attention to FIRE’s letter to the University of Alabama (UA) about its requirement that students obtain a permit several days in advance of distributing flyers and leaflets. As we reported yesterday, UA has not responded to our letter. Brown noted that UA students share FIRE’s concerns about the school’s grounds use policy. The editorial board of the The Crimson White, UA’s student newspaper, wrote in February to advocate for policy changes after university police officers halted filming of a Harlem Shake video. The Board’s […]

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  • Foundation says University of Alabama policy violates students’ First Amendment rights

    July 1, 2013

    by Melissa Brown AL.com   TUSCALOOSA, Alabama - The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has intervened on behalf of a University of Alabama pro-abortion rights student group who say police ordered them to stop distributing flyers on campus during the spring semester. In a letter sent to UA President Judy Bonner on May 22, FIRE requested that the university reassure its community that “expressive activity on campus” would not be censored. FIRE requested a response to the letter by June 12. “Please spare the University of Alabama the embarrassment of fighting against the Bill of Rights — a statement of both law and principle by […]

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  • University of Alabama Tells Pro-Choice Group to Get Permit for Pamphlets or Face Arrest

    July 1, 2013

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala., July 1, 2013—University of Alabama police have ordered a pro-choice student group to cease distributing informational flyers on campus in response to another group’s pro-life event, and threatened members with arrest for failing to comply with its orders. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has intervened at UA following this blatant and chilling abuse of student First Amendment rights. “Yet again, a public university bound by the First Amendment has regulated free speech far beyond what the Constitution allows,” said Robert Shibley, FIRE’s Senior Vice President. “The University of Alabama has no business telling a group […]

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  • Why the University of Alabama Was Right Not to ‘Protect’ Students From Westboro Baptist Church Demonstrations

    June 21, 2013

    Yesterday, University of Alabama junior Noah Cannon wrote to UA’s student newspaper, The Crimson White, to ask why the university had not spoken out on behalf of LGBTQ students against the Westboro Baptist Church’s (WBC’s) recent demonstration on campus. Student groups and local churches swiftly organized a counter-protest and successfully countered the WBC’s picket line. Still, Mr. Cannon laments the non-response from UA: I waited to hear what would be done to protect LGBTQ+ students from WBC’s homophobic message.I heard nothing. No emails were sent. No statements were released. No help was offered. It is important to remember that while the […]

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  • University of Alabama’s Grounds Use Policy Strikes Again

    April 30, 2013

    Quad at University of Alabama - Wikimedia Commons The Crimson White, the student newspaper at the University of Alabama, reports this week on the latest controversy surrounding the university’s grounds use policy. As Torch readers may remember, the policy was enforced against students attempting to organize a school-wide performance of the Harlem Shake in February. Now comes word that the policy’s enforcement has interrupted student demonstrations, silencing core political speech.   According to The Crimson White, members of the Alabama Alliance for Sexual & Reproductive Justice (AASRJ) were threatened with arrest after they began handing out fliers last week on the […]

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  • U. of Alabama Paper: ‘Harlem Shake’ Incident Demonstrates Need to Review Restrictive Speech Policy

    February 20, 2013

    We reported yesterday on the University of Alabama’s (UA’s) decision to crack down on a student-led attempt to organize a “Harlem Shake” video on UA’s campus quad. The attempted dance video was shut down by campus police because the students organizing the event had not obtained a permit before assembling their crowd—a requirement at UA that includes a 10-day waiting period. In a well-considered editorial running today, the Editorial Board of the UA student newspaper The Crimson White writes that the whole episode is not just a silly exercise of the university police’s power. Rather, it demonstrates much more: The […]

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  • U. of Alabama Shakes Up Harlem Shake Attempt

    February 19, 2013

    The wildly popular “Harlem Shake” dance videos can range from the small and minimal to the extensive and elaborate. No matter what the flavor, though, this latest Internet craze is something everyone seems to be jumping into. Yesterday, however, the University of Alabama (UA) took issue with some students attempting to make a Harlem Shake video on the UA quad. For those of you who don’t spend nearly as much time on the Internet as I do, the Harlem Shake is a “meme” in which people make a 30-second dance video to music producer Baauer’s “Harlem Shake.” The first 15 […]

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  • University of Alabama Protects Rights of Religious Student Groups

    July 31, 2012

    Following receipt of a letter from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the University of Alabama has made an important change to university policy in order to protect the freedom of association of religious student organizations on campus. ADF explains:  The University of Alabama’s policy on membership in student organizations states that leadership and voting membership positions must be open “to all students of The University … without regard to race, religion, sex, disability, or national origin, except in cases of designated fraternal organizations.” In reply to the Alliance Defending Freedom letter, the university said it will amend the policy with […]

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  • FERPA Author: Universities Play Games with Law

    October 11, 2011

    The University of Alabama has blocked the release of Student Government Association records involving investigations into irregularities in the selection process for a first-year honors program. The university claims that under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), these are “educational” records shielded from public disclosure. Not so, says the law’s author, former U.S. Senator and Federal Circuit Court Judge James Buckley, in an interview with the student newspaper, The Crimson White. “That does not sound like an educational record to me … it’s what the kids do outside of the classroom,” noted Buckley, who served in the Senate […]

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  • A lesson on the First Amendment

    November 9, 2007

    For the past week, angry students have bombarded The Crimson White with Letters to the Editor and guest columns condemning us for publishing Greg Michaelson’s article, “You Can’t Protect Everyone.” Many of the submissions I’ve received use the words hate speech to describe what Michaelson wrote. Because of this, many of our readers have asked that the editorial board apologize for the publishing of that article. This column, however, is by no means an apology from the editorial board or the staff of The CW. By being in accordance with the 2006-07 UA Student Handbook that requires all student publications […]

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  • The Right Response

    April 5, 2006

    Patrick Samples, a graduate student at the University of Alabama, has a great article in today’s edition of UA’s student newspaper, The Crimson White. In it, he responds to an attempt by UA’s student government to assert control over the paper in response to its alleged liberal bias. As Samples, who acknowledges that he disagrees with the paper’s viewpoint, aptly summarizes the situation, “This is a clear violation of freedom of the press. This resolution should be rescinded immediately.” He continues: I ask my fellow conservatives and libertarians this question: Do we want the left-liberal nuts on this campus to […]

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  • American Hypocrites’ Association

    January 10, 2006

    Two weeks ago, Greg blogged on a pair of dueling resolutions that were introduced at the meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA) here in Philadelphia. One condemned only David Horowitz’s proposed Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR), while another condemned both the ABOR and “the use of speech codes to restrict academic freedom, and all similar attempts to limit free and open discourse on campus.”   Imagine our non-surprise to discover that the AHA chose to adopt the resolution condemning the ABOR while saying nothing about speech codes. Inside Higher Ed has the full report. My favorite quote: Jonathan Rose, […]

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  • Friday in ’Bama

    October 11, 2005

    This Friday, I’ll be speaking at the Bankhead Conference at the University of Alabama. The topic is “Censorship, Free Speech, and Free Press in the University,” and I’ll be appearing with Donald Downs, a great defender of liberty and author of Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus and with John K. Wilson, author of a book with the least persuasive title I’ve ever read, The Myth of Political Correctness. The event is open to the public, and my session begins around 9 a.m. Alabama is a particularly appropriate place for a conference on free speech. In the last few […]

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  • ‘The New York Times’ on Bias in Legal Academia

    August 29, 2005

    An article in Sunday’s New York Times (registration required) by Adam Liptak discusses a new survey that reveals that law school faculties are dominated by those with liberal political beliefs: The study, to be published this fall in The Georgetown Law Journal, analyzes 11 years of records reflecting federal campaign contributions by professors at the top 21 law schools as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Almost a third of these law professors contribute to campaigns, but of them, the study finds, 81 percent who contributed $200 or more gave wholly or mostly to Democrats; 15 percent gave wholly […]

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  • ‘Who’s Undermining Free Speech on Campus Now?’

    April 20, 2005

    Check out David Beito, KC Johnson and Ralph E. Luker’s important article “Who’s Undermining Free Speech on Campus Now?” at Inside Higher Ed. KC and David are well known to FIRE for their tireless defense of freedom of speech and basic rights at their respective institutions, Brooklyn College and the University of Alabama (and anyone looking at the sheer number of cases we have had at UA can see that David has had his hands full). They write: The internal threat to free speech in academia is posed by speech codes. They take many forms and vary from one college to the next university. After […]

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  • Prof sails against liberal tide

    April 17, 2005

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

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  • Liberating America’s Intellectual Gulags

    April 15, 2005

    David French knows what intimidation is.French, the new President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, graduated from Harvard Law School in the early 1990s. One might say that anyone with similar credentials ought to know the definition of intimidation – but French’s experience is a bit more personal than that.“As a pro-life, Christian conservative, I received death threats in my campus mailbox, was shouted down by students and (once) was even shouted down in class by my own professor,” he says about his years in Cambridge. French now spends much of his time explaining to university general counsels […]

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  • An illiberal left

    March 15, 2005

    IT ISN’T often that a group of college professors is soundly and thoroughly embarrassed by a collection of mere students in an intellectual arena. But that’s exactly what happened at the end of February, when the University of Alabama’s Student Senate passed a sharp resolution directly opposing a heavy-handed, short-sighted and illiberal “hate speech” resolution that their Faculty Senate had already passed. The Faculty Senate’s original resolution called for the creation of a series of new regulations which threatened to drastically curtail First Amendment rights at their public university. With their remarkably independent and sophisticated response, UA’s students have schooled […]

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  • Insults and the Constitution

    March 7, 2005

    There is a nice piece by Suzanne Fields today in the Washington Times. In her column she discusses the recent controversies at Harvard and the University of Alabama. She also quotes from FIRE’s letter on the Ward Churchill case: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (thefire.org), which revels in its acronym FIRE because it turns up the heat on campuses that attempt to melt down guarantees of free speech, makes this point in a letter to the Interim Chancellor at the University of Colorado at Boulder: “Supreme Court case law makes it quite clear that ‘if there is a […]

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  • Students Frown on UA Faculty’s Free-Speech Shutdown Attempt

    March 3, 2005

    University of Alabama students are reacting to a perceived attack on their First Amendment rights. Last fall the Faculty Senate at the University of Alabama passed a resolution banning school-sponsored speech that could be considered homophobic, sexist, or racist. In response, the Student Senate passed a free-speech resolution that directly counters the so-called “hate speech” resolution.   David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), describes the students’ move as brilliant. He says he had sent an open letter to the UA community, protesting the faculty’s policy.   The problem with the school’s resolution, French says, […]

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  • Alabama and the American Flag

    March 1, 2005

    Reader Fletcher Moore writes in regard to my post from Monday in which I stated that the University of Alabama was, “after all, the school that banned the American flag from dorm windows.” Mr. Moore responds: If you follow your own link, you’ll note that the policy applied to “all window displays in student dormitories,” and was created in response to the display of a Confederate flag. Students hung American flags in response to the policy, as a means of protest. To be sure, the policy is crude and contrary to a signal American freedom, but it was not as […]

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  • Roll Tide: Free Speech at Alabama

    February 28, 2005

    There’s some welcome news on the free speech front from the University of Alabama today. Those who follow FIRE know that the University of Alabama is one of the worst schools in the country when it comes to respecting free speech. Administrators and faculty members there often seem completely dismissive of their public university’s moral and constitutional responsibilities. This is, after all, the school that banned the American flag from dorm windows. In that case, students engaged in civil disobedience by placing American flags all over their windows, and the administration backed down. Well, once again UA students have taken […]

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  • Students Fight Back: Free Speech Resolution Targets Faculty Push for Speech Code

    February 28, 2005

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala., February 28, 2005—In a remarkable display of intellectual independence and moral courage, the University of Alabama (UA) Student Senate last week passed a “free speech” resolution that directly opposes a “hate speech” resolution passed by UA’s Faculty Senate last fall. Recognizing that the faculty’s “hate speech” resolution was a thinly veiled call for a speech code, the students’ resolution urges the UA administration and faculty “to adopt policies that explicitly protect free speech for all students at the University of Alabama.” The students’ move comes after close consultation with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and […]

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  • New Speech Code—Same as the Old

    February 9, 2005

    The new speech code calls on the government to “develop clear policies restricting any behavior which demeans or reduces an individual based on group affiliation or personal characteristics.” The old speech code calls on the government to prohibit “oral or printed” words “which tend to expose a person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, to degrade or disgrace him in society.” If you think you can guess the authors of both speech codes, you might be surprised. The identity of the authors of the “new” code is no surprise: the Faculty Senate of the University of Alabama. The authors of the […]

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  • FIRE’s Open Letter to the University of Alabama Community

    November 11, 2004

    Dear Faculty Senate, Student Leaders, and Administrators of the University of Alabama:   The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is deeply concerned that freedom of expression is once again under assault at the University of Alabama. Last September, in response to a controversial incident at a comedy event sponsored by University Programs, the UA Faculty Senate passed a resolution that threatens to severely restrict free expression on campus. The resolution seeks to eliminate speech that might be deemed “offensive” from any approved university program or activity through regulation of and contractual restrictions upon speakers who may potentially engage […]

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  • FIRE Protests So-Called “Hate Speech” Resolution at University of Alabama

    November 11, 2004

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala., November 11, 2004—Freedom of expression is once again under assault at the University of Alabama (UA).  In September, the UA Faculty Senate responded to public controversy about a UA comedy event by passing a resolution that threatens to severely restrict free expression on this public campus.  The Senate’s proposed policy would regulate speech in approved university activities and contractually restrict outside speakers whose speech might be deemed to be “demeaning.”  Yesterday, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) submitted an open letter protesting this policy to hundreds of members of the UA community.     “UA students […]

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  • University of Alabama Continues Campaign Against Free Speech

    June 16, 2004

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala., May 13, 2004—Last year, the University of Alabama (UA) gained notoriety when it banned students from displaying the American flag (and all other flags) in their dorm windows. Now it has ordered a faculty group that is critical of the university’s grading policies to pay a rate eight times higher than that paid by other faculty organizations for use of the university’s mail system. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the Princeton, N.J.-based National Association of Scholars (NAS) are protesting UA’s actions, which are only the latest in a long, sad string of assaults on […]

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  • FIRE Coalition Shatters Window Display Censorship Policy at University of Alabama

    October 3, 2003

    TUSCALOOSA, AL—After months of experimenting with different methods of restricting speech, the administration of the University of Alabama (UA) has “indefinitely” tabled a policy outlawing all window displays in student dormitories. The policy was issued after a student was ordered to remove a confederate flag from the door of his dorm room. Other students, aware of the threat to their liberty posed by this regulation, subsequently displayed American flags to challenge administrators to enforce the ban. “We are relieved that the University of Alabama has decided, at least for now, to honor its constitutional obligations. We find it remarkable that […]

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  • FIRE’s Letter to the University of Alabama; July 15, 2003

    July 15, 2003

    July 15, 2003   President Robert E. Witt University of Alabama Box 870100 Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0100   Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (205-348-8377)   Dear President Witt,   As you can see from our Directors and Board of Advisors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) unites leaders in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, legal equality, due process, academic freedom, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and, in this case, freedom of speech and expression at America’s colleges and universities.  […]

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