Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit
University of Alaska Fairbanks has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more here.
University of Alaska Fairbanks: Complaint Over Student Newspaper’s Articles Results in Months-Long Harassment Investigation
February 11, 2014
University of Alaska Fairbanks student newspaper The Sun Star was subjected to sexual harassment investigations nearly a year after Professor Jensine Anahita filed complaints.» Read More
January 30, 2001
In a memorandum to the faculty of all campuses of the University of Alaska, President Mark R. Hamilton came to the rescue of Professor Linda McCarriston, a poet and teacher of creative writing who was subjected to administrative interference and investigation because of the content of her work. FIRE brought the details and issues of the case to the attention of the University and secured the rights of unhindered free expression for McCarriston. McCarriston was investigated for offending students with a poem she wrote titled “Indian Girls,” about the sexual abuse of children. FIRE President Alan Kors wrote President Hamilton […]» Read More
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement
1. physical or verbal abuse;
2. sexual harassment;
3. intimidation; or
4. other conduct, including hazing, which unreasonably interferes with or creates a hostile or offensive learning, living, or working environment.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
[S]ome uses which are prohibited or restricted include the following: … sending, replying to, or forwarding unsolicited bulk e-mail (spam, chain mail, etc) … Threatening or harassing communications … Partisan political activity, e.g., sending email supporting a political party or group.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
UAF policy prohibits behavior based on another person’s status that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment.
Sometimes discriminatory harassment is intentional and meant to be offensive. Often it is less obvious, yet equally offensive. Behaviors that may constitute harassment include:
* Racial, ethnic, or other slurs
* Malicious name calling
* Anonymous notes or phone calls
* Derogatory graffiti or electronic mail messages
* Stereotyping the experiences, background, and skills of individuals or groups
* Threatening members of diverse groups
* Making inconsiderate or mean-spirited jokes
* Imitating stereotypes in speech or mannerisms
* Preventing access to any University resources or activities
* Creating a hostile environment in any University activity
* Attributing objections to any of the above to “hypersensitivity” of the targeted individual or group
Gender harassment: Persistent, unwelcome remarks based on gender and/or sexual stereotyping.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that has the effect of interfering with an individual’s living/working environment and/or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive living or academic environment.
Speech Code Category: Posting Policies
Displays inconsistent with acceptable standards or University policies should not be displayed outside of residential facility doors or in general view of the public. Residence Life staff will determine if items need to be removed.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
It is the responsibility of faculty and staff to behave in such a manner that their words or actions cannot reasonably be perceived as sexually coercive, abusive, or exploitative. Sexual harassment also can occur in relationships among equals as when repeated
unwelcome advances, demeaning verbal behavior, or offensive physical contact interfere with an individual’s ability to work or study productively.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
An environment of free and honest inquiry is essential to the functioning and the mission of the university. The board and the university therefore acknowledge, affirm, and espouse the right of freedom of speech as guaranteed in the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Alaska.
The university will not limit or abridge any individual’s constitutional right to free speech.
February 22, 2014
A professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has finally lost her nutty, anti-First Amendment sexual harassment complaints against the school’s student newspaper for running a satirical piece about a vagina-shaped building and a straight news article concerning a Facebook page. It only took almost a year. Sine Anahita, a sociology professor and the coordinator of the school’s women and gender studies program, initially filed a sexual harassment complaint against the student paper, The Sun Star, in April 2013, reports the Student Press Law Center (SPLC). The complaint stemmed from an April 1, 2013 article in the student rag — that particular day called […]» Read More
February 12, 2014
by Westin Morrow FAIRBANKS — The University of Alaska Fairbanks student paper, “The Sun Star” was fully protected by the First Amendment when it ran two articles a faculty member complained constituted sexual harassment, according to an independent review. The independent reviewer, brought in after an appeal by the complainant, came to the same conclusion as the original university inquiry. The university began an inquiry into two articles that appeared in the student newspaper last April after a faculty member complained the articles constituted sexual harassment and created a hostile work environment. One article, which ran as a satirical piece […]» Read More
January 20, 2014
FAIRBANKS — The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit civil rights group, concluded in a study of United States universities that nearly two thirds of schools maintain policies that infringe on student’s free speech rights. The foundation surveyed 427 policies in place at 427 public and private universities and examined reported cases of recent civil rights issues at those schools. It then rated each school in one of three categories: green light, yellow light or red light. The majority of the school’s surveyed, 250, received red light ratings, the worst possible, while 152 received yellow light scores. Only […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
February 19, 2004
The University of Colorado at Boulder decided to teach us all a lesson about free speech last week, but it may not be the lesson it intended. Administrators there had originally told the College Republicans and the Equal Opportunity Alliance that they could not hold an “affirmative action bake sale” on campus. In case you don’t know, these “bake sales” are protests that have been held across the country which satirize affirmative action by charging Hispanic and black students less for baked goods than white and Asian students. While you may not like this particular form of “guerilla theater,” this […]» Read More
April 16, 2014
In a new article, Slate’s Rebecca Schuman laments the phenomenon of colleges and universities becoming toned-down, less playful, even boring. Schuman argues that this is in part due to parents over-planning their kids’ lives, leaving them incapable of finding creative ways to have fun when they’re older and on their own: A recent trip back to my beloved alma mater, Vassar—combined with my interactions with students where I teach and some disappointing sleuthing—has made it apparent that much of the unstructured free play at college seems to have disappeared in favor of pre-professional anxiety, coupled with the nihilistic, homogeneous partying […]» Read More
April 11, 2014
Last month, ‘The New Republic’ published an article by Jenny Jarvie on the growing trend of “trigger warnings,” disclaimers to audiences that the material they are about to view or read might “trigger” the remembrance of past traumas like sexual assault or other violence. The warnings have proliferated on websites—particularly Tumblr posts, blogs, and message boards—in recent years, but now they’re being adopted in other contexts, like syllabi for college courses.» Read More
February 25, 2014
As we celebrate Free Press Week here at FIRE, I find myself thinking back on cases in which FIRE has intervened on behalf of student journalists and protected the freedom of the press that the First Amendment guarantees. I don’t have to look very far back, either. As our work over the past year (including as recently as this month) demonstrates, FIRE is committed to defending student newspapers and media outlets against censorship and ensuring that free press rights can be properly exercised on college and university campuses.» Read More
February 11, 2014
In a victory for freedom of the press, the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) has cleared The Sun Star student newspaper of any wrongdoing following a prolonged investigation of the newspaper’s content prompted by repeated and meritless complaints from a UAF professor. UAF officials announced the end of the investigation in a letter to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which intervened after the situation had dragged on for more than eight months.» Read More
December 12, 2013
University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) independent student newspaper The Sun Star is being subjected to an investigation—again—after a faculty member who complained about the paper’s content appealed two separate findings clearing the newspaper of sexual harassment charges based on its content. Although the university has not formally disciplined the newspaper staff, the months-long and burdensome investigations of clearly protected speech are wearing down the newspaper’s editors and are likely to significantly chill future student speech. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner described the two articles that led to the complaints: The first was a satirical article in the newspaper’s April Fools’ “Fun Star” issue and written about […]» Read More
After Removal from Grant Follows Public Criticism of Oil Industry, University of Alaska Professor’s Retaliation Claim Dismissed
October 21, 2009
The University of Alaska has dismissed a retaliation claim brought by Professor Richard Steiner, an outspoken critic of the oil industry. Professor Steiner’s claim concerned his removal from a $10,000 research grant administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2008, following a press conference held by Steiner in which he criticized NOAA and the University of Alaska (UA) for allowing Shell Oil to be a sponsor of a university conference focusing on offshore development. Following his removal from the NOAA’s “Sea Grant,” which supplied part of Steiner’s salary, UA replaced the funds with its own. Steiner’s grievance, […]» Read More
March 27, 2007
When professors and administrators in the accounting department of University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) began debating the renewal of their program’s accreditation, tenured associate professor Charlie Sparks weighed in, advocating for faculty self-governance and changes in the division’s structure. Sparks now claims that expressing his views on campus won him a one-way trip to the UAF’s Bristol Bay campus—located in the much smaller, more remote town of Dillingham—via reassignment from School of Management Dean Wayne Marr. According to signed statements from two students, Marr boasted that exiling a tenured but problematic professor to a remote campus in a […]» Read More
July 6, 2006
The provost of the University of Wisconsin at Madison announced last week that the university would conduct a “review” of an instructor who has publicly stated that he believes the 9/11 attacks were an “inside job.” The instructor, Kevin Barrett, was a guest on a radio show last week where he defended his controversial views. Shortly thereafter a state representative called for Barrett’s immediate dismissal and UWM provost Patrick Farrell announced the review of Barrett’s course materials, syllabus, and evaluations. “Mr. Barrett’s statements regarding the events of Sept. 11 have raised some legitimate concerns about the content and quality […]» Read More
September 9, 2005
In the comments section below my and Azhar Majeed’s Inside Higher Ed article, the infamous Grover Furr makes some outrageous accusations against my and FIRE’s writings. He claims we do not “substantiate” our claims, that our articles are “dishonest” and that our articles “do not merit publication.” Here is my response: Professor Furr, In claiming that my and Azhar Majeed’s article is “dishonest” and that we do not “substantiate” our claims, you make multiple unsubstantiated, dishonest, and willfully ignorant statements of your own. FIRE documents all of its cases and provides access to that information through links to primary documents […]» Read More
April 9, 2001
April 9, 2001 Dear Professor Kors: It has not been long since Thor Halvorssen of FIRE phoned my university office and found me alone and very frightened in a cinderblock building at the darkest time of the Alaska winter. Perhaps you can imagine my near disbelief that a voice so named, and with so much purpose, would arrive from the City of Brotherly Love (where my Irish family landed not long ago, fleeing sectarian persecution), promising help! As I wrote almost immediately, that was the first night I had slept more than fitfully since my thought, teaching, and writing had […]» Read More
March 29, 2001» Read More
March 27, 2001
ANCHORAGE, AK—In a memorandum to the faculty of all campuses of the University of Alaska, President Mark R. Hamilton came to the rescue of Professor Linda McCarriston, a poet and teacher of creative writing subjected to administrative interference and investigation because of the content of her work. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) brought the details and issues of the case to the attention of the University and secured the rights of unhindered free expression for McCarriston. In a sternly worded one-page memorandum of March 13, 2001, Mark R. Hamilton, President of the University of Alaska, ordered that […]» Read More