University of Colorado at Boulder

Location: Boulder, Colorado
Website: http://www.colorado.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 10th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Colorado at Boulder 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 Colorado at Boulder: Professor Threatened with Harassment Investigation, Forced Retirement Over Classroom Presentation

    January 2, 2014

    On November 5, 2013, sociology professor Patti Adler presented a lecture on prostitution as part of her “Deviance in U.S. Society” course. A feature of the course for more than 20 years, the lecture included a skit involving volunteer teaching assistants dressed as and portraying prostitutes. In the weeks following that lecture, Adler was notified by Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Steven Leigh that a former teaching assistant had voiced concern that the content of the presentation might have made some students “uncomfortable,” though no formal complaints about the class had been submitted. After university officials monitored […]

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  • University of Colorado at Boulder: Prohibitive Security Fee Charged for Controversial Speakers

    March 3, 2009

    After the University of Colorado at Boulder threatened to bill the Students for True Academic Freedom and other CU-Boulder clubs more than $2,000 for security for a controversial event featuring Ward Churchill and William Ayers as speakers, the organizers of the event came to FIRE for help. CU-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard stated that Students for True Academic Freedom would be billed for security partly on the basis of a potentially hostile audience reaction to the speakers. The police security bill was going to be $2,203.42, plus fees for parking and building security. FIRE wrote to the University administration, explaining that requiring […]

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  • University of Colorado at Boulder: Investigation of Professor for Controversial Essay

    February 9, 2005

    Entrenched in vast controversy for referring to the civilians who died in the World Trade Center as “little Eichmanns,” University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Ward Churchill stepped down from his position as chair of CU-Boulder’s ethnic studies department. Problems arose, however, when the CU Board of Regents declared they were going to launch an investigation into Churchill’s “writings, speeches, tape recordings and other works.” FIRE wrote to CU noting that Churchill is entitled to due process and should be given the chance to defend himself, and assuring the university that Churchill’s speech, no matter how controversial or offensive, is […]

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  • University of Colorado at Boulder: Suppression of Affirmative Action Bake Sale

    February 13, 2004

    At the University of Colorado at Boulder, the College Republicans and the Equal Opportunity Alliance were informed by administrators that they would not be permitted to hold an affirmative action bake sale because, CU claimed, the students would be engaging in discrimination. FIRE Legal Network Attorney Robert Corry quickly stepped in, informing CU that he would be filing for an injunction on Tuesday at noon to force the university not to abridge the students’ First Amendment rights. The planned bake sale was a political protest, not an exercise in discrimination. Under threat of court action, CU quickly agreed to settle […]

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  • University of Colorado at Boulder: Disciplinary Hearing Allowing Accuser to Judge Accused

    January 1, 2001

    At the University of Colorado at Boulder, Carlos Martinez was expelled by the head of the Office of Judicial Affairs, Andrea Goldblum, for yelling at staff at the Office of the Bursar. Given 48 hours to vacate the school premise, Martinez protested, demanding that he be given a fair trial, and was granted permission by the Colorado District Court. Goldblum declared Martinez a threat and asked for a court order prohibiting him from contacting her. Apparently she changed her mind as the trial drew nearer, requesting the ban on contact be lifted so that she could preside over his trial. […]

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Campus Use of University Facilities 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    The following individuals and/or authorized representatives of the following entities are eligible to be Organizers for purposes of use of University Facilities or Outdoor Spaces pursuant to this Policy: enrolled students, authorized representatives of SOFO-registered student groups and University Departments. Any other entity or individual wishing to use a University Facility or Outdoor Space must schedule the Event through an Organizer.
    The Organizer must agree to the following conditions:

     

    1. Submit the Event Management Form found at http://umc.colorado.edu/events/scheduling/additionalresources or other form that has been previously approved by the CUUF Committee within stated timeframes and receive appropriate approvals for the Event.
    2. To be physically present or have a designee present at the Event location during the entire Event to supervise and ensure the Facility or Outdoor Space is used for the purpose and in the manner stated in the Event Management Form.
    3. To be responsible for all operating costs as provided herein including, but not limited to, rental fees, utility costs, non-routine clean-up, police/security, and parking/traffic and for reimbursing the University for damage to University property or facilities that might occur in connection with the Event.
    4. Ensure that the NASP is provided with current Organizer contact information.
    5. To be responsible to see that use of the Facility or Outdoor Space complies with local, state, and federal laws, and University policies and regulations.

    In recognition of the role of the Dalton Trumbo Fountain Court in the expression of ideas on the campus, the area of the Fountain Court (“Fountain Court Speech Area”) found add at https://colorado.edu/node/478605/attachment may be used by the public for discussion or public expression without scheduling between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm except unscheduled uses may not take place during the period between the last day of classes and the last day of final exams of each term.

    Canvassing is not permitted on the campus except for an Event scheduled in accordance with this policy or on any sidewalk bordering a street.

    Applicants for Non-Academic Use of University Facilities and Outdoor Spaces shall submit a completed Event Management Form found at http://umc.colorado.edu/events/scheduling/additionalresources to the Non-Academic Scheduling Planner (“NASP”) at least ten (10) business days in advance of the planned Event. The application will be approved or denied no later than three business days before the Event.

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  • Student Conduct Code: Abusive Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Abusive Conduct, including verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, coercion, or other conduct which has caused a person substantial emotional distress and where the circumstances would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress.

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  • Acceptable Use of CU-Boulder’s IT Resources 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Don’t annoy, intimidate, threaten, or offend another person(s) by: conveying obscene language, pictures, and/or other materials; making threats of bodily or psychological harm; contacting another person repeatedly with the intent to annoy or bother; and/or contact a person who has expressed a desire for electronic communication to cease.

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  • Residence Hall Policies, Regulations, and Standards of Conduct: Philosophy of Student Conduct 13-14

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

    It is against the basic nature of this community for anyone to demean or discriminate against another human being. A caring, educational community does not tolerate physical or psychological threats, harassment, intimidation, or violence directed against a person(s). Such behavior is subject to the university’s highest conduct processes.

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  • Residence Hall Policies, Regulations, and Standards of Conduct: Doors 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies

    Residents sometimes affix material to the outside of their room doors. To use the door in this manner, follow these guidelines:
    1. Avoid material that a reasonable person might find offensive.
    2. Don’t post material that “attacks,” demeans, or otherwise exploits an individual or a group of individuals….

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Conduct Code: Definitions and Procedures for Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment and Protected Class Discrimination and Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual harassment: Interaction between individuals of the same or opposite sex that is characterized by unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: … (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment. Hostile environment sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education or employment and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile, or offensive.

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  • Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment. Verbal or physical conduct that unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance or creates an intimidating or hostile work or educational environment (See Hostile Environment as defined below).

    Hostile Environment. Unwelcome conduct by an individual(s) against another individual based upon her/his Protected Class that is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education or employment and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive. The determination of whether an environment is “hostile” must be based on all of the circumstances. These circumstances could include the frequency of the conduct, its severity, and whether it is threatening or humiliating. Simple teasing, offhand comments and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not amount to hostile environment harassment.

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  • Patti Adler, CU-Boulder Professor, Will Continue To Teach ‘Deviance’ Class After Lecture Controversy

    January 10, 2014

    by Matt Ferner Popular University of Colorado Boulder sociology professor Patty Adler will resume teaching her “Deviance in U.S. Society” class after university officials raised concern last month over a prostitution lecture she gave — one she has given for more than 20 years without incident. “After more than a month marked by trauma, turmoil, and great emotional distress for my family and myself, I am proud to say that the University of Colorado has backed down from their initial position and is allowing me to return to teach this semester in the course, Deviance in U.S. Society,” Adler said in […]

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  • Two Blind Sociologists and an Elephant

    March 7, 2013

    The easy criticism of a book like Becoming Right is that it falls into the “conservatives in the mist” genre, in which liberal academicians and journalists venture forth into the world of heartland conservatism, Tea Party ferment, or in this case right-wing campus activism only to find their biases confirmed. Some have already accused this book of a similar hackish approach. Yet the label doesn’t quite fit. The thesis here is fairly limited, and the authors, UCSD sociologist Amy Binder and Ph.D. Student Kate Wood, are reasonably fair toward their subjects—though one wonders why they feel the need to put phrases like “politically correct” […]

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  • Judge rejects Ward Churchill’s plea for reinstatement, vacates verdict in his favor

    July 8, 2009

    by Peter Schmidt The Chronicle of Higher Education   A state court judge on Tuesday not only denied Ward Churchill everything he sought in his long-running battle with the University of Colorado system, but also negated the one victory the controversial scholar had won so far: a jury verdict holding that system officials had violated his First Amendment rights by firing him from a job as a tenured ethnic-studies professor in response to statements he had made. Having presided over the four-week trial that led to the jury’s April 2 decision that the university had illegally fired Mr. Churchill for […]

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  • Campus security bills for speakers challenged

    March 29, 2009

    When a UC Berkeley student group invited a speaker known for his hard-line pro-Israel stance, the university feared clashes with Palestinian supporters and billed the group more than $3,000 for police protection. It was a common response by campus officials in a security-conscious era. When a speaker’s controversial topic or history suggests the possibility of a violent reaction, the thinking goes, the sponsoring group should pay for protecting the speaker, the audience and public property. That sounds logical, but it’s also unconstitutional, says the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a conservative-leaning group that defends free speech on campus. Citing […]

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  • Students In Standoff With CU Over Ayers, Churchill Event

    March 3, 2009

    The University of Colorado Boulder student group that is bringing former CU professor Ward Churchill and former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers to campus is locked in a standoff with the university over who will pay thousands of dollars for extra security at the event. Students for True Academic Freedom, which is sponsoring the event, said CU officials are unfairly imposing a $3,000 security fee to try to stop the event from happening. The fee would cover the cost of having campus police at the engagement. “The fees are exorbitant,” said Aaron Smith, an organizer with the group. Smith said […]

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  • Ward Churchill’s attorney: CU fee for Bill Ayers visit

    February 26, 2009

    The attorney representing fired University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill is threatening legal action if the school doesn’t waive a $3,000 fee for student groups hosting an appearance next week by former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers. David Lane, who represents Churchill, said Thursday the fee is exorbitant and an unconstitutional restraint on free speech. The university says the fee is standard for any event requiring security. CU attorney Pat O’Rourke said he’s reviewing Lane’s demand. CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said it’s standard to charge student groups fees to recoup security costs for large events. He said the $3,000 charge […]

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  • Censor’s playground

    February 29, 2008

    by Vincent Carroll Rocky Mountain News   Why can’t universities debate the limits of acceptable speech without someone urging legal limits, too? It happened again this week during protests over publication of an offensive column on Asians in the University of Colorado’s Campus Press. Student government leaders presented Boulder campus Chancellor Bud Peterson with five issues they’d like him to examine – one of which was as outrageous as the column itself. They want the commentary evaluated in light of federal anti-discrimination laws. “Yes, there’s the editor, officer, crouching behind the desk! Cuff her!” With thinking like that in vogue, […]

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  • CU authorizes mental-health check if students threaten violence

    August 1, 2007

    A new policy at the University of Colorado says students or staff who make violent threats could be required to undergo a mental-health screening. The new rule was announced Tuesday. It was drafted after the April 16 massacre at Virginia Tech that left 32 victims and the gunman dead.

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  • CU oks mental health checks after violent threats

    August 1, 2007

    University of Colorado students or staff who make violent threats could be required to undergo a mental-health screening under a new school policy. The new rule, announced Tuesday, was drafted after the April 16 massacre at Virginia Tech that left 32 victims and the gunman dead. University officials also cited the separate arrests of three students at the Boulder campus for threats or implied threats in the days following the Virginia Tech shootings. “The administration felt that there were enough incidents to visit the issues of violence and really get ahead of this,” university spokesman Bronson Hilliard told the Camera […]

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  • CU authorizes mental-health check if students threaten violence

    August 1, 2007

    A new policy at the University of Colorado says students or staff who make violent threats could be required to undergo a mental-health screening. The new rule was announced yesterday. It was drafted after the April 16th massacre at Virginia Tech that left 32 victims and the gunman dead. University officials also cited the separate arrests of 3 students at the Boulder campus for threats or implied threats in the days following the Virginia Tech shootings. The new policy says Boulder campus officials “may refer individuals accused of making threats of violence for an assessment of the likelihood that they […]

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  • CU policy on violence may require mental screenings

    August 1, 2007

    If University of Colorado students or employees make violent threats, they may be required to go through a mental-health screening, according to a newly approved school policy. CU officials on Tuesday notified students by e-mail of new rules to prevent campus violence. The rules come in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre, as well as a subsequent series of crimes and a threat on the Boulder campus. “The administration felt that there were enough incidents to visit the issues of student violence and really get ahead of this,” CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said. The April 16 Virginia Tech massacre—the […]

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  • A pox on both their houses: Ward Churchill and UC-Boulder

    July 30, 2007

    For critics of higher education, few campus controversies have been as illuminating as the ongoing saga of Professor Ward Churchill. His case has uniquely intertwined all of the higher education issues du jour—Academic freedom, plagiarism, affirmative action, liberal bias, degraded campus culture—into one messy cloud of controversy that just will not go away. And now that Churchill has sued his former employer, University of Colorado-Boulder, for defamation, more unflattering facts about standard operating procedure on campus may soon be revealed. A brief recap: Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Churchill, then the tenured chair of the UC-Boulder’s ethnic […]

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  • Ward Churchill and the diversity agenda

    July 30, 2007

    This week, as expected, the University of Colorado regents dismissed Professor Ward Churchill from his tenured position in the Ethnic Studies Department. (A university committee had found that Churchill committed plagiarism and misused sources.) And, as expected, Churchill has filed suit, alleging First Amendment violations.   The move against Churchill—who first attracted attention after describing those who perished (except for the terrorists) in the World Trade Center attack as “Little Eichmanns”—came over the opposition of the ACLU, which charged that the “poisoned atmosphere” of the inquiry into Churchill’s scholarship rendered meaningless the committee’s findings. ACTA president Anne Neal, on the […]

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  • Suit could end in settlement

    July 25, 2007

    When Ward Churchill takes his dismissal case to court, he will have difficulty shifting a jury’s focus away from the academic-misconduct findings in his research, the president of a national watchdog group for free speech on college campuses said Tuesday. But the timing of the University of Colorado’s academic-misconduct investigation into Churchill’s work could be a hole in the school’s defense, said Greg Lukianoff, who heads the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, based in Philadelphia. Churchill—freshly fired from CU—is expected to file a First Amendment lawsuit against the university this morning in Denver District Court. The regents Tuesday evening […]

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  • Ward Churchill fired: What’s next?

    July 25, 2007

    by Greg Lukianoff in The Huffington Post To the surprise of virtually no one, the University of Colorado’s (CU’s) Board of Regents voted to fire controversial professor Ward Churchill late yesterday. The Regents cited the extensive findings of academic misconduct against Churchill as the reason for the dismissal. Anyone following the case, however, will remember that Ward Churchill initially came to national attention because of an article in which he compared the victims of 9/11 to Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann. After a student newspaper at Hamilton College drew attention to that article in 2005, a national uproar ensued, prompting the […]

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  • University of Colorado Board of Regents fires Ward Churchill, who vows to sue

    July 25, 2007

    Nearly six years after Ward Churchill compared some American victims of terrorism to Nazi bureaucrats, the Board of Regents of the University of Colorado voted Tuesday night to fire him. But the controversial ethnic-studies professor said he was “ready to roll” into the next stage of his struggle with the university: a court of law. According to university administrators, it was findings that Mr. Churchill had committed research misconduct—and not the notoriety of Mr. Churchill’s opinions—that fueled the decision. To read the full story, please click here: http://chronicle.com/daily/2007/07/2007072502n.htm

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  • Coaches blow whistle on athlete indiscretions on networking sites

    July 16, 2006

    Before DeMarcus Dobbs plays a game at Georgia, we know this much: He has 271 friends. He was at Whitney’s for a party over Memorial Day weekend. (But he doesn’t drink or smoke.) He broke Jake the Snake’s nose. (But it was Justin’s fault.) He has a girl named Anna who will always love him despite the paint handprint he put on her shirt. And he’d better bring his money next time he sees Bobby “cuz it’s on.” Welcome to the online social networking/self-profiling world of MySpace.com, Facebook.com and dozens of similar Internet sites.   That emerging world has started […]

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  • Speech on Campus After 9/11: Less Free than It Used to Be?

    May 25, 2006

    Universities have traditionally been places where debate and the free exchange of ideas have been welcomed. But after 9/11, that may be changing — as some recent, troubling incidents suggest. In this column, I’ll survey some recent incidents suggesting free speech on campus is in peril, and discuss the extent to which the First Amendment protects student and faculty speech Cracking Down on Student Demonstrators and Controversial Student Speech Recently, students at the University of Miami (a private school, but one with a stated policy of fostering free speech) demonstrated alongside striking maintenance workers to show solidarity. Now, they face […]

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  • Prof Ready to Sue if Fired

    May 18, 2006

    The University of Colorado could fire professor Ward Churchill for plagiarism and fabrication as soon as next month, but the academic misconduct case is likely to linger in the courts for years, legal experts predicted Wednesday. The ethnic-studies professor most likely will take CU to federal court if administrators fire or suspend him without pay as recommended by a committee that examined his writings, his attorney, David Lane, said. Churchill’s lawsuit would accuse the university of retaliating against the tenured professor because of his essay saying some World Trade Center terrorism victims were not innocent and comparing them to a […]

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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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  • Pariahs, Martyrs — and Fighters Back

    October 24, 2005

    At the start of the last school year, activists at DePaul University set up a pair of tables along a student thoroughfare and distributed literature to passers-by. They caught the eye of faculty member Thomas Klocek, who took one of their handouts and read about Israel’s “brutal and murderous occupation” of “Palestine” as well as its “apartheid violence” in the West Bank and Gaza. This was provocative stuff — but nothing out of the ordinary for the two groups behind it all, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and United Muslims Moving Ahead (UMMA). Engaging the students in a discussion […]

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  • Prof’s protest of ‘political litmus test’ raises hackles

    September 10, 2005

    By Linda Seebach Oh, that KC Johnson. He’s always getting into hot water. Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that the administration at Brooklyn College of The City University of New York keeps trying to bring the water to a full rolling boil, hoping he’ll jump out. Well, perhaps he should. He deserves better, and his institution doesn’t deserve to keep him. But his students, who on the evidence are unlikely to encounter many other faculty members who exemplify the academic virtues of free inquiry and principled disagreement, need him.Robert KC Johnson is a tenured […]

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  • The Chill Is Nothing New

    September 9, 2005

    There is a chill on campus, but that’s nothing new. For decades, campus speech has been chilled by speech codes and other attempts to prevent expression that might offend. Some would like to imagine that the excesses of “political correctness” are ancient history, but repression in the name of tolerance hasn’t gone anywhere. Oppressive speech codes are not only still around—they have actually multiplied, even after numerous court decisions declared them unconstitutional. Within the past year, college students have been punished for such things as expressing a religious objection to homosexuality and arguing that corporal punishment may be acceptable. Students […]

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  • Hamilton College Alumni Challenge Official Candidates for Board of Trustees

    July 29, 2005

    Hamilton College alumni received a ballot in the mail last week for the first contested election in 30 years for slots on the upstate New York institution’s Board of Trustees. The rules of the election have drawn criticism from a group of alumni and two national organizations involved in academic-freedom issues. The groups argue that the college is trying to stifle the campaigns of four alumni who successfully petitioned to appear on the ballot alongside three candidates who were nominated by the college’s Alumni Council. The campaigns of three of the petition candidates grew out of their involvement with Hamilton […]

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  • Rawlins wrong on free speech

    July 18, 2005

    V. Lane Rawlins has abetted censorship. Inadvertently, perhaps, but that’s what it was. In an attempt to placate protesters, the Washington State University president reiterated his support for faculty and students who shouted their objections this spring during the final performance of student Chris Lee’s “intentionally offensive” play, “Passion of the Musical.” In a followup letter to Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Rawlins said the demonstrators had “exercised their rights of free speech in a very responsible manner.” Except that the “speech” they were exercising was nothing but a high-decibel barrage to drown out the message coming from the […]

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  • DePaul Dispute Has Blogs Buzzing

    May 14, 2005

    CHICAGO – A longtime DePaul University instructor who argued with pro-Palestinian students at a campus activities fair last fall no longer works for the school. That much is not in dispute. But why Thomas Klocek lost his job while other professors under fire for their statements kept theirs has created a buzz among conservative-leaning Internet blogs about free speech rights at campuses across the country. John Ruberry, who writes the Marathon Pundit blog, started following the case after Klocek staged a news conference and appeared with his mouth taped shut. “There seems to be kind of a double standard as […]

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  • On campus, students fight to be right

    May 1, 2005

    SARATOGA SPRINGS — Last month at Skidmore College, a group of students planned a “Coming Out Day.” The students weren’t celebrating their sexuality, but their conservativeness. They belonged to the Young Republican Assembly. While the group wound up changing the name of the event because some students took offense, their decision to tag such a right-wing event with a moniker often associated with the left was no coincidence. The conservative movement on college campuses today is characterized by its adoption of concepts that the left has relied on for years. Now, when young Republicans speak out, they call for tolerance, […]

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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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  • Our nutty professor beats theirs

    April 26, 2005

    As perhaps the leading defender of state pride, I wish to bring your attention to yet another area in which New Jersey leads the nation: nutty professors. Much has been made in the national media lately of a Colorado professor named Ward Churchill who made some loony remarks about the victims of the 9/11 attacks. But I am prepared to argue that we have here in our midst a professor who makes Churchill look sane by comparison. His name is Grover Furr and he teaches at Montclair State University. What does he teach? English literature, of course. It always seems […]

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  • Inquiring Minds

    April 15, 2005

    By John Gravois at The Chronicle of Higher Education One morning a few weeks back, David A. Sandoval was sitting in his office at Colorado State University at Pueblo and speaking to a local reporter on the telephone. The reporter had called to get the Chicano-studies professor’s opinion on Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado at Boulder professor who had recently tripped the switch of national outrage by calling the victims of the World Trade Center bombings “little Eichmanns.” In the firebrand’s defense, Mr. Sandoval offered the standard-issue rhetoric of academic freedom: Mr. Churchill’s words were hurtful and terrible, yes, but […]

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  • Academic freedom ever important

    April 11, 2005

    Besides really irritating a lot of people, University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill’s essay on the causes of the World Trade Center attacks has put a media spotlight on the issue of freedom of expression on college campuses. This in itself is a very good thing. Whatever one’s opinion of the content of Churchill’s essay (and some of the logic does sound highly suspect to me), he was well within his rights to release a controversial analysis of the attacks into the academic community. This ability to participate in an unrestricted exchange of ideas is called academic freedom, and it […]

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  • Transparency or a ‘Selig Strategy’?

    April 1, 2005

    As Commissioner Bud Selig and several prominent players attempted to evade subpoenas for recent House of Representatives hearings on baseball’s steroid problem, Rep. Henry Waxman observed, “What strikes me is that baseball doesn’t want to investigate it and they don’t want us to investigate it.” The California congressman summed up baseball’s policy as “don’t know, don’t tell.” This “Selig Strategy” could also describe the academy’s response to indications that the nation’s humanities and social sciences departments suffer from a lack of intellectual and programmatic diversity. Calls for outside inquiries have been denounced as violations of academic freedom, while few if […]

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  • 2005 Campus Outrage Awards

    April 1, 2005

    Collegiate Network Duke spends over $50,000 on a tactical training session for activists dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel, while a graduate student at LeMoyne College is expelled for writing that light spanking has a legitimate role in classroom discipline. A UNLV professor is engulfed in a whirlwind of controversy after making a remark about the financial planning habits of homosexuals, while a student at Occidental College is convicted of sexually harassing the whole school over the radio. Ward Churchill is defended by the academic community for declaring that victims of the World Trade Center bombing deserved […]

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  • Churchill Wars Continue

    March 28, 2005

    Both Ward Churchill and one of his legislative critics compared the University of Colorado to an asylum this weekend — showing that the debate over the controversial professor has not been put to rest by a university review released Thursday. Churchill says that the new investigation requested by the review — this time an inquiry into whether he engaged in plagiarism and other forms of research misconduct — is unfair. In a speech in San Francisco Friday night, he said that the new investigation at Colorado, which will examine among other things his claims of being an American Indian, was […]

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  • Free speech on campus

    March 24, 2005

    LET’S DISPENSE with some tangents right off. It’s a bad idea for teachers to spank students. There’s evidence that women are not innately handicapped when it comes to math and science. And it’s offensive hyperbole to cast the World Trade Center victims of the 9/11 attacks as “little Eichmanns.” But that aside, we don’t have any problems with a student writing a school paper supporting corporal punishment, a university president raising the issue of possible gender differences, and a professor espousing radical ideas. In fact, our society and our universities are better off if faculty and students are allowed to […]

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  • Fighting Words 101

    March 14, 2005

    Colorado legislator Bob Hagedorn admits that when he proposed Senate Bill 85 in December, he was thinking of himself. In the wake of last fall’s polarizing race for the White House, Hagedorn, a Democrat who is also a political-science professor at Metropolitan State College in Denver, grew more and more worried about saying the wrong thing as his students debated contentious issues like George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind initiative and the teaching of creationism in schools. Earlier in the year, students had filed bias complaints against a colleague who had criticized Republicans. “I’m thinking ‘My God, we don’t […]

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  • Insults and the Constitution

    March 7, 2005

    Insult is powerful. Insult begets both rage and humor, and often at the same time. Consider the dialogue in “Romance,” a new play by David Mamet in New York. A cast of six characters, all of themmen, some gay and at least one of them Jewish, goesafter each other. A Protestant defense lawyer and the Jew he’s in court to defend hate eachother. “You people can’t order a cheese sandwich without mentioning the Holocaust,” shouts the lawyer. “I hired a goy lawyer,” responds his client. “It’s like going to a straight hairdresser.” The satire aims for humor, but it’s humor […]

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  • Academic Freedom For Some

    March 4, 2005

    When it comes to the basic protections of due process and academic freedom, it often appears that students and professors live in two worlds – one world for those who follow the current academic political orthodoxy and another for those who dissent.  Take for example, two untenured professors at major universities, Joseph Massad of Columbia and Thomas Klocek of Depaul. Many FrontPage readers are undoubtedly familiar with Professor Massad.  Extensively discussed in the documentary “Columbia Unbecoming” and in national media reports, Professor Massad has been quoted as comparing Israelis to Nazis and Prime Minister Sharon’s cultural views to those of […]

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  • Free Speech Debate Spurs Lots of Words

    February 27, 2005

    When Hamilton College canceled a Colorado professor’s appearance this month because of security concerns, it was only the latest in a recent string of free speech controversies at local campuses. Hamilton, the State University College at Oswego, Wells College and LeMoyne College have all become embroiled in the last year or so in what people should be allowed to say and when. It’s not just a local issue, said David French, president of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in Philadelphia (FIRE). “The specific problems you’re running into are being replicated on a mass scale across the country,” French said. […]

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  • Prevention 101

    February 24, 2005

    University of Colorado Ethnic Studies professor Ward Churchill deserves to be excoriated and shunned. Churchill, as widely reported, likened Americans killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11 to “little Eichmanns.” At the same time he celebrated the “gallant sacrifice” of those terrorist “combat teams” who had annihilated them. Elsewhere, Churchill declared that the United States should be put “out of existence”; “it may be,” he also stated, “that more 9/11′s are necessary.” Both public officials and private citizens should exercise their right to free expression by scathingly criticizing such odious speech.   But — barring evidence of violations such […]

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  • Warding off attack

    February 18, 2005

    IT WOULD BE tempting to pity Ward Churchill, if he were a more sympathetic character. It seems that whenever he opens his mouth these days, someone gets upset. Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, became engulfed in national controversy in early January, when an essay he wrote three years ago came to light. In the essay, he compared victims of the September 11 attacks to Nazi functionaries who were appropriate targets for retaliatory violence. Since then, there have been cries from politicians (including Colorado’s governor), academics, and pundits (led by Fox News’s Bill […]

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  • Protecting Free Speech Means Rising Above Professor’s Words

    February 15, 2005

    The following text is excerpted from a letter by Greg Lukianoff, director of legal and public advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, to University of Colorado at Boulder Interim Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. Before discussing the position of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on the recent controversy involving University of Colorado at Boulder professor Ward Churchill, I would like to say that FIRE is fully aware of the difficulties the university faces. FIRE has not seen a controversy involving political speech on campus provoke such passionate and often angry public response since the controversies that […]

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  • Churchill Affair: A Matter of Hypocrisy

    February 15, 2005

    As the sordid controversy of University of Colorado (UC) professor Ward Churchill plays itself out, what is perhaps the most damaging aspect of it has largely escaped notice: campuses’ double standard in First Amendment matters. Churchill, as widely reported, compared the World Trade Center victims on 9/11 to Nazis and praised their murderers as “gallant…combat teams.” In the ensuing national uproar, Hamilton College in New York, which had invited Churchill to speak, decided to cancel the event, stating it had received threats of violence against Churchill and college officers. The college’s president, Joan Hinde Stewart, covered her back with bogus […]

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  • Open discussion must be protected

    February 14, 2005

    Fury over University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill’s inflammatory and crude comments branding victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as “little Eichmanns” is well justified.  But Colorado now stands at a crossroads where it must decide whether to indulge in an emotional overreaction that sacrifices academic freedom or to rediscover the true meaning of the adage attributed to Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Indeed, “disapprove” seems far too modest a term to apply to Churchill’s ranting. In his effort to make a point about what he […]

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  • Let’s hear all voices

    February 10, 2005

    What a relief that Assumption University refused to be intimidated by religious zealots. If the venerable Catholic institution at the University of Windsor had buckled under pressure from anti-abortion activists and rescinded its invitation to Stephen Lewis to speak Sunday, it would have been a body blow to free expression and to the U of W’s already shaky credibility. Lewis, arguably the finest orator Canada has produced in half a century, is that rarest of individuals, a prominent ex-politician who chose service to humanity over money-grubbing self-aggrandizement. While his peers scrambled to join corporate boards, feed at the public trough […]

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  • No Myth: Conservatives in Academia Suffer Discrimination

    October 15, 2004

    In a recent Sun column, (“Reclaim Your Victimhood,” Sept. 24), Danny Pearlstein, skeptical of the notion that conservatives in academia suffer discrimination, challenged conservatives “to send me concrete instances” of such. As the French would say, “chiche!” — dare accepted. Pearlstein’s challenge was, at least from his perspective, ill-timed. For within 48 hours came a glaring example of anti-conservative discrimination at Cornell, courtesy of the Student Assembly(SA): The SA’s blatantly political attempt to defund The Cornell American, one of the very few conservative student groups on campus. The attempted defunding was done in reliance on a newly-adopted, ex post facto […]

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  • The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, and the Pasadena Star-News on FIRE

    March 3, 2004

    Universities still do not comprehend that their contempt for free speech places them far, far outside of the mainstream of American public opinion. In particular, they seem continually surprised that the media, who live or die by the Bill of Rights, understand freedom of expression full well. The March 1 lead editorial of The Philadelphia Inquirer, an editorial in today’s USA Today, and yet another editorial in the Pasadena Star-News offer a compelling textbook education, if academic administrators are willing to listen, in the relationship of higher education and freedom of speech.

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  • The intimidating atmosphere for free speech on campus

    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 […]

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  • A Big Year for Campus Censorship

    July 30, 2014

    Yesterday, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff and Senior Vice President Robert Shibley kicked off Minding the Campus’s series on “the year that was” in higher education by writing about some of the past academic year’s biggest trends in censorship.

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  • This Is What the Chilling Effect Looks Like: Acclaimed Classroom Skit at U. of Colorado Canceled

    April 9, 2014

    Back in January, FIRE shared the good news that the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) would allow Professor Patti Adler to continue teaching her long-running and popular “Deviance in U.S. Society” class after initially claiming that a lecture on prostitution could be seen as “harassing.” During that lecture, teaching assistants volunteered to play the part of prostitutes and other characters, answering questions and speaking about their lives. Unfortunately, Adler says that since the controversy, teaching assistants have been reluctant to participate, forcing her to cancel the presentation that she had been teaching without problems for years. With Adler’s plans […]

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  • CU-Boulder Community Responds to ‘Offensive’ Blog Post by Professor

    April 7, 2014

    Last March, the University of Colorado-Boulder appointed Steven Hayward as its first Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy. Now, some of Hayward’s recent public statements are causing community members to debate whether the school should take action against him.

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  • Prof Returns to Class after CU ‘Harassment’ Claim Fails

    January 10, 2014

    BOULDER, Colo., January 10, 2014—The University of Colorado (CU) has backed down from last month’s cancellation of Professor Patti Adler’s popular and long-running “Deviance in U.S. Society” class after claiming that a lecture on prostitution that involved voluntary student participation could be seen as “harassing.” The rowback comes only days after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, and the Student Press Law Center issued a public statement to the university warning of the cancellation’s consequences for academic freedom. Adler will teach the course again this spring. “While we’re glad that Professor Adler will return […]

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  • FIRE, NCAC, ACLU-CO, and SPLC Urge CU-Boulder to Uphold Academic Freedom

    January 3, 2014

    Yesterday FIRE, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU-CO), and the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) released a statement urging the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder) to reinstate Professor Patricia Adler’s course on “Deviance in U.S. Society” and to publicly reaffirm the boundaries between protected classroom discussion and sexual harassment. Last month, Adler was allegedly given the choice between resigning or discontinuing the “Deviance” course and was told that even if she stayed, she could be fired if anyone filed a complaint against her. As justification for this threat, Provost Russell Moore said that Adler’s teaching methods—particularly […]

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  • U. of Colorado Faculty Approve Deviance Course, But Future Remains Uncertain

    December 31, 2013

    Earlier this month, University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder) Professor Patricia Adler alleged that she was given a choice between resigning or discontinuing her long-running and popular “Deviance in U.S. Society” course. Administrators raised concerns about a presentation focusing on prostitution in which teaching assistants volunteered to role-play as prostitutes while answering questions for the class, but the school’s asserted reasons for investigating the class shifted as professors and those concerned about academic freedom debunked each one in turn. University spokesman Mark K. Miller finally declared that the course might be allowed to continue if a panel of faculty members approved it. On Sunday […]

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  • U. of Colorado Continues to Change Reasons for Investigating Deviance Course

    December 19, 2013

    Since University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder) Professor Patricia Adler announced last week that she had chosen to leave the school rather than risk being disciplined for teaching her popular “Deviance in U.S. Society” course, CU-Boulder has asserted a handful of different claims about why Adler’s presentation on prostitution was improper. Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik reviewed CU-Boulder’s various claims and backpedaling: First, Colorado said that the university was concerned that the activity required approval by an Institutional Review Board. After many professors (and Colorado’s IRB) noted that institutional review boards don’t review classroom activities, Colorado acknowledged that there was no IRB issue, and said […]

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  • Colorado Prof Forced to Resign over Class Presentation on Prostitution

    December 16, 2013

    Last week, University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder) Professor Patricia Adler announced she would be leaving the school after she was given a choice between resigning or discontinuing her long-running “Deviance in U.S. Society” course, because of a presentation on prostitution that many students identified as a high point of the course for many years running. Inside Higher Ed describes the presentation: [Adler] seeks volunteers from among assistant teaching assistants … to dress up as various kinds of prostitutes … . They work with Adler on scripts in which they describe their lives as these types of prostitutes. During the lecture, Adler talks with them […]

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  • Supreme Court Declines to Hear Ward Churchill Case

    April 5, 2013

    Regular Torch readers may be familiar with FIRE’s previous coverage of the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) Board of Regents’ decision to fire then-tenured professor Ward Churchill and the subsequent legal battle. This fight has now ended, as the Colorado Supreme Court ruled against him in September 2012 and the Supreme Court of the United States has declined to hear his appeal. As FIRE reported in 2005, Churchill lost his position after a CU faculty panel determined that he had engaged in “plagiarism, misuse of others’ work, falsification and fabrication of authority.” The investigation, though, had been initiated amidst a controversy […]

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  • Kaminer: “The End of Free Speech at University of Colorado?

    September 18, 2012

    Writing for The Atlantic today, Wendy Kaminer—lawyer, author, civil libertarian, and member of FIRE’s Board of Advisers—poses an important question: Does the Colorado State Supreme Court’s disappointing decision to deny former University of Colorado tenured Professor Ward Churchill’s appeal by granting “absolute immunity” to the Colorado Board of Regents signal “The End of Free Speech at University of Colorado?” Professor Churchill has maintained—and a jury agreed—that the University’s justification for firing him was pretextual and that the real reason he was fired was for constitutionally protected speech in the form of statements he made about the victims of the attacks […]

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  • Churchill Loses in Colorado High Court; Next Stop, Supreme Court?

    September 12, 2012

    On Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s opinion (PDF) disposing of former University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) professor Ward Churchill’s claims against CU, reports The Denver Post. FIRE has closely monitored Churchill’s case for years. In 2005, FIRE wrote a letter to CU concerning Churchill’s firing and issued an analysis of the university’s report.   The Colorado Supreme Court held the following: First, we hold that the Regents’ decision to terminate Churchill’s employment was a quasi-judicial action functionally comparable to a judicial process. Hence, the Regents are entitled to absolute immunity concerning their decision to terminate […]

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  • Colorado Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Ward Churchill Case Thursday

    June 6, 2012

    The Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in former University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Ward Churchill’s First Amendment lawsuit against the university’s Board of Regents on Thursday. Longmont Times-Call reporter Mitchell Byars writes:  The Colorado Supreme Court announced in 2011 that it would hear Churchill’s appeal, including a key argument about the quasi-judicial immunity doctrine that Churchill and his attorneys have challenged, arguing it threatens academic freedom and tenure at universities.  In addition to reviewing whether granting CU’s Board of Regents quasi-judicial immunity comports with federal law, the Supreme Court will consider whether CU violated Churchill’s First Amendment […]

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  • Colorado Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Churchill Case

    January 23, 2012

    FIRE has been covering the case of Ward Churchill for some time now. As readers may recall, Professor Churchill lost his position at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2007 after the Board of Regents removed him for alleged research misconduct. According to Churchill, the grounds for the dismissal were pretextual: He maintains he was fired because of comments he made several years earlier in an article about the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Churchill sued the University’s Board of Regents in Colorado state court for both investigating him for his comments and dismissing him for pretextual reasons, […]

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  • Evaluating the Impact of Colorado Appellate Court’s Rejection of Ward Churchill’s Appeal

    December 6, 2010

    Last week, Inside Higher Ed‘s Scott Jaschik examined the Colorado Court of Appeals’ recent rejection of former University of Colorado – Boulder Professor Ward Churchill’s appeal of a state district court judge’s 2009 ruling that the University of Colorado Board of Regents enjoyed “quasi-judicial immunity” after firing Churchill due to alleged research misconduct. Churchill, whose appeal was supported by the American Association of University Professors, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Coalition Against Censorship, has vowed to appeal the latest decision.

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  • Rights in the News: FIRE Keeps Up The Fight While Taking Message to Vegas and D.C.

    July 10, 2009

    FIRE has been busy taking its message to the streets this week, with Luke and I spending Wednesday signing up new CFN members at this year’s Campus Progress Conference in Washington, D.C., and Greg, Brandon, Alisha, and Adam jetting off to sunny Las Vegas for the annual FreedomFest Conference. Fortunately, with FIRE a bit short on manpower for much of the week, our industrious summer interns have kept the ball rolling. Notably, Noah Baron put his internship to good use in writing for the blog of the Columbia Spectator, calling attention to Columbia University’s “truly bizarre and disturbing” speech codes. […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of Speech at University of Arizona: Refund of Security Fee for Controversial Speaker

    July 6, 2009

    Today’s press release announces yet another FIRE victory on behalf of a student group unfairly burdened with the cost of bringing controversial speakers to campus. Late last week, FIRE learned that the University of Arizona was reversing its decision to charge the College Republicans $384.72 in extra security fees for an event featuring author and conservative activist David Horowitz. As FIRE has reminded America’s universities time and again throughout our ten-year existence, charging speakers or their student hosts for extra security fees solely because they may provoke hostile reactions from audience members affixes a price tag to protected speech and […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of Speech at University of Colorado at Boulder: University Lifts Financial Burden on Students Hosting Controversial Speakers Ward Churchill and William Ayers

    April 20, 2009

    Today’s press release announces that FIRE has persuaded yet another public college to respect the First Amendment when it comes to charging high security fees for controversial speakers. In each case, the university charged additional fees for security because of the controversial nature of the speaker’s ideas. Charging every speaker (or the speaker’s hosts) the same amount for security is fine-such as charging all after-hours events for an after-hours security guard. But charging some speakers more than others for security, simply because the audience might feel offended and get unruly, is prohibited by the First Amendment. Two years ago it […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of Speech at University of Colorado at Boulder: University Lifts Financial Burden on Students Hosting Controversial Speakers Ward Churchill and William Ayers

    April 20, 2009

    BOULDER, Colo., April 20, 2009—The University of Colorado at Boulder has reversed a threat to charge excessively high security fees for a controversial event that included speeches by Ward Churchill and William Ayers. After the university threatened to bill the organizers more than $2,000 for security, the organizers of the event came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “CU-Boulder should be commended for respecting freedom of speech,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “CU-Boulder joins a growing list of public universities that now understand that controversial speech may not be burdened simply because it is contentious […]

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  • Four FIRE Cases on Security Fees Top Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle

    March 31, 2009

    Page A-1 of Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle features four of FIRE’s cases on unacceptably high security fees for controversial speakers. In each case, the potential reaction of the audience was used to assess security fees and charge them to the host. But as the Supreme Court wrote in Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992), “Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob.” In the article, Bob Egelko points out that both Berkeley and UCLA, two of the three top-ranked schools in U.S. News & World Report, […]

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  • Rights in the News: FIRE Stands up for Virginia Tech Faculty

    March 27, 2009

    As you may have read in The Torch this week, FIRE is leading the charge against requirements at Virginia Tech that tie tenure and promotion to a commitment to “diversity”—requirements that amount to a political loyalty oath for faculty members. Such requirements, as FIRE and others have written, are a serious threat to academic freedom and freedom of conscience. In addition to Adam’s coverage of FIRE’s efforts at Virginia Tech, Robin Wilson of The Chronicle of Higher Education has written on the growing criticism directed at the guidelines (subscription required). Ashley Thorne at the National Association of Scholars notes FIRE’s […]

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  • Controversial Speakers Face Huge Security Fees at Berkeley and Colorado

    March 17, 2009

    Today’s press release calls upon the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Colorado at Boulder to meet their constitutional responsibility not to burden controversial speakers or ideas on campus. The principle is pretty clear: whether the speaker is controversial, popular, or unremarkable, similar security fees should be assessed for similar events. All too often, we have seen the assessment of very high “security costs” as a pretext for punishing or even excluding unpopular or controversial speakers. The truth is that if any extra security is deemed necessary because of a potentially hostile audience, it is the responsibility […]

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  • Controversial Speakers Face Huge Security Fees at Berkeley and Colorado

    March 17, 2009

    BERKELEY, Calif., and BOULDER, Colo., March 17, 2009—Open discussion of Israeli-Palestinian issues can now resume unburdened at the University of California at Berkeley, which has slashed a “security fee” that would have kept a controversial speaker off campus. Meanwhile, students at the University of Colorado at Boulder are nervously awaiting a promised $2,200 security bill for a speech by controversial professors William Ayers and Ward Churchill. Students at both universities have turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “Charging for extra security because of a potentially hostile audience grants the most disruptive or violent hecklers […]

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  • How Much Does It Cost to Fire a Professor?

    August 10, 2007

    In the case of Ward Churchill, the answer would be $352,000. The University of Colorado disclosed yesterday the total cost for all the investigations and hearings leading up to the Board of Regents dismissing Ward Churchill as a professor. This amount is only expected to increase because it doesn’t include legal fees that will be associated with Churchill’s lawsuit against the university, which is currently pending in state court. In 2005, FIRE released an analysis of the situation and FIRE President Greg Lukianoff recently published a piece concerning the next legal steps in this story. Stay tuned to The Torch […]

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  • Problems with University of Colorado’s New ‘Campus Violence Policy’

    August 6, 2007

    The University of Colorado (CU) recently approved a new “Campus Violence Policy” that states that if CU students or employees make violent threats, they may be required to go through a mental health screening. The policy, in relevant part, states, “UCB may refer individuals accused of making threats of violence for an assessment of the likelihood that they will act on a threat of violence.” (Emphasis added.) In an article in The Daily Camera in Boulder, CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard noted that the university administration felt there had been enough incidents of violence on campus to “really get ahead of this” […]

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  • FIRE in the News for July

    August 1, 2007

    The lazy days of summer must have passed us over at FIRE, for one look at our media coverage for July reveals just how busy we’ve been. The latest effort in FIRE’s Speech Codes Litigation Project, a lawsuit filed against San Francisco State University, was the subject of a syndicated Associated Press article, a news brief on Special Report with Brit Hume on FOXNews.com, and our last Campus Alert column in the New York Post before we took a summer break. Reason Online and The Chronicle of Higher Education also covered the SFSU lawsuit in nationally circulated pieces. The second […]

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  • FIRE Co-Founder on Ward Churchill’s Firing

    July 30, 2007

    Check out FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate’s post ‘A Pox On Both Their Houses: Ward Churchill and UC-Boulder’ on his Boston Phoenix-sponsored blog Free for All.

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  • FIRE in the Media for Colorado Cases

    July 27, 2007

    Our recent involvement in two major cases in Colorado has caught the attention of local and national media. After Greg’s commentary on the Ward Churchill case appeared on The Torch, it was picked up by the widely read Huffington Post blog. He also expressed his expectations for the case in a story in the Daily Camera in Boulder. Meanwhile, our victory at Colorado State University—where FIRE worked with student activists to change three formerly unconstitutional speech codes—was featured in a national news brief from the First Amendment Center. In Colorado, The Fort Collins Coloradoan, the Colorado Springs Gazette, and The […]

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  • FIRE Discussing Ward Churchill Case Tonight on the Radio

    July 25, 2007

    Torch readers can hear more about FIRE’s stance on the Ward Churchill case tonight at 9:05 p.m. Eastern, when FIRE President Greg Lukianoff appears on The World Tonight with Ron Breakenridge to discuss what the controversy could mean for academic freedom on campus. Click here to listen online.

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  • Churchill’s Lawyer Files Suit

    July 25, 2007

    In yet another twist in this quickly developing story, Ward Churchill’s attorney, David Lane, filed suit this morning in Denver District Court contesting Churchill’s firing. The lawsuit was filed electronically as an amendment to an already pending case that was filed sometime last year against the University of Colorado. A copy of Churchill’s lawsuit can be found here (pdf). Make sure to check out Greg’s analysis on the situation and stay tuned for further developments.

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  • Ward Churchill Fired: What’s Next?

    July 25, 2007

    To the surprise of virtually no one, the University of Colorado’s (CU’s) Board of Regents voted to fire controversial professor Ward Churchill late yesterday. The Regents cited the extensive findings of academic misconduct against Churchill as the reason for the dismissal. Anyone following the case, however, will remember that Ward Churchill initially came to national attention because of an article in which he compared the victims of 9/11 to Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann. After a student newspaper at Hamilton College drew attention to that article in 2005, a national uproar ensued, prompting the university to announce an investigation to determine […]

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  • Ward Churchill Fired

    July 25, 2007

    Last night, the University of Colorado Board of Regents voted 8-1 to fire controversial professor Ward Churchill for academic misconduct. This story has received widespread coverage including articles in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required), Inside Higher Ed, the Denver Post, and The New York Times. According to at least one news report, Ward Churchill’s lawyer has promised to respond to the firing by filing a lawsuit in Denver District Court as early as this morning challenging the decision on constitutional grounds. Make sure to check back later today for analysis of the Churchill firing from FIRE’s President Greg […]

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  • University of Colorado Fires Ward Churchill

    July 25, 2007

    Last night the University of Colorado Board of Regents voted to fire professor Ward Churchill on the grounds of “serious, repeated, and deliberate research misconduct.” This vote came more than two years after the university investigated Churchill for making controversial public statements, including a reference to the victims of the World Trade Center attacks as “little Eichmanns.” FIRE released an analysis of the situation in 2005, determining that Churchill’s statements are protected and that the university’s initial investigation was unconstitutional. FIRE further cautioned that while the university’s investigation of Churchill’s research misconduct must not be swayed by anger over the […]

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  • Ward Churchill Decision Today

    July 24, 2007

    The University of Colorado Board of Regents will be deciding sometime today if controversial professor Ward Churchill will be fired. Churchill first came under fire because he referred to some victims of September 11th as “little Eichmanns,” but was later investigated for supposed research misconduct and plagiarism. Back in 2005, when the controversy originally erupted, FIRE defended Churchill’s free speech rights and issued a comprehensive analysis of the situation. In that analysis we also addressed the suggestion that the academic misconduct charges should be dropped because the initial investigation improperly targeted his opinions: FIRE cannot, however, agree with those who […]

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  • Ward Churchill to Be Fired

    June 27, 2006

    As those who have been keeping up with his case almost certainly know, the University of Colorado has formally announced its intent to dismiss Professor Ward Churchill. As Inside Higher Education reports: The interim chancellor at Boulder on Monday issued a “notice of intent to dismiss” the controversial professor, citing findings of serious and repeated research misconduct. Churchill still has appeal rights—and has 10 days to take his case to a faculty review committee. After any appeal, a final decision rests with the president of the University of Colorado System and the Board of Regents. And Churchill has vowed to […]

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  • Colorado Releases Report on Churchill Academic Misconduct Charges

    May 17, 2006

    The University of Colorado has released its report on the academic misconduct charges leveled against ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill, and it is a whopper at 124 pages. In the report, a panel of scholars concluded that Churchill had engaged in some serious academic misconduct such as plagiarism. Inside Higher Ed has a fairly comprehensive treatment of the report that’s worth reading.   One thing that is worth noting is that both the report’s authors as well as outside scholars reported serious reservations about the fact that these charges, many of them fairly old, were not even investigated until the […]

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  • FIRE’s Work Lauded in Newspapers Nationwide

    December 12, 2005

    It’s been a good couple of days for Justice Brandeis’ maxim that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Thanks to articles in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, news of FIRE’s efforts to disinfect the swamps of repression currently passing for American universities is reaching an ever-increasing number of people.   On Sunday, The New York Times covered our recent victory at William Paterson University. (Read it at the Times website if you are a TimesSelect subscriber.) The article by Peter Applebome ran on the front page of the Metro section and thoroughly denounced […]

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  • Is Hamilton the Next Dartmouth?

    July 11, 2005

    In the last twelve months, New York’s Hamilton College has not exactly covered itself in glory. First, it made national news after it hired Susan Rosenberg, a convicted terrorist, to teach a course entitled “Resistance Memoirs: Writing, Identity, and Change.” Then it became the epicenter of the Ward Churchill controversy when his speech at the college was first scheduled then canceled after the college became concerned about alleged “threats.” To those on the right, Hamilton (particularly its Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society, and Culture, the campus entity responsible for hiring Rosenberg and initially inviting Churchill) has become […]

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  • The Churchill Files

    June 6, 2005

    Denver’s Rocky Mountain News is running a multi-part series investigating Ward Churchill’s academic and ethnic background. The News is attempting to answer questions related to alleged plagiarism, copyright violations, shoddy scholarship, and resume fraud. It is still too early in the series to fully and fairly evaluate the evidence presented, but it should be noted that—as a practical matter—Colorado must have airtight evidence of at least one of the more serious violations before it can take formal action against Churchill. Speaking as a former trial lawyer, I can tell you that discipline based on a shaky plagiarism case, for example, […]

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  • K. C. Johnson Discusses FIRE and the Ward Churchill Affair

    March 31, 2005

    My friend K. C. Johnson, a professor at Brooklyn College, has posted an interesting discussion of our analysis of the University of Colorado’s report on Ward Churchill: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has issued an analysis of the University of Colorado’s Report on Conclusion of Preliminary Review in the Matter of Professor Ward Churchill. As always, FIRE is right on target. Thanks for the props, K. C.! He goes on to analyze the remaining issues in the Churchill case and to discuss legislation in Florida that he finds troubling. It’s a blog post well worth the read.

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  • More ‘Mallard Fillmore’

    March 30, 2005

    For the third day in a row, Mallard Fillmore focuses on the problem of campus speech codes. In recent months, as the Larry Summers, Ward Churchill, and Columbia MEALAC department controversies have dominated the news, I think we are beginning to reach a “tipping point” of public awareness on the problems on our campuses. With the release of a new study demonstrating the overwhelming ideological dominance of the left in university faculties, there is little question that Americans will increasingly set their sights on reforming the Shadow University. As we have often said, FIRE’s goal is to create a true […]

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  • FIRE Issues Analysis of Churchill Report

    March 25, 2005

    FIRE has issued a comprehensive analysis of the Colorado Board of Regents’ report on Ward Churchill. The bottom line is that Colorado’s improper investigation has reached the substantively correct result. FIRE’s conclusions: First, it is important to note that the Board of Regents’ investigation was flawed from the outset. According to the Board of Regents, the original purpose of its investigation was to answer two questions: “(1) Does Professor Churchill’s conduct, including his speech, provide any grounds for dismissal for cause, as described in the Regents’ Laws? And (2) if so, is this conduct or speech protected by the First […]

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  • Colorado Announces Results of Churchill Investigation

    March 25, 2005

    Check out the article “U. of Colorado Will Investigate Allegations of Misconduct Against Controversial Professor”  (subscription required) in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education: Administrators at the University of Colorado at Boulder have affirmed that the First Amendment protects statements made by Ward Churchill, the ethnic-studies professor who likened victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks to “little Eichmanns.” But a seven-week review of the professor’s work, they said, turned up allegations of research misconduct that should be investigated by a faculty committee and could lead to disciplinary action, including his dismissal. FIRE started that Churchill’s speech was protected in our February […]

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  • Silence in the Unfair “Marketplace

    March 25, 2005

    As free speech advocates, sometimes we forget that silence is also a form of speech that people engage in all the time.  We have a right to express an opinion and we also have the right to refrain from doing so.  What is key here is that a decision to exercise either right should stem from having free will and the opportunity to choose.  True freedom of choice and equal opportunity to exercise that freedom, however, comes from having the essential information about and awareness of the freedoms and limits established by the law of the land and the politics […]

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  • FIRE Issues Analysis of Churchill Report

    March 25, 2005

    On March 24, 2005, the University of Colorado Board of Regents released its “Report on Conclusion of Preliminary Review in the Matter of Professor Ward Churchill.” This report states that no action should be taken against Professor Churchill on the basis of even his most controversial public statements. The report also states, however, that sufficient evidence exists of “plagiarism, misuse of others’ work, falsification and fabrication of authority” to refer such allegations to the University of Colorado at Boulder Standing Committee on Research Misconduct. Additionally, the report also refers to the Standing Committee the question of whether Churchill “committed research […]

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  • A No-Confidence Vote in Academia?

    March 16, 2005

    In the past few weeks, more scrutiny has been paid to the direction of higher education than perhaps ever before. Driven by the twin pillars of the Ward Churchill affair and the Larry Summers controversy, the American press and public are increasingly taking a look at the state of academia—and they don’t like what they see. A vast number of factors are coming together to prompt people to ask the question “What’s wrong with our colleges?” Just off the top of my head, I can think of a number of contributing factors: attention because of the Churchill and Summers stories, […]

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  • Ward Churchill’s Counter Punch

    March 9, 2005

    Ward Churchill published an article entitled “Conning the Public: Who’s the Terrorist?” in CounterPunch magazine today, again defending himself from what he believes are lies and distortions: First, Dan Caplis, Craig Silverman and numerous other right-wing media spinmeisters asserted that I “advocated” terrorist attacks on the United States in my Op-Ed piece of Sept. 12, 2001. Even a casual reading of that piece, as well as the 300-page book On the Justice of Roosting Chickens in which I more fully explicated and documented my argument, reveals that I did not advocate such attacks. Rather, I pointed out that they were […]

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  • University of Colorado President Resigns

    March 7, 2005

    The president of the University of Colorado has resigned. While she indicates that she will stay on board for the conclusion of the Ward Churchill matter, it is quite obvious that the controversy surrounding the professor is a major contributing factor to her decision to resign. Fortunately, the president recently indicated that any action taken against Ward Churchill will not be based on his protected expression.

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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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  • Williams: Friend, Not Foe?

    March 4, 2005

    I am also adding to David’s and Greg’s posts on Patricia Williams’ article “Power and the Word” in The Nation. David and Greg thoroughly defended FIRE from Williams’ understanding of our work, but in rereading the rest of her article, I found it actually brought up important points relevant to free speech on campus. First, Williams’ article touches upon a central issue of why defending equal rights to free speech is so important. While plenty of people have called for Ward Churchill to be fired, countless others probably wouldn’t mind if Bill O’Reilly and Lt. Gen. James Mattis also were […]

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  • A Puzzling Critique

    March 2, 2005

    A few FIRE supporters have written in to ask about a recent article which originally appeared in the February 28, 2005, issue of The Nation and has also circulated around the web. The article, written by Patricia Williams, contains a rather disjointed attack on FIRE. She begins with a discussion of Prince Harry’s Nazi costume and recent controversial remarks by a Marine general, then moves on to a discussion of free speech in higher education (mentioning Ward Churchill). She says this about FIRE: In this war of words and polemical personalities, there is an increasing privatization of speech. New, well-funded […]

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  • Newt’s Follies

    February 28, 2005

    Late last week, National Review’s Jim Geraghty reported on a speech by Newt Gingrich at AEI. As part of a speech that ranged over many topics, Gingrich said the following (according to Geraghty): Ward Churchill is a viciously anti-American demagogue. He has every right to free speech, and I support his free speech… We should give him free speech by not paying him. You don’t need tenure in this country anyway. The idea that he would be oppressed without tenure is nonsense. There are 75 whacked-out foundations that would hire him for life. Dozens of Hollywood stars would hold fundraisers […]

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  • A Rare Opportunity

    February 28, 2005

    Over the past month, I think I have been interviewed no less than 50 times by various media outlets—national (ABC, Time, U.S. News & World Report), international (Reuters), regional, and local. The questions most frequently revolve around Larry Summers and Ward Churchill—two men who are calling unprecedented attention to academic freedom in America’s universities. The more I think about their cases, the more I think that we might be enjoying a rare opportunity to do serious damage to a concept that has done more to harm free expression on campus than anything else—the idea that “offensive” speech is somehow less […]

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  • International News Lights on FIRE

    February 25, 2005

    What do Larry Summers, Ward Churchill, and David French have in common? They were all featured in an article published on Aljazeera today that discusses academic freedom in the United States. The article mentions recent controversies at Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of Colorado, and includes statements from David that highlight the issue of free speech on our nation’s campuses. Looks like FIRE’s work is grabbing the world’s attention.

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  • Are Things Getting Worse?

    February 25, 2005

    A FIRE supporter writes with an interesting question: Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that your two latest cases (and some of your other more recent reports from other campuses) almost seem to indicate a “ratcheting up” on the part of those who wish to squelch free speech on campus. The brazenness of their actions is breathtaking. The Summers incident at Harvard comes to mind as well. Do you think this might represent some “last gasp” from these folks? Are they trying to get a few more punches in before they lose whatever semblance of control they have left? Their […]

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  • Is Learning (A)Political?

    February 18, 2005

    One of our readers sent us the following excerpt from Robert Kimball’s January 31, 2005, post on The New Criterion’s weblog: Colleges and Universities do not exist to promote free speech. They exist to pursue and teach the truth…. This is not a novel idea. But it is one that Hamilton’s president, Joan Hinde Stewart, has difficulty in wrapping her mind around. In an open letter to the Hamilton community about the controversy, Stewart began with some clichés about Hamilton’s belief that “open-ended and free inquiry is essential to educational growth.” Well, fine. But surely a college president should understand […]

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  • The Golden Rule and Academic Freedom

    February 18, 2005

    There are many lessons to be learned from the battle at the University of Colorado at Boulder over whether the former ethnic studies departmental chair, but still tenured professor Ward Churchill, should be dismissed from the faculty. The ostensible grounds for the current investigation are suspected irregularities in his academic background that might justify stripping him of tenure and his professorship. The real reason, of course, is that Professor Churchill Web-published an article shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, that denigrated the victims in the World Trade Center twin towers, comparing them to functionaries in the Nazi killing […]

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  • Coulter’s Double Standard?

    February 17, 2005

    One of our readers sent us an article in Front Page Magazine yesterday by Ann Coulter in which she stated: Just because we don’t have bright lines for determining what speech can constitute a firing offense, doesn’t mean there are no lines at all. If [Ward] Churchill hasn’t crossed them, we are admitting that almost nothing will debase and disgrace the office of professor….  Keep in mind, however, that Coulter faced similar backlash for her own “misunderstood” (and constitutionally protected) expression about the September 11 tragedy. On September 14, 2001, Coulter wrote in Town Hall: Airports scrupulously apply the same […]

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  • Learning from Malcolm X

    February 16, 2005

    Maurice Isserman, history professor and chairman of the American Studies program at Hamilton College, wrote an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education last week that I felt really resonated with my post yesterday, and my general thoughts on free speech and transformational human experience over time. The title of his article was “In Ward Churchill Case, Who Defines ‘Acceptable’ Speech?” Here’s an excerpt: I also wonder what would have happened if one of my faculty predecessors at Hamilton College had invited Malcolm X to speak back in the days when he was still alive—say, right after he made his […]

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  • Freedom of Conscience and Faculty Bias

    February 16, 2005

    FIRE friend Dr. Roy Poses (who is also a key contributor to an excellent blog about the concentration and abuse of power in health care, Health Care Renewal) makes an interesting point about Ward Churchill: Assuming that there such faculty are prevalent, then for many students at Colorado a university education may be largely an immersion in the propaganda of the extreme left-wing, absent exposure to many facts relevant to their professors’ ostensible academic disciplines, and any instruction in a reasoned approach to these facts. I doubt, however, that such students choose their courses and majors based on a true […]

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  • California’s ‘Daily Journal’ Runs FIRE’s Letter on Churchill

    February 15, 2005

    I dedicated my monthly column at the California Daily Journal to the Ward Churchill case. The Daily Journal is a legal publication that runs editions out of both San Francisco and Los Angeles. I am very pleased that it agreed to run essentially the entire letter we sent to CU. Thank you, Daily Journal!

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  • Whose Far Is ‘Too Far’?

    February 15, 2005

    While many agree that Ward Churchill’s academic freedom should be protected, many have also condemned his essay and, outside of his expression, have also condemned him—by questioning and ridiculing his character and ethnic background. Despite others’ negative interpretations of his words and assessment of his competence, Churchill recently received a standing ovation when giving a speech affirming his views and defending his expression at the University of Colorado. In addition, his press release provides his own reaction to the public outcry against him: I am not a “defender” of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that if U.S. […]

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  • Churchill and AAUP Statements

    February 10, 2005

    After fewer than 72 hours of operation, The Torch is already generating significant email feedback—most of it pertaining to Ward Churchill. One of the most thought-provoking notes came from John Bruce, who raised some issues that deserve a careful response. I’ll quote the bulk of his email: I continue to be puzzled that the discussion of Ward Churchill is consistently ignoring central professional standards that ought to apply to the case. These are freely available on the web and in faculty handbooks. For instance, here is the applicable section from the American Association of University Professors’ 1940 Statement of Principles […]

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  • The Cure for Bad Speech

    February 10, 2005

    For those who are new to FIRE and our mission, one thing that you will repeatedly hear us say in response to cries for censorship is: “The cure for bad speech is more speech, or better speech.” This admonition can seem singularly unsatisfying to those who seek the instant gratification of a decisive punitive response. When one, however, takes the time to actually engage and evaluate ideas, the result can be devastating. In yesterday’s National Review Online, Mark Goldblatt absolutely eviscerates Ward Churchill’s ideas and the university culture that spawned him. In so doing, he rejects censoring Churchill (unfortunately for […]

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  • FIRE Writes Letter to Colorado

    February 9, 2005

    This afternoon, FIRE sent a letter to University of Colorado at Boulder Interim Chancellor Philip DiStefano and the University of Colorado Board of Regents regarding the university’s ongoing investigation of Ward Churchill. The letter, written by FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Greg Lukianoff, makes three primary points: (1) Churchill’s speech was constitutionally protected; (2) Churchill’s speech was protected under traditional definitions of academic freedom; and (3) the university should use this case as an opportunity to affirm the free speech rights of all students and faculty, not just Churchill. As I explained in a previous post, Colorado has […]

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  • More on Churchill

    February 8, 2005

    In the midst of the rage over Ward Churchill’s deranged ravings, and as news emerges that Churchill has lied about his Native American heritage and may have committed academic fraud, one question keeps coming up: How did this man get a job? As Glenn Reynolds noted this morning, “At my institution, we don’t hire people without reading their publications. We don’t tenure people without reading them and sending them for outside review by leading scholars in the field.” The obvious (and easily discovered) problems with Churchill’s identity and scholarship raise a disturbing possibility (some would say a probability): Churchill’s scholarship […]

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  • Welcome to ‘The Torch’

    February 8, 2005

    Today is the first official day of the new FIRE blog. Those who are familiar with weblogs will recognize both the format (the “group blog”) and the tone (slightly more familiar than the formal press releases on our home page). This blog represents FIRE’s decisive step into the daily debate over academic freedom and individual liberty on campus. While our work has had national impact, recent events—such as the Ward Churchill case and the ongoing controversies at Columbia and Harvard—demonstrate the need for FIRE’s unique nonpartisan voice in the blogosphere. Regular contributors will include FIRE Director of Legal and Public […]

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  • The ‘Other’ Churchill

    February 2, 2005

    No, I’m not referring to Winston but to the most famous Churchill since the legendary and heroic British prime minister passed into history — Professor Ward Churchill. After making numerous outrageous comments about the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Professor Churchill has resigned from his position as the Chair of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Department of Ethnic Studies. Yesterday, we learned that Hamilton College in New York has now cancelled a planned speech by Professor Churchill, citing numerous “death threats.” There are several aspects of this case that merit comment. First, Professor Churchill’s speech was constitutionally […]

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