University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Website: http://www.unc.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill 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 North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Heckler’s Veto Results in Termination of Emeritus Professor’s Network Access

    June 1, 2011

    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) succumbed to the “heckler’s veto” by revoking Emeritus Professor Elliot Cramer’s network access because of outside complaints about a website link to an organization that advocates for animal welfare. Despite telling the complainant that the dispute was “not a University matter” and that the university did not monitor website content, UNC nevertheless demanded that Cramer remove the link from his website and later canceled his network access. FIRE wrote UNC in protest, and General Counsel Leslie Chambers Strohm replied stating that UNC would not restore Cramer’s network access, redefining Cramer’s reasonable, […]

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  • Mohammed Cartoon Controversy: FIRE Response to Intimidation and Newspaper Disputes

    February 22, 2006

    As a result of worldwide controversy regarding caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, first published in a Danish newspaper, free speech was being openly disregarded on American college campuses. In the weeks following the printing of the cartoon, students, professors, and student publications not only reprinted the controversial cartoons but even created their own satirical cartoons depicting Mohammed. Chilling of speech in relation to the cartoon was found at Century College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and New York University, amongst others.

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  • University of North Carolina System: State of the First Amendment

    January 10, 2006

    FIRE teamed up with the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy to release the Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System. The Report notes that UNC System’s many speech codes and illiberal restrictions on religious groups would likely not survive a legal challenge. It also reveals that “13 out of the 16 schools in the UNC System have at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”

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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Denial of Freedom of Association for Christian Fraternity

    July 23, 2004

    At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a Christian fraternity, Alpha Iota Omega (AIO), was stripped of its recognition after UNC administrator Jonathan Curtis declared that the fraternity was required to add an unconstitutional “nondiscrimination” clause to its student group constitution. AIO objected to the “nondiscrimination” clause because it would have forbidden the group from considering religion when determining “membership and participation” in the group. FIRE wrote to the university on AIO’s behalf outlining the group’s rights to freedom of association and religious liberty but the university was unmoved. FIRE teamed up with the Alliance Defense Fund and […]

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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Refusal to Allow Christian Clubs to Require Christian Leadership

    December 27, 2002

    An administrator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill threatened the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) with a loss of all privileges and funding because it required its leaders to adhere to the IVCF’s Christian doctrine. After FIRE reminded UNC of the student organization’s rights of religious liberty, free expression, and free association, however, Chancellor James Moeser ordered "that IVCF be allowed to continue to operate as an official recognized student organization."

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Instrument of Student Judicial Governance: Conduct Affecting Persons 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    (Effective June 6, 2013, no student shall be charged with a violation of section II.C.1.c. until the University has completed a review of this provision.) Disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes with another (other than on the basis of the protected classifications identified and addressed in the University’s Policy on Prohibited Harassment and Discrimination) so as to adversely affect their academic pursuits, opportunities for University employment, participation in University-sponsored extracurricular activities, or opportunities to benefit from other aspects of University Life.

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Green Light Policies
  • Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Conduct 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Unwelcome conduct based on Protected Status that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education, employment, or participation in a University program or activity, thereby creating an environment that a reasonable person in similar circumstances and with similar identities would find hostile, intimidating, or abusive. An isolated incident, unless sufficiently severe, does not amount to Hostile Environment Harassment.

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  • UNC-Chapel Hill Network Acceptable Use Policy 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Users may not distribute or send unlawful communications of any kind, including but not limited to cyberstalking, threats of violence, obscenity, child pornography, or other illegal communications (as defined by law). This provision applies to any electronic communication distributed or sent within the University Network or to other networks while using the University Network.

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  • Facilities Use Policy 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    Subject to restrictions on the use of University facilities prescribed elsewhere in this policy, the University permits assemblies and gatherings of University-sponsored, University-affiliated and nonaffiliated groups (i) without prior approval in Y-Court, the Carolina Union “Pit”” and in the major open spaces designated on Exhibit A of this policy (“Major Open Spaces”), and (ii) with prior approval, in any other exterior location.

    Any individual or group, whether affiliated with the University or not, may distribute at any open, exterior campus space, the use of which is not otherwise restricted or scheduled under this policy, without registration or advance approval, any written materials on the condition that such materials are designed for informational and not for commercial purposes. Donations may be accepted in connection with such distribution.

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  • New UNC-Chapel Hill Policy Requires Affirmative Consent For Sex

    October 13, 2014

    By Jane Stancill at The News & Observer CHAPEL HILL — Thousands of incoming students at UNC-Chapel Hill were asked to sign a new pledge this fall that had nothing to do with cheating or plagiarism. It was about sex. The students were promising that they understood the university’s new standard of consent – that both parties must “affirmatively agree” before engaging in sexual activity. That expectation, outlined in the university’s new sexual misconduct policy, is also sweeping public and private universities around the country. Most Ivy League campuses have adopted the standard, as has Duke University. Early this month, the […]

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  • First Amendment Day at Chapel Hill Stirs Debate About “Trigger Warnings”

    October 3, 2014

    By Jesse Saffron at The John William Pope Center At last week’s First Amendment Day celebration at UNC-Chapel Hill, Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), presented some alarming findings: the demographic group most hostile to free speech is not baby boomers or other generations, but millennials, those in the 18-30 age range. One of the panels earlier that day, “Speech that Hurts and the First Amendment,” suggested that he’s right. At least for some college students, freedom of speech takes a backseat to sensitivity. “I am a fan of the First Amendment, but I do step […]

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  • The Supreme Court Endangered Christian Student Groups, But Some States are Coming to the Rescue

    October 1, 2014

    By Harry Painter at The John William Pope Center Should public universities be allowed to derecognize a Christian student group because it requires members to be Christian? Astoundingly, the courts say yes. Ever since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the courts have allowed universities this power. And the California State University (CSU) system recently did just that—itrevoked official recognition from the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Fortunately, some states are fighting back against the post-Martinezunfriendliness toward Christian groups. In Martinez, a Christian group challenged the “anti-bias” policy of the University of California’s Hastings College of Law, which required Christian groups to […]

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  • UNC Meddles in Students’ Sex Lives through Misleading “Affirmative Consent” Rule

    September 11, 2014

    By Hans Bader at Examiner.com Rigid “consent” requirements are for legally-binding contracts, not casual interaction among intimates. When my wife and daughter hug me, they don’t ask for my permission first. Nor do I give my formal “consent” or “agree” to a hug in advance. It’s not necessary, because they know without asking that such contact is very likely to be welcome. It’s simple common sense. Such simple common sense is absent at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which defines consent to exclude common signs of consent in romantic relationships. UNC now seemingly defines as “sexual assault” all […]

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  • UNC’s Nichol not the Only Professor Fighting Academic Freedom Battle

    April 17, 2014

    By Jane S. Shaw at The News & Observer Gene Nichol, former dean of UNC’s law school and now a professor there, might have a valid complaint. An outspoken column last October led UNC’s administrators to rap his knuckles. They asked him to add a tagline to each of his columns saying that he does not speak for the university, and they asked him to give them a “heads-up” before publishing something especially controversial. Was his academic freedom abrogated? Some in academia and the media may think so. Nichol is known for his left-wing, no-holds-barred columns, which he has been […]

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  • Protecting the First Amendment rights of NC college students

    February 16, 2014

    by Jenna Ashley Robinson and Tami Fitzgerald Public universities in North Carolina recognize a wide diversity of student groups, including those that have religious or other belief-based missions. This recognition enables student organizations to access university facilities and (sometimes) apply for funding. At some campuses, however, the lack of clear policies protecting the First Amendment rights of students in those groups has led to unnecessary legal woes for students and prevented groups from carrying out their legitimate missions. The UNC Board of Governors is expected to discuss the issue at its meeting Friday. Universities have muzzled their speech, mandated whom […]

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  • Can Universities Restrict Free Speech On Campus?

    March 14, 2013

    This year marks the 25th anniversary of a Supreme Court decision that gave schools the right to restrict students’ free speech. Originally intended for high schools, many universities have come to use Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier to control their image and reputation—at the expense of a free press on campus. “I think schools have just completely lost their minds,” Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate for the Student Press Law Center, told Campus Progress. “It’s resulted in just real basic confusion about what civil rights mean.” The case centered around a Missouri student newspaper at Hazelwood East High School, where articles on teenage pregnancy and […]

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  • Bill Allowing Christian Student Orgs to Choose Membership Advances in Va. Legislature

    February 11, 2013

    A bill that would allow religious and political student organizations in public institutions to choose their own standards for membership continues to make its way through the Virginia Legislature. Known as Senate Bill 1074, the proposed legislation would bar public educational institutions from determining the membership rules for religious and political student groups.   “Permits, to the extent allowed by law, religious or political student organizations at public institutions of higher education to determine that only persons committed to the organization’s mission may conduct certain activities,” reads the official summary of SB 1074.   “The bill also prohibits, to the extent allowed […]

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  • OUR OPINION: UND must reaffirm free speech, other rights

    January 6, 2013

    Look on the bright side: At least UND didn’t get scorched by FIRE as having the Speech Code of the Year. Last week, FIRE — the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education — awarded that “honor” to two other schools, including Oakland University in Michigan. There, the school’s policy prohibits offending or disturbing anyone via phone or computer, “nor shall any person” use “immoral or insulting language” over those devices. Oakland’s policy “illustrates perfectly the mock-Victorian sensibility that seems to underlie so many university speech codes, a sensibility according to which adult college students must not be exposed to anything […]

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  • College Students Were 2012’s Unsung Heroes for Free Speech

    January 4, 2013

    by Azhar Majeed Policymic   Students at our nation’s colleges and universities won a number of important victories for freedom of speech and the First Amendment over the past year. They vindicated their core expressive rights, fought back against repressive university practices, and taught us all valuable lessons about living in a free society. The victories on campus weren’t limited to instances where student speech was censored or punished in application, however. At a number of institutions, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, where I work) convinced the administration to proactively protect free speech by reforming illiberal and unconstitutional policies before they […]

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  • Schools work to balance gay, religious rights

    February 22, 2012

    Dozens of colleges have scrutinized how on-campus Christian groups operate after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed a law school to deny funding to a Christian group that would not admit gays. The 2010 ruling touched on gay and religious rights on campus, and the tension is now at the center of a handful of disputes at colleges. A chapter of the Christian group InterVarsity at the University of Buffalo was temporarily suspended. The student government is evaluating its groups after a treasurer, who is gay, felt pressured to step down. The University of North Carolina is reviewing its student […]

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  • UNC: Christian belief OKs dumping gay group member

    October 14, 2011

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. —  Officials at North Carolina’s flagship university say a Christian singing group had the latitude to expel a member who identified himself as gay. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says the decision by the Christian a cappella group Psalm 100 did not violate the school’s non-discrimination policy. The university’s non-discrimination policy allows student groups to limit their memberships to students who share specific beliefs, but not on personal characteristics like race, age or sexual orientation. The Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said Psalm 100 kicked the student out because he no longer […]

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  • UNC: Christian belief OKs dumping gay group member

    October 14, 2011

    Officials at North Carolina’s flagship university say a Christian singing group had the latitude to expel a member who identified himself as gay. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says the decision by the Christian a cappella group Psalm 100 did not violate the school’s non-discrimination policy. The university’s non-discrimination policy allows student groups to limit their memberships to students who share specific beliefs, but not on personal characteristics like race, age or sexual orientation. The Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said Psalm 100 kicked the student out because he no longer lived up to the […]

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  • Annoy UNC to silence its profs

    June 23, 2011

    If you’re wondering how solid UNC’s commitment to free speech is, the verdict is in: Not very. North Carolina’s flagship university will defend your right to speak out — until the higher-ups get tired of doing so. UNC Professor Emeritus Elliot Cramer found this out the hard way when his efforts to promote animal welfare at shelters in North Carolina drew the ire of a New Yorker named Joseph Villarosa. Their dispute remained private until Villarosa began to relentlessly complain to UNC that Cramer had an e-mail address and Web page on UNC’s servers — a privilege UNC extends to […]

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  • Borrowed Gravitas

    June 22, 2011

    As far as using a university e-mail account for non-university purposes, not much, according to Elliot Cramer, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Administrators at Chapel Hill disagree. The university recently canceled Cramer’s UNC e-mail account, dropped his faculty web page, and barred him from using electronic library resources and other network privileges after finding that he had used his UNC e-mail account to “conduct business” for an animal rights organization with no university affiliation. Cramer had also used his university e-mail account during a vicious war of words with another animal […]

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  • Shibley: UNC should recommit to First Amendment

    October 17, 2010

    In 1963, the North Carolina legislature enacted a now-infamous “speaker ban” preventing known members of the Communist Party (or those who had pleaded the Fifth Amendment when asked if they were members) from speaking at state colleges and universities. The ban was finally overturned by a federal court in 1968 after years of student, faculty and administrative opposition to the restrictions, striking a well-deserved blow against the idea that some thoughts are simply too dangerous to express on a university campus. The “speaker ban” was imposed upon a largely unwilling UNC Chapel Hill by the state legislature. That’s why it’s […]

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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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  • UNC-Chapel Hill Tries to Spin Away a Major Defeat

    May 25, 2006

    In July of 2004, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education wrote to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, explaining for the second time in less than two years that constitutionally protected freedom of association is meaningless if a group cannot exclude people who do not share the beliefs of the group. This is both basic common sense and clearly established law. The College Democrats can exclude Republicans, the college environmental club can exclude students who hate environmentalism, and the college chess club can exclude members who hate the game and wish to see it abolished. In other words, […]

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  • Ignorance of our founding principles can endanger us all

    March 5, 2006

    Here we go again. A new survey reveals that only about one in four Americans can name at least two of the First Amendment’s five freedoms: freedom of the press, religion, speech and assembly, as well as the right to petition government for redress of grievances. But 52 percent can name two or more members of TV’s “Simpsons.” More than 20 percent of Americans actually think the First Amendment gives us the right to own and raise pets! We shouldn’t be shocked. Americans’ — especially young Americans’ — woeful ignorance of history and civics has been documented repeatedly. The good […]

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  • Campus Left to Christians, Conservatives: Shut Up!

    December 24, 2005

    By Mark Tapscott at Townhall.com Scratch many of the administrators in charge on American campuses these days and you often find a neo-Stalinist who has no hesitation about suppressing views that deviate from leftist orthodoxy. If you doubt me, try supporting Christianity or conservatism in a public way in the ivy covered groves of American academe. Take California State University at San Bernadino, for example, where administrators refuse to charter the Christian Students Association because the group thinks its members should be professing Christians. Imagine that! The group ‘would not be required to admit members who did not support the […]

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  • Free speech can provoke

    October 5, 2005

    The First Amendment has been getting a workout in recent weeks on two college campuses — the University of Florida and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — where students are learning that free speech is a messy business. The two cases, one involving a columnist at UNC and the other a political cartoonist at UF, have inflamed minority groups — Muslims and blacks, respectively — provoking protests and debate. That’s the good news insofar as protest and debate are the currency of free speech. What’s not such good news is that the columnist was fired, while the […]

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  • College newspapers fight for rights

    September 22, 2005

    By Erin France at The Daily Tar Heel The U.S. Supreme Court received a petition Tuesday to review a case from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that could affect free press policies on college campuses nationwide. The 7th circuit overturned a lower court decision this summer that ruled in favor of Margaret Hosty, who sued Patricia Carter, then dean of student affairs and services at Governors State University in Illinois, for censoring the school newspaper. The move was criticized by several First Amendment watch groups. Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said the case […]

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  • 10 great cigars and why I smoked them

    June 13, 2005

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

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  • Prof sails against liberal tide

    April 17, 2005

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

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  • Liberating America’s Intellectual Gulags

    April 15, 2005

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

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  • Judge: Christian frat can ban homosexuals

    March 5, 2005

    A federal court has ordered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to reinstate a Christian fraternity which had been denied recognition because its officers refused to sign the university’s nondiscrimination policy requiring the group to allow homosexuals to join. The preliminary injunction, issued by U.S. District Court Judge Frank W. Bullock Junior, will permit Alpha Iota Omega access to student funds and university facilities, like other fraternities on campus. The order will remain in force until the issue of compliance with the university’s policy against discrimination is settled, most likely in court.     “This is the first […]

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  • Students have a new resource to help them know their rights on campus

    January 7, 2005

    RALEIGH — The new year has presented “academic freedom” with a grave new threat. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has published its Guide to Free Speech on Campus. The guide gives a shot in the arm, however, to academic freedom.”Academic freedom,” of course, is what intolerant faculty and administrators governing many public universities call their efforts to stifle speech on campus. When they consigned free expression to only certain zones on campus, such as Texas Tech’s “gazebo,” that was “academic freedom.” When a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill instructor engaged in racial and sexual harassment and […]

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  • Conformity on campus

    December 18, 2004

    This fall four new studies of professors’ political attitudes showed a large tilt to the left: • Daniel Klein, an economics professor and researcher at Santa Clara University and Stockholm University, surveyed more than 1,000 professors around the United States and found Democrats outnumbering Republicans at least 7-1 in the humanities and social sciences, with departments such as anthropology and sociology coming in at about 30-1. • In a separate study of voter registration records, Mr. Klein found professors at Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley tilted Democratic 9-1. Among younger professors at those two universities the imbalance was even […]

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  • The Good and The Bad (Plus Some Ugly)

    October 11, 2004

    Today’s college campus is a study in contrasts. Professors and administrators cling to their grotesque orthodoxies, but students seem to be getting saner by the year. What follows are five of the most outrageous campus incidents of the last academic year, then five of the most heartening acts of courage. The conservative-speaker double standard is almost an academic institution. At Bucknell University, administrators refused a student group’s request to invite Republican congressman and Senate hopeful Pat Toomey to give a speech, arguing that his appearance would violate a school policy against electioneering on campus. Meanwhile, Bucknell paid presidential candidate Ralph […]

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  • Christian Fraternity Sues U. of North Carolina Over Chapel Hill’s Refusal to Recognize It

    September 10, 2004

    A Christian fraternity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sued the university in late August for refusing to recognize the group because it does not allow non-Christians to join. The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Greensboro, N.C., argues that the university’s refusal to recognize the fraternity, Alpha Iota Omega, violates the group’s First Amendment rights to the free expression of religion and free association of its members. The university contends that membership in officially recognized student organizations “must be open to all students on a nondiscriminatory basis.” The fraternity is being aided by the Foundation […]

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  • Trumpeters of tolerance intolerant

    September 1, 2004

    When I was in graduate school, political correctness was beginning to rear its head. And one of my biggest frustrations was that although my university — like others — presented itself as a diverse “marketplace of ideas,” only one sort of idea was welcome. Any dissent from the “everything should be tolerated” worldview was suppressed as narrow-minded. Many university students and staff clearly didn’t realize the irony of preaching tolerance while being intolerant of those who disagree.It’s only gotten worse. Today’s political correctness movement is so aggressive that it threatens our constitutional rights instead of protecting them. Several Georgia State […]

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  • Christian fraternity sues UNC

    August 27, 2004

    Like most educational institutions, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill requires its organizations to strictly observe a nondiscrimination policy when recruiting members. Although this policy may not seem unusual, at UNC it has led a Christian fraternity to sue the University. Alpha Iota Omega, a small Christian fraternity at UNC, declined to sign the University’s Nondiscrimination and Sexual Orientation Policy last September. The members argued that the policy went against the fraternity’s requirement that all members be Christian, and the University subsequently denied AIO official recognition for the 2003-2004 school year. Refusing to be denied access for a […]

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  • The College Code

    August 27, 2004

    Last fall, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill officially “derecognized” the Alpha Iota Omega Christian fraternity. Earlier this week, AIO filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to get its recognition restored. If derecognition sounds like a dire fate, it is, in a way. The university froze the fraternity’s university account, denied it meeting space and cut off its access to student-fees funding (which AIO didn’t use in any case). Why did the university take such a step? Because the Christian fraternity wanted its seven members to be Christian men. Such exclusion is apostasy in the modern university, […]

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  • Group files suit against University

    August 26, 2004

      All eyes were on members of the Alpha Iota Omega fraternity Wednesday afternoon as they stood in the middle of the Pit – amidst a mass of reporters and swarms of students – and formally declared the federal lawsuit they have filed against the University.   The all-male Christian fraternity is fighting to reinstate its official University recognition, which was revoked last year after members refused to sign a nondiscrimination policy required of all campus organizations.   Trevor Hamm, Carlon Myrick and Jonathan Park – the three members of the all-male Christian fraternity – came out of the shadows […]

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  • Christian fraternity sues UNC over official recognition

    August 25, 2004

    A Christian fraternity that refused to adopt the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s nondiscrimination policy sued Wednesday because it was denied official campus recognition.Alpha Iota Omega objects to a school requirement that its membership be open to everyone regardless of religion or sexual orientation.Officers and founders of the non-denominational fraternity say every member is required to participate in the organization’s primary mission of Christian evangelism from a personal perspective. They say it would be a lie to say they would accept people who cannot do that. “Non-Christians would not be able to meet that very basic criteria of […]

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  • Christian frat to sue UNC over free speech

    August 25, 2004

    CHAPEL HILL — A Christian fraternity that had its official recognition revoked is planning to sue UNC, alleging that the university has violated the constitutional rights of the group’s members.Late last year, the university declined to renew Alpha Iota Omega’s student organization status because the group’s leaders wouldn’t sign a university policy requiring its membership to be open to all students. The fraternity’s leaders didn’t see the point of being open to non-Christians since Christianity is the fraternity’s core principle.In losing official recognition, the group is no longer eligible for student activity fee revenue, and cannot reserve meeting space as […]

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  • Anti-Christian charges probed

    August 19, 2004

    The Education Department’s civil rights office has opened a second discrimination investigation of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is accused by a congressman of “abusive policies” against Christian students.Rep. Walter B. Jones, North Carolina Republican, requested the government inquiry on Monday after the university closed a Christian fraternity that refused to accept non-Christian members. UNC Chancellor James Moeser said the decision to revoke the charter of the five-year-old Christian fraternity, Alpha Iota Omega (AIO), was made on grounds that the group is violating the school’s nondiscrimination policy by not allowing students to join regardless of their […]

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  • Jones is backing fraternity; Christian group, UNC in dispute

    August 18, 2004

    UNC-Chapel Hill’s dispute with a Christian fraternity has drawn the attention of U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, who has asked the federal government to look into the matter.Jones, a Farmville Republican, wrote the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights asking officials to examine what he called “the ongoing problem of censorship of Christian students at the Chapel Hill campus.” Alpha Iota Omega, a small, all-male Christian fraternity, has complained that the university revoked its official recognition after members refused to sign a nondiscrimination clause. The fraternity contends that its constitutional rights of free association and expression allow it to admit […]

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  • Anti-bias policy that’s silly

    August 18, 2004

    It’s tough being a liberal.   I can hardly get through the day without my knee jerking or my heart bleeding. But sometimes the hardest part is staying in step with the liberal marching band.   For instance, it’s easy to say that discrimination is wrong, wrong, wrong. Oops, there goes my jerking knee again.   Except that it isn’t always wrong. Sometimes it’s just fine.   Let’s say that you are a Filipino student at UNC-Chapel Hill. It is a long hike from Chapel Hill to Manila, so you and some Filipino friends form a Philippine Students Association. You […]

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  • UNC administrator implicated in newspaper theft

    August 16, 2004

    UNC administrators had better stock up on Maalox because it’s going to be a long week in Chapel Hill. Just last week the university was exposed for de-recognizing a Christian group without due process for an unthinkable transgression; they wanted to limit membership in the Christian group to people who are actually Christians.   Now, information has surfaced, which implicates the administrator who de-recognized the Christian group in the theft of a student newspaper in 1996. And wouldn’t you know it; the stolen newspaper was the Carolina Review, the only conservative newspaper on campus.   The theft of the student […]

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  • University cuts off Christian fraternity

    August 15, 2004

    For the second time in two years the University of North Carolina finds itself embroiled in a First Amendment dispute with Christian groups on campus. The Chapel Hill school has removed official recognition of Alpha Iota Omega, a Christian fraternity, because its officers have refused to sign an anti-discrimination clause on a university application that would have required the group to accept any student as a member, regardless of religion.   The group was formed five years ago for the purpose of “providing leadership and outreach to the campus Greek community through evangelism and mentorship.” Without official recognition, Alpha Iota […]

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  • UNC rejects religious fraternity

    August 13, 2004

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – A Christian student organization which refused to sign a nondiscrimination policy has been denied official recognition by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.   Alpha Iota Omega would not follow university policy because it would require that membership in the group be open to all, regardless of religion. Without official recognition, the fraternity cannot receive student fee money.   The fraternity refused to sign an anti-discrimination clause on a university application because it wanted to choose members who have similar religious beliefs. Now, the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education recently asked UNC-CH […]

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  • Student group refuses to sign policy

    August 13, 2004

    CHAPEL HILL — UNC has declined to officially recognize a Christian student organization because the group has refused to sign a nondiscrimination policy.The fraternity, Alpha Iota Omega, would not follow university policy because it would require that membership in the group be open to all, regardless of religion. Without official recognition, the fraternity cannot receive student fee money.A national individual rights group has taken up the fraternity’s cause. The Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education recently asked UNC Chancellor James Moeser to reconsider the university’s position.On Thursday, the university responded, reiterating its insistence that all student groups have open […]

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  • Religion again issue at UNC-CH; Civil liberties group questions school’s action against Christian fraternity

    August 13, 2004

    UNC-Chapel Hill is once again facing criticism about students’ religious freedom on campus.The university last year yanked its official recognition of a Christian fraternity, meaning that it lost access to student fee money, campus facilities and Web service. The group, Alpha Iota Omega, refused to sign an anti-discrimination clause on a university application because it wanted to choose members who have similar religious beliefs.Now, a national civil liberties organization has taken up the fraternity’s cause. In a letter last month to UNC-CH Chancellor James Moeser, the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said the university’s action has denied the […]

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  • Univ. of North Carolina Won’t Recognize Christian Group

    August 12, 2004

    For the second time in less than two years, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has denied recognition to a Christian group, claiming that the group’s desire to limit its membership to Christians constitutes “discrimination.”   “A Christian group has a right to be Christian, a Muslim group has a right to be Muslim, and a Jewish group has a right to be Jewish,” said David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “It seems absurd that anyone in a free society would have to make this argument, but time and time again […]

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  • Carolina’s Covert Religious War

    August 12, 2004

    In my career as a professor, I have noticed that college administrators often try to do things in private that they could never defend in public. That is why publicity is usually the best remedy when college administrators abuse their authority.  Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis probably put it best when he said that “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”   But Louis Brandeis never met the current administration at UNC Chapel Hill. After being sued and embarrassed in the court of public opinion in 2003, there is now credible information indicating that the administration at UNC is waging a new […]

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  • The War on Campus

    December 3, 2001

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  • Stop Funding Campus Anti-Americanism

    November 2, 2001

    The Augusta Chronicle

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  • Catch FIRE President Greg Lukianoff in D.C., Chapel Hill, and Berkeley Next Week

    September 19, 2014

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be on the move next week as he travels from campus to campus to promote free speech and First Amendment rights at America’s colleges and universities. On Monday, Greg will be participating in the Fourth Annual President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge National Gathering on the campus of George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C. He will take part in a panel that will focus on the issue of religious liberties on campus and will be joined by Charles Haynes, the Director of the Newseum’s Religious Freedom Center. The panel will be moderated by […]

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  • FIRE Welcomes David Deerson

    June 20, 2014

    FIRE is delighted to welcome David Deerson to our staff as a program associate for FIRE Campus Outreach! David joins the growing FIRE Student Network team as we gear up for our annual summer conference and make exciting outreach plans for this summer and for back-to-school season in the fall. David’s history with FIRE as a 2011 summer intern and an active participant of FIRE’s programs, along with his professional experience, make him a fantastic addition to our team as we work to expand our network of students, faculty, and alumni dedicated to defending civil liberties on their campuses.

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  • College Risk Management Lawyers Call Out FIRE (Without Doing Their Homework)

    May 27, 2014

    The National Center for Higher Education Risk Management (NCHERM) is likely the most prominent risk management law firm in higher education. This afternoon, NCHERM issued “An Open Letter to Higher Education about Sexual Violence” (PDF). It’s a fascinating document about which you can be assured FIRE will have more later. However, one contention in the letter, presented as a suggestion to FIRE, warrants an immediate response. NCHERM writes: FIRE. Live up to your name. Don’t just fight for the rights of accused students. Fight for the individual rights of all students. If a campus puts a gag order on a […]

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  • UNC-Chapel Hill Investigates Allegedly Flawed Study on Student-Athlete Literacy

    January 21, 2014

    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) has suspended researcher Mary Willingham’s study on literacy among student-athletes, which she says revealed that less than half of the athletes studied were able to read above an eighth-grade reading level. While the university alleges that there were problems with Willingham’s methodology and that she failed to follow certain procedural requirements, it has been accused of trying to suppress the information to protect its image. UNC-Chapel Hill administrators argue that Willingham’s calculations are flawed and that her results could be off by as much as a factor of 10, rendering them meaningless. In an email to the Associated […]

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  • North Carolina Newspaper: Free Speech ‘Indispensable Ally’ of Tolerance

    January 6, 2014

    An eloquent editorial penned by the editors of North Carolina newspaper The Wilson Times takes the state’s public colleges and universities to task for failing to respect student free speech rights. The editors note that FIRE recently named two North Carolina institutions—Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—to our annual list of the nation’s “Worst Colleges for Free Speech.” The editors point out that, unfortunately, these two schools aren’t outliers: Five North Carolina colleges earn “red light” rankings in FIRE’s Spotlight database for maintaining policies that clearly and substantially restrict protected expression on campus. Calling on the state’s colleges and universities […]

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  • The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2013

    December 27, 2013

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

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

    July 9, 2013

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

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  • Campus Progress Emphasizes First Amendment Concerns in UNC Honor Code Case

    June 11, 2013

    Campus Progress’ Jenn Nowicki reported yesterday on the recently dismissed honor code charges against University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC­–CH) student Landen Gambill. Gambill was charged with "disruptive or intimidating behavior" after publicly criticizing UNC’s handling of sexual assault cases, including her own. In dismissing Gambill’s case, and all other pending cases brought under the same honor code provision, UNC–CH Chancellor Holden Thorp acknowledged that he was taking action in order to "protect the free speech rights of [UNC's] students."  Nowicki quoted FIRE’s Will Creeley on why the code was problematic: In the Honor Code, [an external review] found, […]

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  • Scandal Over Handling of Rape Charge Prompts UNC to Suspend Speech Code; FIRE Had Warned UNC that Rule Was Unconstitutional

    June 7, 2013

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C., June 7, 2013—The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has indefinitely suspended an unconstitutional speech code used against student Landen Gambill, who drew national attention for her public complaints about the university’s treatment of her sexual assault allegation against a fellow student. Due to the efforts of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), UNC was explicitly aware that this very policy was unconstitutional more than a year ago. “Despite having the chance to revise this unconstitutional policy years ago, at the prompting of FIRE and its own students, UNC refused to do so. Nevertheless, […]

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  • Letter to Editor on ‘National Failure of Student Discipline Codes’

    April 1, 2013

    Illustration of Justice Scales – Shutterstock In a powerfully written letter to the editor of The GW Hatchet, a student newspaper at George Washington University, attorney Shanlon Wu calls into question whether students can receive a fair and accurate result from university disciplinary processes. Wu, a litigator with the Washington, D.C., firm Wu, Grohovsky & Whipple, draws upon personal experience representing university students to make a number of salient points. Among them:  Every day, students across the country face discipline code violations that can affect the rest of their lives yet the systems under which they are investigated, charged, tried […]

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  • Controversy Grows over UNC’s Response to Sexual Assault Claim

    March 6, 2013

    The controversy surrounding the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC’s) response to a student’s allegation of sexual misconduct shows no signs of abating. In fact, it may just be getting started, as a new report from the Daily Tar Heel focusing on the accused student’s experience in UNC’s judicial system casts further doubt on UNC’s ability to handle sexual assault allegations in a way that respects the rights of students—whether the accuser or the accused.  Last week, I discussed the threat to the First Amendment presented by the student-run Honor Court’s decision to levy a formal charge against […]

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  • FIRE in the News: Watch Clips of ‘Stossel,’ ‘Red Eye’ Featuring FIRE Cases!

    October 2, 2012

    It’s been a big television week for FIRE. Last Thursday, I appeared alongside Campus Freedom Network members David Deerson and Derek Spicer on an episode of the Fox Business Network show Stossel, filmed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). We had a great discussion of speech codes at UNC and civility codes at North Carolina State University. If you missed it on Thursday, you can watch the segment online now. And last night, the late—night Fox News show Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld featured a segment about FIRE’s latest video, featuring student Morgan Freeman of Sam […]

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  • FIRE’s Shibley on ‘Stossel’ This Thursday

    September 24, 2012

    FIRE’s Robert Shibley was on campus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) last week for a taping of the Fox Business Network show Stossel, hosted by 19-time Emmy Award winner John Stossel. This week’s episode opens with civil liberties on college campuses, so FIRE supporters know that Robert, along with Campus Freedom Network (CFN) members David Deerson of UNC and Derek Spicer of North Carolina State University, will have plenty to say. UNC’s student paper, The Daily Tar Heel, covered the show’s taping and gave a shout out to Robert.  Tune in to Fox Business Network […]

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  • FIRE Senior VP at UNC Today for ‘Stossel’ Taping

    September 21, 2012

    Today, The Daily Tar Heel encouraged University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (UNC) students to attend a taping of Stossel, John Stossel’s show on the FOX Business Network, which will be held on campus at 2 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Student Union, hosted by the UNC Young Americans for Liberty. FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley will be a guest on the program, discussing FIRE’s recent victory at nearby North Carolina State University and other campus free speech issues.  The Daily Tar Heel piece also features a great quote from former FIRE intern David Deerson, one […]

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  • ‘Daily Tar Heel’ Editorial Board: Get Rid of UNC’s Speech Codes

    September 20, 2012

    Fresh off a campus visit from FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley, the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (UNC) could use a little speech code reform to start off the school year. Recognizing as much is the Editorial Board of the UNC campus paper The Daily Tar Heel, in a stirring opinion piece published yesterday. The paper calls on UNC to improve its Spotlight rating of “red light” and, in particular, its Community Living Standards policy on “Rights and Responsibilities.” This red light speech code instructs UNC students to “[a]void using the written or spoken word in a […]

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  • FIRE Speakers on Campuses for Constitution Day

    September 17, 2012

    What better way is there to celebrate Constitution Day than to go see a FIRE speaker? None, I say!  Today, Associate Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Azhar Majeed will be at Indiana University-Bloomington to talk with Young Americans for Liberty (YAL). The YAL chapter is holding a free speech wall event, and Azhar will be speaking afterwards in Ballantine Hall, room 005 at 7:00 p.m. Those of you in or near Chapel Hill, North Carolina can also catch a FIRE speaker tonight. Senior Vice President Robert Shibley will be delivering a lecture at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC) […]

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  • ‘Inside Higher Ed’, KC Johnson on the University of North Carolina’s New ‘Two-tiered’ Disciplinary Procedures

    April 26, 2012

    Yesterday, Inside Higher Ed reported on the University of North Carolina’s recent decision to revoke its Student Honor Court’s power to adjudicate allegations of sexual misconduct. Inside Higher Ed‘s Allie Grasgreen writes:  The change, which some have sought for years, appears to be the most extensive yet in response to the “Dear Colleague” letter issued a year ago by the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. [...] But the change is also significant at the micro level: it marks a philosophical shift at UNC, where for more than a century, the student Honor Code states, “Carolina students have pledged […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    February 7, 2012

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for February 2012: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). For a number of years, UNC earned FIRE’s poorest, “red light” rating for maintaining restrictive speech codes. This rating was due in large part to a list of sexual harassment examples that included a great deal of protected speech, such as “sexually explicit jokes” and “[i]nappropriate exposure to sexually oriented graffiti, pictures, posters, cartoons, or other such materials.” Who defines what is “inappropriate” at UNC? What does this restriction mean for students organizing and promoting discussions or artistic performances with […]

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  • Former FIRE Intern: UNC Should Not Be Comfortable With Unconstitutional Policies

    February 1, 2012

    David Deerson, a former FIRE intern and current University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill junior, penned an excellent letter to the editor published in today’s edition of The Daily Tar Heel. His letter responds to an article from Tuesday, which reported that UNC’s vice chancellor for student affairs Winston Crisp is comfortable with the school’s “yellow light” rating from FIRE. David writes:  TO THE EDITOR:  It is disturbing to read that Winston Crisp is comfortable with UNC’s yellow light rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.  UNC is a state institution and it receives funding from both […]

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  • ‘Daily Tar Heel’ Article Shows that Free Speech Has a Long Way to Go at UNC

    January 30, 2012

    Fresh off reviewing our recently issued speech code report, the Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (UNC) highlights the fact that UNC at present maintains three “yellow light” speech codes infringing upon students’ freedom of expression. These policies have no place at an institution like UNC that not only is legally obligated to uphold the First Amendment, but is morally obligated to follow through on its statements of being an institution committed to free speech and the exchange of ideas. Writing for the Daily Tar Heel, Amanda Albright quotes our Samantha Harris, who points […]

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  • Victory at University of North Carolina: Religious Student Group Free to Practice Its Beliefs

    October 14, 2011

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C., October 14, 2011—The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has cleared a Christian student group of any wrongdoing after it dismissed a student who felt that he could no longer adhere to the group’s religious beliefs. Yesterday, Christian a cappella student group Psalm 100 learned that UNC had determined that the group had complied with UNC’s nondiscrimination policy, which allows belief-based student groups to make decisions about members and leaders based on those beliefs. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) had intervened to ensure that UNC follow its stated policy. “While it should not […]

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  • Will Threat of Legal Action Spur UNC to Restore Emeritus Professor’s Rights?

    September 20, 2011

    After months of discussion with little to show for it, Professor Emeritus Elliot Cramer plans to file an ethics complaint against University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) General Counsel Leslie C. Strohm, based in part on Strohm’s role in revoking his university email account and website. A lawsuit, Cramer says, is also imminent. This latest development in Cramer’s case comes five months after UNC stripped him of his network credentials due to the agitations of an animal activist. The activist, unaffiliated in any way with UNC, repeatedly demanded that UNC punish Cramer merely because his UNC-provided website posted […]

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  • At University of North Carolina, Choral Group’s Vote Prompts Investigation–And Raises First Amendment Concerns

    September 2, 2011

    The Daily Tar Heel reports this week that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has launched an investigation into the decision of a Christian a capella student group’s decision to expel one of its members. Daily Tar Heel reporter Paula Seligson writes: The University will investigate whether or not the Christian a cappella group Psalm 100 violated UNC’s non-discrimination policy in dismissing senior Will Thomason, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp said. On Sunday, members of Psalm 100 unanimously voted to remove Thomason, who is gay, for his views on homosexuality. He had been a member […]

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  • ‘Chronicle’ Article on Emeritus Faculty Highlights Case of Wronged UNC Professor

    August 15, 2011

    The Chronicle of Higher Education has published an interesting article on the vagaries of emeritus faculty status and what it means at various universities—i.e., whether it comes with perks or is merely symbolic. In part, the article focuses on recent controversial cases in which emeritus status was denied. In one case, law professor Robert Natelson was denied emeritus status by a vote of his fellow faculty at the University of Montana; he believes the cause to be his outspokenly conservative political views. Another case involves Professor William Ayers of the University of Illinois at Chicago (whose right to speak FIRE has […]

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  • ‘Triangle Business Journal’ on UNC’s Revocation of Emeritus Professor’s Network Access

    July 1, 2011

    North Carolina’s Triangle Business Journal is the latest media outlet to report on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC’s) troubling action against Professor Emeritus Elliot Cramer when UNC succumbed to outside pressure to revoke Cramer’s university network access. The pressure had come from Joseph Villarosa, who has no affiliation with UNC but who drew UNC into his personal dispute with Cramer. FIRE’s Will Creeley commented for the article: “Once the university has established a set of rules, it has set a precedent,” says Will Creeley, director of legal and public advocacy for FIRE. “Professors expect that when they retire, the promise of network access […]

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  • FIRE’s Shibley Raps UNC’s Punishment of Emeritus Professor in ‘Herald-Sun’

    June 24, 2011

    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC’s) decision to revoke the network access of Professor Emeritus Elliot Cramer continues to draw headlines, most recently with today’s column in the Chapel Hill newspaper The Herald-Sun by FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley.  For those unfamiliar with the case, Cramer’s network access was revoked by UNC after an external critic, Joseph Villarosa (with whom Cramer had been in an ongoing, non-university related dispute), complained to UNC about a link Cramer posted on his university website. This link carried readers to a site for an animal welfare organization Cramer is affiliated with, through […]

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  • FIRE Corrects the Record on ‘Inside Higher Ed’ Reporting of UNC Case

    June 22, 2011

    Inside Higher Ed runs a story today on the case of Elliot Cramer, Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), whose UNC network privileges were terminated by the university as a result of Joseph Villarosa’s attempts to draw UNC into a private dispute between him and Cramer. (Villarosa is unaffiliated with UNC.) Inside Higher Ed‘s story is informed by our press release about the case, released yesterday, and we’re grateful for its coverage of the situation. However, Inside Higher Ed‘s article overemphasizes the role of an earlier dispute involving the Friends of Orange County Animal […]

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  • UNC-Chapel Hill Surrenders to ‘Heckler’s Veto,’ Revokes Emeritus Professor’s Network Access

    June 21, 2011

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C., June 21, 2011—The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has surrendered to the “heckler’s veto” by revoking Professor Emeritus Elliot Cramer’s network access following outside complaints about a link on his website to an organization that advocates for animal welfare. Despite telling the complaining individual that the dispute was “not a University matter” and that the university did not monitor the content of websites maintained by professors, UNC nevertheless demanded that Cramer remove the link from his website and later canceled his network access entirely. Cramer came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for […]

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  • Resolutions to Protect Academic Freedom of Faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Delaware

    November 19, 2010

    Faculty bodies around the country have been enacting new academic freedom protections in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, about which we have written plenty here on The Torch. In a footnote in Garcetti, the Court reserved the question of whether professors at public universities have academic freedom to criticize university policies or even enjoy academic freedom in their own research and teaching, but some lower court decisions in academic freedom cases since Garcetti have nevertheless further endangered faculty members’ traditional academic freedom. Joining the University of Minnesota, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin, the Faculty Senate at the […]

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  • FIRE’s Robert Shibley Takes on UNC Speech Codes in ‘Chapel Hill Herald’ Op-Ed

    October 18, 2010

    Sunday’s edition of the Chapel Hill (N.C.) Herald contained a sharp op-ed by FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley, who devoted his section of editorial real estate to an analysis of the problems presented by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s (UNC’s) speech codes and an overview of the school’s recent history with free speech on campus.  UNC’s codes currently earn a “yellow light” rating from FIRE, and Robert—a new North Carolina resident as of last month—tells Herald readers one of the reasons why: UNC has several policies that can be used to ban or excessively regulate constitutionally protected speech. Among […]

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  • ‘The Daily Tar Heel’ on FIRE at UNC-Chapel Hill

    October 6, 2010

    I was privileged to be part of a panel discussion for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s First Amendment Day observance last Thursday. I joined Jenna Ashley Robinson of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and Stephanie Davis, president of UNC’s College Libertarians club, on a panel to discuss free speech at UNC in particular and on our nation’s campuses in general. The Daily Tar Heel campus newspaper covered the event and subsequently ran an editorial about free speech at UNC. The editorial board affirmed its support of FIRE’s mission, saying, “[w]e admire the organization’s pursuit of making speech […]

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  • FIRE, AAUP, and Thomas Jefferson Center File Brief with Fourth Circuit in Support of UNC Professor

    July 6, 2010

    On Friday, FIRE joined the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in filing an amici curiae brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on behalf of University of North Carolina-Wilmington professor Mike Adams. The brief argues that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Southern Division erred in analyzing Adams’ First Amendment claim. UNC-Wilmington denied Adams a promotion to full professor in 2006, and, with the backing of the Alliance Defense Fund, the conservative Christian professor filed suit against the […]

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  • One Year Later, Heckler’s Veto Shelved at University of North Carolina

    May 5, 2010

    North Carolina’s Pope Center for Higher Education Policy is reporting that a visit to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by former congressman Tom Tancredo went off without incident late last month. Why is this noteworthy, you ask? Because the last time Tancredo visited UNC, his speech was disrupted and he was forced to leave his speaking venue because of violent protests (pepper spray was used to disperse the unruly protestors). In a blog entry about the incident last year, FIRE praised UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp for refusing to back down to those who would shout down […]

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  • Do North Carolina Students Have Freedom of Speech?

    February 17, 2010

    A complete copy of Do North Carolina Students Have Freedom of Speech? is available for download as an Adobe Acrobat file compatible with Adobe Reader. America’s colleges and universities are supposed to be strongholds of classically liberal ideals, including the protection of individual rights and openness to debate and inquiry. Too often, this is not the case. Across the country, universities deny students and faculty their fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression. The report examines the speech, assembly and religious protections for students and faculty at North Carolina’s universities–both public and private. Using the speech code rating system […]

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  • Watch the Video of Greg’s UNC Speech

    November 19, 2009

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff has had a packed schedule of speeches this fall, having spoken at multiple campuses in Ohio, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington, DC. A video of his “Unlearning Liberty” speech given at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is available below. The speech, given during UNC’s First Amendment Day, highlights some of FIRE’s most shocking cases and explores what is at stake if students are not made aware of their rights. As Greg says: “What I fear is that students feel that they have a duty to silence speech that is unprogressive or uncomfortable.  Worst of all, […]

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  • UNC Rejects the Heckler’s Veto

    April 24, 2009

    The First Amendment scored a victory this week at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill when UNC removed and arrested six hecklers who disrupted a campus speech by former Virginia congressman and illegal immigration opponent Virgil Goode. Goode was invited to speak on campus by a group called Youth for Western Civilization. Problems with disruptive hecklers had been expected in the wake of a speech last week by former Congressman Tom Tancredo, another outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, which abruptly ended when violence erupted. During Tancredo’s speech, a window was shattered and police used pepper spray to disperse unruly protestors […]

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  • Editorial Board of UNC’s Daily Tar Heel: “Protect Free Speech”

    March 2, 2009

    The editorial board of the University of North Carolina’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, has published a strong editorial today in defense of freedom of expression on campus. Writing in response to UNC President Erskine Bowles and the UNC Study Commission to Review Student Codes of Conduct as They Relate to Hate Crimes, the editorial board urges that any forthcoming hate crime policy not infringe upon the First Amendment rights of UNC students. The editorial references letters written to the Study Commission by FIRE and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation and argues: A consistent […]

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  • FIRE Cautions University of North Carolina System against Implementing Hate Speech Policy

    February 16, 2009

    Today, FIRE sent a letter to University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles and the UNC Study Commission to Review Student Codes of Conduct as They Relate to Hate Crimes arguing against the implementation of a system-wide hate speech code. Bowles formed the study commission following the discovery of racist comments painted in North Carolina State University’s Free Expression Tunnel after President Barack Obama’s victory last November. In FIRE’s letter, Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley argues that new prohibitions against hate speech on campus would likely violate the First Amendment rights of students and are unnecessary in […]

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  • Nearly Three Years Later, Significant Improvement at North Carolina’s Public Universities

    September 22, 2008

    In January 2006, FIRE and the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy released a Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System. The report took an in-depth look at the speech codes in force at each of the sixteen universities in the UNC System and made detailed recommendations for how those codes could be improved. At the time, 13 of the 16 schools in the system received a “red-light” rating from FIRE for maintaining policies that clearly and substantially restricted students’ right to freedom of speech. Happily, a number of the […]

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  • Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Brought by Christian Fraternity Against U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    May 19, 2006

    A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Christian fraternity against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which had previously refused to recognize the group because it bars non-Christians as members. The outcome was not a clear-cut victory for either side. That is because the university changed its nondiscrimination policy last year, allowing groups to select members “on the basis of commitment to a set of beliefs” — even though they are still forbidden to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, for example. …   To read the full article, please click here: http://chronicle.com/temp/reprint.php?id=6khxfctsx3yv4k4x7wy6yxs84l2g4ksc

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  • ‘UNC Chapel Hill Tries to Spin Away a Major Defeat’

    May 18, 2006

    The Clarion Call, the online newsletter of The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, has published an article Samantha and I wrote about UNC Chapel Hill’s anemic attempt to spin the dismissal of a Christian fraternity’s suit against them as a victory. Some of you may remember FIRE had not one but two cases at UNC Chapel Hill in less than two years, in which the university attempted to force Christian groups to sign a statement that they would not “discriminate” on the basis of religion. As we point out: [C]onstitutionally protected freedom of association is meaningless if […]

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  • Laughable Spin at UNC

    May 5, 2006

    Check out David French’s post over at National Review’s Phi Beta Cons about the University of North Carolina’s lame attempt to spin its loss in a case involving a Christian fraternity’s right to free association into a vindication of what it had said all along. So I know not everyone in the world is a lawyer, but let’s take this hypothetical: (1) a public university refuses to recognize a student group because it will not let that group exclude people who do not share the beliefs of the group; (2) the college is then slammed in the newspapers, on the radio, […]

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  • Newspaper Theft at Troy University: Facebook Article Involved?

    February 15, 2006

    Today’s Inside Higher Ed features an article about an instance of illegal censorship at Troy University in Alabama, which holds the dubious distinction of being one of the targets of FIRE’s Speech Codes Litigation Project because of its unconstitutional speech code. The latest instance of censorship at Troy came last Thursday, when nearly 2,000 out of 3,000 printed copies of the Tropolitan, Troy’s main campus newspaper, were stolen from their distribution sites. Tropolitan staffers surmise that the theft might be connected to the fact that an article in that edition of the paper revealed that university police officers might be […]

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  • Liberty in the Balance in North Carolina

    February 1, 2006

    The number of battles FIRE has had to fight in North Carolina is staggering. Even before our recent (and victorious) headline-grabbing case at UNC Greensboro, we have defended embattled professors at UNC Wilmington, Shaw University, Forsyth Technical Community College, and Duke University; two Christian groups at UNC Chapel Hill; a student newspaper under attack at Craven Community College; and red-light speech codes across the state. The place clearly needs help, and that is exactly what FIRE is trying to give it. Last month, we (along with the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy) released the landmark Report on […]

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  • The War on Christians (and Muslims)

    December 27, 2005

    There has been a lot of talk the past few months about the “war on Christmas,” by which people generally mean the replacement of the religious symbols and language of Christmas with secular language and symbols of the holidays. This is often extended into an argument that there is a growing cultural hostility to the public observance of religion in general and Christianity in particular. It’s not in FIRE’s mission to address these issues with regard to society in general—we leave that to the dozens of groups and thousands of individuals who engage in extended disputes about this every year—but […]

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  • UNC Restores Tradition of Holiday Travesties

    December 15, 2005

    The holiday season is upon us again. Christmas trees, menorahs, and lights festoon homes and streets. Shoppers drive around mall parking lots in a desperate search through a sea of cars for a parking space. Holiday specials take to the airwaves. Americans numbering in the millions travel to visit far-away family members. And some students in the University of North Carolina System get their fundamental rights stomped on. Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. FIRE’s press release today details the newest story of repression in North Carolina’s public university system. Two students at UNC Greensboro (UNCG) face […]

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  • Foggy Thinking about ‘Discrimination’ at UNC

    May 31, 2005

    In his column today, Mike Adams discusses a truly revealing exchange he had with the UNC-Wilmington student newspaper. As readers may know, UNC Chapel Hill has been at the center of a controversy because it wanted a Christian group to add language that to its constitution that said it would not “discriminate” against people who do not share its beliefs: I recently mocked the editors of UNC-Wilmington’s student newspaper, The Seahawk, for wanting Christian organizations to sign a non-discrimination clause that would clearly trump constitutionally protected freedoms of religious expression. I jokingly suggested that the paper believes that “students who […]

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  • Princeton Victory Covered by AP

    May 12, 2005

    Check out the short and sweet article by Associated Press writer Chris Newmarker about the Princeton religious liberty victory we announced yesterday. I was quoted: “We found Princeton’s quick and fair response very encouraging. We’ve found other colleges who haven’t been particularly fair to religious groups, sometimes in an unconstitutional way,” which captures what I find refreshing about this case. Princeton joins schools like LSU in working in good faith to treat religious students fairly after FIRE raised concerns. This is in stark contrast to schools like UNC-Chapel Hill which would rather duke it out in court than allow their […]

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  • What Is Up with North Carolina?

    March 8, 2005

    The recent injunction against UNC is only the latest development in a state that seems downright uncomfortable with basic freedoms. As I have often said on Viewpoints, a radio show in North Carolina on which I have frequently been a guest, North Carolina is a place where students and faculty are punished in violation of basic moral and legal principles right, left, and center. The case of Gale Isaacs at Shaw University is one of the most dramatic examples I have seen of non-political repression at a college. As we wrote in our press release in February 2003: At Shaw […]

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  • Here Comes the Judge: UNC Enjoined

    March 7, 2005

    Those familiar with FIRE’s work over the years will remember our nearly continuous battles with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill over its policies on student organizations, particularly religious groups. UNC’s assault on the freedom of association of religious groups has stretched from December 2002 all the way to the present time. Today’s press release, however, indicates that UNC’s crusade against freedom of association is liable to grind to a halt soon. A federal judge in North Carolina last week issued a preliminary injunction that orders UNC to stop trying to force Alpha Iota Omega (AIO)—a Christian fraternity […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of Association at UNC-Chapel Hill

    March 7, 2005

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C., March 7, 2005—Late last week, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC’s) attempt to prevent a Christian fraternity from choosing its members based on religious belief.  U.S. District Judge Frank W. Bullock of the Middle District of North Carolina found that UNC’s application of its expansive nondiscrimination policy “raises significant constitutional concerns and could be violative of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”  The lawsuit against UNC was filed by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) in coordination with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education […]

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  • Rhode Island College vs. Freedom—Again

    February 23, 2005

    FIRE unfortunately often deals with colleges and universities that repeatedly violate the fundamental rights of students or faculty members. The shining example of this is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which keeps trampling on its students’ rights in almost the same way, confirming my suspicion as a Duke alumnus that UNC is up to no good. The University of Alabama also has been a notable example of a school that just seems unable to get a grasp on freedom. Yet a new contender for the title has arisen from the shores of the Ocean State—Rhode Island College […]

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  • Good News for Religious Liberty

    February 17, 2005

    In a post Monday, I noted that oral arguments in Alpha Iota Omega v. Moeser were scheduled for yesterday. First reports out of Chapel Hill are extremely encouraging. The judge summarily denied the university’s motion to dismiss AIO’s complaint—thereby allowing the lawsuit to proceed—and he made some encouraging comments regarding the merits of AIO’s claims. The Durham Herald-Sun has reported on the hearing. Here are the principal paragraphs: A Christian fraternity at UNC is on the verge of regaining official status as a student organization following a hearing Wednesday in federal court. The three members of Alpha Iota Omega sued […]

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  • A Big Week for Religious Liberty

    February 14, 2005

    This Wednesday, a federal court in North Carolina will hear oral arguments in Alpha Iota Omega Christian Fraternity v. Moeser. For those who have just started following our work, the lawsuit, filed by the Alliance Defense Fund, challenges the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s decision to “derecognize” a Christian fraternity because the fraternity limited its membership to Christian males. The fraternity had refused to comply with a university policy that prohibited the group from discriminating on the basis of religion. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this case for students of faith in our nation’s universities. […]

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  • UNC’s lawsuit saga begins next chapter

    October 25, 2004

    BY STEPHANIE NEWTON STAFF WRITER October 25, 2004 The University is set to respond today to a federal lawsuit that was filed Aug. 25 by a Christian civil rights group when students were just returning to classes. The Alliance Defense Fund stands poised for combat on behalf of Alpha Iota Omega, a three-member Christian fraternity that was denied official UNC recognition. After refusing last fall to sign the nondiscrimination and sexual orientation policies that are required of all UNC organizations, the fraternity members enlisted the support of national civil rights organizations to fight for what they consider their First Amendment […]

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  • A fraternity struggles for freedom

    August 27, 2004

    PHILADELPHIA — The year was 1956, and the NAACP faced a grave challenge to its civil rights advocacy in the South. The State of Alabama had just ordered the NAACP to produce a list of all “members” and “agents” of the NAACP that were operating in Alabama. The NAACP refused to produce this list. Given the historical context, the organization’s objection to Alabama’s demand is easy to understand. If the identities of all NAACP members became publicly known, those individuals could be subject to severe reprisals, including threats and even lynching. In court, the NAACP argued that the First and […]

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  • Alpha Iota Omega Files Suit Against UNC-Chapel Hill

    August 25, 2004

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C., August 25, 2004—A federal lawsuit was filed today against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) by Alpha Iota Omega (AIO), a Christian fraternity that was denied recognition by UNC because it would not agree to open its membership to students of different faiths. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which is fighting on behalf of AIO in its conflict with UNC administrators, is now joined by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which brought the suit against the university. “For too long, UNC has denied religious groups the basic rights that all student […]

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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Denies Recognition to Another Christian Group

    August 12, 2004

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C., August 12, 2004—For the second time in less than two years, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has denied recognition to a Christian group, claiming that the group’s desire to limit its membership to Christians constitutes “discrimination.” “A Christian group has a right to be Christian, a Muslim group has a right to be Muslim, and a Jewish group has a right to be Jewish,” said David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “It seems absurd that anyone in a free society would have to make this argument, but […]

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  • Tolerance in the Ivory Tower

    August 2, 2004

    As members of the House of Representatives return to their home districts during summer recess, Congressmen Walter Jones (R.-N.C.) and Jack Kingston (R.-Ga.) are praying for the success of HConRes 318. Kingston, Jones, and 38 other members of the House co-sponsored this resolution in 2003 based on the Academic Bill of Rights from David Horowitz and his group, Students for Academic Freedom. HConRes 318 is designed to “secure the intellectual independence of faculty members and students and to protect the principle of intellectual diversity” in America’s higher education system, according to the language of the bill. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.) […]

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  • Letter from UNC Division of Student Afffairs Threatening ‘Derecogniton’ of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, December 10, 2002

    December 10, 2002

    Carolina Union A Department in the Division of Student Affairs December 10, 2002 Stephie Crowell IVCF – Off/Grantville 100 Dickens Court Apt. 6 Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514 Dear Ms. Crowell: On September 19, 2002, your group submitted an application for official UNC-Chapel Hill recognition for the 2002-2003 school year. As part of that application, you certified that your group complied with the University policy that “openness to full membership and participation must be available to all members of the University community without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender(where applicable).” Recently […]

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