As Torch readers know, FIRE’s electronic billboard criticizing Bucknell University’s poor free speech record has been out on Route 15 in Pennsylvania since September 20. The ad was placed in reaction to three separate occasions on which the university shut down the expression of the Bucknell University Conservatives Club (BUCC), as well as Bucknell’s policy preventing "affirmative action bake sale" protests and "gender wage gap bake sale" protests. Bucknell’s student newspaper, The Bucknellian, caught wind of the public shame and blogged about it, noting our intention for the ad:
Representatives of FIRE hope the new billboard advertisement will force the University to make amendments to the policies that prevented the bake sale from continuing.
Indeed we do. Only then will Bucknell students be able to take full advantage of the marketplace of ideas that a college campus is supposed to be. Once these changes have been made, FIRE will not only remedy the message on our billboard, but also remove Bucknell from our Red Alert list of the worst of the worst colleges for free speech on campus. The Bucknellian quotes FIRE’s Adam Kissel, who says it best:
"We hope that Bucknell will revise the two policies it has used to infringe upon freedom of speech. Bucknell promises free speech, so Bucknell students deserve the same rights that students have at public colleges that are bound by the First Amendment. Why would Bucknell want to offer fewer rights than they have off of campus or at a public college?" Kissel said.
But until Bucknell follows through on its promises of free speech, those traveling on Route 15 in Lewisburg will know the real truth about the university’s free speech record—in brightly-lit digital glory.