The Unreported Abuses

By on April 20, 2005

Despite the fact that FIRE receives hundreds of formal and
informal complaints every year, I remain convinced that there are a much larger
number of unreported civil liberties abuses in academia. This suspicion is
confirmed every time I speak at a university (side note: if you want me to come
speak at your school, please email
us). Following my speech, students will stream forward to tell their own tales
of censorship and repression. Last week, I was at Colgate in upstate New York
and the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, and this is what I
heard (keep in mind that these are unverified reports; I am merely repeating
what I was told):

  • At Colgate, student government candidates were accused of
    “sexual harassment” after creating posters that contained sexual double
    entendres;
  • At Colgate, a professor reported that he’s not aware of a
    single “legal” hire during his time at the school (meaning that ideology and
    religion were always discussed during hiring committee meetings);
  • At Colgate, flyers or other advertisements for pro-Greek
    events or causes were routinely torn down—with no response from the
    administration;
  • At IIT, an entire fraternity was sentenced to mandatory sensitivity
    training for portraying a straight administrator as gay during a skit;
  • At IIT, when a piece of school equipment was removed from a
    wall mounting, every dorm room in the building was searched (usually without
    the occupants’ knowledge). Furniture was moved and clothing drawers ransacked;
  • At IIT, fraternities were punished for holding parties with
    the themes “White Trash Bash” and “Froes and Forties”;
  • At IIT, if prospective students are staying in a fraternity
    house, every member of the house must agree not to disparage the school in any
    way; and
  • My personal favorite—at IIT, the administration initially
    refused to allow the student who sponsored my visit to post a flyer
    advertising my speech.

Together these incidents give students a clear message:
conform to our ideology and expectations, or you will be punished. You have to
love the modern university, which seeks to build future leaders by teaching
absolute obedience and teaches democracy by censoring dissent.

Schools: Colgate University