This Week in the News: A Whistleblowing Professor and the Campus SaVE Act

By on April 29, 2011

FIRE has continued assisting Dr. James Enstrom, the whistleblowing University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) scientist and professor who is fighting for his job after exposing serious problems involving the California Air Resources Board. Over at the Cato @ Liberty blog,  Ilya Shapiro (a Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies for the Cato Institute and also the Editor-in-Chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review) has brought even more attention (including a link to Reason.tv’s video on this debacle of justice) to this ongoing scandal at UCLA.

In The Atlantic, FIRE Board of Advisors member Wendy Kaminer took on the propsed federal "Campus SaVE Act," which would require colleges to lower the standard of evidence for sexual crimes to a "preponderance of the evidence" standard that criminal courts may not use even for the simplest misdemeanors, while Will called into question the bill’s finding that most colleges do not educate about sexual violence.

Will is also quoted speaking out against the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act‘s lack of free speech protections in an article by Mary Beth Marklein of USA Today. Elsewhere, FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate’s most recent essay for the Forbes website discussed how the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights’ recent guidance on harassment advances the already overwhelming "risk management" mentality on America’s campuses that manifests itself in burdensome speech codes.

Last week, University of Iowa (UI) College Republicans sent out a pre-approved mass email promoting "Conservative Coming Out Week." In response, an outraged anthropology and women’s studies professor, Ellen Lewin, fired back, "FUCK YOU, REPUBLICANS." Erica’s blog post (re-posted on reddit.com) about the highly-publicized controversy demonstrated how free speech exposes people’s views to public criticism better than censorship ever can.

Adam was on Point of View radio today discussing religious liberty and viewpoint discrimination on college campuses, following FIRE’s victory at Northern Illinois University (NIU). Jacob Sullum, writing for the Reason blog Hit and Run, also covered this victory for equal treatment of student organizations, including NIU Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), which first brought the case to FIRE’s attention after SSDP was denied official recognition at NIU.

Meanwhile, at Pajamas Media, Robert highlighted the censorship of Ethel Borel-Donohue, the student who was banned from distributing literature on abortion, birth control, and breast cancer to her classmates after class at Sinclair Community College in Ohio. 

In other news, Bill Gleason’s column in the Star-Tribune (Minneapolis, Minn.) mentioned FIRE’s role in persuading the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities to abandon its plans to enforce a political litmus test for future teachers in 2009. Also, an article at KnightNews.com noted Adam’s involvement in defending the right of KnightNews.com reporters to film in a public area of the University of Central Florida.

Finally, in an article by Nicole Boucher of The Brown Daily Herald about a notable discovery in a prominent sexual harassment case at Brown University, Robert and Azhar argued that universities tend to not afford proper due process to the accused in sexual harassment cases.