This Week in the News: UCLA Controversy Continues to Reverberate

By March 25, 2011

Last week, former University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) student Alexandra Wallace was under investigation for harassment after she took to video to complain about the behavior of Asian students in the campus library where she studies-a video that has now generated more than 6.1 million views on YouTube. UCLA dropped its investigation of Wallace last Friday, the same day that Wallace announced she would be leaving UCLA for "personal safety reasons." 

This week, news outlets have continued to report on the story. FIRE’s role in UCLA’s decision to drop the investigation was reported by Larry Gordon and Rick Rojas of the Los Angeles Times (reprinted in the The Kansas City Star), as well as by Lisa Brenner of laist. Meanwhile, Ken of Popehat praised FIRE for focusing exclusively on defending constitutionally protected speech without making value judgments about it.

Elsewhere, The Moral Liberal reprinted Will’s March 11 blog post about the reintroduction in Congress of the speech-chilling "Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act"; Samantha’s March 3 blog post about the Speech Code of the Month, California State University-Chico’s blatantly unconstitutional definition of sexual harassment; and Peter’s March 8 blog post about the censorship of art instructor Stanley Bermudez’ painting at Gainesville State College.

Yesterday evening at Oberlin College in Ohio, Greg discussed student rights on campus and explained how students can promote free speech in their university community. In anticipation of the event, James Kuntz wrote a letter to the editor in the Oberlin Review about the importance of Greg’s upcoming speech and about FIRE more generally.

Torch readers will remember that the Idaho State Board of Education voted to suspend the Idaho State University (ISU) Faculty Senate on February 17, just one week after the Faculty Senate recorded a vote of no confidence in ISU President Arthur C. Vailas. FIRE’s letter to Vailas was mentioned in a column in the Idaho State Journal by Sean Ellis about the serious ramifications ISU could face due to this unusual and insufficiently explained action.   

Here in Pennsylvania, writing on the Commonwealth Foundation’s blog, Charles Mitchell wrote about the top ten reasons Pennsylvanians deserve more from their universities, citing both the successful speech code lawsuit that FIRE coordinated against Shippensburg University as well as FIRE’s poor rankings of most other Pennsylvania institutions.

In other news, an article by Brenda Krueger Huffman of Axcess News about Temple University student group Temple University Purpose and its founder Alvaro Watson highlighted the four times FIRE has intervened to protect free speech at Temple.

Finally, Torch readers might remember that in December, Casey Mattox of the Alliance Defense Fund used FIRE’s Spotlight database, as well as other speech-related criteria, to predict the outcomes of nine of 35 college football bowl games based on universities’ respect for First Amendment rights. Well, Casey’s at it again, but this time he’s predicting the outcomes of the "Sweet Sixteen" and "Elite Eight" rounds of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. To see his predictions for all twelve games, click here, here, here, and here.