We Can’t Afford Campus Censorship

By December 9, 2011

Did you know that as of 2008, only 46% of full-time employees on campus were faculty members while 54% were full-time "professionals"? In a recent National Review Online article, Heather Mac Donald reported that the "Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion" at UC Berkeley, who is in charge of 17 people, controls a 4.5 million dollar budget. That’s more than twice FIRE’s annual budget!

And earlier this week, The Chronicle of Higher Education all but confirmed how higher ed places campus bureaucracy above instruction when it released a survey showing a yawning salary gap between professors and presidents of private colleges and universities. It should come as no surprise to FIRE’s supporters that some of the highest paid presidents in the country lead schools that are the most guilty of censoring and silencing their student bodies. In fact, the very first school FIRE labeled as the "worst of the worst" for violating its students’ rights and added to FIRE’s Red Alert list, Johns Hopkins University, paid its then-president William R. Brody more than $3.8 million in 2009, including his golden parachute.

Salaries like this are funded by your tax dollars in the form of huge government grants and subsidies. With "rewards" like this, the very least these leaders can do is deliver on their promises of free speech.

But the truth is, we’re paying for censorship, and we can’t afford it.

On less than half of what a single slice of UC Berkeley’s diversity bureaucracy spends each year, FIRE has:

  • Distributed approximately 300,000 online and print copies of our Guides to Student Rights on Campus;
  • Given thousands of high school students the chance to learn about their basic rights and win a college scholarship through our "Freedom in Academia" Essay Contest;
  • Brought more than 200 ideologically diverse students to Philadelphia to debate ideas, learn from leading First Amendment experts, take an in-depth look at the principles of liberty, and celebrate the fundamental freedoms they have as Americans;
  • Decreased the percentage of schools maintaining broad, vague, or unconstitutional speech policies; and
  • Successfully and publicly defended students and faculty members at more than 150 schools who were unfairly and often unlawfully silenced or sanctioned just for speaking their minds, while helping thousands more behind the scenes.

So while campus bureaucracies continue to expand at horrifying rates, often using their massive budgets to silence unpopular speech or expression they simply don’t like, FIRE is putting our resources to good use keeping these censors in check and promoting a campus culture where it’s safe to speak one’s mind.

To improve the higher education experience for millions of students across the country, a gift to FIRE is the smartest investment you can make. With your support, FIRE executes an effective and cost-efficient approach to bringing justice to college campuses and effecting widespread change in the name of free speech.

We know we’re up against the powerful and expansive higher education industry, but our solid reputation allows us to win where others cannot. Join us and pledge your support today. Your gift is 100% tax deductible.

This blog post was originally an email I sent to FIRE supporters earlier in the week, but I wanted to also share it with our loyal Torch readers today.