Weekly Media Round-up: Student Press Back for the Fall

By on September 5, 2008

Last week, FIRE kicked off the school year with the placement of a full-page advertisement in the current "America’s Best Colleges" edition of U.S. News and World Report, which helped generate record traffic to our website and introduce parents, students, and faculty around the country to FIRE’s work. The ad continues to generate buzz for FIRE, and we have every hope that the ad helps usher in our most successful year ever.

This week, as students around the country are settling into the new semester, a number of student journalists have written about FIRE’s work on America’s campuses. Cornell University student Mike Wacker, in his first editorial column of the year at the Cornell Daily Sun, takes aim at the numerous free-speech double standards in place at the university. Wacker, a self-described conservative, has been called "racist" for running afoul of such double standards in his columns. He similarly cites some controversial articles written by members of The Cornell Review. He adds:

[A]s Cornell’s history has shown, it is acceptable to express one’s disagreements with The Cornell Review by stealing and burning a bunch of copies of the newspaper. It is also acceptable to have speech-limiting codes which have received a rating of Red from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Elsewhere, Adam was quoted in an article in The Northerner, the student newspaper of Northern Kentucky University (NKU), where he defended the constitutional rights of NKU Student Senator Dennis Chaney, Jr. Chaney, attending a freshman orientation session, was instructed by an administrator "not to pass out condoms as per the Student Orientation Guidelines." While he was later arrested for allegedly disturbing the event by loudly protesting the actions of administrators and the campus police as they confronted him, Adam defended Chaney’s right to distribute condoms to symbolize his antiwar message. About NKU’s speech policy for the event, Adam said, "[t]here’s no reasonable reason to restrict sexual innuendo for prospective adult students." The article concludes by noting NKU’s current red-light rating from FIRE, which this incident certainly did nothing to help.

Finally, as Brandon noted earlier in the week, FIRE’s work was discussed at length in an astute column in The Claremont Independent by Claremont McKenna College student (and CFN member) Charles Johnson. Since Brandon has already written a nice treatment of the article this week, I’ll merely point you to his post and advise you to give Johnson’s article the thorough read it deserves.

I would be remiss, however, not to point you to the Claremont Conservative news blog, to which Johnson contributes, and which also features his article. There you’ll find Claremont McKenna’s Speech Code Widget, as well as the widgets for Harvey Mudd College, Pomona College, and Scripps College. (Pitzer College, the fifth of the Claremont Colleges, is not rated.) Since posting the widgets on the Claremont Conservative, views on the colleges’ Spotlight pages have increased dramatically, a testament to the widgets’ ability to raise awareness of America’s college speech codes. Other students would do well to follow the Claremont Conservative‘s lead.