While it amazes me to say it, this year FIRE celebrates its ten-year anniversary. Back in 1999, FIRE was founded by Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate to address a growing problem: the systematic violation of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, due process, and other basic rights on campuses across the nation. Since its founding, FIRE has secured 136 victories at 110 colleges and universities whose total student enrollment exceeds 2.3 million. Among these victories, FIRE is responsible for changing unconstitutional or repressive policies affecting more than 1.4 million students at nearly 70 of these universities.
To honor a decade of hard work and victories in the name of individual rights, FIRE will be hosting events all across the country throughout 2009, culminating in our 10th Anniversary Celebration in New York City in October. Stay tuned for more details about the upcoming events; we would love to see you this year as we take full advantage of our anniversary festivities to draw greater attention to the ongoing problem of rights violations on campus.
Amazingly, despite FIRE’s remarkable record of victories in 2008, many colleges (including all of those on our Red Alert list) continue to show a shocking disregard for basic rights, established law, and the moral and philosophical principles of liberty. It is essential that in our tenth anniversary year, FIRE does everything it can to get the word out about abuses on campus, to reach a larger audience with our mission, to build coalitions to fight for liberty, and to recruit new students and faculty members to the cause in order to ensure that the decline in respect for individual rights on campus stops. FIRE’s greatest hope is that the academy embrace both its role as a marketplace of ideas and its duty to provide rights to its students and faculty, but this can only be accomplished through increased exposure of existing abuses; education of faculty, students, and staff on the basic principles of liberty; and public demand for real, meaningful, and lasting reform.
FIRE has come very far in its mission from where we began ten years ago, and we could not have reached this point without the support of our friends and donors. We are pleased that we will be able to share the excitement of the coming year with all who have made it possible. I hope you will join me in celebrating FIRE’s ten years of service and help us get the word out so that we can make 2009 the best year for liberty on campus since FIRE’s inception.