As the holiday cheer fills our hearts and homes, we here at FIRE want to take a moment to reflect back on 2013. From the federal government backing down from an unconstitutional, national speech code mandate, to North Carolina securing students’ right to hire counsel, to Modesto Junior College in California agreeing to suspend enforcement of its “free speech zone,” we’ve celebrated many victories for student rights this year.
But despite these major successes, events in 2013 clearly demonstrated that FIRE’s work is far from over. Indeed, the need for a determined defense of liberty on campus has never been more evident. Consider these two stunning examples.
In September, a Louisiana State University (LSU) student took to the pages of her student newspaper (and created a video) to lament the recent dismantling of LSU’s “free speech zone.” The student was upset because she—gasp!—might be exposed to viewpoints she disagrees with “anywhere on campus.” And in October, Brown University students organized to effectively censor New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, under whose leadership NYC implemented its controversial “Stop and Frisk” policy. In the words of one of the student organizers, “They decided not to cancel the lecture, so we decided to cancel it for them.”
These incidents are not outliers. In fact, in 2013, FIRE has seen the highest number of cases filed in our 14-year history. But we are not the only ones to make note of these trends.
This summer, the First Amendment Center’s annual survey reported 47% of Americans aged 18–30 agreed with the statement, “The First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.” Obviously, this finding is deeply troubling.
The increasing disregard for free speech, due process, and individual rights on American campuses indicates that FIRE’s work is more necessary than ever. Support from donors and concerned citizens is what makes our work defending student and faculty rights and restoring respect for liberty on campus possible. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to FIRE this holiday season.
Happy holidays to you and yours!