At FIRE, we stand ready and willing to help students whose expressive rights have been violated by their universities. Another key part of our mission, however, is to provide students with tools they can use to stand up for their own rights. Our Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System provided such a tool to graduate student Paul Funderburk, president of the ACLU of Appalachian State University.
After the Report publicized Appalachian State’s unconstitutional harassment policy, Funderburk took action. He met with administrators and urged them to repeal the policy, which prohibited “insults, taunts, or challenges directed toward another person….” Shortly thereafter, an administrator contacted FIRE to let us know that the policy had been repealed.
Paul Funderburk’s success is a great example of how students can change the climate on their own campuses. Our database, Spotlight: The Campus Freedom Resource, contains information about speech codes at over 350 colleges and universities. Students, we urge you to look up your own university in the database and to approach your administration about policies that illegally and/or unfairly restrict your freedom of speech. That’s why the database exists—to give you information that you can use to stand up for your rights. You are on the front lines of the battle for free speech, and we are here to help.