Three weeks ago FIRE announced the shocking case of Professor Stephen Kershnar at SUNY Fredonia. Kershnar was denied a well-deserved promotion because of his public criticism of the university on issues ranging from its oppressive student conduct code to its affirmative action policies. After intense media scrutiny resulting from FIRE’s press release, the university relented: on Friday Professor Kershnar was notified he will receive the promotion he deserves.
In my five years working at FIRE I have seen so many outrageous cases; we have directly helped thousands of students, and indirectly—through our guides, speech codes database and speech codes litigation project—helped untold numbers. Despite all of our successes, however, I have rarely felt as proud as I did when Professor Kershnar called to tell us of SUNY Fredonia’s reversal and to thank us for our work on his behalf. SUNY Fredonia was playing an unfair and unlawful game with a man’s career and didn’t seem the least bit concerned about the ramifications of its actions until FIRE took the case public. I wish we lived in a world where universities like SUNY Fredonia would do the right thing for its own sake, but as long as we still live in this world, I am very proud that FIRE could help set right an egregious wrong.