Earlier this month in The Daily Caller, Robert warned the families of students heading to campus this fall that “college isn’t what it used to be.” Here at FIRE, we’re all too aware of the current threats to student and faculty rights, from unconstitutional speech codes and ridiculous “free speech zones” to the reduction of due process rights for students accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault. As advocates for individual rights, we want to prepare faculty and students to confront these issues and defend their rights as they head back to school.
Today, FIRE launched its new “Free Speech Toolbox” to help faculty, students, and their families. The Toolbox aggregates FIRE resources for students, faculty, parents, citizens, and lawyers at one convenient link. Be sure to bookmark the page for easy reference all year: http://thefire.org/backtoschool.
On The Torch this week, we will be highlighting the many FIRE resources included in the Toolbox. For the first post in this series, check out FIRE’s resources for current students below.
FIRE Resources for Students: Campus Freedom Network
The first step for every student who supports FIRE’s mission is to join FIRE’s Campus Freedom Network (CFN), a loose coalition of students and faculty members at colleges and universities across the country dedicated to promoting free speech on campus. Joining the CFN is the best way to ensure that you receive up-to-date information about threats to free speech on your campus, and to hear about FIRE’s new resources for students. Every student who signs up will receive a FREE FIRE T-shirt (pictured here) and will be eligible to attend the 2012 CFN Conference next July.
Why else should you join the CFN? CFN members truly make a difference on their campuses. CFN students challenge coercive campus speech codes, and they have achieved green light status for schools including The College of William & Mary and the University of Virginia. They teach fellow students about their rights on campus by publishing op-ed pieces, distributing FIRE’s Guides on Constitution Day and First Amendment Day, hosting FIRE speakers on campus, building “Free Speech Walls,” and even starting student groups to advocate for student rights.
Sign up today at www.thecfn.org/register.
FIRE’s Guides to Student Rights on Campus are comprehensive primers for students who want to learn more about their rights on campus. The series includes volumes on free speech, due process, student fees and funding, religious liberty, and first-year orientation and thought reform. The full texts of FIRE’s Guides are available at www.thefire.org/guides as downloadable PDF files and in searchable HTML.
FIRE has also developed pamphlets to answer student questions on a variety of topics, including:
- Correcting Common Mistakes in Campus Speech Policies
- Challenging Your College’s Speech Code
- FAQ for Students on New OCR Mandates
- ‘Christian Legal Society v. Martinez‘: Frequently Asked Questions
Spotlight: The Campus Freedom Resource
FIRE’s Spotlight database allows visitors to view a complete picture of the restrictions on speech at specific schools, including speech codes, actual cases of censorship, media coverage, and entries from FIRE’s blog, The Torch. The database includes policies from nearly 400 colleges and universities, rating the overall school and each individual policy as “red light,” “yellow light,” or “green light.” Students can see their school’s rating and FIRE case history with a quick search at www.thefire.org/spotlight.
Student reform campaigns have successfully changed policies at schools including The College of William & Mary and the University of Virginia. If you find unconstitutional policies at your school, remember that you can help to change them and that FIRE is here to help.
Through the FIRE Speakers Bureau, students can invite FIRE staff members to speak about threats to free speech and due process at their schools. Hosting a FIRE speaker is a great way to raise awareness of threats to free speech on campus, and FIRE speakers can address topics including campus speech codes, due process rights, and how today’s students are unlearning liberty. Additionally, FIRE has a variety of resources including posters, sample press releases, and an event checklist to help students promote their FIRE speech.
As you can see on last year’s Speakers Bureau map, FIRE staff spoke at almost 40 schools last year, and our schedule is already starting to fill up for 2011-2012. Invite a FIRE speaker to your campus today by filling out this form or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.