Campus Muzzles Announced: Yale, Wesleyan, Widener, UMass

July 1, 2011

The annual Campus Muzzles in The Boston Phoenix feature Yale University’s punishment of a fraternity chant, Wesleyan University’s ban on fraternizing with an unregistered organization, Widener University School of Law’s attempts to fire a law professor for using common hypothetical scenarios, and University of Massachusetts Amherst’s vague and overbroad proposal to ban "bullying" and impose an ideological morality code on its students. 

FIRE co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate selects the Campus Muzzles each year to highlight schools’ violations of fundamental rights on campus, focusing on New England and occasionally stretching down as far as Delaware, where Widener is located.

Widener’s actions have been so outrageous that the school has received a Double Muzzle. Yale is a repeat "winner" (it won in 2010) and was FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month for June 2011. 
Wesleyan partially reversed its ban after FIRE intervened and students advocated for the right to freedom of association that Wesleyan (a private university) had promised them. Yet, fraternizing with an unregistered Greek organization at Wesleyan–which includes taking meals or engaging in any social activity on the organization’s property–is still forbidden.

The good news here is that UMass Amherst looks like it will escape from its provisional Muzzle, having rejected much of the proposal described in Harvey’s article. Here is the updated policy in PDF format. Stay tuned for a closer analysis of what UMass Amherst has done and what it still needs to do to be in line with the First Amendment.