Stanford University: Student Reported for Reading Adolf Hilter’s Autobiography, “Mein Kampf”


Stanford University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

In January 2023, two Stanford students were reported via the school’s Protected Identity Harm (PIH) reporting system after being photographed while appearing to read Adolf Hitler’s autobiography, “Mein Kampf.” Although the PIH reporting system isn’t used to adjudicate or investigate, administrators will “invite” accused students to participate in voluntary resolutions. On January 25, FIRE wrote Stanford expressing concern that the power dynamic between administrator and student is so significant that a student would be unlikely to interpret the invitation as genuinely voluntary and would instead self-censor accordingly. FIRE asked Stanford to uphold its promised culture of free expression by rethinking how it involves students accused of exercising their free expression rights. Stanford responded on February 1, insisting that no one is being punished or investigated for reading a book, and affirming its commitment to academic freedom and freedom of expression. In April, FIRE secured a victory when Stanford revised the reporting system by, among other things, adding that “Offending students are not contacted.”