University of Oklahoma: Ban on E-mailing Political Humor or Commentary

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Oklahoma

Weeks prior to the 2008 presidential election, the University of Oklahoma (OU) notified students and faculty that “the forwarding of political humor/commentary” using their university email accounts was prohibited. After FIRE wrote OU President David L. Boren, explaining that the policy violated the right to freedom of speech, Boren replied that the policy was intended to be applicable only “to the extent discussions are attributable to the University as endorsing or opposing a political candidate.” Boren issued a university-wide statement on October 27, 2008, fully rescinding the earlier email and stating that OU policy “does not limit the right of anyone to express individual views.”

  • FIRE warns multiple universities that political speech bans could be unconstitutional

    October 22, 2008

    By the Student Press Law Center The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education created a political activity policy for colleges and universities to abide by in response to a string of complaints accusing colleges across the country of silencing student and faculty political expression. FIRE, a nonprofit educational foundation, wants all public colleges and universities to acknowledge that students and student groups can express themselves politically on campus under the First Amendment and that faculty employees enjoy the right to engage in partisan political speech when occurring outside of their “employment-related” activities. FIRE released the statement of policy on political […]

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  • At U. of I., a question of supporting candidates on campus

    October 3, 2008

    By Megan Twohey at the Chicago Tribune Students and professors at the University of Illinois decided to rally for Barack Obama on the Urbana-Champaign campus Thursday to make clear their stand on an increasingly controversial question as the November elections approach: Is it legal for employees and students at state colleges to express support for political candidates while on campus? The university’s administration has sparked outrage by telling faculty, staff and graduate students that a 5-year-old state law designed to prevent state workers from campaigning for candidates on state time or with state resources meant they could not express support for […]

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  • Repression of Political Speech and Activity Abounds on College Campuses in 2008

    December 24, 2008

    In an election year when the presidential race between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain dominated much of the country’s attention and media headlines, college and university campuses were certainly not immune to election fever. University students and faculty across the nation joined in the multitude of voices advocating for, criticizing, protesting, and otherwise commenting on the candidates and the hot-button issues of the season. With this came some regrettable consequences. This year, we witnessed a number of colleges and universities prohibiting and punishing many forms of constitutionally protected political speech and activity. While the rights of students and faculty […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech at University of Oklahoma: Ban on Political E-mails Rescinded

    October 28, 2008

    In a resounding victory for free speech, the University of Oklahoma (OU) has rescinded a September statement that banned the use of university e-mail accounts to engage in protected political expression. The reversal is a welcome confirmation of the First Amendment right of OU students, faculty, and staff to engage in protected political expression during this exciting election season and beyond. Here’s the timeline: On September 12, Nicholas S. Hathaway, Executive Vice President and Vice President of Administration and Finance, sent an e-mail to all University of Oklahoma students, faculty, and staff, informing them that university e-mail accounts “may not […]

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  • As election nears, censorship fever hits college campuses

    October 17, 2008

    If you’re a student at the University of Oklahoma and you enjoy The Huffington Post, beware: Your school has forbidden you from forwarding any of the fabulous political content you may find on this site. Sounds crazy, but sadly it’s true. Students at the University of Oklahoma have been warned not to use their university e-mail accounts for “the forwarding of political humor/commentary” during this election season. Meanwhile, anyone who has an actual opinion on the election should think twice about expressing it on a bumper sticker at the University of Illinois, or in their dorm window at University of […]

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  • With Election Weeks Away, Political Speech Under Attack on America’s Campuses

    October 15, 2008

    PHILADELPHIA, October 15, 2008—With the presidential race between John McCain and Barack Obama the focus of national attention, political speech on our nation’s campuses has come under sharp attack. In recent weeks, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has investigated open and blatant attacks on political expression at colleges and universities across the country, from a previously unreported case at Oklahoma, to better-known cases at Illinois and Texas, to cases at smaller schools across the country. This alarming trend towards silencing political expression has prompted FIRE to release a Policy Statement on Political Activity on Campus today. At […]

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  • ‘Chicago Tribune’ Highlights FIRE’s Work Defending Political Speech

    October 3, 2008

    An article in today’s edition of the Chicago Tribune further investigates the outrage among many at the University of Illinois over the September 2008 edition of Ethics Matter, a “newsletter from the University of Illinois Ethics Office.” The memo, which has caused widespread outrage among faculty, suggests that a whole host of political activity is simply out of bounds for faculty members. As the article reports: The university’s administration has sparked outrage by telling faculty, staff and graduate students that a 5-year-old state law designed to prevent state workers from campaigning for candidates on state time or with state resources […]

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