University of Oregon: Derecognition of Student Group for ‘Offensive’ Publication

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Oregon

The Oregon Commentator, a conservative student magazine, won a three-month long battle for press freedom from the University of Oregon student government. When a transgendered student senator complained of being offended after being mocked in the magazine, the student government finance committee rejected the Commentator‘s mission statement, which had remained unchanged for the past 21 years. The finance committee publicly denied their constitutional obligation to distribute student fees on a viewpoint-neutral basis. FIRE wrote to UO President Dave Frohnmayer, who declared he didn’t want to intervene in the funding process. It was not until FIRE sent an open letter to the student government, reminding them that the First Amendment undoubtedly applies to public universities, that the Commentator‘s mission statement was approved.

  • The ‘No Viewpoint’ Viewpoint

    June 6, 2005

    By Greg Lukianoff at Inside Higher Ed Imagine a college student returning to campus next fall and being greeted by a student government representative who asks her if she is devoutly religious or not. She answers “yes” and the representative responds, “I am sorry, the student government has decided that the separation of church and state means that, as state college, we have to be free of religious students. You may want to consider a religious college.” Next imagine this befuddled student taking her complaint to the president of the college and he says “Yes, I know the student government’s […]

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  • FIRE’s Heat Douses Student Censorship in Oregon

    March 10, 2005

    In a sudden turn of events, the University of Oregon student government has increased funding to a conservative student magazine that had been the target of alleged viewpoint discrimination. The Oregon Commentator came under fire after satirizing transgendered student senator Toby Hill-Meyer, who had requested that the campus newspaper refer to him using the general-neutral pronouns “ze” for “he,” and “hir” for “him.” Consequently, the Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO) recognized and denied funding to the magazine for poking fun at Hill-Meyer. That is when the Commentator contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). FIRE’s […]

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  • Commentator’s mission denied, again

    February 2, 2005

    The Programs Finance Committee rejected the Oregon Commentator’s mission statement again Tuesday night in a fierce budget hearing that ended with PFC member Mason Quiroz announcing his resignation. “I just want to publicly state that I don’t support this part of the branch of student government anymore,” Quiroz said in the final moments of the hearing. “I think it’s obvious that our money is going to hateful speech … I don’t care, I don’t care. Kick me out. I resign from my position right now. You guys are sleeping with the devil.” About 110 people crowded into the EMU Gumwood […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of the Press at University of Oregon

    March 3, 2005

    EUGENE, Ore., March 3, 2005—The Oregon Commentator, a conservative student magazine, has won a three-month-long battle for press freedom against the University of Oregon (UO) student government.  The Commentator had been derecognized and denied funding after it published items satirizing a transgendered student senator.  Acting in response to student complaints, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) intervened, writing letters to the administration and to relevant campus leaders.  On March 2, FIRE learned that the student government had reversed its unconstitutional actions and re-recognized the Commentator.   “We are pleased that the Commentator has finally been restored to its […]

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