• South Carolina Legislature Punishes State Universities for Assigning LGBT-themed Books

    August 27, 2015
    Category: Free Speech

    On June 12, 2014, in a deeply disappointing development, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley approved a provision in the state’s budget that punished two state universities—the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate—for including LGBT-themed books as required reading for freshmen. The troublesome provision required the two institutions to spend the same amount of funds allocated in 2013 on the LGBT-themed books to instead teach the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Federalist Papers, “including the study of and devotion to American institutions and ideals.” FIRE wrote to Governor Haley on March 12, 2014, to urge her […]

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  • University of California, Davis: Administrators Reverse Decision to Punish Student Club That Used University Name

    August 27, 2015
    Category: Free Speech

    On November 26, 2014, UC Davis’ Center for Student Involvement (CSI) emailed the Ayn Rand Society at UC Davis informing the group that the website address for its Facebook page violated UC Davis’ trademark policy, as it contained “UCD” in the website URL. CSI demanded ARS take down its Facebook page or lose its “good standing” status, including its listing on UC Davis’ student-organization search page, as well as its ability to reserve campus meeting rooms and apply for funding and grants. ARS refused to comply with CSI’s request and on December 8, 2014 was notified that sanctions were being imposed against it. FIRE wrote UC Davis asking university officials to review and retract the punishment because it violated the students’ First Amendment rights and constituted an unreasonable restriction on the use of the college’s trademark. In August, 2015, CSI Director Anne Reynolds Myler wrote FIRE and ARS President Hong Phuc Ho Chung informing them UC Davis determined the club’s use of “UCD” did not violate the university’s trademark policy and that ARS’s status would be restored.

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  • University of Toledo: Police Enforce Unwritten Policy to Censor Political Protesters

    August 20, 2015
    Category: Free Speech

    On September 15, 2014, former presidential advisor Karl Rove spoke at UT as part of a university-sponsored lecture series, which was free and open to the public. A group of students and community members aimed to peacefully protest Rove’s appearance and prior involvement in President George W. Bush’s foreign policy by distributing literature outside the lecture venue and carrying signs of protest. Campus police, however, prevented from entering the event with their signs despite the students’ assurances that they would not be disruptive to other attendees and repeatedly failed to cite any UT policy justifying their censorship of the students’ protest. FIRE wrote to UT regarding its unconstitutional censorship of the protesters’ activity on October 10, 2014, having been alerted to the incident by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). In response, UT worked with the organizations to craft a new “Expression on Campus” policy, which took effect June 1, 2015, and includes protections for students’ right to peaceful protest and demonstration.

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  • Rowan College at Gloucester County: Professor Fired After Student Complaints Over Classroom Language and Course Content

    August 12, 2015
    Category: Due Process, Free Speech

    Sociology professor Dawn Tawwater assumed a new position as a tenure-track professor at Rowan College at Gloucester County in September 2014, teaching five course sections. Within weeks of beginning her teaching, however, Tawwater was the subject of four student complaints regarding, among other matters, her occasional use of profanity in the classroom and her screening of a racy feminist parody of the music video for the Robin Thicke song “Blurred Lines.” At an October 6 hearing Rowan attempted to force Tawwater to sign a “Last Chance Agreement” requiring that she “refrain from using indecent language in the classroom” and apologize […]

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  • Texas Christian University: Student Suspended for Social Media Posts

    July 29, 2015
    Category: Free Speech

    On May 8, 2015, Texas Christian University (TCU) suspended student Harry Vincent for commentary posted to his personal Facebook and Twitter profiles related to current events, including unrest in Baltimore and the rise of the “Islamic State.” The suspension came after a non-student apparently living in Maryland created a post on her Tumblr page containing screenshots of several of Vincent’s posts, labeling them “racist” and “disgusting,” and asking readers to contact TCU to report his speech. As part of its sanctions, TCU banned Vincent from participating in any co-curricular activities on campus and utilizing any non-academic campus facilities, and it […]

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  • Oakton Community College: Faculty Member Sent Cease-and-Desist Letter for “May Day” Email

    July 16, 2015
    Category: Free Speech

    A lawyer representing Oakton Community College (OCC) sent a cease-and-desist letter to a member of the college faculty…

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  • Crafton Hills College: Content Warning on Graphic Novel Coursework

    July 9, 2015
    Category: Free Speech

    In the Spring 2015 semester at Crafton Hills College, a student and her parents objected to the violent and sexual content in several works in an English course on graphic novels, including Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House.

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  • Northwestern University: Censorship of Faculty-Produced Bioethics Journal with “Bad Girls” Theme

    June 16, 2015
    Category: Free Speech

    Administrators at Northwestern University censored a publication because it published an issue with a “Bad Girls” theme deemed too salacious for the school’s image.

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  • House Judiciary Committee Hearing on “First Amendment Protections on Public College and University Campuses”

    June 2, 2015
    Category: Free Speech

    On June 2, 2015, FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff addressed the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice on the state of free speech on America’s public college campuses. Lukianoff was joined by attorney and author Wendy Kaminer; Kim Colby, Director of the Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom; and Professor Jamie Raskin of American University Washington College of Law.

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  • Blinn College – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit

    May 20, 2015
    Category: Free Speech

    An administrator told Nicole Sanders that she would need “special permission” to display a gun rights sign and collect signatures for her student group on campus.

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