In a new report on the conflict between open records laws and academic freedom, the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) grades how each state protects researchers’ private academic files from forced disclosure.
Open records laws — also called “sunshine statutes” due to their illuminating effect on the inner workings of government — empower citizens to request records from state and federal institutions. Unfortunately, they may also be abused to target public university professors, who are subject to such laws as government employees. Professors delving into controversial topics like religious liberty and climate science have [...] » Read More
High school juniors and seniors: Your holiday plans are surely filling up, but there is still time to write an essay on the importance of free speech in higher education and submit it to FIRE’s Free Speech Essay Contest. With just three weeks left to enter (the contest ends at midnight on December 31, 2017), it’s time to finally check this important task off your end-of-year to-do list.
You can find examples of past contest-winning essays here. This year’s winners will be announced by January 31, 2018. We will be awarding $20,000 in scholarship prizes, with $10,000 going [...] » Read More
After a nearly two-year-long process, the Harvard Corporation announced earlier this month that the original blacklist policy against members of unrecognized single gender organizations will be enacted as early as next semester, effectively ending freedom of association at Harvard. The policy was first proposed by Dean Rakesh Khurana in May 2016.
The Harvard Corporation consists of 14 members and includes the president of Harvard University, noted sanctions proponent Drew Faust. Despite disciplinary issues being traditionally under faculty governance at Harvard, the Corporation is Harvard’s highest governing body, and theirs is considered to be the final say. The [...] » Read More
Category: Newsdesk, Top Story
Schools: Harvard University
Cases: Harvard University: Blacklisting of Final Club, Fraternity, and Sorority Students
The Institute for Justice doesn’t litigate your typical First Amendment cases.
They generally don’t take cases involving protest bans, controversial speakers, or political dissent. Instead, the libertarian, public-interest law firm takes cases often ascribed to the margins of First Amendment concerns by the public and even some judges: cases involving occupational speech, commercial speech, and campaign finance.
On this episode of So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, we speak with IJ President and General Counsel Scott Bullock about the origin of IJ’s unique brand of First Amendment litigation. Bullock joined the organization at its founding in 1991 [...] » Read More
Attacks on student newspapers following the publication of controversial articles are unfortunately commonplace. Over the years, FIRE has seen newspaper advisers fired, issues stolen from racks, formal disciplinary investigations, attempted administrative takeovers, threats to newspaper funding, and even complete defunding of all student media, simply because some on (or off) campus did not like what a particular student paper published. But perhaps slightly less common is a concerted attack from administrators, faculty, and students on a student newspaper all at once. Sadly, that is exactly what [...] » Read More
This year has been an eventful and oftentimes tumultuous time for free speech on college campuses across the nation. Nowhere has this been more apparent than on the many campuses of the University of California system.
Cognizant of the increasingly tense climate for free expression in higher education, the California legislature unanimously passed a resolution in July urging “all private and public universities in California” to adopt a free speech policy statement consistent with the statement by the chancellor of the University of California at Irvine, Howard Gillman, as well as the “Report of [...] » Read More
ALBION, Mich., Dec. 13, 2017 — Albion College student Alexander Tokie has been left in limbo for weeks while administrators decide whether he will be punished for sending an obviously hyperbolic joke about “ANTIFA and ISIS hunting permits.”
Tokie’s troubles started in September, when he sent an email to his fellow College Republicans with a number of suggestions, some in jest, on countering arguments about “white privilege.” As a joke, Tokie concluded his email by suggesting to his peers: “Take the liberal tears from the idiot you just destroyed in your debate, dissemble your American made Springfield M1911 .45 caliber [...] » Read More
Category: Newsdesk, Press Releases, Top Story
Schools: Albion College
Cases: Albion College: Student Investigated for Hyperbolic Email about Antifa and ISIS
Here at the FIRE office, we practice what we preach. Much like the cases that come through our door, our staff run the gamut of the political and ideological spectrum. Needless to say, office debates are commonplace and we hardly agree on anything. One of the few things that brings us all together is a steadfast belief in the importance of free speech and the open exchange of ideas.
Colleges and universities exist to act as a true “marketplace of ideas,” where views are challenged and debate flourishes. Through our various roles at FIRE, we work hard to make sure free [...] » Read More
FIRE is excited to announce the publication of a new article, “Baking Common Sense into the FERPA Cake: How to Meaningfully Protect Student Rights and the Public Interest,” in the Notre Dame Journal of Legislation.
This legal scholarship, authored by Adam Goldstein and Zach Greenberg, two of FIRE’s Justice Robert H. Jackson Legal Fellows, explores how the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) has been distorted to harm the very students it’s designed to protect. In the article, Adam and Zach discuss how a statute enacted to safeguard student privacy and access has morphed into an excuse for colleges [...] » Read More
This past Friday, FIRE wrote a letter to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, asking UNL to allow a graduate student, Courtney Lawton, to resume teaching duties after her teaching duties were terminated following a campus protest.
Members of the UNL chapter of Turning Point USA were recruiting for their group outside of the so-called “free speech zone” and were approached by a UNL employee who threatened to call police on the group unless they moved to the free speech zone. The employee also said that students were not allowed to hand out “propaganda.” UNL officials later clarified that [...] » Read More