So you think you’re tolerant: the paradox of tolerance

    By on August 10, 2018

    College students live in a near-constant state of paradox. We’re supposed to be pushing boundaries while also following the blueprint for success. We’re in a time of transition, but are expected to grow roots nevertheless. One particularly stark example is the idea which philosopher Karl Popper so aptly termed the “paradox of tolerance.” We regularly see this presented by college students clamoring for a nouveau culture of tolerance — encouraging the practices of compassion, understanding, and empathy above all else. But all of this comes with the caveat that it only be the specific brand of tolerance of these [...] » Read More


    Category: Newsdesk, Top Story

    Harvard sorority closes down due to sanctions policy

    By on August 9, 2018

    The ongoing controversy at Harvard University over “unrecognized single-gender social organizations” has claimed another victim: the Delta Gamma sorority. Harvard’s Delta Gamma chapter, facing the choice of going co-ed or having its members lose academic and leadership opportunities, chose to disband.

    If you follow FIRE’s Newsdesk, you are likely aware that the Harvard administration has decided to impose penalties on members of independent single-gender social organizations, such as fraternities, sororities, and Harvard-specific groups called “final clubs,” ostensibly because their single-gender membership practices are “discriminatory.” The penalties include loss of eligibility for: leadership of student groups and sports teams; prestigious [...] » Read More


    Category: Newsdesk, Top Story Schools: Harvard University

    So to Speak podcast: ‘Robotica: Speech Rights & Artificial Intelligence’

    By on August 9, 2018


    How should we think about speech rights in the age of artificial intelligence and advanced robotics?

    On today’s episode of So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, we are joined by First Amendment scholars Ronald Collins and David Skover. They are the authors of the new book, Robotica: Speech Rights & Artificial Intelligence.

    From the printing press to the internet, advances in communications technology often upset the established order and spawn demands for censorship. There is little reason to suspect advances in artificial intelligence will be treated differently. As free speech advocates, how should we respond to these demands?

    To [...] » Read More


    Category: Newsdesk, So To Speak, Top Story

    Due process needs a checkup

    By on August 9, 2018

    In many campus disciplinary hearings, student council members evaluate evidence that they are unqualified to review. The lack of expert opinions in these proceedings is worrying, and should be a matter of concern for students on all college campuses. Our campus hearings should mirror that of our legal proceedings as closely as possible to ensure fairness and efficiency; it is unacceptable to expect any less.

    At my school, however, we’re working to rectify this problem — in September 2014, the College of William & Mary passed a new amendment to the Student Handbook that allows students facing both academic [...] » Read More


    Category: Newsdesk, Top Story

    Clear and Present Danger podcast – The great disruption: Part 2

    By on August 9, 2018

    In episode 11, we continue to survey the wreckage after hurricane Luther was unleashed on Europe with the Reformation. When the Reformation mutated and spread across the continent,  burning questions arose: Could people of different faiths live together in the same state? Should social peace be based on tolerance or intolerance? We look into those and other questions such as:

    How did other Protestant reformers like Calvin and Zwingli react to religious dissent? In what manner did English and continental censorship laws differ? How did the Catholic Church react to the Reformation? Which states were the first to formalize religious tolerance? How did [...] » Read More


    Category: Newsdesk, Top Story

    You v. The United States

    By on August 8, 2018

    After my first run in with the legal system, I was sure the law was not for me.

    And no, it was not a typical encounter. Unlike my fellow 16-year-olds who were getting hauled into the local police station for breaking curfews and other typical teen miscreant behavior, I was involved in a different type of legal trouble. For an entire year I was tormented by the unruly and often misunderstood subject of constitutional law.

    On a whim, I chose to compete on my high school’s intense constitutional law team, where I was willfully shackled to complex legal jargon and [...] » Read More


    Category: Newsdesk, Top Story

    The Problem With “Proactive” Universities

    By on August 8, 2018

    At a recent Intelligence Squared debate, Wesleyan University President Michael Roth made an interesting statement. As a Wesleyan student myself, his statement was particularly intriguing.  Roth, who has written extensively on higher education issues, was discussing the nature of harm and the various ways in which the imposition of harm can be defined or considered a punishable offense by a university administration. Roth argued, “We’re not in a position where we have to wait for repetitive harassment to occur so it meets the legal definition. We can be proactive. Because when students go to college, they aren’t signing [...] » Read More


    Category: Newsdesk, Top Story Schools: Wesleyan University

    Speech Code of the Month: Shawnee State University

    By on August 8, 2018

    Bans on posting or sending “racially offensive” or “racist” materials over university wireless networks are unfortunately commonplace in FIRE’s Spotlight database. As FIRE has discussed time and time again, materials about race that are subjectively offensive to some — or even most — are still protected by the First Amendment, unless they’re included in unprotected speech or conduct like threats or harassment.

    But Ohio’s Shawnee State University has somehow gone even further than those more typical bans, earning its spot as FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month for August 2018. The university’s “Conditions for Use of [...] » Read More


    Category: Newsdesk, Speech Code of the Month, Top Story Schools: Shawnee State University

    A Longhorn’s lessons in free speech

    By on August 7, 2018

    If the eyes are the windows to the soul, creativity is the key that unlocks the front door. As college students, we’re pushed to our limits in academic and extracurricular commitments alike; we are no strangers to stress. And sometimes, we’re left with only one option: to develop creative solutions to our problems. But what would happen if the tool that allows us to be creative thinkers was no longer available on our campuses? What would happen if our institutions limited our expression? If I have learned anything from my time in college, it is that no two students are [...] » Read More


    Category: Newsdesk, Top Story Schools: University of Texas at Austin

    Laughing at the iron fist

    By on August 7, 2018

    When the hero laughs at the bad guy in a movie, what is he doing? Is he genuinely amused by the actions of the antagonist? Or is it a show of power? A way for the hero to disarm the villain?

    Laughter rejects power. If the good guy in a movie instead angrily screams and kicks and yells at the villain, there is an affirmation of the bad guy’s power. The hero would be saying: “I am upset because you have power, and I don’t like it.” When he chuckles a long, hearty laugh towards the villain, he says: “Your [...] » Read More


    Category: Newsdesk, Top Story