College Student Who Wrote Lusty Essay About Teacher Loses Free Speech Lawsuit

    By on July 24, 2013

    by Alyssa Newcomb

    ABC News

     

    A Michigan college student who was suspended for writing an essay called “Hot For Teacher” had no First Amendment right to express his sexual attraction to his creative writing professor, a federal judge ruled.

    The lawsuit filed by the student, Joseph Corlett, 57, against Oakland University was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan on Tuesday.

    Duggan said Corlett’s “expressions of lust” for his professor, Pamela Mitzelfeld, and “descriptions of her physical appearance are not entitled under First Amendment protection.”

    “When Plaintiff referred to his Oakland University English professor as ‘stacked’ and graphically compared [...] » Read More

     

    Category: blog, Media Coverage Schools: Oakland University


    OK to be ‘annoyed’ in Arkansas: University backtracks on free speech restrictions

    By on July 19, 2013

    by Bob Kellogg

    OneNewsNow

     

    The University of Central Arkansas did a quick about face on its speech code after an academic watchdog group pointed out it was unconstitutional.

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, contacted the University of Central Arkansas about its policy which stated students could be punished for “annoying” speech.

    “Whenever policy prohibits annoying another person and actually uses the word ‘annoying,’ that is unbelievably subjective,” explains Azhar Majeed, director of Legal and Public Advocacy at FIRE.

    Such policies put “protected speech at risk of punishment,” he adds.

    He says the UCA policy even tried to prevent certain speech [...] » Read More

     

    Category: blog, Media Coverage Schools: University of Central Arkansas


    Federal Campus Sexual Harassment Policy Draws Free Speech Concerns

    By on July 17, 2013

    by Tyler Kingkade

    The Huffington Post

     

    The federal government is facing pressure from civil-liberties advocates to back down from a policy meant to curb sexual harassment at colleges and universities — just as sexual-assault survivors demanded in a protest this week that the Education Department do more to punish colleges that fail to address campus assaults.

    A coalition of free-speech advocates, led by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), wrote an open letter to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Department of Justice Tuesday calling for officials to retract a “blueprint” for campus sexual harassment [...] » Read More

     

    Category: blog, Media Coverage


    Enforcement for the Enforcers

    By on July 16, 2013

    by Allie Grasgreen

    Inside Higher Ed

     

    WASHINGTON – Annie Clark, a recent college graduate whose activism has helped spur an unprecedented movement to expose sexual assault on college campuses, got a pretty unforgettable present for her birthday this year.

    There were only a few dozen students rallying alongside Clark outside the U.S. Education Department here on Monday, but their shouts – which, for the first time in a long time, felt celebratory – were loud enough to lure Under Secretary Martha Kanter from the department’s concrete fortress.

    “I’ll deliver these to Secretary [Arne] Duncan right away,” Kanter said as she accepted box after [...] » Read More

     

    Category: blog, Media Coverage


    From FIRE, more on that Office of Civil Rights ‘blueprint’

    By on July 16, 2013

    by Walter Olson

    Overlawyered

     

    At the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Greg Lukianoff offers “Four Key Points About Free Speech and the Feds’ ‘Blueprint’“. He notes that overbroad notions of harassment have been the key driver of university speech codes and disciplinary action against dissenting and unpopular speakers, that DoJ and ED lack credibility in their new claim that the rules are only meant to encourage reporting as distinct from discipline, and that the implications go far beyond sexually oriented speech or flirtation to include wide swaths of controversial speech having nothing to do with sex. More: “OCR Descends [...] » Read More

     

    Category: blog, Media Coverage


    The Crimson Tide Rolls: Right Over Pro-Choice Students’ Rights

    By on July 10, 2013

    by Peter Bonilla

    PolicyMic

     

    Here’s a bit of non-news for you: The debate over abortion rights isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This is doubly true in the college community. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has long recognized the importance of keeping public universities fully open to debate and discussion, finding the campus to be “peculiarly the ‘marketplace of ideas’” in 1972’s unanimous decision inHealy v. James. The University of Alabama seems to have missed this memo, however, given itsrecent treatment of a pro-choice student group.

    Rewind to April 9 of this year, when a UA student group, the Alabama Alliance for [...] » Read More

     

    Category: blog, Media Coverage Schools: University of Alabama


    University of Alabama doesn’t respond to calls for policy revision following abortion debate

    By on July 5, 2013

    by Melissa Brown

    AL.com

     

    TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — The University of Alabama appears to have no plans to modify its contentious grounds use policy following a public letter admonishing UA’s protection of students’ First Amendment rights and calling for change.

    On July 1, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) posted a letter to their website addressed to UA President Judy Bonner on behalf of an abortion rights student group who say police ordered them to stop distributing flyers on campus during the spring semester.

    The letter, originally sent in late May, requested comment from Bonner by mid-June. As of Friday, FIRE has received no response from [...] » Read More

     

    Category: blog, Media Coverage Schools: University of Alabama


    University reverses speech code following report from watchdog group calling it unconstitutional

    By on July 5, 2013

    by Oliver Darcy

    Campus Reform

     

    The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) reversed part of its speech code on Wednesday after an academic watchdog group said a portion of it was unconstitutional earlier that day.

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) took issue with the part of UCA’s list of “offenses subject to disciplinary action” which said students could face punishment for “annoying” another person on campus. In a blog post, FIRE contended such speech is constitutionally protected by the First Amendment.

    Katie Henry, interim general counsel at UCA, agreed and said the school will remove the language.

    “[T]he administration has reviewed the [...] » Read More

     

    Category: blog, Media Coverage Schools: University of Central Arkansas


    Foundation says University of Alabama policy violates students’ First Amendment rights

    By on July 1, 2013

    by Melissa Brown

    AL.com

     

    TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has intervened on behalf of a University of Alabama pro-abortion rights student group who say police ordered them to stop distributing flyers on campus during the spring semester.

    In a letter sent to UA President Judy Bonner on May 22, FIRE requested that the university reassure its community that “expressive activity on campus” would not be censored. FIRE requested a response to the letter by June 12.

    “Please spare the University of Alabama the embarrassment of fighting against the Bill of Rights — a statement of both law and principle by which the university is [...] » Read More

     

    Category: blog, Media Coverage Schools: University of Alabama


    John McCain Challenges DOJ On College Sexual Harassment Policy

    By on July 1, 2013

    by Tyler Kingkade

    The Huffington Post

     

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accused a group of lawyers with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division last week of “single-handedly” redefining the meaning of sexual harassment at colleges nationwide. Such a redefinition could violate the free speech rights of students and teachers, McCainargued in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

    In May, following an investigation into how the University of Montana handles rape and sexual violence on campus, the Justice [...] » Read More

     

    Category: blog, Media Coverage