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
by Bob Kellogg
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
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
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
by Walter Olson
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
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
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
by Oliver Darcy
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
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
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