As detailed in yesterday’s press release, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has deigned to respond to the national criticism sparked by its May 9 “blueprint” for Title IX compliance. We’ve issued a statement pointing out that OCR’s attempt to walk back the threat to free expression presented by the blueprint doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, but I wanted to take a closer look at five serious questions raised by OCR’s statement.1. How is the blueprint’s definition of “sexual harassment” consistent with First Amendment precedents?
OCR’s statement claims that the blueprint is “entirely consistent with the First Amendment.” My question: How, [...] » Read More
The controversial University of Montana findings letter and resolution agreement (together, the “blueprint”) issued by the Departments of Justice and Education two weeks ago have drawn criticism from commentators nationwide. The heat has come from all corners, with UCLA School of Law professor and First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh, former Department of Education attorney Hans Bader, editorialboards, columnists, bloggers, » Read More
Over the years, FIRE has repeatedly gone to bat for student newspapers and student journalists faced with censorship. That censorship came in many forms, ranging from newspaper theft, reduced support from student activity funds, and the firing of faculty advisors, to prior review and editorial control of content. Since it’s Free Press Week, here, in no particular order, are three of the most egregious examples of free press violations from FIRE’s case archives.1. Prior Restraint at Quinnipiac University
Prior restraint was the censorship tool of choice for administrators at Quinnipiac University (QU) from 2007 through much of [...] » Read More
Last week we asked FIRE’s Facebook fans to tell us why they support our work. The responses we got ranged from thoughtful to heartwarming to clever. See what our friends are saying about us:
I support FIRE because there is nothing more important to a free democratic society than free speech, and it is outrageous that free speech is prohibited on our college campuses, and that students are being conditioned to remain silent and fearful of engaging in open debate and in voicing their thoughts and opinions.
I support FIRE because students are not second-class citizens, becoming a student is not becoming [...] » Read More
A little over a year ago, I flew into Philadelphia to interview for an open position with FIRE (spoiler alert: I got the job). Sitting in the conference room with my soon-to-be coworkers, they asked me to name a few cases with which I was familiar.
My calm, calculated interview demeanor dropped as I grinned and laughed like the nerd girl I am. “The Firefly case. I love Firefly.”
FIRE celebrated several significant victories with our Individual Rights Education Program in 2011. This year saw a number of important university policy changes as well as other positive developments for individual rights on campus.
FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program (IREP) encompasses our efforts to educate students, faculty, and the public about the abuses of liberty taking place on college campuses across the nation, and to inform them about what they can do to fight back. Working with these constituencies—and in many cases, directly with collegeadministratorsthemselves—IREP aims to achieve the necessary changes in university speech policies so that these [...] » Read More
Let Valdosta State Ruling Be a Warning to University Administrators: Qualified Immunity Will Not Bail You Out
FIRE has been warning college presidents and administrators for some time that when they violate the expressive rights and due process rights of students at public universities, they do more than defy the dictates of the Constitution (and, for that matter, abandon their moral duties as leaders of our nation’s institutions of higher education). We have warned that administrators who violate students’ First Amendment and due process rights precariously ignore, at their own risk, controlling Supreme Court decisions and other longstanding federal court precedents on these matters.
That’s because administrators at public colleges [...] » Read More
PHILADELPHIA, August 18, 2010—In a victory for free speech on campus, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued an opinion today in McCauley v. University of the Virgin Islands striking down unconstitutional speech policies maintained by the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) on First Amendment grounds. The Third Circuit—whose jurisdiction includes the Virgin Islands as well as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware—found the university’s regulations prohibiting “offensive” or “unauthorized” signs and conduct causing “emotional distress” unconstitutional. The Third Circuit also upheld the federal district court’s invalidation of a policy that forbade causing “mental harm” or demeaning or [...] » Read More
Category: Press Releases
Since Liberty University decided recently to derecognize its chapter of the College Democrats because it believed the group’s “parent organization stands against the moral principles” of the university founded by Jerry Falwell, we’ve been getting a lot of mail and questions about our stance on the issue. Despite the fact that we’ve made our position on private universities very clear in the decade since our founding and have covered the subject both in our Guides and, most recently, in Robert’s blog post last [...] » Read More
Yes, that is correct. “Hate speech” is not a category of speech recognized under current constitutional law. It is merely a convenient way to pigeonhole speech that some people find offensive. But what is very troubling is when people begin to treat “hate speech” as unprotected speech. For example, a student leader at Penn State, a university which was recently sued for its unconstitutionally vague and overbroad speech codes, made the following comment featured in a prominent article in the student newspaper » Read More
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