Colorado College

By October 23, 2008

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The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonprofit organization that unites leaders, faculty, and students to defend and sustain civil liberties on college campuses in the United States. FIRE protects and promotes individual rights including the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, academic freedom, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity.

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Colorado College

At Colorado College, two male students posted a satirical flyer in parody of a flyer posted by the Feminist and Gender Studies Program’s interns. The male students posted the flyer under the pseudonym "The Coalition of Some Dudes." President Richard Celeste immediately denounced the flyer, calling its content "demeaning" and asking the authors of the flyer to reveal their identities. They immediately did so, and they were then subjected to a three-hour show trial. At least one administrator even solicited for witnesses against the two students. Finally, the students were found guilty of "violence" because of their "juxtaposition of weaponry and sexuality" in the flyer. Disciplinary letters were placed in both students’ files, where the letters are to remain until they graduate.

Celeste, meanwhile, has said falsely that the students have been neither sanctioned nor punished, and he has turned the whole case into one of protecting students from the "violence" perceived by a few oversensitive souls. The truth is that these people, from the start, actually objected to the content of the flyer. Making matters even worse, Celeste has invoked the true tragedies of actual campus shootings in order to justify his administration’s shameful actions.

FIRE Blogs:

"How Can Colorado College Get Off FIRE’s Red Alert List?," Adam Kissel, August 26, 2008: For the purposes of the Red Alert list, FIRE is willing to put aside the many injustices committed by Colorado College and the double standard that the college has applied in this case. All that Colorado College needs to do to get off the list is to remove the disciplinary letters from the students’ files. It is unconscionable that the two parodists should have a finding of responsibility for sexually-related violence in their files even for a day. If Celeste is not lying when he says that the students have not been sanctioned, then the only reasonable course of action is to remove the disciplinary letters from the students’ files.

More FIRE blogs »

Case Materials:

"The Monthly Rag," PDF, 201.4 KB

"The Monthly Bag," PDF, 594.4 KB
 
 
 
"Colorado College Punishes, Deems Students “Violent” for Satirical Flyer," FIRE Press Release, March 31, 2008: Two students at Colorado College were found guilty of violating the school’s conduct code regarding "violence" after they distributed a satirical flyer mocking a publication of the Feminist and Gender Studies program. As part of their punishment, the students have been required to hold a campus forum discussing issues brought up by their satirical publication. They turned to FIRE for help.

Press:

"Star Chamber at CC," Vincent Carroll, Rocky Mountain News, April 16, 2008

"Joking students called on the carpet," Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier, Denver Post, April 12, 2008

"‘What Can The Virginia Tech Tragedy Do For Me?’," Greg Lukianoff, The Huffington Post, April 7, 2008

More Press Coverage »

Video:

Chainsaw Etiquette at Colorado College

Podcasts:

Episode 108: FIRE’s Case at Colorado College