In an editorial in today’s Denver Post, columnist Al Knight comments on the recent revision of restrictive speech codes at Colorado State University, where FIRE teamed up with student activists to bring about changes in unconstitutional policies.
When FIRE reports on speech codes that exist on campuses across the country, the reaction from the public and the media is often outrage—as it very well should be. But as Mr. Knight points out, improvements made to policies that FIRE has fought to change often unfortunately go ignored in the press.
One quick look at FIRE’s Spotlight or our first annual speech code report, Spotlight on Speech Codes 2006: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation’s Campuses, reveals that speech codes are indeed alive and well on college and university campuses. As thrilling as it would be to, as Mr. Knight, writes,
announce that the helpful changes made at CSU will spread like wildfire across the academic landscape…[a]las, it is not so.
This fact may be disappointing, but it is not a cause for depression. FIRE continues its vigorous campaign on behalf of individual rights, due process and academic freedom nationwide[.]
It is always a little risky to back a development that might loosen the lips of college students, but CSU was doubtless correct in opting for changes that remove some needlessly vague and even menacing language from policies governing student conduct. The state is better off because of it.
Thinking about the number of schools trying to close shop on their marketplace of ideas can be overwhelming, and the number of unconstitutionally overbroad, vague, and repressive policies forbidding certain types of expression never ceases to amaze me. But that’s why FIRE is here, continuing our fight and producing real changes in these policies, just like at Colorado State.