FIRE continues to follow the case of Stuart Ditsler, the graduate student at Marquette University who was forced to remove an innocuous political quote by humorist Dave Barry from his office door. Although the Marquette administration claimed that the situation was resolved within the philosophy department, Ditsler told FIRE he was never notified of this alleged resolution. So the question remains: are students and faculty now permitted to post materials on their office doors at Marquette?
FIRE wrote to Marquette a second time, hoping to clarify the university’s position and establish a firm commitment to free speech on campus. Our letter again expressed concern over an e-mail sent to Ditsler from Philosophy Department Chair James South, which stated that the philosophy department is not a “free speech zone.” The practice of posting materials on doors, however, should be especially protected in a philosophy department—a department whose website maintains that it is dedicated to “the pursuit of truth” and that “philosophy provides a principal forum for the serious discussion of the basic questions of life.” How can philosophy students and faculty at Marquette discuss the basic questions of life if they are unsure that their expressions will be allowed? Freedom to express one’s opinions and beliefs is fundamental to such a dialogue.
FIRE is waiting for a response to its most recent letter to Marquette. We will continue to keep you posted on our progress there.