capitol hill feat
FIRE Goes to Capitol Hill

By September 14, 2016

Yesterday, FIRE went to the nation’s capital to speak with members of both parties about free speech and due process issues on college campuses. As part of FIRE’s Back to School efforts, we want to make sure elected officials know that FIRE is active in their districts, working diligently to ensure students know their rights—and who to contact if those rights have been violated.

greg john lewis

From left, Congressman John Lewis and FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff.

We had a jam-packed agenda.

FIRE spoke with members of Congress about student political activity and how campus administrators incorrectly
claim that students’ political expression would jeopardize the institution’s tax-exempt status. We discussed
FIRE’s Spotlight database and made sure members knew just how many red and yellow-light colleges they have in their states—and how speech codes hurt students, damage the reputation of the school, and even lead to reduced contributions from alumni and other donors. We also shared FIRE’s student protest FAQs so that if and when their student-constituents contact Congress about their rights on campus, each office knows where to turn for answers. In all, it was great to see so many members and their staff concerned about students’ rights on campus and appreciative of the resources FIRE provides.

And it was a special honor to meet one of the heroes of the civil rights movement, Congressman John Lewis. Congressman Lewis, as FIRE readers will know, was one of “The Big Six” of the civil rights movement and president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Meeting Congressman Lewis was an exciting moment for FIRE staff—including FIRE’s President and CEO Greg Lukianoff, and Senior Program Officer Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon.

FIRE looks forward to meeting more members in the next session.