FIRE Highlighted on ‘University World News’

February 5, 2009

FIRE’s latest efforts have been highlighted by University World News, a publication founded in 2007 that covers higher education worldwide. University World News covers, among much else, academic freedom news in the United States and around the world. FIRE’s efforts have been on the publication’s homepage this week. Here’s the article, titled "US: Colleges breach student rights":

A Philadelphia group, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, says that student rights are being violated by some of America’s most prestigious universities.

Will Creeley, Director of legal and public advocacy with FIRE, says the group intends to expose the speech rules that are silencing students. Creeley says that although students from around the world compete intensely for the opportunity to live and learn at these institutions, most maintain policies that violate their "fundamental rights to freedom of expression or freedom of conscience".

"Since we believe strongly that prospective students and their families should consider these restrictions – just as they would consider average test scores and faculty-student ratios – when deciding where to apply to school, we want to make this information as accessible as possible," Creeley says.

"For 25 weeks this semester, The Torch [the group’s newsletter] will include a detailed discussion of the speech codes in force at these top 25 institutions. So far, we have reviewed policies at UCLA, the University of Virginia, and Georgetown University."

On the day President Obama was inaugurated, the group sent him an open letter requesting that, "as a scholar of constitutional law and the leader of the nation’s executive branch, he and his administration join the fight against college and university speech codes that are infringing on the rights of millions of our nation’s college students".

The letter said that despite 10 federal court decisions "unequivocally striking down campus speech codes on First Amendment grounds from 1989 to 2008", the number of unconstitutional restrictions on campus speech had dramatically increased during that time.

Thanks to University World News for keeping FIRE in the international conversation about rights and freedoms in higher education.