PHILADELPHIA, November 9, 2005—Today the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) celebrates the release of its Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus. The Guide, written and edited by distinguished legal scholars from across the political and ideological spectrum, is available free to college students on FIRE’s website, thefire.org.
ACLU President Nadine Strossen has hailed the Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus as “both groundbreaking and empowering.” Paul K. McMasters of the First Amendment Center says that the Guide “should be required reading for college officials and faculty everywhere.”
The Guide’s authors are Jordan Lorence, a First Amendment litigator and senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, and FIRE cofounder Harvey A. Silverglate, a well-known Boston civil rights attorney and member of FIRE’s Board of Directors. Lorence and Silverglate emphasize in the Guide that students have the right not only to speak freely, but also to believe according to the dictates of their consciences. As they point out, “After all, the freedom to speak is a dead letter if one lacks the freedom to think, to believe, or disbelieve…. Over one’s inner mind, conscience, and self, no one has coercive power.”
The Guide also cites several ways that colleges and universities deprive students and professors of their freedom of conscience. Some of these methods include:
- Mandatory “diversity training” like that imposed recently at Washington State University;
- Speech codes mandating certain attitudes, such as the one FIRE defeated in court at Shippensburg University;
- The use of nondiscrimination policies to ban organizations with dissenting viewpoints, especially religious groups, as in FIRE’s recent case at Princeton University; and
- Punitive impositions of psychological counseling, one instance of which FIRE recently quashed at the University of New Hampshire.
A distinguished group of legal scholars selected from across the political and ideological spectrum serves as the Board of Editors to FIRE’s entire series of Guides to Student Rights on Campus. The political and philosophical diversity of the Board demonstrates that campus liberty is not a matter of partisan politics, but rather of the rights and responsibilities of free individuals in a free society.
In addition to Strossen and McMasters, the Board of Editors includes noted constitutional scholars Vivian Berger of Columbia Law School, T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr., of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, Edwin Meese of the Heritage Foundation, Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute, and Jamin Raskin of American University’s Washington College of Law.
FIRE’s Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus is the fifth and final volume of FIRE’s Guides to Student Rights on Campus. The series also includes FIRE’s flagship publication, the Guide to Free Speech on Campus, as well as the Guide to Due Process and Fair Procedure on Campus, Guide to Student Fees, Funding, and Legal Equality on Campus, and Guide to Religious Liberty on Campus.
College students can order paperback copies of all the Guides—and anyone can download an electronic copy—free of charge at thefire.org/guides. They are also available to the general public at a nominal cost at thefire.org/guides or Amazon.com.
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at thefire.org.
David French, President, FIRE: 215-717-3473; firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Lukianoff, Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, FIRE: 215-717-3473; email@example.com