STANFORD, Calif., March 20, 2014—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) today wrote Stanford University President John Hennessy and the school’s Graduate Student Council to protest the $5,600 “security fee” charged by the university to the Stanford Anscombe Society student group for its upcoming “Communicating Values: Marriage, Family, and the Media” conference, as well as the student government’s viewpoint-based refusal to provide partial funding for the conference.
“Stanford promises free inquiry and free expression but in this case has delivered viewpoint discrimination and allowed a ‘heckler’s veto,’” said Peter Bonilla, director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program. “Refusing to fund an event because you don’t care for the viewpoints that will be expressed impoverishes discourse on campus. Charging huge security fees gives would-be hecklers more incentive to threaten to disrupt events in the hopes that the organizers won’t be able to afford to speak.”
The controversy at Stanford is only the latest in a line of incidents in which students and faculty members have taken it upon themselves to silence ideological opponents, particularly those with socially conservative views. Earlier this month, University of California–Santa Barbara professor Mireille Miller-Young was caught on video absconding with a graphic pro-life poster and may face legal charges. FIRE today released a new video highlighting how a student pro-life display at Dartmouth College was damaged when a student literally ran over it with his car. Other pro-life displays have been damaged or destroyed in the past few years at Missouri State University, Northern Kentucky University, and the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point.
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, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, 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.
Peter Bonilla, Director, Individual Rights Defense Program, FIRE: 215-717-3473, firstname.lastname@example.org