FIRE is happy to report that it has been a difficult week for free speech opponents—especially those at Bucknell University.
John Stossel performed a great service for FIRE and free speech this week by helping expose Bucknell University’s decision to shut down the Bucknell University Conservatives Club’s (BUCC’s) "affirmative action" bake sale protest. As most readers of The Torch probably already know, BUCC tried to hold a satirical "affirmative action" bake sale in April of 2009 to spark dialogue about this contentious issue, but Bucknell shut it down because of a minor paperwork discrepancy, then forbade BUCC from ever holding such a bake sale in the future. (Click here for video and here for audio documentation of these points, despite Bucknell’s lies to the contrary.)
Stossel recently held his own affirmative action bake sale in New York City to continue the conversation that Bucknell students were not permitted to have. His bake sale was covered on The O’Reilly Factor with Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday and then at length with Megyn Kelly on Fox’s America Live on Wednesday.
Then, on Thursday, Greg appeared on an episode of the Fox Business Network’s Stossel entitled "You Can’t Say That!" with BUCC member and 2010 FIRE intern Kirby Thomas as well as Hayden Barnes (who had been expelled from Valdosta State University because of his environmental activism) and Clayton Smith (whose rights had been violated by Tarrant County College in Texas when he tried to hold an "Empty Holster Protest" in favor of concealed carry of weapons on campus). The segment ran for about half of the show.
If you missed the show, you can still catch the segment tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET or on Saturday at 9:00 p.m. and midnight ET. You also can catch the web-only segment of Stossel where Greg answers questions from the studio audience about limitations on free speech, free speech and new media, and some of FIRE’s more ridiculous cases.
Stossel also draws the connection between his bake sale and the attempted ones at Bucknell and quotes Adam in his nationally syndicated column this week.
Bucknell is on the Red Alert list because of its abuses of BUCC’s rights. Yesterday, FIRE sent an open letter to new Bucknell President John C. Bravman, asking him to finally revise the policies that were used against BUCC so that Bucknell can get off of the Red Alert list. We’d love to work with Bucknell to achieve this goal on behalf of all Bucknell students’ rights.
Meanwhile, Melissa Hanson interviewed Samantha for an article in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s independent newspaper The Badger Herald about UW’s "red-light" rating. The UW System Board of Regents’ policy on "Racist and Other Discriminatory Conduct" prohibits, among other things, "verbal assaults based on ethnicity"—a policy shockingly similar to the one struck down by a federal court in a speech code lawsuit against the UW System almost 20 years ago in The UWM Post, Inc. v. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, 774 F. Supp. 1163 (E.D. Wis. 1991).
Finally, journalists are still writing about the University of Virginia’s transformation from a "red-light" school to a "green-light" school when it eliminated all of its speech codes. Tyler DeBoard and George Wang, with an article and an op-ed respectively in UVa’s independent newspaper The Cavalier Daily, mention FIRE’s role in UVa’s free speech renaissance and name some unconstitutional policies at Virginia public institutions James Madison University and George Mason University.
It must be a nice feeling for university administrators when their students and others on the national scene cite their school as a beacon of free speech in a sea of speech codes!