Happy New Year! We at FIRE have high hopes that 2016 can be the best year yet for freedom of speech in higher education.
If you’re a member of a college or university community, you can help by making a commitment to free speech part of your New Year’s resolution. Check out these ideas for administrators, faculty, students, and alums:
Make it official
Adopt a statement committing to protect free speech on your campus. FIRE has endorsed the Chicago Statement—the free speech policy statement produced by the Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago.
Since its release, six schools—including Princeton University, Purdue University, and the University of Wisconsin system—have either adopted the statement as official policy, or have adopted a statement in the same spirit.
Squash speech codes
Just under 50 percent of colleges and universities still maintain policies that restrict speech in ways that are likely unconstitutional. Find your school in our searchable Spotlight database, and work towards eradicating your institution’s “red light” or “yellow light” codes by the end of the year. You might just be our next “green light” institution!
Escape the “free speech zone”
So-called “free speech zones”—tiny areas of campus where students are permitted to exercise their First Amendment rights—have been found unconstitutional time and again. Find out whether your school has one, and get rid of it.
FIRE’s view: Colleges and universities shouldn’t have free speech zones; they are free speech zones.
Be a free speech figure
Fight for student and faculty rights
Follow the lead of professors—like these at Clemson University—who’ve personally committed to defending the rights to free expression.
Know your rights. FIRE has dozens of resources waiting for you. From our FIRE Guides series, to our student press resources, to our Spotlight Database of campus speech codes, FIRE’s website is your one-stop-shop to get educated about your free speech rights as a student.
Stand Up For Speech
Be a free speech advocate on campus: Pass out copies of the Constitution (we’ll send you some!), set up a table to discuss free speech issues, write an op-ed in your student newspaper, or start a club.
If you feel your rights have been violated, don’t hesitate to submit a case to FIRE.
Join the FIRE Student Network
The ever-growing FIRE Student Network (FSN) is a great way to get involved with First Amendment issues on campus. Check out the FSN’s site today to join, get tips on how to be a free speech activist, or apply to attend our Summer Conference.
Appeal to your alma mater
Ask your former school to commit to free speech by adopting the Chicago Statement on freedom of expression.
Donate to FIRE
In addition to—or in lieu of— a gift to your school, consider a one-time or continuing gift to FIRE. Your contribution will go a long way toward fighting for free speech rights of all college students.
Resolve today to be a free speech fighter in 2016!
Together, we can make great strides toward protecting the First Amendment rights of students and faculty everywhere.