Yesterday, FOX34 News in Lubbock, Texas, ran a segment on Texas Tech University’s “red-light” rating in FIRE’s Spotlight database. The university earned this rating because of language in its policy on e-mail and computer use that restricts freedom of expression by stating that
The use of computers and the network is a privilege, not a right–a privilege that may be temporarily or even permanently revoked at any time for abusive conduct. Such conduct would include … the use of abusive or otherwise objectionable language in either public or private messages …..
Will Creeley, FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, discussed the policy and the ramifications it has for students with FOX34, saying:
By granting university administrators the power to decide what speech is and is not objectionable, the university is effectively throwing the First Amendment under the bus and subjecting students to the possibility of punishment for speech that’s entirely protected.
In 2004, FIRE successfully challenged in court Texas Tech’s speech code, which prohibited “insults,” “ridicule,” and “personal attacks,” and restricted free speech to a twenty foot-diameter gazebo referred to as a “Free Speech Zone.” The current speech code’s “red-light” rating proves that university administrators have not completely learned from their past mistakes.
You can watch the entire segment here.