Five Reasons You Should Support FIRE in 2014
1. We get results.
As a donor, you want to know that your contributions are making a difference and advancing a meaningful mission. At FIRE, we pride ourselves on the fact that our programs are results-driven and have a measurable impact on campus. The numbers speak for themselves. In 2014:
- FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program celebrated 15 victories and our Policy Reform Project recorded 22 policy changes affecting 375,000 students nationwide.
- FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project filed First Amendment challenges affecting nearly 185,000 students and negotiated settlements totalling $210,000 in damages and fees.
- FIRE was featured in 635 news articles in 180 unique publications with a combined circulation of more than 450 million readers.
- Our annual speech code report, which was featured in The Wall Street Journal, showed that the percentage of colleges and universities that violate students’ and faculty members’ right to freedom of expression dropped from a high of 75 percent seven years ago to 55 percent today.
- Our legislative work secured a major victory in Virginia, where new, first-of-its-kind legislation banning “free speech zones” on public college campuses passed, giving more than 400,000 students the right to engage in speech in public campus areas without unreasonable restrictions.
2. We are passionate defenders of free speech.
Too often I see organizations and individuals who should be staunch defenders of free speech instead offering uninspiring “pro-speech” arguments, including the circular argument that free speech should be protected because the First Amendment exists, without explaining the deeper logic and philosophy behind free speech—and that’s when they aren’t shying away from defending free speech rights when the speech at hand might be “offensive.” We don’t work here at FIRE simply because the First Amendment tells us we should or only to defend speech that’s “nice.” We work towards protecting free speech because it is perhaps the strongest tool for innovation, progress, and peace that civilization has yet devised. Our involvement in higher education means that it increasingly comes down to us to make sure that future generations understand the profound philosophy behind freedom of speech, and the reality that it’s bigger than the First Amendment. I am proud to say that FIRE is already filling that vital role. In books, television appearances, articles in popular outlets, and debates we are reminding millions of Americans that free speech is a precious right we need to fight tooth and nail to protect.
3. Our work matters.
It matters for the sophomore charged with “personal misconduct” for sending an email complaint to his professor. It matters for the student who worked his whole life to be the first in his family to graduate from college only to be denied the chance to walk at graduation because he criticized his school on Facebook. It matters for the professors whose jobs are threatened because they fail political litmus tests. It matters for the student kicked out of school without a lick of due process. But it also matters to the future of our democracy. How can we thrive as a nation when the very place free speech should flourish most is where it’s most at risk?
4. We are one of the most hardworking, dedicated nonprofits out there.
FIRE approaches the problem on campus from all angles. In addition to our effective defense and policy advocacy, FIRE has education programs that work on both the collegiate and high school level, a vital legislative department, a student network of more than 8,500 members, a successful video initiative, a thriving public awareness campaign, and a brand new litigation project taking on unconstitutional speech codes in court. With a staff of 24, FIRE is executing a national strategy.
5. Your donation will be matched dollar for dollar.
Any gift you give today in support of our newest, boldest initiative, the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, will automatically double in value thanks to a very generous FIRE donor. To ensure your donation is matched, just let us know in the comments section of our online donation page.
Please donate to FIRE today and help us continue our good work into 2015 and beyond. All gifts are tax-deductible.