Greg Lukianoff on ‘Journal Editorial Report’: Universities Should Fight Back Against ‘Blueprint’

June 19, 2013

Greg on Journal Editorial ReportLast Saturday, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff spoke with Fox News’ Paul Gigot on the Journal Editorial Report to urge universities to fight back against the Departments of Education (ED) and Justice’s (DOJ’s) unconstitutional "blueprint" for campus sexual harassment policies.  As Greg points out, there is no doubt that the policies the ED and DOJ demand are unconstitutional:  Codes that are much more narrow than the one that the Department of Education just came out with have been struck down by courts over and over and over again, but now the feds are stepping in and trying to impose this national speech code which would be laughed out of court if challenged. Because schools that do not comply with Title IX are at risk of losing federal funding, Greg explains, "universities ignore the Department of Education at their peril." But the details of this mandate make compliance even more dangerous:  If you look at the full terms of the agreement … it’s basically impossible, let alone unconstitutional, for a university to comply with it. So it’s time universities stand up and start fighting back. So far, no university that we know of has spoken out against the blueprint, although University of Montana Vice President for Integrated Communications Peggy Kuhr and UMT’s general counsel Lucy France have both expressed confidence that UMT can craft a policy that satisfies both the ED and the requirements of the First Amendment. (We’re dubious.) Greg responds to schools’ apparent lack of alarm:  I think universities on some level should be pretty ashamed of themselves so far for how compliant they’ve been with previous demands from the [ED’s] Office for Civil Rights.  And as Greg notes, professors have been punished under harassment policies for protected speech even prior to this mandate from the ED and DOJ. From the video:  Greg: We have an example out of University of Denver, where a professor was teaching a class specifically about taboo topics … and he was found guilty of harassment just for teaching the content of the class.Paul Gigot: And was penalized by the university?Greg: Yes, and that harassment finding remains to this day. Universities should be protecting student and faculty rights to freely express themselves even on controversial topics. In order to do so, they must refuse to comply with the unconstitutional mandate from the ED and DOJ. Check out the rest of the conversation on the Fox News website.Want to know more about the ED/DOJ "blueprint"?  Check out FIRE’s Frequently Asked Questions here!