FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate has announced the 2016 recipients of his infamous Campus Muzzle Awards. These awards are meant to highlight some of the most “egregious examples of on-campus narrow-mindedness and intolerance.”
The list includes a number of notable FIRE cases from the past year. Included among the recipients is the administration of Brandeis University for threatening its student newspaper, The Justice, with disciplinary action in response to its reporting on a campus “Take Back The Night” march, which was meant to raise public awareness of sexual assault. Fortunately, the Brandeis administration dropped the charges after FIRE intervened.
Another, Wesleyan University, made the list due to the censorship attempts its student newspaper, The Wesleyan Argus, faced after publishing a student op-ed that offended the campus community. For months, the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) threatened to slash the paper’s funding—despite FIRE’s warnings to both the WSA and Wesleyan President Michael Roth—but eventually decided to entirely remove student media funding from its control.
Administrators at Williams College also earned a Muzzle award for disinviting John Derbyshire from the college’s “Uncomfortable Learning” speaker series. Williams College President Adam Falk stood by the decision, saying: “[A]t times it is our role as educators and administrators to step in and make decisions that are in the best interests of students and our community. This is one of those times.” Lost on President Falk was the fact that the aim of the speaker series was for students to engage with controversial speakers.