Issues OLD

By October 26, 2004

Freedom of Speech


                                             


Freedom of speech is a fundamental American freedom, and nowhere should it be more valued and protected than at America’s colleges and universities.  The “marketplace of ideas” upon which a university depends for its intellectual vitality cannot flourish when students or faculty members fear punishment for expressing views that might be unpopular with the public at large or disfavored by university administrators.  Yet this freedom is under continuous assault at many of America’s campuses.  Speech codes dictating what may or may not be said, “free speech zones” confining free speech to a certain area of campus, and administrative attempts to punish or repress speech on a case-by-case basis are common in academia today.  FIRE’s public cases dealing with freedom of speech, below, demonstrate our commitment to restoring and preserving this basic freedom on our nation’s campuses.  The future of a generation of students—and of liberal education itself—depends on our success.


 


Read the first chapter of The Shadow University, by FIRE Co-founders Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate, here.


 


Religious Liberty


 


Religious liberty is a cornerstone of our nation and is the very first freedom guaranteed to Americans by the Bill of Rights.  Yet on many college and university campuses, the right to associate on the basis of religious belief—and even the right to express those beliefs—is under attack.  Under the guise of “nondiscrimination” policies, religious groups are often told that they may not choose the membership or leadership of their groups based on religious criteria.  Other students who merely express religious beliefs in public are condemned for “hate speech” or “intolerance.”  FIRE’s public cases dealing with religious liberty, below, display our commitment to defending America’s religious pluralism by protecting students’ rights to express and to associate based upon shared beliefs.


 


Download FIRE’s Guide to Religious Liberty on Campus at thefireguides.org.


 



Due Process and Legal Equality



                                                     


The rights of all Americans can be secured only through the establishment of fair processes and with a consciousness that all are equal in the eyes of the law.  Yet on many campuses, the unfortunate accused face “kangaroo courts” without fair procedures and where the political viewpoint of the “judges” greatly affect the outcome of the trial.  The accused is often charged with no specific offense, given no right to face his or her accuser, and sentenced with no regard for fairness or consistency.  The FIRE cases below illustrate our fight for fundamental fairness on our nation’s campuses.  This generation of students must come to know that justice means more than merely the enforcement of the will of the powerful and the suppression of the views of the powerless.


 


Download FIRE’s Guide to Due Process and Fair Procedure on Campus at thefireguides.org.


 


Download FIRE’s Guide to Student Fees, Funding, and Legal Equality on Campus at thefireguides.org.


 


Thought Reform


 


Liberty cannot exist in a society in which people are forced to conform their thoughts and expression an official viewpoint.  Differences of opinion are the natural byproducts of a vibrant, free society.  At many of our nation’s colleges and universities, however, students are expected to share a single viewpoint on controversial matters like the meaning of diversity, the particulars of racism, and the impermissibility of “hate speech.”  Mandatory “diversity training,” in which students are instructed in an officially-approved ideology, is commonplace.  Some institutions have enacted policies that require students to speak and even share identical attitudes on these matters or face disciplinary charges.  FIRE’s cases, below, show how we are working to roll back this unprecedented intrusion into students’ freedom of conscience and ensure that students are given the right to make up their own minds on the issues of the day—without administrative coercion.


 


Read FIRE Co-founder Alan Charles Kors’s article “Thought Reform 101” here.