Collin Community College District: History Professor Fired for Criticizing Mike Pence and Her College’s COVID-19 Response Online

Lora Burnett was a full-time history professor at Collin College. Like many Americans, Burnett shared her thoughts about important public issues, such as the 2020 presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic on Twitter. During the October 2020 vice presidential debate, Burnett tweeted: “The moderator needs to talk over Mike Pence until he shuts his little demon mouth up.” Burnett also criticized Collin College’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She publicly challenged Collin College President H. Neil Matkin’s assessment that the pandemic was “blown utterly out of proportion.” She also informed the public about the death of a former Collin College professor by tweeting, “Another @collincollege professor has died of COVID.” In private text exchanges with Texas State Rep. Jeff Leach, who was apparently upset about Burnett’s tweets concerning the debate, President Matkin promised to “deal with it” and later terminated Burnett.

Lora Burnett

Eastern Virginia Medical School: Medical Student Unconstitutionally Prohibited from Starting Student Club Promoting Healthcare Reform

Edward Si, a medical student at Eastern Virginia Medical School, applied to form a chapter of Students for a National Health Program, a national student organization dedicated to advocating for a single-payer health system, in December 2020. EVMS’s Student Government Association denied the application because it did “not want to create clubs based on opinions, political or otherwise, and the mission and goals of [SNaHP] do not describe what we believe to be necessary or sustainable for a club.”

Photography by Marcela / FIRE

LAWSUIT: Student reporter sues university president for forbidding journalism

Following Student Press Freedom Day, FIRE filed a lawsuit on behalf of student newspaper and editor-in-chief against Haskell Indian Nations University and its president who issued “directive” forbidding routine newsgathering.

Student editor Jared Nally is suing his university after its president issued a directive that banned him from engaging in basic acts of journalism. (Gary Rohman / FIRE)Gary Rohman / FIRE

University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center: Student Investigated and Punished for Social Media Posts

Kimberly Diei has twice been investigated by her program’s Professional Conduct Committee because of allegations that her personal social media activity was too “crude,” “vulgar,” and “sexual.”

The University of Tennessee twice investigated grad student Kim Diei after an anonymous complaint about her sex-positive social media content. With FIRE, she's standing up for her rights.VIA Productions and Breezy Lucia / FIRE