Last week, five Residential Assistants from Long Island University were fired for creating and posting a YouTube video that the university deemed inappropriate.
Their short film was meant to parody terrorist “hostage films,” as the students fashioned ski masks and imitated Middle Eastern accents. The chosen hostage was their hall’s unofficial mascot: a rubber ducky.
As a result of what appears to be a harmless contribution to the YouTube phenomenon, these five students have lost their RA status and will soon face a campus disciplinary hearing.
Fortunately, while LIU and various other American universities are displaying attitudes of intolerance for free student expression, Penn is being recognized for its consistent conservation of free speech.
According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free-speech advocacy group, the University of Pennsylvania is one of the only Ivy League schools to fully protect free speech.
The evaluation process is explained on FIRE’s Web site: officials review the Speech Codes employed by each college and make an assessment of tolerance.
Green lights are awarded to schools “whose policies nominally protect free speech;” yellow lights are given to institutions with “at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application;” and red lights are given to universities that have “at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech...