To the Editor:
I write to clarify two statements attributed to me in Wednesday’s article "Free speech at center of nude-photo controversy."
First, the article has me saying that a private university has great legal ability to limit rights but will not generally choose to wield it. If only this were true! What I said was that universities do not want to be seen to abandon their commitments to academic and fundamental freedoms because it would destroy their credibility as educational institutions. All too many of them do abandon these commitments when they think they can do it in secret.
Second, my statement that "a university … can greatly restrict free-speech rights … as long as it does not hold itself out as a place where freedom of expression and academic freedom are valued" applies only to private universities. FIRE often points out that students at a prestigious school like Penn should not have fewer rights than students at a public community college. Penn’s policies strongly protect free speech; it should live up to them.
Program Manager, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
Schools: University of Pennsylvania