Lighting the FIRE of Liberty in Philadelphia

January 25, 2006

The seeds of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sprouted at Penn over a decade ago. Late one night in 1993, in response to the loud singing and stomping of a group of African-American sorority girls, Penn student Eden Jacobowitz yelled, from the window of his dorm room, “Shut up, you water buffalo. If you want a party, there’s a zoo a mile from here.” For his “water buffalo” comment—a translation of a Yiddish term for rude people—Penn unjustly charged Jacobowitz with violating its racial harassment policy. Professor Alan Charles Kors, along with other members of the faculty, recognized the danger to liberty posed by the restriction on freedom of speech in Penn’s policy. As Jacobowitz’s advisor, Kors fought this restraint of liberty—and won...

Schools: Dartmouth College University of Pennsylvania Cases: Dartmouth College: Abolition of Speech Code