Media Frenzy Over SUNY Fredonia

August 1, 2006

The media has taken a liking to the case of Stephen Kershnar at SUNY Fredonia. Today, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff and Vice President Robert Shibley have an editorial in the New York Post lambasting Fredonia’s president, Dennis Hefner, for refusing to promote Kershnar after he spoke out against the school and then insisting that Kershnar submit his written materials for prior review. Lukianoff and Shibley said:

While free speech too often comes under assault on campuses these days, President Hefner’s brazen attempt to control a professor’s public speech is in a class by itself. Kershnar should get the promotion he merits and Hefner—or anyone else who seeks to use the office of university president to silence opinions they dislike—should be out of a job.

After FIRE issued a press release on Kershnar’s situation last Monday, Scott Jaschik wrote an article for Inside Higher Ed, and on the following day Xiao-Bo Yuan had an excellent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. By week’s end, reporter Jim Brown, long interested in FIRE’s issues, wrote a piece for the Agape Press. That same day, an article about Kershnar appeared in the Buffalo News, the paper in which Kershnar was quoted saying that SUNY Fredonia’s new student conduct policy would “turn the student population into a group of snitches.” The Post-Journal of Jamestown, New York also ran an article describing Fredonia’s abuses.
Many of FIRE’s cases necessitate explanations about why a certain action is unjust. It’s refreshing to see the press and the public have become so enraged about Fredonia’s treatment of Professor Kershnar.