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16th Annual 'Campus Muzzle' Awards Feature Yale, Tufts, Harvard

The “Muzzles” live! The 16th annual “Campus Muzzle” Awards, previously featured in the now-sadly-defunct Boston Phoenix, have found a new home this year on WGBH News online, as well as in the Portland Phoenix. FIRE co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate awards the Campus Muzzles each year to the worst universities in New England for First Amendment rights. (Harvey’s Campus Muzzles are a sidebar to Dan Kennedy’s Muzzle Awards, which feature his selection of the worst free speech violators off-campus in New England.)  This year, Yale University “wins” for its disturbing disregard for free speech on its new overseas campus in Singapore. Tufts University also gets a Muzzle for its restrictive “all-comers” policy, which drove the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) to disband. (TCF’s existence on campus has actually been threatened since 2000, when FIRE helped the group maintain its official recognition in one of FIRE’s earliest cases.) Trinity College wins for effectively banning sororities and fraternities (a blatant violation of students’ rights to free association), as does Harvard University for its total overreaction to a satirical finals club flyer.  Here’s an excerpt from Harvey’s excoriation of the Tufts all-comers policy: Associational freedom is fundamental to all political liberty (that’s what political parties are all about) as well as religious liberty; it allows like-minded citizens to band together to engage in and promote shared beliefs and practices. Think about it: without freedom for an organization such as TCF to control the ideological and religious qualifications for its leadership positions, any number of hostile students could join, then assume such offices by majority vote, and then proceed to undermine the group’s stated mission.On a campus like Tufts, where the LGBT activists vastly outnumber the evangelicals, no such minority organization can survive an all comers policy that opens the leadership ranks to non-believers. Some of us are old enough to remember when supporters of gay rights were in the minority in academia and elsewhere, and where associational rights were fundamental to these groups’ self-protection. The whole feature is well worth a read, so be sure to check it out!

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