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‘U.S. News’ Readers: FIRE's Red Alert List Exposes the Worst Violators of Campus Rights

Why does FIRE's ad in U.S. News & World Report show a book padlocked shut? One of FIRE's most shocking cases was that of Keith John Sampson, a student-employee at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) who was found guilty of racial harassment for merely reading the book Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan during his work breaks. Thanks to FIRE's involvement and extensive media coverage, the finding against Sampson was overturned and his school record was cleared. Such stories of censorship are all too common on U.S. campuses nationwide. Filmmaker Andrew Marcus has produced a short documentary on Sampson's case which brings new light to these violations of liberty. Learn more about IUPUI.

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For the second year in a row, FIRE has placed a full-page ad in U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges issue to bring awareness to the schools that have most blatantly violated students' rights on campus. These Red Alert institutions have displayed a severe and ongoing disregard for the fundamental rights of their students or faculty members and are the "worst of the worst" when it comes to liberty on campus. Students should think twice before attending these schools.  See the advertisement.

Bucknell University

Bucknell University has been named to FIRE's Red Alert list after a conservative student group's protests against affirmative action policies and President Obama's stimulus plan were repeatedly shut down or forbidden by administrators using flimsy or patently false excuses. After the Bucknell University Conservatives Club (BUCC) had three events censored in two months, including the distribution of "Obama Stimulus Dollars" and affirmative action bake sales, the students turned to FIRE for help. Read Full Article

Michigan State University

Michigan State University (MSU) joined FIRE's Red Alert list after finding student government leader Kara Spencer guilty of "spamming" and misuse of university resources for criticizing the administration's plan to change the school calendar. Spencer had carefully selected and e-mailed 391 faculty members to encourage them to express their views on the proposed changes. Despite the fact that Spencer merely wished to alert a small percentage of the campus community - roughly 8 percent of MSU's faculty - to an important administrative decision, MSU found her to be in violation of the university's Network Acceptable Use Policy and of engaging in an "unauthorized" use of the MSU network. After FIRE intervened, MSU dropped the charges but made its policy even more restrictive. Read Full Article

Colorado College

Colorado College earned the dubious distinction of being placed on FIRE's Red Alert list because of its disregard for protected speech, obvious display of double standards, and lack of a fair judicial process. Colorado College refused to remove the guilty finding from the records of two students who posted a parody flyer on campus. Colorado College also has refused to honor its published commitments to free speech. Read Full Article

Brandeis University

In spite of widespread condemnation from faculty, the media, and the public, Brandeis University remains unrepentant about its mistreatment of Professor Donald Hindley, a nearly 50-year veteran of teaching. Brandeis declared him guilty of racial harassment and placed a monitor in his classes after he criticized the use of the word "wetbacks" in his Latin American Politics course. Hindley was neither granted a formal hearing by Brandeis nor provided with the substance of the accusations against him in writing. Brandeis's faculty reacted to Hindley's mistreatment with outrage and refused to accept Provost Marty Krauss' abuse of power. Brandeis attempted to sweep the matter under the rug by informing Hindley that it "considers this matter closed," despite the complete lack of due process in Hindley's case, leaving the punishment on his record while closing off his appeal. Read Full Article

Tufts University

Tufts University earned its Red Alert status by finding that The Primary Source (TPS), a conservative student newspaper, violated the school's harassment policy by publishing two satirical articles TPS had published a satirical Christmas carol entitled "O Come All Ye Black Folk," which sparked controversy on campus because it harshly lampooned race-based admissions. Despite a published apology from TPS, a Tufts student filed harassment charges against the publication. Similarly, other Tufts students filed harassment charges in response to TPS' piece entitled "Islam-Arabic Translation: Submission," a satirical advertisement during Tufts' "Islamic Awareness Week." The advertisement consisted of factual statements about Islam and Islamic history. The two complaints, consolidated for a hearing before the university's Committee on Student Life, resulted in the unjust decision. Read Full Article

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University earned its Red Alert designation by suspending eighteen-year-old junior Justin Park for posting an "offensive" Halloween party invitation on the popular social networking site Because some found the invitation racially offensive, Park was charged with and found guilty of "harassment," "intimidation," and "failing to respect the rights of others." Although later reduced in the face of public pressure, Park's original punishment included suspension from the university for a year; completion of 300 hours of community service; an assignment to read 12 books and to write a reflection paper on each; and mandatory attendance at a workshop on diversity and race relations. Johns Hopkins President William Brody made matters worse shortly after Park's suspension by introducing a new and chillingly broad "civility" code prohibiting "rude, disrespectful behavior" at the university, and by stating in an article in The JHU Gazette that speech that is "tasteless" or that breaches standards of "civility" will not be allowed. Read Full Article

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