Last week, the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy published a very flattering column about FIRE authored by Jane Shaw, its president. In the first two paragraphs, Shaw summarizes FIRE’s recent work:
Students for Concealed Carry on Campus is now recognized as a campus group at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh. An alternative monthly publication, Jerk Magazine, has been allowed to its distribute copies along with the "official" publication on the Syracuse University campus. Yale has apologized for preventing students from printing an F. Scott Fitzgerald quotation about Harvard "sissies" on a Yale T-shirt.
In just a six-week period, the above schools ended or admitted these serious violations of free speech, largely because of the efforts of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). This Philadelphia-based organization regularly issues alerts about places where schools are clamping down on freedom of speech. Donald Downs, a professor of political science, law, and journalism at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, has called FIRE "the leading professional organization dedicated to academic freedom in higher education."
Shaw proceeds to discuss the Pope Center’s new report, Do North Carolina Students Have Freedom of Speech?, which analyzes restrictions on speech at North Carolina’s institutions of higher learning. Azhar Majeed, FIRE’s Associate Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, contributed much of the research on the speech codes for the report. As Azhar relayed last month, the report reveals that all North Carolina universities have policies on the books that violate students’ rights. In FIRE’s vernacular, there is not a single institution out of the 55 schools surveyed that would earn a green light rating from FIRE in our speech code database, Spotlight: The Campus Freedom Resource. Granted, that’s not too surprising, given that administrators so often make the same mistakes over and over when crafting campus speech policies.