Today’s press release highlights the Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System, a joint project between FIRE and the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. The report explains the obligations the UNC System has to the First Amendment—as state institutions, the schools within the UNC System are legally bound to uphold the First Amendment rights of their students and faculty—and examines the policies at each of the 16 schools within the system. As the Report reveals, “13 out of the 16 schools in the UNC System have at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” FIRE Interim President Greg Lukianoff says in the press release:
The revelations in our Report ought to outrage everyone in North Carolina. The UNC System is disregarding the First Amendment at public expense each and every day.
The Report offers further proof of the importance of FIRE’s work to find and document speech codes at schools across the country. Not only do administrators in the UNC System write unconstitutional speech codes into school policies, but they also use these policies to suppress speech with which they disagree. For example, at UNC Greensboro, administrators will soon hold disciplinary hearings for two students whose “crime” was, ironically, protesting the school’s unconstitutional “free speech zones” outside the free speech zones. FIRE has also intervened on behalf of students twice at UNC Chapel Hill and on behalf of a professor at UNC Wilmington.
North Carolina exemplifies so much that is wrong with American higher education today. From its unconstitutional speech codes to its quashing of religious groups, the UNC System contains perfect examples of all the things we are fighting nationwide.
FIRE hopes that the Report will help educate the people of North Carolina about the dangers to liberty on the state’s campuses and that it will motivate them to take action to bring the UNC System back in line with the Constitution.