Rights in the News: FIRE Enters the Fray Over Dawkins Investigation in Oklahoma

March 20, 2009

In his column posted last weekend on RichardDawkins.net, Greg helped bring attention to what is potentially a deeply troubling breach of free expression: the rumored investigation of the University of Oklahoma’s funding of a speech by evolutionary biologist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins by the state’s legislature. As Claire noted on Monday, Greg’s post has attracted attention from blogs both nationally and internationally; as of today it has also received 270 comments on Dawkins’ site. And as Greg notes in his most recent column for The Huffington Post, an investigation is indeed afoot. Be sure to read his column for the latest updates on the Oklahoma legislature’s chilling investigation of one of the state’s top public universities.

Adam wrote yesterday about proposed policy changes at the College of DuPage that, if adopted, could curtail freedom of expression and association at the College, and FIRE sent a letter to DuPage noting our concerns in advance of the meeting of the Board of Trustees where the changes were to be voted on. Today in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Peter Schmidt reports that voting on the proposed policies has been tabled, at least for now, and notes the roles of FIRE and the Illinois Association of University Professors in urging their defeat.

And last week I mentioned a case brewing at the University of Louisville, where nursing student Nina Yoder was expelled due to the content of her blog. Adam weighed in for FIRE in an Associated Press article (picked up this week by the First Amendment Center), and this week helps inform an article for Louisville’s Courier-Journal. Yoder has sued UL and asked a federal judge to order her reinstatement, and FIRE continues to follow her case.

Schools:  University of Oklahoma University of Louisville

Cases:  University of Oklahoma: State Legislature Investigates University for Hosting Controversial Speaker