Duke University

Location: Durham, North Carolina
Website: http://www.duke.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Duke University has been given the speech code rating Green. Green light institutions are those colleges and universities whose policies nominally protect free speech. Read more here.

  • Duke University: Women’s Center Cancels ‘Motherhood’ Event

    March 26, 2010

    Duke Students For Life (DSFL) reserved a space at Duke’s Women’s Center for a “Discussion with a Duke Mother” to take place during the group’s “Week for Life.” The day before the event was to take place, Women’s Center employee Martin Liccardo told DSFL that the event could not be held at the Women’s Center because “We had a very strong reaction from students in general who use our space who said this was something that was upsetting and not OK.” Within hours of FIRE publicizing the case, Women’s Center Director Ada Gregory apologized to DSFL, stating that the viewpoint-based […]

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  • Duke University: Administrative Ban on Faculty Member’s Website

    October 24, 2001

    At Duke University, the administration shut down a website after Professor Gary Hull posted an article entitled “Terrorism and Its Appeasement” that called for a strong military response to the terrorist attacks. FIRE took Professor’s Hull’s case to the print and broadcast media. Shamed by widespread publicity, Duke reinstated Hull’s web page, but required him to add a disclaimer that the views expressed in the article did not reflect the views of the University. Duke has never before required any other professors to add such disclaimers to their web pages. That institution’s double standard is now out in the open.

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Green Light Policies
  • A-Z Policies: Academic Freedom

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: February 15, 2016

    Freedom of inquiry and the free exchange of ideas are essential for the fulfillment of the university’s mission. Academic freedom is a right and responsibility of students as well as faculty.

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  • A-Z Policies: Computing and Electronic Communications

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: February 15, 2016

    In making acceptable use of resources you must not: … Use mail or messaging services to harass or intimidate another person, for example, by broadcasting unsolicited messages, by repeatedly sending unwanted mail, or by using someone else’s name or userid.

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  • A-Z Policies: Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: February 15, 2016

    Harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct that, because of its severity and/or persistence, interferes significantly with an individual’s work or education, or adversely affects an individual’s living conditions.

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  • Bias Response Advisory Committee

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: February 15, 2016

    What is a bias incident?
    A bias incident is an act or behavior motivated by the offender’s bias against the facets of another’s identity. Bias occurs whether the act is intentional or unintentional. Bias may be directed toward an individual or group. Bias may contribute to creating an unsafe/unwelcoming environment.

    Can individuals who engage in bias-related incidents be disciplined by the University?
    The University takes seriously its responsibility to appropriately balance its core values of protecting individual freedoms (e.g., freedom of speech, artistic expression, freedom of association, academic freedom) and ensuring equal and fair treatment of all. These values may sometimes be in conflict. There are many considerations when determining whether bias-related conduct violates the University’s expectations of members of our community. In so doing, the University is always mindful that academia is a unique place where the exchange of ideas, robust debate and artistic expression are critical to the University’s teaching and research missions.Investigation and adjudication of possible violations of university policy as the result of reported bias-related incidents are handled by the Office of Student Conduct. The Bias Response Advisory Committee holds no authority to investigate, adjudicate or otherwise intervene in bias-related incidents other than to make recommendations to the Vice President for Student Affairs.

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  • STUDENT SEXUAL MISCONDUCT POLICY AND PROCEDURES: DUKE’S COMMITMENT TO TITLE IX

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: February 15, 2016

    One form of harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on sex that, because of its severity and/or persistence, creates a hostile environment by interfering significantly with an individual’s work or education, or adversely affecting an individual’s living conditions.

    The conduct alleged to constitute harassment under this policy must be sufficiently severe and pervasive to actually interfere with the complainant’s work, education, or living conditions to a significant degree. The severity and pervasiveness of the alleged conduct will also be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person similarly situated to the complainant and in consideration of the context of the behavior.

     

    Examples of conduct that may constitute sex/gender-based harassment include:

    • Continued unwelcome questioning about intimate or personal matters
    • Unwelcome touching or physical acts of a sexual nature
    • Severe or pervasive comments or jokes of a sexual nature
    • Severe or pervasive unwelcome comments or conduct regarding an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity
    • Sending emails that contain extreme or persistent sexual messages, images, or language
    • Repeated derogatory comments of a non-sexual nature relating to a particular sex/gender generally and targeted to (as) specific individual(s) of that sex/gender
    • Sex/gender-based violence — non-sexual physical assault of an individual because of the individual’s sex or gender

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  • The New Dark Ages on Campus

    March 15, 2016

    By KC Johnson at Commentary Magazine As last fall’s wave of student protests arrived in Durham, North Carolina, a self-described “group of unaffiliated and concerned students” presented the “Demands of Black Voices.” The Duke University activists wanted “bias and diversity training” for many segments of the Duke community, a new university policy “concerning hate speech” toward “students of color,” a new administrator to address the complaints of students of color only, and permission for students of color to miss classes by citing “mental health trauma” from “racial incidents on campus.” Read more here.

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  • Under the Gun: Colleges Debate Trigger Warnings

    March 9, 2016

    By Madeline Will at Student Press Law Center One of the most controversial buzzwords in higher education today has nothing to do with teaching methods or student behavior. Instead, it’s the label that has sparked hundreds of essays, news articles and resolutions: trigger warnings. Read more here.

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  • Duke Student Columnist: America’s First Amendment ‘Obsession’ Is ‘Expression Of White Supremacy’

    January 20, 2016

    By Peter Hasson at The Daily Caller According to a columnist for the Duke University student newspaper, America’s “obsession with the First Amendment” is really just “an expression of white supremacy.” … Read more here.

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  • Keeping Free Speech Alive on Campus

    December 21, 2015

    By Robert Shibley at The John William Pope Center Every year, my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), issues its annualSpotlight on Speech Codes report in which we rate the speech codes of more than 400 of the largest and most prestigious colleges and universities in America using a red, yellow, and green light system. A valuable partner in this process has been the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, which frequently works with FIRE to get the word out about the report and ensure that North Carolina’s colleges are up-to-date and included. In this year’s survey, […]

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  • Looking for a College With Political Diversity? Here’s a Few Options and Ones to Avoid

    December 5, 2015

    By Ray Nothstine at The Christian Post Universities and colleges often make rapt headlines for political radicalism, but a diverse, well-rounded higher education may be more available than you think. Backlash against liberal institutions have essentially been on the rise since conservative giant William F. Buckley, Jr. published God and Man at Yale in 1951. The National Review founder and publisher lamented the worldview of his alma mater in the famous book declaring, “The academic community has in it the biggest concentration of alarmists, cranks and extremists this side of the giggle house.” Heterodox Academy, whose mission is to “increase viewpoint […]

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  • Trigger Warning Skepticism

    December 2, 2015

    By Colleen Flaherty at Inside Higher Ed Much of the debate thus far over trigger warnings — the flagging of specific course content that might offend or otherwise upset students — has centered on anecdotes, some of them obviously controversial. At Oberlin College, for example, proposed trigger warning guidelines said that Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart might merit a trigger warning. The idea upset many professors who said labeling it as excessively violent could undermine the experience of reading the novel. And some Columbia University students’ request that Ovid’sMetamorphoses be flagged as a poem about rape earned similar criticism. Supporters of trigger […]

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  • How Parents can Avoid Spending Thousands on Colleges that Host Student Storm-Troopers

    December 1, 2015

    By Thomas Sowell at New York Post Storm trooper tactics by bands of college students making ideological demands across the country, and immediate pre-emptive surrender by college administrators — such as at the University of Missouri recently — bring back memories of the 1960s for those of us old enough to remember what it was like being there and seeing firsthand how painful events unfolded. At Harvard back in 1969, students seized control of the administration building and began releasing to the media information from confidential personnel files of professors. But when university president Nathan Pusey called in the police […]

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  • Missouri Controversy Highlights Academia’s Free Speech struggle

    November 15, 2015

    By Aamer Madhani and Roger Yu at USA Today As college administrators across the country move to crack down on hate speech on campus, First Amendment advocates say that universities are becoming increasingly squeamish about exposing students to ideas that they may find offensive or collide with their world view In a nationwide poll published by the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale University last month, 50% of students said they often felt intimidated to offer views that differ from their classmates’ or professors’. Sixty-three percent of students said that they thought political correctness was a problem on campus, while […]

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  • The Delicate Little Flowers on Today’s College Campuses

    November 10, 2015

    By Jonah Goldberg at Los Angeles Times It seems like every week there’s a new horror story of political correctness run amok at some college campus. A warning not to wear culturally insensitive Halloween costumes sparked an imbroglio at Yale, which went viral over the weekend.A lecturer asked in an email, “Is there no room anymore for a child to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” Students went ballistic. When an administrator (who is the lecturer’s spouse) defended free speech, some students wanted his head. One student wrote in an op-ed […]

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  • Debate: Are ‘Smart Pills’ for Students like Steroids in Sports?

    November 9, 2015

    By Jackson Richman at Red Alert Politics  Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin have become increasingly popular among college students to help them stay focused for long periods of time. Is it smart for students to take drugs that will enable them to better perform in the classroom? Or is it cheating? Last week the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) hosted a debate at George Washington University about whether or not students should be permitted to take “smart pills,” and most agreed that it should be allowed. The debate, titled “College Students Should Be Allowed to Take Smart Drugs,” consisted of University of […]

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  • Intelligence Squared / FIRE debate: College Students Should be Allowed to Take Smart Drugs

    November 1, 2015

    By Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz at The Washington Post Intelligence Squared US and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) are embarking on a joint venture (that I am proud to have brokered), to present a series of high-profile debates on college campuses. Our first debate will be tomorrow at George Washington University. Arguing for the motion will be Dr. Anjan Chatterjee, professor, University of Pennsylvania and chair of neurology, Pennsylvania Hospital; and our own Nita Farahany, Volokh conspirator and professor of law and philosophy, Duke University. Arguing against the motion will be Eric Racine, director, Neuroethics Research Unit, Institut de Recherches […]

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  • Duke Freshman’s Moral Stance Against ‘Fun Home’ Part of a Larger Movement

    August 25, 2015

    By Caitlin Dickson at Yahoo News “I knew from the beginning that this would be controversial,” Duke freshman Brian Grasso told Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga on Tuesday. Grasso sparked one of the first controversies of the 2015-2016 school year with a post on the Duke Class of 2019 Facebook page explaining that he would not read Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home,” part of the school’s recommended reading list for incoming freshmen, “because of the graphic visual depictions of sexuality.” “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,” Grasso wrote […]

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  • Not So ‘Fun Home’

    August 25, 2015

    By Colleen Flaherty at Inside Higher Ed Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomichas won numerous accolades and its stage adaptation swept this summer’s Tony Awards. The book is an autobiographical meditation on love, family and identity, and with its constant references to Greek mythology and literary greats from Shakespeare to James Joyce, it’s not hard to see why it was Duke University’s recommended summer reading for incoming freshmen. But some students are objecting to the novel’s depictions of lesbian sexuality, arguing that the book is borderline pornographic and they shouldn’t have been asked to read it. Duke’s […]

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  • Libs Demand Student Be Fired From Duke School Paper for ‘Unsafe’ Conservative Views

    June 16, 2015

    By Carmine Sabia at The Bizpac Review An Asian conservative student editor at a major university is under attack from the biggest threat to free speech on American campuses today — leftists claiming their feelings are hurt. Jonathan Zhao, the new opinion editor for the Duke Chronicle, penned a column titled “The plight of black America” on May 27, that blames the “pervasive sense of crippling victimhood within the black community” for hindering the progress of black people in America. Two weeks ago, in response to the column, a group calling itself “Concerned and Conscious Duke Students” did what any […]

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  • In Campus Rape Tribunals, Some Men See Injustice: Colleges Land in Legal Minefields as They Balance Rights of Accuser and Accused

    April 10, 2015

    By Valerie Bauerlein at The Wall Street Journal DURHAM, N.C.—Last spring, Duke University expelled Lewis McLeod, a senior, for allegedly sexually assaulting a freshman woman in his room after meeting at a bar. The woman had told Durham police Mr. McLeod had sex with her when she hadn’t wanted to. He said it was consensual. Police investigated but didn’t charge him. A Duke University disciplinary panel didn’t find he gave her alcohol or used force. But the panel concluded it was “more likely than not” the woman didn’t agree to sex and was too intoxicated to consent. Regarding a degree, […]

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  • Gross Injustice at Duke: Accused Rapist Convicted Via ‘Indirect-Double-Hearsay’

    January 6, 2015

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online Lewis McLeod, a Duke University student who was convicted of rape by the administration and faces expulsion, has sued the university for violating his due process rights. His lawsuit sheds light on Duke’s adjudication process—and no one who reviews the shocking details could conclude that the procedure was anything other than a total farce. Over at Minding the Campus, KC Johnson provides a thorough accounting of everything Duke allegedly did wrong in the McLeod case, which hinged upon whether McLeod’s accuser was too intoxicated to properly give consent when they had sex. The university […]

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  • Duke Student Expelled for Sexual Misconduct Sues for Diploma

    May 28, 2014

    By Blake Neff at The Daily Caller A senior at Duke University is suing the school for his diploma after he was expelled from the college due to a rape accusation. As reported by a local paper, the Indy Week, Lewis McLeod, Class of 2014, is demanding that the school provide him with his degree so that he can move on with his life. McLeod, who hails from Australia, says he has a job offer from a Wall Street investment firm but cannot start without his degree. With his student visa expiring at the end of this term, a lack of a job would […]

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  • Duke’s sexist sexual misconduct policy

    April 14, 2010

    Four years ago, Duke University became the center of a national controversy about sexual assault, wrongful accusations, and campus politics when four lacrosse players were falsely accused of raping an exotic dancer at a party. Now, Duke is back in the news with a campus policy that ostensibly seeks to prevent sexual assault – but, in fact, infantilizes women, redefines much consensual sex as potentially criminal, and does a grave disservice to both sexes. The policy, introduced last fall but recently challenged by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, co-founded by Boston attorney Harvey Silverglate, targets “sexual misconduct” – […]

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  • Ex-Student Sues Brown Over Rape Accusation

    April 14, 2010

    The New York Times A former student has sued Brown University in federal court, saying university officials interfered with his efforts to clear his name after another student, the daughter of a prominent Brown alumnus and donor, accused him of rape. In documents unsealed Monday, the former student, William McCormick III, said the university had failed to follow its own disciplinary policies and sent him home to Wisconsin after the woman’s father made calls to top university officials. The rape accusation was never reported to the police by Brown or the woman, according to the lawsuit. Within a month, Mr. […]

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  • Duke rape policy: If you’re perceived as “powerful,” it wasn’t consensual

    April 7, 2010

    Duke University’s new sexual misconduct policy can render a student guilty of non-consensual sex simply because he or she is considered “powerful” on campus, according to the non-profit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The policy cites “perceived power differentials” which “may create an unintentional atmosphere in coercion.” The bottom line? You’ve committed “sexual misconduct” if you’re considered “powerful”—i.e. a lacrosse team player—and you have engaged in something that falls into what the university broadly defines as “acts of a sexual nature.” This definition includes, “but are not limited to:” Touching or attempted touching of an unwilling person’s breasts, […]

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  • Charles Snelling — Free speech applies to political ads

    April 3, 2010

    Not long ago, The Morning Call had a Your View by Malcolm J. Gross and Robert K. Young castigating the U.S. Supreme Court for its decision on behalf of free speech. They joined President Barack Obama in their criticism of the court although at least Gross and Young were more civil and not as rude and inappropriate as the president was during his State of the Union message to Congress. What the Supreme Court found was that corporations and labor unions were legal fictitious people and were entitled to free political speech. The court did not do anything to permit […]

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  • DePaul and the Duke Lacrosse Case

    February 1, 2007

    Aside from their school mascots, there has never been much in common between the Blue Demons of DePaul and the Blue Devils of Duke. About seven years ago Duke beat DePaul in overtime in a memorable game that featured at least six future NBA players. But other than basketball the two schools had little connecting them. Until now, that is. As the Duke Lacrosse rape hoax unravels and the falsely accused students and their families struggle to put their lives back together, a law suit filed against DePaul university by a former adjunct professor may be a cautionary tale for […]

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  • ‘Pollys’ Spotlight Politically Correct Excesses On U.S. Campuses

    April 14, 2005

    By Jim Brown at Agape Press A higher education watchdog group has unveiled its annual “Campus Outrage Awards,” documenting the worst “absurdities” and most egregious examples of political correctness on college campuses this year. The president of Harvard University receiving a faculty vote of no confidence for suggesting that innate differences might account for some of the inequalities between men and women in certain fields of endeavor; and Duke University hosting a Palestine Solidarity Movement conference with a segment designed to recruit students for terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad — those are just two of the dubious honorees […]

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  • 2005 Campus Outrage Awards

    April 1, 2005

    Collegiate Network Duke spends over $50,000 on a tactical training session for activists dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel, while a graduate student at LeMoyne College is expelled for writing that light spanking has a legitimate role in classroom discipline. A UNLV professor is engulfed in a whirlwind of controversy after making a remark about the financial planning habits of homosexuals, while a student at Occidental College is convicted of sexually harassing the whole school over the radio. Ward Churchill is defended by the academic community for declaring that victims of the World Trade Center bombing deserved […]

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  • Who’s Looking Out for Campus Conservatives?

    January 14, 2005

    The dispute as to whether liberal bias on campus exists has become, pardon the pun, academic. Last year, the Duke Conservative Union crosschecked their school’s faculty listings against voter registration rolls and found the ratio of Democrats to Republicans was 32-0 in the History department, 11-0 in Literature, and 18-1 in English. Sadly, these breakdowns are typical of liberal academia. Campus conservatives know who to watch out for: deans, provosts, professors…professors who happen to be Democrat congressmen. The only job more fulfilling than teaching liberalism is legislating it, right Dr. Price? (U.S. Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) is a member of […]

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  • The Good and The Bad (Plus Some Ugly)

    October 11, 2004

    Today’s college campus is a study in contrasts. Professors and administrators cling to their grotesque orthodoxies, but students seem to be getting saner by the year. What follows are five of the most outrageous campus incidents of the last academic year, then five of the most heartening acts of courage. The conservative-speaker double standard is almost an academic institution. At Bucknell University, administrators refused a student group’s request to invite Republican congressman and Senate hopeful Pat Toomey to give a speech, arguing that his appearance would violate a school policy against electioneering on campus. Meanwhile, Bucknell paid presidential candidate Ralph […]

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  • (Duke University) First Amendment speaker faults ‘double standard’

    January 22, 2003

    By Aaron Levine at The Chronicle Online Alan Kors reached into his back pockets and stepped from behind the podium with an air of confidence, unafraid of offending. “I wondered who would possibly hire him,” he said. A roll of laughter descended upon him, and Kors stepped back to the podium, grasping it on both sides. Kors was referring to Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta as exemplifying what he calls a “generational swindle of truly epic proportions.” More specifically, he said, college administrators often take duplicitous stances on the freedom of speech. “Most universities promise academic freedom, but deliver […]

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  • Salman Rushdie Champions Free Speech, Chides Coddled Students at ‘Chicago Tribune’ Award Ceremony

    November 10, 2015

    Acclaimed writer Salman Rushdie used his platform as the winner of 2015’s Chicago Tribune Literary Award for lifetime achievement on Saturday to warn of the dangers of censorship on college campuses. The Tribune reports Rushdie’s comments about his writing drew raucous laughter from the sold-out crowd of 1,800 at Chicago’s UIC Forum, but discussion of the state of free speech at colleges and universities turned the mood serious. On the topic of efforts by students and campus administrators to censor speakers, Rushdie said, “It’s nonsense, and it needs to be called out as nonsense and rejected as thoroughly as possible.” […]

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  • Look, Another Example of Students Demanding Intellectual Comfort

    August 27, 2015

    As August closes, students and faculty nationwide are returning to their colleges and universities amidst an ongoing national debate about the state of free expression on campus. Sparked by the cover story of the current issue of The Atlantic, co-authored by FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff and New York University professor and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, the current conversation centers in significant part on increasing student sensitivity to materials deemed disagreeable, offensive, upsetting, or “triggering.” FIRE and groups like the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) have warned of the threat to freedom of expression and academic freedom presented […]

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  • Duke Recognizes Prof’s Freedom of Speech on Racial Issues

    May 18, 2015

    Duke University professor Jerry Hough has faced criticism in recent days following his comment on a New York Times editorial published on May 10 that some readers characterized as racist. FIRE is glad to see that—despite another race-related controversy just last month—Duke has apparently not taken action against Hough. But the university still seems not to appreciate how open discourse should function on campus. Hough posted his comment in response to a Times editorial titled “How Racism Doomed Baltimore.” He wrote, in part: In 1965 the Asians were discriminated against as least as badly as blacks. That was reflected in […]

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  • Greg Laments an ‘Unfortunate Renaissance in Campus Speech-Policing’ on College Campuses

    May 18, 2015

    Freedom of speech on college campuses seems to ebb and flow—periods of rampant censorship are followed by movements for truly open discourse, which in turn are followed by attempts to silence “offensive” speech. Unfortunately, as FIRE President Greg Lukianoff writes for Minding the Campus today, colleges and universities are now home to a “renaissance in campus speech-policing.” FIRE has seen too many instances of unlawful censorship in each of our 15 years of existence. But recent attempts at censorship reveal not just incorrect ideas about the scope of the First Amendment and misguided takes on free speech principles, but also […]

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  • Colleges Rush to Violate Free Speech, Due Process in Response to Speech Controversies

    April 9, 2015

    PHILADELPHIA, April 9, 2015—In the wake of the University of Oklahoma’s unconstitutional decision to summarily expel students involved in a racist fraternity chant, colleges and universities across the country are in a “race to the bottom” to violate the rights of students at the center of campus controversies involving speech deemed offensive, heedless of either context or the precedent set by censoring unpopular speech. Last week, the University of South Carolina (USC) suspended a student who used a racial slur when writing a list of reasons “why USC WiFi blows” on a white board. Shortly after a photo of the […]

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  • Amended Complaint Alleges Striking Due Process Problems at Duke

    January 5, 2015

    In May 2014, former Duke University student Lewis McLeod sued the university for breach of contract, alleging serious errors and omissions in the investigation and hearing that led to his expulsion for sexual assault. According to McLeod’s complaint, Duke failed to follow several of its own policies in adjudicating the case. A Durham County Superior Court judge blocked the finalization of McLeod’s expulsion pending trial, but also declined to force Duke to issue McLeod a degree. Last month, McLeod filed a motion for leave to amend his complaint. KC Johnson highlighted some troubling additional allegations from the amended complaint over […]

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  • Presumed Guilty: Due Process Lessons of the Duke Lacrosse Case (VIDEO)

    June 6, 2014

    In this new FIRE video, Professor KC Johnson recounts the Duke lacrosse rape case of 2006 and explains its lessons about the importance of due process in cases of crime in higher education.

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  • Duke ‘Chronicle’ Editorial Advocates for Due Process

    February 26, 2014

    Earlier this week, the editorial board of Duke University’s student newspaper The Chronicle detailed some of the many ways Duke fails to provide due process to its students accused of campus violations.

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  • Duke vs. Freedom

    March 5, 2013

    As Torch readers (and lots of Americans generally) know, Duke University’s conduct during the Duke Lacrosse rape hoax scandal was, shall we say, subpar. But many may not know that the fallout from the scandal continues to this day, with Duke’s lawyers doing everything they can to extricate the university from a mess of its own making. Unfortunately, Duke has been heedless of some of the collateral damage it has attempted to cause in its quest to save itself some money—and some of that damage has splashed over into the territory of free speech and academic freedom. Brooklyn College professor […]

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  • Problems with University Bias Policies and Attempts to Improve Campus Climate

    November 19, 2012

    This fall, FIRE is writing a blog series about how schools can reform their problematic speech codes and earn a “green light” rating from us—a distinction currently awarded to just 15 of the more than 400 schools in our Spotlight database, but one we hope to be able to award to many more in the years to come. In this series, we are discussing common problems with campus speech codes, focusing on examples from schools that are just a few small changes away from earning a green light rating. So far, we have examined how universities restrict speech by mandating […]

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  • Misunderstanding ‘Harassment’

    October 16, 2012

    Last week, FIRE kicked off a blog series about how schools can reform problematic speech codes with a discussion of why mandating “civility” is inconsistent with students’ right to free speech. This week, we are tackling another trouble spot for free speech: the harassment policy.  As an initial matter, campus harassment policies can be divided into two categories: policies prohibiting discriminatory harassment (including sexual harassment) and policies prohibiting general harassment (including threats and stalking). It will be most useful to discuss these categories separately.  Discriminatory Harassment   Federal anti-discrimination law requires colleges and universities receiving federal funding (which is virtually all […]

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  • The Problem with Stanford’s Definition of ‘Intoxication’

    July 21, 2011

    I want to take a few moments today to discuss a particular aspect of FIRE’s recent work regarding due process protections for those accused of sexual misconduct. Specifically, I want to focus on the issues of consent and intoxication. Because many cases of sexual misconduct involve intoxicated students and questions of consent, precisely how a school defines intoxication is of obvious importance when thinking about due process rights and ensuring fair procedures. Let’s take Stanford University as an example. As FIRE detailed in yesterday’s press release, Stanford defines sexual assault as occurring “when a person is incapable of giving consent.” This […]

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  • FIRE’s Case at Duke Gets National Attention in ‘Boston Globe,’ ‘Washington Times,’ ‘The Atlantic’

    April 15, 2010

    FIRE’s exposé of Duke University’s unjust sexual misconduct policy—a policy that transmogrifies students into unwitting rapists—is drawing the attention of some of America’s best-known publications. In The Boston Globe, Cathy Young brings analysis and an original perspective to Duke’s policy, while FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley has a column of his own in today’s Washington Times. Meanwhile, The Atlantic‘s Wendy Kaminer, a member of FIRE’s Board of Advisors, tackles the policy’s defective procedures and the political assumptions underlying the policy. Duke, meanwhile, has remained silent, making it increasingly obvious that it cannot defend this outrageously unfair policy.

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  • In Pages of ‘Washington Times,’ FIRE’s Robert Shibley Takes Apart Duke’s Outrageous Sexual Misconduct Policy

    April 15, 2010

    Much ink has been rightly spilled in recent days over Duke University’s new sexual misconduct policy. Indeed, as FIRE and others have documented, the policy blurs the idea of consent in any sexual encounter, deprives students accused of sexual misconduct of basic due process, and threatens to turn many students on Duke’s campus into unknowing rapists. In other words, the policy would be laughably absurd in its affront to common sense, if not for the fact that it is so dangerous and the possible consequences so dire. Adding to the calls for Duke to dismantle its ill-advised policy is FIRE […]

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  • SHIBLEY: Unwitting rapists and their oblivious victims

    April 15, 2010

    At Duke, you can be a rapist without even knowing it. A new sexual-misconduct policy, enacted in the fall, takes as one of its fundamental tenets that “real or perceived power differentials between individuals may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion.” That’s right: To be guilty of date rape at Duke, you don’t have to force someone to have sex or even have actual power over that person – you only have to be “perceived” as more powerful by a Duke tribunal. Not concerned yet? How about this: If either party, male or female, is to any degree intoxicated during […]

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  • Cathy Young in ‘The Boston Globe’ on Duke’s Unjust Sexual Misconduct Policy

    April 14, 2010

    Columnist and Reason contributing editor Cathy Young pens an excellent editorial in The Boston Globe today about Duke University’s shockingly unjust and intrusive sexual misconduct policy. The entire column is well worth a read, as Young details the many infirmities of Duke’s policy. Young also brings a fresh perspective to the table: About 15 years ago, as an undergraduate, a friend of mine was talked into a one-night stand in a situation some would call coercive: the man was a graduate student, and she felt somewhat intimidated by his intellectual brilliance. She went to a campus counselor hoping for advice on developing […]

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  • Wendy Kaminer Pillories Duke’s Sexual Misconduct Policy in ‘The Atlantic’

    April 13, 2010

    Celibacy is probably not a feasible option for most undergraduates, but students at Duke University may want to consider it anyway. Such is the assessment of author, lawyer, and FIRE Board of Advisors member Wendy Kaminer in her most recent blog entry for The Atlantic. Kaminer is ridiculing Duke University’s troubling sexual misconduct policy, and she’s issued one of the best critiques of the policy to appear in the days since FIRE went public with its concerns at Duke. As FIRE has done at length, Kaminer also draws attention to the many inequities in Duke’s policy which stack the deck […]

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  • Duke University and the Accidental Sex Offender

    April 12, 2010

    Celibacy is probably not a feasible option for most undergraduates, but students at Duke University may want to consider it anyway.  Duke’s new rules governing sexual misconduct and coercion are so vague, subjective, presumptive of guilt, and oblivious to the dynamics of consensual sexual relations that they pose a risk of prosecution even for students engaging in innocent foreplay.  Sexual misconduct at Duke includes “inappropriate (or non-consensual) touching,” as well as rape; “inappropriate touching” and “acts of a sexual nature” that require clear consent include (“but are not limited to”) touching and “attempted touching” of an “unwilling person’s” erogenous zones, […]

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  • Duke and the Art of Not Answering Questions

    April 9, 2010

    Lawyers often specialize in the art of answering questions without actually answering questions. Here’s a great example: the letter we received today from Duke University lawyer Kate Hendricks. Hendricks was personally very pleasant to me when I had a non-substantive conversation with her on March 25, as I mentioned in my previous blog entry and to which she refers in her letter. But Hendricks’ letter employs a common tactic: it addresses the least important concern we raised in our letter while conveniently ignoring everything else. Here’s the sole concern Duke addresses: FIRE pointed out in our letter that the sexual […]

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  • FIRE’s Free Speech Victory at Duke Highlighted in ‘Morning Call’

    April 8, 2010

    The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) ran an op-ed last Saturday highlighting FIRE’s successful work defending freedom of expression against censorship by the Women’s Center at Duke University and in other cases. Charles D. Snelling writes: I belong to an organization called FIRE — Foundation for Individual Rights in Education — that is a vitally needed defender of free speech, which is under assault in many if not most colleges and universities. Readers may remember the infamous order at Lehigh University after 9/11 that the American flag would not be displayed on the college’s buses. [link added] Nor is this sort of outrage a rarity. Just last week, […]

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  • Robert Shibley Appearing on ‘The David Boze Show’ Tonight

    April 7, 2010

    FIRE’s Vice President Robert Shibley will be discussing our latest case at Duke University on The David Boze Show tonight, a daily talk radio program on 770 KTTH AM. If you are in the Seattle area, tune in at 4:10 p.m. East Coasters can listen online at 7:10 p.m.

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  • New Duke Policy Renders Students Unwitting Rapists

    April 7, 2010

    I didn’t want to write that headline. Not because it isn’t true—it is—but because FIRE works very hard not to overstate our cases.  But the closer you look at this case, the more you realize that there’s no way around that headline. At Duke University, you can be a rapist and not even know it. To write anything less harsh would be, as journalists say, to “bury the lede.” Today’s FIRE press release discusses Duke’s sexual misconduct policy, which was instituted at the beginning of the current school year. KC Johnson, rightly lauded for his blog Durham in Wonderland and […]

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  • New Duke Policy Renders Students Unwitting Rapists; Removes Protections for Those Accused of Sexual Misconduct

    April 7, 2010

    DURHAM, N.C., April 7, 2010—Duke University has instituted a new “sexual misconduct” policy that can render a student guilty of non-consensual sex simply because he or she is considered “powerful” on campus. The policy claims that “perceived power differentials may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion.” Duke’s new policy transforms students of both sexes into unwitting rapists simply because of the “atmosphere” or because one or more students are “intoxicated,” no matter the degree. The policy also establishes unfair rules for judging sexual misconduct accusations. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is challenging the policy. “Duke’s new sexual […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech: Duke Pro-Life Group’s Free Speech Rights Restored

    March 30, 2010

    Duke University’s Women’s Center has reversed a decision that prohibited the Duke Students for Life (DSFL) student group from holding a discussion on student motherhood at a Women’s Center venue during the group’s “Week for Life” event. Only hours after FIRE exposed Duke’s decision to public scrutiny yesterday, Women’s Center Director Ada Gregory wrote to the group to say that “mistakes were certainly made that should not have occurred” and that she had “taken steps to ensure that such an incident will not happen again.” DSFL had reserved a Women’s Center space for a “Discussion with a Duke Mother” to take place […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech at Duke: Pro-Life Group’s Rights Restored

    March 30, 2010

    DURHAM, N.C., March 30, 2010—Duke University has reversed a decision by its Women’s Center that prohibited the Duke Students for Life (DSFL) student group from holding a discussion on student motherhood at a Women’s Center venue during the group’s “Week for Life” event. The group’s president turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. Only hours after FIRE exposed Duke’s decision to public scrutiny yesterday, Women’s Center Director Ada Gregory wrote to the group to say that “mistakes were certainly made that should not have occurred” and that she had “taken steps to ensure that such […]

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  • Duke Keeps Pro-Life Group Out of Women’s Center During ‘Week for Life’

    March 29, 2010

    Duke University’s Women’s Center has canceled an event about motherhood because the sponsor was engaging in pro-life expression elsewhere on campus. A Women’s Center representative told Duke Students for Life (DSFL) that “we have a problem” and an ideological “conflict” with the event, which was supposedly canceled to protect Duke women from encountering the event during the group’s “traumatizing” pro-life “Week for Life.” Today’s press release has the story. As part of a “Week for Life” series of events held at Duke over March 15-19, DSFL had reserved a Women’s Center space for a “Discussion with a Duke Mother” on […]

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  • Duke Keeps Pro-Life Group Out of Women’s Center During ‘Week for Life’

    March 29, 2010

    DURHAM, N.C., March 29, 2010—Duke University’s Women’s Center has canceled an event about motherhood because the sponsor was engaging in pro-life expression elsewhere on campus. A Women’s Center representative told Duke Students for Life (DSFL) that “we have a problem” and an ideological “conflict” with the event, which was supposedly canceled to protect Duke women from encountering the event during the group’s “traumatizing” pro-life “Week for Life.” The group’s president has turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “Duke appears to have an unwritten but officially enforced stance regarding abortion that has resulted in pro-life groups being shut […]

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  • FIRE Letter to Duke University President Richard Brodhead

    March 26, 2010

    March 26, 2010 President Richard H. Brodhead Office of the President Duke University 207 Allen Building Box 90001 Durham, North Carolina 27708-0001 Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (919-684-3050) Dear President Brodhead: It is with great disappointment that FIRE writes you for the second time within a single month about the unfair treatment of Duke students. FIRE is gravely concerned about the withdrawal of promised event space by the Duke Women’s Center for the Duke Students for Life’s “Discussion with a Duke Mother” event. This denial of event space is unjustifiable both according to the stated mission of the Duke […]

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  • Duke Professor Finishes Yale’s Job, Prints Mohammed Images in New Book; FIRE Co-signs Statement of Principle

    November 9, 2009

    Duke University Professor Gary Hull has just published Muhammad: The “Banned” Images, which dares to publish images that Yale University and Yale University Press censored from Jytte Klausen’s The Cartoons that Shook the World earlier this year. Hull calls the book “a statement of defiance against censors, terror-mongers, and their Western appeasers.” FIRE joined with the National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Association of University Professors, and nine other signatories on a Statement of Principle stating that “The failure to stand up for free expression emboldens those who would attack and undermine it.” Here is the Statement of Principle, which points out that Yale’s […]

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  • Duke, Private Universities and Student Rights

    May 11, 2009

    Brooklyn College Professor KC Johnson, co-author of Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustice of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, has written an informative post on private universities and their legal obligations. He criticizes Duke for claiming, in the civil suit pertaining to Duke’s dismal treatment of the falsely accused Duke lacrosse players, that Duke’s bulletins do not constitute a legally binding contract. In other words, Duke claims that the bulletin, and other official policies and guidelines that it regularly enforces against students and faculty, can be disregarded by the university willy-nilly. As Johnson puts it: Duke’s official […]

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  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Duke University

    May 6, 2009

    Throughout the spring semester, FIRE is drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Today we review policies at Duke University, which FIRE has given a yellow-light rating for maintaining at least one policy that could too easily be used to restrict student speech. Duke is a private university, so the first order of business is to examine what commitments the university has made to protecting free speech. In several places throughout its student policies, Duke extols the value of free expression to university life. […]

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  • Rights in the News: A Good Week for FIRE at Virginia Tech

    April 17, 2009

    I blogged on Wednesday on the press generated by FIRE’s successful effort to get Virginia Tech President Charles Steger to shelve a requirement that would have more deeply ensconced a “diversity” requirement for tenure and promotion for the university’s arts and sciences faculty. FIRE’s efforts and success at Virginia Tech were reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) and the Richmond Times-Dispatch as well as several blogs. You also may have noticed that there was a bit of a ruckus kicked up by University of Pennsylvania professor John L. Jackson, Jr., in a post on Brainstorm, a blog […]

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  • More Shameful Behavior at Duke University

    December 18, 2007

    FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate is quoted in a recent article written by University of North Carolina–Wilmington Professor Christopher Halkides on the Duke University lacrosse case. The article, which is available here, discusses Duke Professor Steven Baldwin’s travails as a rare voice of reason among the school’s faculty. In the fall of 2006, at the height of the campus’s upheaval, Professor Baldwin courageously wrote an op-ed piece for the Duke Chronicle in which he criticized those of his fellow faculty members (and there were many) who had presumed the guilt of the accused lacrosse players and publicly damaged their reputations. Tellingly, […]

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  • The ‘Group of 88’ and Richard Brodhead

    November 20, 2007

    I’ve posted a few times on Stuart Taylor Jr.’s and KC Johnson’s wonderful and frightening book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. FIRE friends need no introduction to the disregard for due process and common decency permeating the academy, but let the following serve as yet more anecdotal evidence. Eighty-eight Duke professors released an advertisement on April 6 calling the lacrosse party and alleged rape a “social disaster” and remarked that, no matter what the “results of the police investigation” were, something “happened to this young woman.” Duke President Richard Brodhead […]

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  • In Response to Pressure, Duke President Richard Brodhead Folds Like a Lawn Chair

    October 29, 2007

    This week, we continue the exploration begun last week (here and here) of Duke President Richard Brodhead’s deplorable actions in violation of his students’ rights and welfare in the Duke lacrosse rape case. These stories are taken from KC Johnson’s and Stuart Taylor’s book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. After word of the alleged rape hit the media, physical attacks on Duke students by members of the Durham community increased. The increased attacks prompted critics of the lacrosse team to condemn reports of the attacks rather than the attacks themselves […]

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  • More on Duke Lacrosse Case

    October 18, 2007

    Yesterday, we announced that we would be exploring more aspects and details of the Duke University lacrosse case as recorded by KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor in their book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. As I mentioned, disgraced DA Mike Nifong’s actions were effective largely because a gullible Duke community allowed them to be. Nifong may have never attempted such actions had the academic community vehemently condemned the case’s lack of procedural due process and legal inconsistencies.   Instead of doing so, however, Duke President Richard Brodhead obtusely announced that […]

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  • ‘Until Proven Innocent’ Demonstrates Duke Administration’s Failures

    October 17, 2007

    HBO announced a couple of weeks ago that it will make a movie based on KC Johnson’s and Stuart Taylor’s excellent book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. The book is a comprehensive review of the frightening abuses of due process by Durham’s District Attorney Mike Nifong—which have prompted a lawsuit from the falsely accused students—and the gullible reactions of the media, the Duke faculty, and the Duke administration. FIRE could not take the Duke case because it was in the realm of criminal law and a matter of prosecutorial malfeasance […]

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  • Professor, Examine Thyself

    October 8, 2007

    Check out Peter Berkowitz’s op ed, “Ethics 101,” in today’s Wall Street Journal. In his article, Berkowitz points out that, while centers to study ethics exist at many campuses across the country, including some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, few spend much time examining ethical issues relating to higher education. He writes: Celebrating its 20th anniversary last spring, the Harvard University Program on Ethics and the Professions is among the nation’s oldest and most distinguished. Yet of the more than 130 public lectures by eminent visitors sponsored over the last two decades by the Harvard ethics program, only three […]

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  • ‘Until Proven Innocent’ and Duke’s President

    September 21, 2007

    FIRE’s Luke Sheahan and I had the pleasure of traveling to New York last night for the launch of MindingTheCampus.com, the Manhattan Institute’s new web journal and a great source of information about what’s going on in academia today with regard to issues like free speech and academic freedom. The guests of honor at the event were none other than Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson, authors of the new book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. The book has met with favorable reviews from The New York Times, The Wall […]

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  • KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor in ‘The Washington Post’

    September 7, 2007

    As a Duke alumnus, I followed the developments in the Duke Lacrosse “rape” case with a good deal of interest and no small amount of embarrassment. Today, Professor KC Johnson (a good friend of FIRE) and National Journal reporter Stuart Taylor Jr., authors of the new book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case have an article in The Washington Post that explains why I had good reason to be embarrassed about the behavior of my alma mater’s faculty and administration, if not the students who attend it. In the article, Taylor […]

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  • Duke Student Government President Wants to Exclude Illegal Evidence

    June 4, 2007

    With the exoneration of the accused Duke lacrosse players, many are now taking a hard look at the procedures that were used to drag them through over a year of utterly unjustified litigation. FIRE friend Professor KC Johnson has done an invaluable service to our society by chronicling the whole sad story of the case on his blog, Durham-in-Wonderland. While the majority of the abuses came from the Durham Police and the office of Durham County Prosecutor Mike Nifong, many people—including Elliott Wolf, president of the Duke Student Government (DSG)—are upset with Duke’s handling of the case as well. In […]

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  • Liberty in the Balance in North Carolina

    February 1, 2006

    The number of battles FIRE has had to fight in North Carolina is staggering. Even before our recent (and victorious) headline-grabbing case at UNC Greensboro, we have defended embattled professors at UNC Wilmington, Shaw University, Forsyth Technical Community College, and Duke University; two Christian groups at UNC Chapel Hill; a student newspaper under attack at Craven Community College; and red-light speech codes across the state. The place clearly needs help, and that is exactly what FIRE is trying to give it. Last month, we (along with the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy) released the landmark Report on […]

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  • K. C. Johnson Strikes Again

    August 26, 2005

    The invaluable K. C. Johnson has an excellent op-ed in today’s Inside Higher Ed. K. C. does a wonderful job of collecting evidence that much of the ideological uniformity in higher education is not so much the result of “self-selection” but instead the product of an academic culture that uses ideology as a stand-in for intelligence or merit. His most interesting paragraphs relate how ideological uniformity is justified by a desire to create a particular academic orthodoxy on issues of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation According to Montclair State’s Grover Furr, “colleges and universities do not need a single […]

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