George Mason University

Location: Fairfax, Virginia
Website: http://www.gmu.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

George Mason 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.

  • Phi Beta Kappa: Member Institutions’ Speech Codes

    November 29, 2005

    When George Mason University cancelled a speech by filmmaker Michael Moore, the Phi Beta Kappa Society denied George Mason University’s application for a campus chapter of the honor society, citing academic freedom concerns. Given the Society’s professed commitment to freedom of speech, FIRE wrote to Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill to point out the speech codes that abound at Phi Beta Kappa member institutions. FIRE’s letter specifically called attention to outrageous codes at Cornell University, Oberlin College, The Ohio State University, Penn State University, Rhodes College, theUniversity of Illinois at Chicago, and West Virginia University. Given Phi Beta Kappa’s stance on GMU, it seems reasonable to assume that the society would […]

    » Read More
  • George Mason University: Unconstitutional Policies and Suppression of Dissent

    October 27, 2005

    GMU student and Air Force veteran Tariq Khan protested military recruiters on campus by silently standing near their table with a “Recruiters Lie” sign taped to his chest while passing out handbills. According to witnesses, a student assaulted Khan and took his sign within less than 30 minutes. Yet the police arrested Khan, not the other students involved in the ensuing fracas, allegedly because he had violated GMU Policy 1110. The ACLU of Virginia came to Khan’s legal aid, and FIRE discovered that GMU maintains several unconstitutional policies limiting freedom of expression. FIRE wrote GMU President Alan G. Merten, pointing […]

    » Read More
FIRE Speech Code Memorandum for George Mason University

Green Light Policies
  • Residential Student Handbook: Posting Policy 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: November 19, 2014

    The sign may not include content so severe and pervasive and objectionably offensive that it effectively creates a hostile environment.

    » Read More

  • Code of Student Conduct: Statement on Freedom of Expression 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: April 20, 2015

    [A]ll members of the George Mason University community enjoy the right to freedom of speech and expression.

    » Read More

  • Code of Student Conduct: Acts of Misconduct 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: April 20, 2015

    Any unwelcome sexual behavior and/or all forms of sexual misconduct including but not limited to: a) Deliberate touching or penetration of another person without consent; or b) Requests for sexual favors; or c) Conduct of a sexual nature so severe, pervasive, or objectionably offensive that it effectively creates a hostile environment for an individual’s participation in any aspect of university life; or d) Any form of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is further defined by University Policy Number 1202, and sexual misconduct (including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation) is described in greater detail in the Sexual Misconduct section of this Code.

    » Read More

  • Code of Student Conduct: Acts of Misconduct 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: April 20, 2015

    All hostile, threatening, or intimidating behavior that by its very nature would be interpreted by a reasonable person to threaten or endanger the health, safety or well-being of another. Examples of such behavior may include, but are not limited to: a) An act(s) that alarms or seriously disrupts another person’s ability to participate in any aspect of University life is prohibited; or b) Communicating verbally either directly or indirectly through another party, by telephone, regular or electronic mail, voice mail or any verbal, mechanical, electronic or written communication in a manner that would likely restrict or deny an individual’s access to educational resources, university activities, and university-related opportunities.

    » Read More

  • Residential Student Handbook: Harassment/Intimidation/Bullying 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: November 19, 2014

    The Office of Housing and Residence Life will not tolerate a hostile environment created by conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to educational opportunity or benefit.

    » Read More

  • Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education: Bias Incident Report Form 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: November 19, 2014

    The university defines bias incidents as follows:

    Bias Incidents: A bias incident is an act of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, violence or criminal offense committed against any person, group or property that appears to be intentional and motivated by prejudice or bias. Such are usually associated with negative feelings and beliefs with respect to others race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age social class, political affiliation, disability, veteran status, club affiliation or organizational membership.

    However it is important for you to know that some bias-motivated, prejudice or otherwise disrespectful acts may be constitutionally protected speech and thus not subject to University disciplinary action or formal investigation. The reporting process (also described in the Freedom of Expression Policy) helps Mason to record and evaluate these occurrences for climate assessment and planning purposes. The Office of Diversity Inclusion and Multicultural Education or Campus Climate Committee does not have independent authority to adjudicate incidents falling under this definition.

    » Read More

  • Sexual Harassment and Misconduct 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: April 20, 2015

    Sexual harassment is defined by law as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, physical, or other form of expressive communication of a sexual nature, when submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment or academic decisions, or such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or unreasonably creating an intimidating, hostile, or sexually offensive work or academic environment. Examples of behavior that may be considered sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following: … Repetitive sexual comments, questions, jokes, gestures or other forms of sexually explicit expression when they rise to the standard set forth above.

    » Read More


  • UNLV’s First Amendment Ranking Improves

    May 22, 2015

    By Editorial at Las Vegas Review Journal Nevada’s underperforming K-12 schools aren’t the only campuses stuck with low ratings. Higher education has its problems, too, particularly when it comes to free speech at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno. Since 1999, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has been rating hundreds of public and private colleges based on their commitment to free speech, using red, yellow and green lights. (Think of a traffic signal controlling the flow of expression.) For years, both UNLV and UNR had been stuck on a red-light rating with […]

    » Read More
  • University Earns ‘Green Light’ For Respecting Free Speech

    May 8, 2015

    By Bob Kellogg at OneNewsNow A university has earned a rare achievement by being designated a “green light” university by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Azhar Majeed of FIRE says the foundation began working with George Mason University one year ago to revise seven university policies, such as posting flyers on campus, sexual harassment rules, and student conduct. A “green light” designation means the university has no policies that “infringe on students’ and faculty members’ free speech rights,” he tells OneNewsNow. GMU becomes just the 20th “green light” among more than 400 universities and colleges in FIRE’s Spotlight […]

    » Read More
  • Video: Megyn Kelly Offers Helpful Advice to Students Seeking “Safe Space” from Opinions

    April 23, 2015

    By Ed Morrissey at Hot Air “Life doesn’t only involve the people who think the way you think,” Megyn Kelly told college students toward the end of her interview with Christina Hoff Sommers. Kelly and Sommers discuss the latter’s recent experiences at college campus events, where the mere presence of her fact-based critiques of “rape culture” hysteria are enough to send campus activists into rumpus rooms to protect themselves from the supposed cognitive damage that alternative points of view provide. “In the words of my old trainer,” Kelly concludes out of frustration, “toughen up, buttercup.” Heather Wilhelm calls all of […]

    » Read More
  • George Mason University and the Perpetual Problem of Speech Codes

    April 23, 2015

    By John K. Wilson at The Academe Blog George Mason University (GMU) has gotten a lot of attention this week, with FIRE declaring that GMU “has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning the highest, ‘green light’ rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.” Unfortunately, this isn’t true. GMU continues to have a Student Code of Conduct that’s flawed in many ways and severely restricts student freedoms. Now, it’s understandable that FIRE would issue this statement, because GMU fixed some of the most egregious parts of their speech code under pressure from FIRE, and FIRE wants to reward […]

    » Read More
  • George Mason University Joins Ranks of Other Universities in Respecting Free Speech: University Earns ‘Green Light’ Distinction, Updates Policies

    April 23, 2015

    By Mary Lou Byrd at The Washington Free Beacon George Mason University has earned the high distinction of a “green light” rating for eliminating all of its speech codes and ensuring its policies comply with the First Amendment. GMU received the highest rating from The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has worked with the university for the past decade on its speech codes. It is the 20th university in the country to earn the green light rating out of the more than 400 colleges and universities in FIRE’s database. “It’s always gratifying for FIRE to work with a […]

    » Read More
  • George Mason University Earns Green Light Speech Code Rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

    April 21, 2015

    By Todd Zywicki at The Washington Post I’m pleased to formally note that after revising its policies on the scope of permitted speech and academic freedom, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has announced that George Mason University has earned a green light rating from FIRE, meaning that it has no formal rules or restrictions that improperly limit free speech or academic freedom. I want to thank the members of the George Mason staff and community for their dedicated efforts in helping to bring about this happy result. Some will remember my column that I wrote for the […]

    » Read More
  • George Mason University Dumps All Speech Codes, Earns Coveted ‘Green Light’ Rating

    April 21, 2015

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix OK, perhaps not many schools are coveting the responsibility to let students speak freely and not punish or intimidate them into docility when it becomes politically convenient, but they should. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education announced today that George Mason University in northern Virginia has dropped all its speech codes – without a threatened or actual lawsuit – earning the civil liberties group’s “green light” rating. It’s been a long time coming, FIRE said, noting GMU came on its radar in a 2005 incident where a student was arrested while protesting near […]

    » Read More
  • Another Reason to Rein in Bureaucrats

    March 10, 2015

    By Alex McHugh at National Review George Mason Law School Professor Todd Zywicki has shown that administrative bloat is not just a sign of bad fiscal management; its ever-expanding resources and power can also be obstacles to crucial policy reform. Zywicki’s quite urgent goal was to ensure that the policies on student speech at his public university come into compliance with the U.S. Constitution and earn the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s “green light” rating for observance of the First Amendment. Neither high-level administrators, nor other professors demurred. Instead, the mid-level bureaucrats of the “University Life Office” were able […]

    » Read More
  • Meet The Mid-Level Bureaucrats Who Impose Speech Codes On America’s Universities

    February 4, 2015

    By Todd J. Zywicki at The John William Pope Center The university where I teach, George Mason University (GMU), has a speech code which purports to regulate the speech of students in the interest of civility and educational values. As a result, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has given George Mason a “yellow” light rating, which identifies an institution “with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application.” Following a 2005 incident in which a student (and former Air Force veteran) was arrestedby campus police for violating a substantively similar regulation, the […]

    » Read More
  • You Can’t Say That Here — This Is a University!

    November 2, 2010

    by A. Barton Hinkle Richmond Times-Dispatch Teresa Sullivan has been in the president’s office for only a brief period, but the University of Virginia already has made a tremendous improvement on her watch. The Foundation for Individ ual Rights in Education (FIRE), an organization dedicated to protecting free speech on campus, reports that it has conferred its green-light award on Mr. Jefferson’s university. UVa thereby becomes one of only 13 colleges in the nation — William & Mary is another — to receive the rare designation, which the Charlottesville school earned by revising its egregious speech codes. Those speech codes […]

    » Read More
  • A new wave of PC on campus

    December 12, 2005

    ALAN TEMES, an assistant professor of health and physical education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, was getting good reviews on the job until his politics became an issue. Temes, who opposes the war in Iraq, began posting updates of the body count of US soldiers and Iraqi civilians on a bulletin board near his office. Last April, department chair Elaine Blair e-mailed Temes advising him to stop posting the notices. Then, Temes claims in a lawsuit, she warned him that continued antiwar protests would hurt his chances of getting tenure. Later, he was denied tenure, despite apparently meeting the qualifications […]

    » Read More
  • Clash of campus freedom, civility

    December 11, 2005

    When Tariq Khan staged a one-man demonstration against military recruiters, he felt safe because he was on a college campus. Then he was arrested. “When the police officer started to handcuff me, I was pretty surprised,” Khan said last week. “Usually we tend to think of college campuses as sort of safe havens for this type of thing, for people who want to raise consciousness about controversial issues.” Most colleges and universities, whether public or private, pride themselves on adhering to principles of free speech and expression as protected by the First Amendment. But at many schools, the practical problem […]

    » Read More
  • Pariahs, Martyrs — and Fighters Back

    October 24, 2005

    At the start of the last school year, activists at DePaul University set up a pair of tables along a student thoroughfare and distributed literature to passers-by. They caught the eye of faculty member Thomas Klocek, who took one of their handouts and read about Israel’s “brutal and murderous occupation” of “Palestine” as well as its “apartheid violence” in the West Bank and Gaza. This was provocative stuff — but nothing out of the ordinary for the two groups behind it all, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and United Muslims Moving Ahead (UMMA). Engaging the students in a discussion […]

    » Read More
  • The Lone Pine Revolution

    May 14, 2005

    Two bespectacled, suit-wearing academics make for unlikely revolutionaries. However, the election of Hoover Institution fellow Peter Robinson ’79 and George Mason University law professor Todd Zywicki ’88 to Dartmouth College’s Board of Trustees, announced Thursday, is perhaps the most significant event in the institution’s recent history. Most Trustee elections at Dartmouth, like those to most corporate boards, are low-key affairs, marked by apathy. But not this one. Just to earn a place on the Trustee election ballot, Robinson and Zywicki each had to collect 500 alumni signatures on a petition. They next fought back a spirited opposition from the four […]

    » Read More
  • Freer Speech at Dartmouth?

    May 10, 2005

    Can speech that hurts feelings get you in trouble at Dartmouth College? That’s what libertarian critics of the college have been charging for some time, saying that the college has a speech code that squelches free expression. Dartmouth has said that its policies have been distorted. But this month, the college clarified its stance and at least some of its critics now say that the college no longer has policies that inhibit free speech on the campus. The clarification comes as the college is counting the votes in a trustee election in which the college’s speech policies were a major […]

    » Read More
  • The Dartmouth Insurgency

    April 25, 2005

    IF YOU’RE NOT A DARTMOUTH alum, there are still two reasons to care about this year’s alumni trustee election: Peter Robinson and Todd Zywicki, who are running as insurgents. Robinson is an author and Hoover Institution scholar best known for penning Ronald Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech in 1987. Zywicki is a George Mason University law professor and blogger for the popular Volokh Conspiracy site. They are Dartmouth grads–classes of 1979 and 1988, respectively. Each launched a petition drive last winter to get his name on the 2005 alumni trustee ballot, using Internet-assisted word-of-mouth to collect the required 500 signatures. Both […]

    » Read More
  • Campus Hourglass

    March 17, 2004

    By Candace de Russy and KC Johnson at National Review Who will guard the guardians? This common saying applies to American higher education, where professors and administrators are normally exempt from the scrutiny given to other public institutions. A tradition of academic freedom, flowing from the belief that the faculty’s training in their academic disciplines equips them to decide what to teach, has protected the autonomy of American colleges and universities and helped make them the envy of the world. But the principle of academic freedom can be subject to abuse, particularly in personnel and curricular matters, where personal and ideological agendas can […]

    » Read More
  • Free speech dilemmas; Free speech ‘zones’ and ‘codes’ go from campus to court

    January 12, 2004

    The free speech wars continue to be waged on university campuses, producing their fair share of First Amendment litigation.While campus “speech codes” that discipline students for offensive or so-called “politically incorrect” speech have been roundly condemned by the courts, they are still generating controversy.But still to be tested are “free speech zones,” which confine free speech activities to a specific area of a campus. Such zones are vulnerable to challenge if used as a kind of banishment that isolates speakers from their intended audience.Greg C. Lukianoff, director of legal and public advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, […]

    » Read More
  • Mason Protects Student Rights

    July 15, 2003

    By Nicholas Zinzer at Broadside Online Awareness of one’s rights on campus is both critical and beneficial. Students who are aware of the legal rights protecting them will be able to recognize when they are being taken advantage of and able to defend themselves accordingly. Religion plays a prominent role in many students’ lives and protecting the right to practice an individual’s religion is an important part of George Mason University’s policy. Numerous spiritual groups exist on campus and knowing how a student is protected is helpful. Most importantly, Mason cannot inhibit particular religious groups or advance any religious doctrine. […]

    » Read More
  • Auburn University Embroiled in a Free Speech Lawsuit

    December 11, 2001

    By Debbie Elliott and Linda Wertheimer at All Things Considered (NPR) ANCHORS: NOAH ADAMS; LINDA WERTHEIMER REPORTERS: DEBBIE ELLIOTT NOAH ADAMS, host: From NPR News, it’s ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I’m Noah Adams. LINDA WERTHEIMER, host: And I’m Linda Wertheimer. In Alabama, Auburn University is embroiled in a free speech lawsuit. It stems from the university’s decision to suspend 15 students and two all-white fraternities after photos from Halloween parties showed the students wearing racially offensive costumes. NPR’s Debbie Elliott reports. DEBBIE ELLIOTT reporting: Shock, embarrassment, humiliation–those are the words that Auburn officials and students alike use to describe their reaction to what […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE’s Majeed: 2015 Already a Good Year for Speech Code Reform

    July 30, 2015

    Over at The Huffington Post today, my colleague Azhar Majeed takes an encouraging survey of the solid progress FIRE has already made in 2015 in reforming restrictive speech codes. Azhar reviews the four schools that have already earned FIRE’s best, most speech-friendly “green light” rating thus far in 2015—George Mason University, Purdue University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Western State Colorado University—and highlights the important roles that students and faculty can play in improving policies. Taking a close look at Purdue, Azhar writes: These changes benefit faculty members and students tremendously in the exercise of their […]

    » Read More
  • George Mason University Earns FIRE’s Highest Rating for Free Speech

    April 21, 2015

    WASHINGTON, April 21, 2015—George Mason University (GMU) has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). After working with FIRE to ensure its policies comply with the First Amendment, the Virginia university has joined a select group of colleges and universities nationwide to earn FIRE’s most favorable rating for free speech on campus. “We commend George Mason University for improving its policies and fully upholding the First Amendment rights of its students and faculty members,” said Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program. “GMU is […]

    » Read More
  • Law Prof: Bureaucracy Hinders Freedom of Speech

    February 6, 2015

    George Mason University (GMU) School of Law professor Todd Zywicki knows from personal experience that persuading an institution to revise its unconstitutional speech codes is not always an easy task. Zywicki shared some of what he’s learned from his advocacy over the years in a post on The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy’s blog on Wednesday. Zywicki notes that although recent trends might lead readers to believe that campus censorship is imposed by politically motivated professors, its origins often lie elsewhere—in harder-to-reach places. For example, at GMU, he writes: There is a separate office for that, called […]

    » Read More
  • George Mason University President: Unfettered Dialogue Empowers Students

    December 19, 2013

    There is another controversy related to Middle East politics on a college campus, this time at the George Mason University (GMU) main campus. (Disclosure: I am an adjunct legal writing instructor at the GMU law school.) But in this case, the participants appear committed to a constructive debate over whether the university should honor Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist Shari Arison as the commencement speaker at the winter graduation ceremony. As reported by Inside Higher Ed, the group GMU Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) has circulated an open letter stating that Ms. Arison’s business consortium finances projects in Israel that harm Palestinians and therefore […]

    » Read More
  • Getting It Right: Dean of George Mason Law Sets Excellent Example

    October 4, 2011

    All too often here at FIRE, we find ourselves up to our necks in campus censorship. For example, in just the last few weeks, we’ve seen a professor threatened by campus police for posting a sci-fi quote and a coalition of student groups silenced by a professor who didn’t like their free speech wall. Of course, FIRE fights hard to correct these wrongs. But sometimes the constant stream of rights violations on campus gets a little depressing, to be honest. So that’s why it’s a real pleasure to come across a sterling example of how a school should react when […]

    » Read More
  • Virginia Newspaper Touts Growing Number of ‘Green Light’ Schools

    February 8, 2011

    With only 14 “green light” colleges and universities in the entire country, the state of Virginia should be proud to be home to two of them. Writing in the Daily Press (Hampton Roads, Va.), Michael F. Cochrane commends the University of Virginia (UVa) and The College of William & Mary for preserving free speech on campus: As Virginians we can be justly proud that our state has some of the top colleges and universities in the nation. We have colleges that are ranked nationally in sports and academic achievement. But now we have a new reason for pride: The Foundation […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Volokh Conspiracy’ and Local Media Decry Virginia Speech Codes

    November 3, 2010

    Ever since the University of Virginia (UVa) eliminated all four of its speech codes to earn FIRE’s coveted “green light” rating, local and national media have put the spotlight on the speech codes remaining at other public universities in Virginia. When FIRE announced the news, we noted that UVa joins The College of William & Mary as two Virginia institutions in an elite group of 13 “green light” schools and that we are now turning our attention to three more Virginia public universities: George Mason, rated “red light,” and James Madison and Virginia Tech, both rated “yellow light.” How bad for free speech are these three […]

    » Read More
  • What Would the Founders Think of the Modern University?

    July 9, 2008

    (Maggie Rackl is a senior at the College of Charleston, where she majors in History with a minor in Asian Studies, and a 2008 FIRE Summer Intern.) In my experience, a favorite question of college and university admissions applications is the classic, “If you could go to dinner with any one person, living or dead, who would it be and what would you discuss?” As much of a groaner as this question is, I find it particularly fun to imagine chatting with any one of the many founders of our nation over plates of meat and potatoes and steins of […]

    » Read More
  • At George Mason, Student Editors Decry School’s Speech Code

    September 26, 2007

    The editors of The Broadside, George Mason University’s student newspaper, have sharp words for their school’s unconstitutional speech code in an editorial published in yesterday’s edition. The Broadside editors write: Mason is a public university; it has no business enforcing rules that restrict first amendment speech. Its only defense is that these policies, in some intangible way, enforce diversity. This is pure fallacy. When Mason students fear to say what they believe, the result is deadly to campus life and student thought. True diversity on campus can only stem from one thing, a diversity of thought. Mason must dissolve these […]

    » Read More
  • Offensive Halloween Costumes and Censorship

    October 31, 2006

    Halloween is upon us and college students all across the country will be celebrating this day by dressing up in a wide array of costumes. While some students will probably stick to classic costumes such as ghosts and vampires, some others may be thinking about slipping into scarier, more politically incorrect costumes this Halloween. For instance, in 2005, at the University of Chicago a group of students found themselves in trouble for holding a “Straight Thuggin’ Party” where students listened to rap music and dressed in hip-hop attire. Should students be afraid of disciplinary action for wearing potentially offensive Halloween costumes? […]

    » Read More
  • There Is No Such Thing as ‘Hate Speech’

    February 24, 2006

    Yes, that is correct. “Hate speech” is not a category of speech recognized under current constitutional law. It is merely a convenient way to pigeonhole speech that some people find offensive. But what is very troubling is when people begin to treat “hate speech” as unprotected speech. For example, a student leader at Penn State, a university which was recently sued for its unconstitutionally vague and overbroad speech codes, made the following comment featured in a prominent article in the student newspaper The Daily Collegian: “We support any and all university policies that prohibit intolerant actions against any student on […]

    » Read More
  • Clarification on PBK’s Double Standard

    February 3, 2006

    In a blog last week, I explained that the honor society Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) does not support schools like evangelical Wheaton College, which recently fired a professor for converting to Catholicism. I made the assertion that if PBK claims to support academic freedom, it should stand up to its many member institutions that have “immoral or even illegal speech codes.” One reader of The Torch interpreted that blog as my calling Wheaton’s actions immoral. He wrote: [T]he right of free speech…is not absolute when it comes to employment at a PRIVATE university. Private universities have the moral right to […]

    » Read More
  • Censorship is Everybody’s Problem

    December 29, 2005

    FIRE’s press release from yesterday details some of the cases that made 2005 FIRE’s busiest year ever. If 2005 made anything clear, it is that no student, regardless of his or her views, is safe from censorship on today’s college and university campuses. This year, we intervened on behalf of students censored for expressing viewpoints spanning the political spectrum: Seminole Community College in Florida refused to allow a student to distribute literature from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. After FIRE intervened, the college changed course and allowed the student to distribute her literature. Northeastern Illinois University decided to […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE’s Work Lauded in Newspapers Nationwide

    December 12, 2005

    It’s been a good couple of days for Justice Brandeis’ maxim that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Thanks to articles in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, news of FIRE’s efforts to disinfect the swamps of repression currently passing for American universities is reaching an ever-increasing number of people.   On Sunday, The New York Times covered our recent victory at William Paterson University. (Read it at the Times website if you are a TimesSelect subscriber.) The article by Peter Applebome ran on the front page of the Metro section and thoroughly denounced […]

    » Read More
  • Phi Beta Kappa Can Do Better

    December 2, 2005

    Earlier this week, FIRE wrote Phi Beta Kappa a letter encouraging the organization to join the fight against censorship and repression at some of America’s most prestigious colleges and universities. Although FIRE has received no formal response from Phi Beta Kappa, the organization has made several comments to the press indicating that it is not particularly interested in addressing the problem of speech codes at its member institutions. Those comments fall along two lines: first, that Phi Beta Kappa’s decision to reject George Mason University’s application was not based on academic freedom grounds; and second, that Phi Beta Kappa is […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE Challenges Phi Beta Kappa to Stand Up for Free Speech

    November 30, 2005

    Most people will tell you that they support free speech. When people ask me what I do and I tell them I work for a free speech organization, the reaction is almost uniformly positive. Everyone seems to like the Bill of Rights, at least in theory. Dig a little deeper, however, and the waters become muddy. People don’t always see what’s wrong with policies intended to protect students from hurtful, offensive remarks. Yes, we support free speech, they say, but free speech doesn’t mean that people have the right to just go around offending other people. The Phi Beta Kappa […]

    » Read More
  • Policies Actually Matter; Don’t Be Deceived

    November 17, 2005

    Why, you may ask, does the fine staff at FIRE spend its days hunting down unconstitutional speech codes and disputing unjust university policies? Unjust university policies, as it turns out, lead to actual violations of students’ constitutional and human rights. As today’s press release shows, such policies at George Mason University (GMU) led to the September arrest of a peaceful protestor, even though he was the victim of a not-so-peaceful assault by a fellow student. GMU gained notoriety earlier this fall when student and Air Force veteran Tariq Khan objected to military recruiting at GMU by standing next to a […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE Challenges Unconstitutional Policies at George Mason University

    November 17, 2005

    FAIRFAX, Va., November 17, 2005—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is challenging unconstitutional policies at George Mason University (GMU). Earlier this fall, such policies led to the arrest of a GMU student who was protesting military recruiters on its Northern Virginia campus. “GMU’s unconstitutional policies make it no surprise that a peaceful student protestor was arrested,” remarked FIRE President David French. “The distribution of posters, handbills, and newspapers was critical to our nation’s fight for independence. It is a shame that GMU, a public university named for one of America’s founders, restricts the right to do the very […]

    » Read More
  • McMasters on the Free Speech Controversy at George Mason University

    October 24, 2005

    Paul K. McMasters, renowned First Amendment expert and member of the Board of Editors for FIRE’s Guides to Student Rights on Campus series, has published an important piece (with an equally great title, “Fear of Dissent Is a Fear of Freedom”) on the recent controversy over student protests of military recruiters. The most notable case was at George Mason University in Virginia. As Paul explains: Late last month, a junior sociology major at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., silently stationed himself near a military recruiters’ table on campus. The student, Tariq Khan, is a Pakistani-American and a four-year veteran […]

    » Read More
  • Practical Advice for Fraternities Caught in the Battle for Free Speech on Campus

    September 16, 2004

    I. Introduction While there is no shortage of free speech battles on college campuses, fraternities have the dubious honor of being at the center of many of the least sympathetic controversies. From Halloween parties where brothers show up dressed as Ku Klux Klan members to fraternity newsletters that graphically relate a brother’s sexual exploits with named co-eds, fraternities sometimes express themselves in ways that are not exactly likely to win the battle for hearts and minds. However, although fraternities may later regret the actions of some of their brothers, they must not allow their rights to be stripped away by […]

    » Read More