Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Type: Private
Tell Harvard University to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Harvard University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more

Due Process Rating

Non-Sexual Misconduct

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Sexual Misconduct

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Title IX

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Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 154 colleges surveyed Read more
  • Student Handbook: Policies for Undergraduate Student Organizations- Publicity and Solicitation

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2022

    Distribution of printed matter in the Houses, dormitories, Dudley residences, Annenberg Hall, or on Harvard property must be approved by the Dean of Students Office. … For distribution of materials outdoors, all ISOs must register with the Dean of Students Office. Read More
  • Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2022

    Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when: … such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a per... Read More
  • Interim Other Sexual Misconduct Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2022

    Other sexual misconduct is unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Other sexual misconduct includes unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature or based on sexual orientation or ge... Read More
  • Student Handbook: Policies for Undergraduate Student Organizations- Religion

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2022

    The ability to express one’s views regarding religion is a significant freedom of speech that the College upholds. In some instances, this type of expression becomes an avenue for persuasion to affiliate with a particular religion. Discussion in this vein is prohibited when the educational and work environment of an... Read More
  • Free Speech Guidelines

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2022

    There are obligations of civility and respect for others that underlie rational discourse. Racial, sexual, and intense personal harassment not only show grave disrespect for the dignity of others, but also prevent rational discourse. Behavior evidently intended to dishonor such characteristics as race, gender, ethni... Read More
  • Report Bias

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: July 20, 2022

    Harvard College provides assistance to students regarding harassment, discrimination, and bias-related incidents. Our goal is to educate the Harvard College community about these issues and promote an environment free from harassment and discrimination. The College encourages undergraduates who believe they have bee... Read More
  • Recognized Student Organization Resource Guide: Free Speech and Expression

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2022

    All events with High Profile, Controversial speakers, or VIP guests are to be approved by the Dean of Students Office and should follow our event registration guidelines. … Events that Require Event Registration … Outdoor venues … Read More
  • Free Speech Guidelines

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: July 20, 2022

    Free speech is uniquely important to the University because we are a community committed to reason and rational discourse. Free interchange of ideas is vital for our primary function of discovering and disseminating ideas through research, teaching, and learning. Curtailment of free speech undercuts the intellectual... Read More
  • Interim Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2022

    Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature or based on sexual orientation or gender identit... Read More
  • Recognized Student Organization Resource Guide: Free Speech and Expression

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: July 20, 2022

    The principles of free speech and the free interchange of ideas are fundamental to the Harvard community. Read More

Policies are rated on their inclusion of 10 due process safeguards. Each policy may receive 2 points for fully including that safeguard, 1 point for partial inclusion, and 0 points for no meaningful inclusion. Most, but not all, institutions have separate policies for sexual misconduct and all other misconduct. See FIRE’s Spotlight on Due Process report for more information.


Non-Sexual Misconduct

  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence

Sexual Misconduct

  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence

Title IX

  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence

FIRE surveyed roughly 37,000 students at 154 colleges and universities about the climate for free speech at their institutions. In 2021, FIRE released rankings of those schools, based on a number of factors, including openness, tolerance, self-expression, administrative support for free speech, and campus policies, scoring overall speech climate on a scale from 0-100. See the full report on FIRE’s 2021 College Free Speech Rankings for more information.



Overall Ranking 130/154
Ideological Diversity 156/159

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 55.48
Openness 10.71
Tolerance (Liberals) 11.94
Tolerance (Conservatives) 8.47
Administrative Support 6.01
Comfort 14.81
Disruptive Conduct 9.55
Speech Climate
Supported Scholars
Sanctioned Scholars
Successful Disinvitations
Speech Code YELLOW
  • Harvard University: Students requested to remove Nicki Minaj flag from suite window

    September 10, 2021

    On September 5, 2021, a Harvard undergraduate student tweeted a screenshot of an email from a college employee requesting that he and his suitemates remove a flag depicting a bikini-clad Nicki Minaj from their suite window because it might be considered offensive. On September 10, FIRE wrote to Harvard calling for the employee to rescind… Read more

  • Wilson Report: FIRE Writes to 15 Top Schools to Express Concern About Their Press Policies

    November 12, 2020

    On November 10, 2020, FIRE sent letters to 15 top colleges and universities across the country to express concern regarding their restrictive press policies. These letters followed a report published by John K. Wilson of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement (the “Wilson Report”), which gave each of these… Read more

  • Harvard University: Blacklisting of Final Club, Fraternity, and Sorority Students

    May 6, 2016

    On May 6, 2016, Harvard University announced that members of independent, single-sex, off-campus organizations would be blacklisted from Rhodes and Marshall scholarships and banned from leadership of on-campus organizations or athletic teams.

  • Harvard University: Professor Fired for Newspaper Column

    July 16, 2011

    On July 16, 2011, in response to a terrorist bombing in Mumbai, India, Harvard University economics professor Subramanian Swamy published a critical column in the Indian Daily News & Analysis newspaper. Swamy’s controversial column offered ideas on how to “negate the political goals of Islamic terrorism in India,” including a call to “[r]emove the masjid… Read more

  • Harvard University: Administration Threatened to Cancel ‘Barely Legal’ Party Due to Event’s Name

    May 8, 2008

    Harvard University threatened to cancel a party planned by two Harvard student groups simply because of the party’s name: “Barely Legal.” The Latino Men’s Collective (LMC) and Fuerza Latina proposed that a party be held in the Adams House Dining Hall. Adams House administrators agreed to host the party, but once the party was publicized… Read more

  • Mohammed Cartoon Controversy: FIRE Response to Intimidation and Newspaper Disputes

    February 22, 2006

    As a result of worldwide controversy regarding caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, first published in a Danish newspaper, free speech was being openly disregarded on American college campuses. In the weeks following the printing of the cartoon, students, professors, and student publications not only reprinted the controversial cartoons but even created their own satirical cartoons… Read more

  • Harvard University: Denial of Due Process for Student Acquitted of Criminal Charges

    January 4, 2004

    A Harvard graduate student was barred from continuing his studies because a fellow student accused him of sexual assault in January of 2002. The student was acquitted on all six counts of rape and assault by Middlesex Superior Court and his accuser was shown to be fabricating parts of her story at the trial. Despite… Read more

  • Harvard University: Due Process Debate

    April 1, 2003

    In an extremely important victory for fundamental fairness on our nation’s private as well as public campuses, the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) dismissed a complaint against Harvard University. Wendy Murphy, a Boston lawyer, had alleged that revisions to Harvard’s disciplinary procedures—changes devised to eliminate baseless charges of misconduct between… Read more

  • Harvard University: Threat to Discipline Student Newspaper Staff for Publishing Satirical Cartoon

    November 19, 2002

    The Harbus, a student newspaper at Harvard Business School (HBS), ran an editorial cartoon that criticized the school’s Career Services for severe and chronic technical problems during a crucial week for student job searches. The cartoon showed a computer screen with pop-up announcements about the incompetence and inefficiency of the program. One announcement had two… Read more

  • Harvard University: Proposed Speech Codes

    November 12, 2002

    Harvard Law School considered adopting a new racial speech guide, under the typical guise of a harassment policy. FIRE chastised this illiberal move by such an elite institution.

  • Trend of racially segregated campus events is putting institutions on dangerous legal ground

    April 22, 2022

    With nearly 60 years having passed since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Americans have the right to expect racial segregation — at least of the “official” variety — to be a thing of the past on our nation’s college campuses. Yet along with others, FIRE has noticed a recent pattern of events that explicitly… Read more

  • Harvard reserves performance of ‘Macbeth’ exclusively for ‘Black-identifying audience members’

    October 28, 2021

    What if William Shakespeare’s tragic tale of Macbeth, who usurped the throne of Scotland at the urging of his wife, were performed with less gloom and doom? What if, instead, the play were infused with modern music, dance, and a fresh interpretation of Lady Macbeth as an “ambitious Black woman” with a performance designed to… Read more

  • VICTORY: O say, can you see? Nicki Minaj flag in Harvard dorm window flies on. 

    September 28, 2021

    Harvard University students are refusing to acquiesce to a school employee’s request to remove a Nicki Minaj flag from their dorm window.  Earlier this month, four Harvard students received an email from a Harvard employee asking them to take down a flag portraying Nicki Minaj from their common room window in Mather House, a campus… Read more

  • Calling all Barbz: Twitter rallies behind Harvard students told to remove Nicki Minaj flag from dorm window

    September 10, 2021

    A viral tweet has left Harvard University facing an outcry from an unlikely group of free speech advocates — the Barbz. Barbz — the name given to the devoted fans of rapper/singer/songwriter Nicki Minaj — have taken to Twitter to defend the expressive rights of several Harvard undergraduate students who were told to take down… Read more

  • FIRE urges 15 top colleges and universities to improve restrictive press policies

    November 12, 2020

    Over the summer, a report from the University of California’s National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement revealed that a majority of top colleges and universities maintain policies unfriendly to the press, including the student press. As FIRE reported at the time, UC Center fellow John K. Wilson found that these policies include requirements… Read more

  • Linguists’ campaign against Pinker flops, but still troubles

    July 22, 2020

    By the standards of the frequently white-hot temperatures of the current campus debates on race, policing, and related issues, the recent campaign against Harvard professor (and FIRE Advisory Board member) Steven Pinker seems almost quaint. The campaign quickly failed and, what’s more, the association to whom the petition was directed issued a clear and decisive… Read more

  • Bye-bye blacklist: Harvard ends attack on single-sex groups

    June 30, 2020

    BOSTON, June 30, 2020 — Four years ago, Harvard University announced a stunning attack on freedom of association when it blacklisted members of independent, single-sex, off-campus organizations from certain scholarships and campus leadership opportunities. Now, after legal setbacks and years of intense public criticism, the blacklist is no more. Yesterday, Harvard President Lawrence Bacow announced… Read more

  • Campus-specific analyses of the climate for free expression reveal stark differences between schools

    May 15, 2020

    One feature of debates over college students’ attitudes toward free expression is disagreement over whether recent examples of illiberalism on campus are a component of a larger generational shift in attitudes towards free expression. A dearth of systematically collected data on the attitudes toward free expression held by previous generations of college students hampers a… Read more

  • Report: Harvard Law School administrator canceled 2015 event on dissent in China

    April 24, 2020

    Today, The Harvard Crimson released an in-depth piece detailing Harvard University’s relationship with China against the backdrop of the complicated U.S.-China relations. The entire piece is worth a read — especially its troubling account from Chinese dissident and human rights lawyer Teng Biao.  Just over five years ago, Teng says, a “powerful person” at Harvard… Read more

  • FIRE names America’s 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2020

    January 29, 2020

    These 10 colleges represent the worst campus censors over the last year Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute receives Lifetime Censorship Award PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 29, 2020 — Who are the worst campus censors? The competition is stiff, but today the nonpartisan Foundation for Individual Rights in Education released its annual list of America’s 10 Worst Colleges for Free… Read more

  • 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2020

    January 29, 2020

    Since 2011, FIRE has named and shamed 65 individual colleges and universities as America’s worst for free speech. Some — we’re looking at you Harvard, DePaul, and Syracuse — are regulars and have appeared four or five times. Others have slunk away in embarrassment after being listed. But all have one thing in common: They… Read more

  • Harvard enacts problematic policies for controversial speakers

    October 2, 2019

    Last month, The Crimson reported that Harvard College was rolling out new regulations for events involving “controversial” speakers, including a requirement that a “neutral moderator” be present. We’ve now examined the policy, and while the “neutral moderator” requirement is less nefarious than it sounds at first, the policy has several issues, including ambiguous wording and… Read more

  • Sen. Chuck Grassley presses universities about commitment to academic freedom

    October 2, 2019

    Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent letters last week to Harvard University, Duke University, Villanova University, and Sarah Lawrence College asking the institutions to respond to the Committee about troubling incidents on their respective campuses that might endanger academic freedom.  Grassley detailed his concerns in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last… Read more

  • Ismail Ajjawi, a freshman initially denied entry to the U.S., begins classes at Harvard

    September 3, 2019

    Last week, I wrote about Ismail Ajjawi, an incoming Harvard freshman who was denied entry to the United States despite possessing a valid visa. Ajjawi told The Harvard Crimson a border official searched his devices and then cancelled his visa after “she found people posting political points of view that oppose the US on [his]… Read more

  • Another troubling denial at the border, this time for an incoming Harvard freshman

    August 27, 2019

    FIRE has written frequently in recent months about U.S. visa denials to activists and academics, including co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement Omar Barghouti, Palestinian politician and negotiator Hanan Ashrawi, and German research assistant and “member of the Marxist Left” Kerem Schamberger. As we’ve noted, these viewpoint-based denials pose threats to academic freedom… Read more

  • Court: Harvard policy on single-sex orgs may be unlawful discrimination

    August 12, 2019

    A federal court on Friday dealt a significant blow to Harvard University’s misguided efforts at social engineering when it held that the university’s policy punishing members of unrecognized single-sex student organizations may have constituted sex discrimination. It also indirectly dealt a blow to Social-Engineer-in-Chief Rakesh Khurana, Dean of Harvard College, when it cited his statements… Read more

  • “When Harvard stumbles”

    June 14, 2019

    As most FIRE followers will remember, Harvard made the disgraceful decision this spring to terminate law professor Ronald Sullivan and his wife, Stephanie Robinson, as faculty deans of Winthrop House because of his agreement to represent Harvey Weinstein in his criminal trial. (FIRE had called for President Lawrence Bacow to put an end to this… Read more

  • Harvard law prof who agreed to represent Harvey Weinstein ousted as faculty dean

    May 13, 2019

    This weekend, Harvard University administrators hit another milestone in their campaign to engage in only the most shameful and cravenly political decision-making possible. Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana announced that law professor Ronald Sullivan and his wife Stephanie Robinson would not be renewed as faculty deans of Winthrop House. (They are the first African-Americans… Read more

  • Harvard backs down from security fee on Palestinian rights event

    April 11, 2019

    A recent dispute over Israeli Apartheid Week at Harvard University reveals that the university administration attempted to require a Palestinian rights student group to have security at its event, and then charge the group for the costs. The university backed down after a letter from the group’s lawyer. According to The Harvard Crimson, the Harvard… Read more

  • Statement: Harvard President Bacow should put an end to Sullivan controversy

    February 28, 2019

    Statement by FIRE President Greg Lukianoff: Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow should take this controversy as an opportunity to do what is now all too uncommon for university leadership: take a vocal and explicit stand against demands that a professor be stripped of his position for ideological reasons. In this case, some students are demanding… Read more

  • Harvard Law professor faces backlash for defending Harvey Weinstein

    February 20, 2019

    Harvard Law professor and Winthrop House faculty dean Ronald Sullivan has joined the legal defense team of notorious Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who stands accused of numerous instances of sexual assault and harassment. Sullivan, a former public defender, is now a professor of criminal law and the head of Harvard Law’s Criminal Justice Institute. Professor… Read more

  • Blacklist challenged in court as students “Stand Up to Harvard”

    December 3, 2018

    A coalition of male and female Harvard students and organizations announced today that they are suing Harvard University in Massachusetts federal and state court over the college’s recently enacted policy of blacklisting students deemed to be members of single-sex sororities, fraternities, and Harvard-specific final clubs. All such organizations are, and for decades have been, off-campus… Read more

  • FIRE to Congress: Harvard blacklist policy shut down women’s organizations

    October 8, 2018

    FIRE’s Joe Cohn recently testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce in a hearing called “Examining First Amendment Rights on Campus.” While most of the hearing was devoted to the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech, another important First Amendment freedom — the freedom of association — was implicated when FIRE… Read more

  • Supreme Court Justice Kagan urges students to debate more, be “less sensitive”

    October 5, 2018

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan told students in a recent conversation that, as a former Harvard dean, she follows the ongoing debate over campus free speech and has reached several important conclusions: Students should seek out robust debate and disagreement — and then engage with ideological opponents in ways that are both more “civil”… Read more

  • Harvard sorority closes down due to sanctions policy

    August 9, 2018

    The ongoing controversy at Harvard University over “unrecognized single-gender social organizations” has claimed another victim: the Delta Gamma sorority. Harvard’s Delta Gamma chapter, facing the choice of going co-ed or having its members lose academic and leadership opportunities, chose to disband. If you follow FIRE’s Newsdesk, you are likely aware that the Harvard administration has… Read more

  • Association of American Universities endorses free speech statement

    April 20, 2018

    The Association of American Universities reaffirmed its commitment to freedom of expression and speech in a statement released this week. The statement by the AAU, an organization composed of 62 higher education institutions, endorsed expressive freedom as central to the purpose of a university: The free and open exchange of ideas and information is fundamental… Read more

  • UPDATE: After Florida school shooting, ‘Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ promising high schoolers a right to protest

    March 14, 2018

    Update: FIRE has tallied the number of colleges and universities that have made statements supporting free speech, based on the list compiled by Chris Peterson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology assistant director of undergraduate admissions. Out of the schools in our Spotlight database that made statements on free speech, 61 have a “red light” speech code… Read more

  • Freedom of association officially dead at Harvard

    March 8, 2018

    The Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences has conclusively voted to introduce the blacklist policy against members of unregistered single-gender organizations into the student handbook, hammering in the proverbial final nail in the coffin the school has been assembling for nearly two years around the right of free association. The policy — which punishes… Read more

  • Using grant from FIRE, Harvard College Open Campus Initiative hosts discussion on campus censorship

    February 20, 2018

    On Saturday, the Harvard College Open Campus Initiative (HCOCI) hosted an event titled “Lindsay Shepherd: Censorship and the Spirit of Debate on Campus.” This event was made possible thanks to a grant from FIRE’s Strategic Venture Grant program, which helps students to host debates, coffeehouse conversations, a discussion series, or other programs where multiple and… Read more

  • The 10 worst colleges for free speech: 2018

    February 12, 2018

    Every year, FIRE chooses the 10 worst colleges for free speech — and unfortunately, 2017 left us with plenty of options: Campuses were rocked by violent mob censorship, monitored by bias response teams, plagued by free speech zones, and beset by far too many disinvitation attempts. Although the number of colleges with the most restrictive… Read more

  • FIRE names America’s 10 worst colleges for free speech: 2018

    February 12, 2018

    PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 12, 2018 — Each year, colleges across the country find dubious ways to silence student and faculty expression. In the last year, administrators became embroiled in litigation for telling a student he couldn’t hand out Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution outside a free speech zone, continued a years-long effort to ban a… Read more

  • So to Speak podcast: Professor Randall Kennedy on ‘The Forgotten Origins of the Constitution on Campus’

    January 25, 2018

    Has the history of how our constitutional rights came to be protected on campus been forgotten? Professor Randall L. Kennedy believes it has. It’s a history even he wasn’t familiar with until recently. On this episode of So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, Professor Kennedy explains how civil rights activists in the 1950s and… Read more

  • Harvard Corporation finalizes single-gender organization sanctions policy

    December 14, 2017

    After a nearly two-year-long process, the Harvard Corporation announced earlier this month that the original blacklist policy against members of unrecognized single gender organizations will be enacted as early as next semester, effectively ending freedom of association at Harvard. The policy was first proposed by Dean Rakesh Khurana in May 2016. The Harvard Corporation consists… Read more

  • With disappointing vote, Harvard faculty officially reject freedom of association

    November 9, 2017

    Harvard faculty on Tuesday voted down a motion meant to counteract the illiberal administrative blacklist of student members of exclusive, off-campus single gender social clubs like fraternities and sororities. That policy has weathered intense criticism and been through several iterations — including a most-recent version that suggested punishing students for joining any exclusive, off-campus club… Read more

  • Don’t be fooled, Harvard is not ‘back-pedaling’

    October 3, 2017

    This past Saturday, a Boston Globe headline caught our attention: “Harvard panel back-pedals on social club ban after backlash.” Our excitement was short-lived upon reading the article, which detailed that a new report has been presented to the President of Harvard University, Drew Faust, detailing three options. This isn’t “back-pedaling”; this is just the latest… Read more

  • Harvard bows to pressure from the intelligence community, withdraws ‘Visiting Fellow’ title from Chelsea Manning

    September 15, 2017

    In the dead of night, Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government announced that it would no longer consider Chelsea Manning a Visiting Fellow, following criticism by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency of Manning’s invitation. While Harvard will still allow Manning to speak, this decision — and suggestion that the school will weigh… Read more

  • Harvard professors sign, resubmit faculty motion against social club ban

    August 21, 2017

    Harvard professor Harry Lewis has filed a motion with the university’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences that could, if adopted, counteract the proposal to ban all social clubs on campus. Lewis posted the full motion, which is co-signed by 20 other Harvard faculty members, to his personal blog this morning and confirmed the development to… Read more

  • FIRE to Harvard alumni: Urge Harvard to protect freedom of association

    July 26, 2017

    Calling all Harvard alumni: Harvard students need your help! As you may already know, two weeks ago, a university committee recommended that students be punished by the Administrative Board if they are believed to have joined any off-campus social club. Not just single-gender clubs, any club at all! FIRE has helped lead the fight against… Read more

  • In rescinding admission offers over memes, Harvard shows its own poor judgment

    July 25, 2017

    Last month, Harvard College revealed that it had rescinded its admission offers to 10 incoming freshmen for the students’ involvement in a private group chat where they created and exchanged “obscene” memes. The memes that caused the college to rescind the offers contained a variety of jokes involving race, child abuse, school shootings, the Holocaust,… Read more

  • Shocking twist: Harvard club ban had only 7 votes from 27-member committee

    July 24, 2017

    In the Harvard social organization ban/blacklist saga, it is not an exaggeration to say that each development has been more outrageous than the last. The latest one comes from what former Harvard College Dean Harry R. Lewis described as “the blockbuster news story of the year by the [The Harvard] Crimson.” On Friday, the Crimson… Read more

  • Harvard students, faculty, alumni, vow fight against ‘deeply disturbing’ social club ban

    July 17, 2017

    Members of the Harvard community say they will push back against a faculty committee’s recommendation that all exclusive social clubs be banned. In a report released last week by a committee expected to dial back last year’s controversial policy to sanction single-gender clubs like fraternities and sororities, the committee instead doubled down, urging Harvard to… Read more

  • Harvard’s Steven Pinker on proposal to ban social clubs: ‘This is a terrible recommendation’

    July 13, 2017

    Members of the Harvard University community are reacting to news yesterday that a faculty committee recommends the Ivy League institution eliminate all exclusive social clubs. The ban would effectively shutter any Harvard-connected off-campus clubs, including all fraternities and sororities, by the year 2022 — despite Harvard’s continued promises of unfettered freedom of association for its… Read more

  • Harvard committee proposes banning all social clubs; punishing violators

    July 12, 2017

    Harvard students could soon be banned from joining any private social organization or club. If the recommendations contained in a just-released, 22-page report are enacted, Harvard would extend previously-proposed sanctions against students joining single-gender clubs, to all “fraternities, sororities, and similar organizations,” regardless of their co-ed status. And instead of instituting a blacklist — leaving… Read more

  • The bell tolls for Harvard President Drew Faust — not the Liberty Bell!

    June 16, 2017

    This classic FIRE headline marks the news, which broke Wednesday, that Drew Gilpin Faust will be stepping down as president of Harvard University next year. Faust’s decade-long tenure as president has frequently seen the institution set at odds both with FIRE and its own promises to students. A quick and non-exhaustive rundown includes: In 2008,… Read more

  • About Harvard’s decision to revoke admission offers

    June 7, 2017

    Having spent the last decade defending student and faculty rights, I’ve learned a couple of things about exactly what type of campus civil liberties violations receive the most media attention. It’s not always what one might expect. For example, I remember feeling shocked that a student’s expulsion over a Facebook post protesting the construction of… Read more

  • Harvard president defends free speech in commencement speech; Harvard still actively suppresses student rights

    May 26, 2017

    Yesterday, Harvard celebrated its 366th commencement, and those watching in the audience and at home were treated to an ironic display as Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust gave an address in full support of free speech. The speech includes an eloquent defense of the merits of free speech, making many of the points that FIRE… Read more

  • FIRE Q&A: Harvard sorority president Rebecca Ramos

    May 2, 2017

    Since it was first announced a year ago, FIRE has repeatedly criticized numerous aspects of Harvard University’s plan to sanction members of off-campus, single-gender clubs. The proposal would institute a Communist-era blacklist, barring students in all-male or all-female social organizations like fraternities and sororities from leadership roles in campus clubs, preventing them from captaining sports… Read more

  • Harvard anti-gender discrimination policy threatens to violate Title IX by recommending gender discrimination

    April 7, 2017

    We’ve chronicled the myriad problems with Harvard’s plan to sanction members of single gender organizations, initially proposed last May as as a means of ending “gender-based discrimination [which] is understood as unwise, unenlightened, and untenable.” While a worthy objective, the policy would destroy Harvard students’ right to freedom of association by blacklisting and sanctioning members… Read more

  • Faculty motion against Harvard blacklist policy kicked to committee led by policy’s architect

    March 28, 2017

    Dean who drafted controversial sanctions proposal and said he would implement it will head oversight committee. That committee will now review a faculty motion opposing the sanctions. Harvard is poised to advance its discriminatory policy unchecked. A brief flicker of hope in the ongoing saga over Harvard University’s blacklist of single-gender social organizations (which would extend… Read more

  • Harvard blacklist saga gets even more unbelievable as dean appoints self to review self

    March 9, 2017

    The Roman poet Juvenal once posed the question, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Or, as it’s generally said in English, “Who watches the watchmen?” In light of recent developments in the saga of Harvard University’s proposed sanctions against members of single-gender social organizations originally recommended by Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana, Khurana’s answer appears to… Read more

  • Harvard dean: I will implement ‘nearly all’ of super blacklist

    March 6, 2017

    In a dark development in the on-going saga of Harvard sanctions on members of “unregistered single-gender social organizations,” Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana today sent Harvard students the 46-page “Final Report of the Implementation Committee for the Policy on Membership in Single Gender Social Organizations” along with a statement that he will be accepting… Read more

  • Original Harvard blacklist committee: How can we make this worse?

    February 24, 2017

    FIRE has painstakingly covered the proposed sanctions at Harvard that would blacklist members of single-gender organizations such as fraternities, sororities, and “final clubs,” barring them from leadership positions and prestigious programs like the Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships. These proposed sanctions eviscerate Harvard students’ freedom of association. FIRE said as much in an open letter earlier… Read more

  • FIRE Announces America’s 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2017

    February 22, 2017

    PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 22, 2017—More than 92 percent of American colleges maintain speech codes that either clearly restrict—or could too easily be used to restrict—free speech. Each year, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) takes a closer look at campus censorship to identify America’s 10 worst colleges for free speech. The 2017 list of… Read more

  • Harvard’s Troubled History with Free Association: Part 2

    February 7, 2017

    Yesterday we brought you the first installment of a two-part series prompted by our open letter to Harvard University published in The Harvard Crimson yesterday. The full-page ad, which ran again today, details the school’s troubling history with freedom of association and links it to current administrative efforts to blacklist student-members of off-campus, single-gender social… Read more

  • Harvard’s Troubled History with Free Association: Part 1

    February 6, 2017

    As you may know, FIRE has been a vocal opponent of Harvard’s proposed blacklist for student members of independent, single-gender organizations including sororities, fraternities, and final clubs. The proposed sanctions for blacklisted students make a mockery of freedom of association at Harvard by barring members of these social clubs from leading sports teams or on-campus… Read more

  • Harvard: Blacklist Policy Might Be ‘Revised or Replaced’

    January 26, 2017

    BOSTON, Jan. 26, 2017—Late yesterday, Harvard University announced it will reconsider a policy that would have blacklisted members of independent sororities, fraternities, and “final clubs” from leadership of athletic teams and school organizations, and from recommendations for Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has led a national campaign (VIDEO)… Read more

  • Harvard President to Consider ‘Alternatives’ to Final Club Policy, but Reveals Troubling Views on Freedom of Association

    November 7, 2016

    After months of criticism over a mandate FIRE and others have denounced as a “deeply objectionable” attack on freedom of association, Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust said she may consider alternatives to the controversial new policy that will create a “blacklist” of members of off-campus, single-sex social clubs starting next fall. But Faust’s latest… Read more

  • Faculty, Students Take on Harvard Admins over Final Club/Greek Org Blacklist

    November 4, 2016

    This week, the regularly scheduled meeting of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences was dominated by a discussion of a resolution introduced by 12 faculty members aimed at rolling back the university’s controversial decision earlier this year to deny some leadership and educational opportunities to student members of single-sex final clubs and Greek organizations…. Read more

  • Professors Standing Up for Freedom of Association at Harvard

    September 13, 2016

    Harvard University has faced widespread criticism since its May announcement that it would sanction members of off-campus, single-gender clubs. The administration claims it’s part of an effort to “address deeply rooted gender attitudes, and the related issues of sexual misconduct.” Now a small group of professors say that they hope the Harvard faculty adopt a… Read more

  • Harvard to Student Club: Lie About Your Policies and You’ll Be OK

    August 16, 2016

    Harvard University’s ill-conceived decision to blacklist students who join off-campus, single-sex social organizations continues to backfire, forcing administrators to make exceptions to the overbroad policy. The latest one would permit an off-campus women’s club to remain female-only without violating the policy that supposedly punishes “gender-based discrimination.” This strongly suggests that the real motivation behind the… Read more

  • I Condemn the Harvard Club I Almost Joined, But It Has My Support

    July 22, 2016

    One brisk fall night, my friends and I donned ties and blazers in anticipation. An all-male final club had invited us to an event and dictated our evening’s attire. Dozens of young men populated the small backyard of the turn-of-the-century club house. Food, beer, and handshakes fueled the buzz of nervous socializing. The Club wanted… Read more

  • Harvard Faculty, Students, Alumni Condemn Social Club Blacklist (VIDEO)

    July 11, 2016

    Harvard University’s announcement that it will blacklist students who join single-gender social organizations—banning them from holding leadership positions in Recognized Independent Student Organizations (ISOs), captaining sports teams, or even getting recommendations for some scholarships—has been criticized by students, faculty, and alumni, including some of Harvard’s biggest names. Economics professor and Harvard president emeritus Larry Summers;… Read more

  • Harvard Faculty and Former President Oppose University’s Threat of Sanctions for Independent Club Members

    May 25, 2016

    Two weeks ago, FIRE wrote Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust to express our grave concern over the institution’s plan to impose harsh sanctions on students who join independent, single-sex, off-campus organizations. Under the plan, students who join those groups would be prevented from serving in leadership roles in officially recognized organizations or from receiving… Read more

  • Special Treatment? Harvard Exempts ‘The Harvard Crimson’ from Single-Gender Club Policy

    May 20, 2016

    Harvard University has exempted the school’s daily student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, from its new policy banning members of unrecognized single-gender social organizations from holding leadership positions in Recognized Independent Student Organizations (ISOs). One of the many inevitable implications of Harvard’s recent attack on freedom of association is that without such an exemption, the policy… Read more

  • A Messy End to the Semester: Harvard, Blacklisting, and Curtailing Student Rights

    May 17, 2016

    Earlier this month, Harvard University announced that students who are members of independent, single-sex organizations off campus will be ineligible for Rhodes and Marshall scholarship recommendations from the dean. The university also prohibited recognized student organizations and athletic teams from choosing these students as their leaders. The rationale? Harvard wants to promote “inclusion” and “address… Read more

  • ‘Gravely Concerned’ Over Social Club Sanctions, FIRE Writes to Harvard

    May 12, 2016

    FIRE has asked Harvard University to reverse the “illiberal and chilling new policy” aimed at students who join unrecognized single-sex social organizations. The policy would prohibit student-members of an array of clubs—from Harvard’s “final clubs” to any fraternity or sorority—from holding leadership positions in recognized student organizations or on athletic teams and render them ineligible… Read more

  • Harvard’s Double Standard on the Role of Student Organizations

    May 9, 2016

    On Friday afternoon, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Kurana sent a letter to Harvard President Drew Faust, recommending that Harvard take aggressive steps to deter students from joining off-campus, single-sex organizations. That same afternoon, President Faust sent a responsive letter agreeing with the proposal. The exchange had the appearance of a meticulously choreographed, formalistic ritual of… Read more

  • Harvard Brings Back the Blacklist for Final Club, Fraternity, Sorority Students

    May 6, 2016

    BOSTON, May 6, 2016—In a stunning attack on freedom of association, Harvard University announced today that members of independent, single-sex, off-campus organizations will be blacklisted from Rhodes and Marshall scholarships and banned from leadership of on-campus organizations or athletic teams. Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust stated that next year, members of fraternities, sororities, and “final… Read more

  • Harvard Law School Administration Enables, Assists Students in Censoring Peers

    March 31, 2016

    The 2015–2016 academic year has undoubtedly been one of the busiest for student activism in recent memory, and with that has come free speech triumphs as well as free speech follies. Unfortunately, news from Harvard Law School (HLS) this morning falls squarely in the latter category. In Fall 2015, a group of students calling themselves… Read more

  • As New Lawsuit Alleges Racial Discrimination in Campus Sexual Assault Proceedings, ‘Hunting Ground’ Producers Continue to Blame Film’s Criticism on ‘Threat’ to ‘White Male Power’

    January 8, 2016

    Amy Ziering, one of the producers of The Hunting Ground—a film that purports to shed light on the issue of campus sexual assault—recently said that the backlash against her film owes to the fact that it poses “a threat to the dominant white male power.” Part of that backlash, according to Ziering, was the “crazy… Read more

  • ‘Hunting Ground’ Filmmakers to Harvard Law Profs: Criticizing Our Film Could Create a ‘Hostile Climate’

    December 4, 2015

    Last month, a group of 19 Harvard Law School professors issued a press release denouncing the film The Hunting Ground as “propaganda” and condemning its “unfair and misleading portrayal” of the case of Harvard Law student Brandon Winston. Winston was dismissed from the law school for an alleged sexual assault, but later reinstated after faculty… Read more

  • Harvard Professors Denounce ‘The Hunting Ground’ as ‘Misleading,’ ‘Propaganda’

    November 12, 2015

    19 professors at Harvard University have written a letter harshly criticizing the popular documentary The Hunting Ground for both its characterization of a Harvard Law School (HLS) student accused of sexual assault and the school’s subsequent investigation into the incident. The film, slated for its television debut on November 19 on CNN, is described by… Read more

  • Strossen Praises FIRE at Harvard Free Press Lecture, Criticizes OCR for Chilling Speech

    October 21, 2015

    At the annual Salant Lecture on Freedom of the Press at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government earlier this month, former American Civil Liberties Union president Nadine Strossen expressed grave concerns about the federal government pressuring colleges to adopt unconstitutional policies that infringe on civil liberties. Strossen, the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law… Read more

  • FIRE Chairman Calls Out Northeast Colleges in Annual ‘Muzzle Awards’

    July 6, 2015

    Each summer for the past eighteen years, FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate has announced the winners of his annual “Campus Muzzle Awards”: colleges and universities in the Northeast stifling campus discourse in particularly outrageous ways. Along with myself and fellow research assistant Timothy Moore, this year, Harvey has written about incidents at Brown University,… Read more

  • Harvard Students and Faculty Respond to Robin Steinberg Disinvitation

    February 25, 2015

    Last week, the New York Post reported that two Harvard Law School student groups—the Women’s Law Association (WLA) and the Law and International Development Society (LIDS)—had invited Bronx Defenders Executive Director Robin Steinberg to speak at the school, and that she would be honored in the school’s International Women’s Day Exhibit. According to the Post,… Read more

  • Harvard Law Prof Details Complexities of Campus Sexual Assault

    February 12, 2015

    As colleges and universities continue to struggle to adequately handle allegations of sexual assault on campus, the media is providing an increasing number of attention-grabbing headlines, and many are demanding schools take immediate and harsh action against alleged attackers. Writing for Harvard Law Review this month, Harvard Law School professor Janet Halley asks that readers… Read more

  • Universities Must Resist Pressure to Find Innocent Students Guilty

    January 13, 2015

    The many problems with the way Harvard University and other institutions nationwide are handling allegations of sexual assault aren’t new to Torch readers. Campus hearings often fail to provide the accused important procedural safeguards like an opportunity to present evidence on one’s behalf or cross-examine witnesses, and universities don’t have the authority to get guilty… Read more

  • Former OCR Lawyer Hans Bader Responds to Finding of Title IX Violation at Harvard Law School

    January 7, 2015

    Last week, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced its finding that Harvard Law School (HLS) failed to comply with Title IX. Former OCR attorney Hans Bader responded to OCR’s findings and resolution agreement with HLS on Examiner.com yesterday, reiterating concerns that he, FIRE, and other due process advocates have raised previously… Read more

  • Harvard Law Professor: OCR’s Stance on Campus Sex Assault is ‘Madness’

    January 2, 2015

    On Tuesday, Harvard Law School (HLS) entered into a resolution agreement with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), ending a lengthy investigation into whether the school’s policies violated Title IX. To no one’s surprise, OCR concluded in the letter of findings that accompanied the resolution agreement that the school’s policies were indeed… Read more

  • Department of Education Finds Harvard Law School Violated Title IX

    December 30, 2014

    The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced today that it has found that Harvard Law School (HLS) failed to comply with Title IX. OCR has posted its letter of findings and resolution agreement with HLS on its website. Among OCR’s key findings is that HLS violated Title IX by using the more… Read more

  • Harvard Law Professor: Students Want Profs to Drop Classes on Rape Law

    December 16, 2014

    According to Harvard Law School Professor Jeannie Suk, she and her colleagues have been pressured by students to avoid writing exam questions involving sexual violence or even teaching about the law regarding sexual violence in order to protect students from potential distress. Like the students arguing they are too traumatized by recent grand jury decisions… Read more

  • ‘New York Times’ Takes a More Thorough Look at Mishandling of Campus Rape

    November 17, 2014

    In past months, FIRE has criticized The New York Times for failing to adequately consider the repercussions for students’ due process rights when covering the steps that institutions of higher education, lawmakers, and the White House are taking to address the problem of campus sexual assault. Yesterday, however, The New York Times published an op-ed… Read more

  • Law Professor Janet Halley on Why Harvard’s Sexual Harassment Policy Must Change

    November 14, 2014

    Harvard Law School Professor Janet Halley has been a strong advocate for due process rights for college and university students accused of sexual assault. On October 15, she joined 27 other Harvard Law faculty members in criticizing Harvard’s new Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures in The Boston Globe, and she provided further analysis of the… Read more

  • In Mishandling Sexual Assault Allegations Against Patrick Witt, Yale Failed Everyone

    November 7, 2014

    Former Yale University quarterback Patrick Witt took to The Boston Globe earlier this week to tell his story of how Yale’s secretive “informal complaint process” changed the course of his life after someone filed an accusation against him “that, if substantiated, would constitute a violation of university policy concerning sexual misconduct.” According to Witt, Yale… Read more

  • KC Johnson on Harvard’s ‘Disturbingly Opaque’ New Sexual Assault Procedures

    July 29, 2014

    Yesterday, Brooklyn College Professor KC Johnson shone a spotlight on Harvard University’s new procedures for investigating and adjudicating allegations of campus sexual assault—and there is a lot to be concerned about. The problems start at its adoption of the “preponderance of the evidence” standard but go much deeper, potentially leaving accused students without key information and opportunities to defend themselves against their charges.

  • Bloomberg Blasts ‘Disinvitation Season’ in Harvard Commencement Address

    June 3, 2014

    Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered a barnburner of a commencement speech last Thursday at Harvard University. In a widely-noted address, Bloomberg, who received an honorary degree, roundly denounced the phenomenon FIRE has labeled “disinvitation season.”

  • Harvard School of Ed Dean Responds to Calls to Disinvite Commencement Speaker

    May 20, 2014

    At the height of “disinvitation season,” it should come as no great surprise that some students and faculty at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (HGSE) are asking the school to rescind its invitation to planned commencement speaker and Colorado State Senator Michael Johnston. But yesterday, HGSE Dean James Ryan, who selected Johnston for the event, wrote a thoughtful and thorough response to the community standing by his invitation and arguing that commencement speakers should be selected not on ideology, but instead on “whether the person has something of genuine interest and significance to express to our community.”

  • ‘Harvard Crimson’ Column: Time to Get Rid of Academic Freedom

    February 21, 2014

    Harvard University student Sandra Y.L. Korn has a provocative column in The Harvard Crimson that has been making the rounds. The column has a bold thesis: We should get rid of academic freedom as our standard for what ideas should be admitted to the university sphere, and replace it with what she terms “academic justice.”… Read more

  • The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2013

    December 27, 2013

    College is where inquisitive minds go to be exposed to new ways of thinking. But on some campuses, the quest for knowledge is frustrated when administrators censor speech they would prefer be kept out of the marketplace of ideas. To close out the year, we at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) want to highlight… Read more

  • Wright State’s Threat to Cut Student Newspaper Funding Places ‘Mission’ Over Constitution

    November 14, 2013

    If you are a student at Wright State University—and especially if you are a student journalist—watch out: You might have just been unwittingly enlisted as a member of the university’s public relations corps, tasked with promoting your school’s “mission.” Administrators at the Ohio public university recently threatened to cut funding to its student newspaper, The Guardian,… Read more

  • Harvey Silverglate on the ‘Slow Death of Free Speech at Harvard’

    November 5, 2013

    Late last month, FIRE co-founder and chairman (and Harvard Law School alumnus) Harvey Silverglate delivered a speech to the Harvard Law School class of 1958 at its 55th reunion. Harvey used the occasion to share an eye-opening series of stories that reveal Harvard University’s accelerating trend of censorship and compelled speech. Harvey started by recalling a case… Read more

  • Report on Harvard’s Secret Email Search Released

    July 25, 2013

    In the fall of 2012, Harvard University administrators secretly searched the email accounts of 16 “resident deans.” They did so in an attempt to catch the resident dean whom they suspected of releasing, to student reporters, an email about how to advise students implicated in the Harvard cheating scandal. In other words, Harvard administrators wanted… Read more

  • 16th Annual ‘Campus Muzzle’ Awards Feature Yale, Tufts, Harvard

    June 27, 2013

    The “Muzzles” live! The 16th annual “Campus Muzzle” Awards, previously featured in the now-sadly-defunct Boston Phoenix, have found a new home this year on WGBH News online, as well as in the Portland Phoenix. FIRE co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate awards the Campus Muzzles each year to the worst universities in New England for First… Read more

  • Harvard Communications Office As Large As Its Physics Department

    June 3, 2013

    According to The Harvard Crimson’s graduation issue, the Harvard Public Affairs and Communications (HPAC) office now employs 59 people—and that figure doesn’t even include the communications staffs of Harvard’s 12 schools. As Daniel Luzer points out at the Washington Monthly, Harvard’s bureaucratic army of message-shapers is now about as large as its physics department. All… Read more

  • Harvard and How Silence Isn’t Golden

    April 12, 2013

    I’m quite grateful to Erika Christakis, not only for inviting me to speak at Harvard next Tuesday, but also for writing an excellent piece on the importance of “using your words.” In it, Christakis laments that today’s college students seem unwilling to engage in meaty debate. When faced with the choice between staying silent or making an… Read more

  • Tyga Comes to Campus: Penn Students Call for Dialogue, Harvard Students Call for Cancellation

    April 3, 2013

    More than 1,800 Harvard students have signed a Change.org petition asking the Harvard administration to rescind its invitation to hip-hop artist Tyga to headline the university’s annual Yardfest, because of Tyga’s "explicitly and violently misogynistic lyrics." The petition states: We demand that Harvard rescind its offer to Tyga, because we believe that Harvard should not… Read more

  • Really, Harvard? You Read More Emails? I Mean, Really?

    April 3, 2013

    For better or for worse, when something happens at Harvard University, it’s news. So it was big news early in March when Harvard admitted that it had secretly scanned faculty members’ emails. As FIRE’s Will Creeley put it in The Huffington Post on March 13, “The secret search, conducted without notice and in apparent violation… Read more

  • FIRE’s Shibley in ‘Forbes’ on Harvard E-mail Scandal

    March 12, 2013

    FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley offers his thoughts on the Harvard University e-mail scandal for Forbes this morning. Criticizing Harvard’s emphasis on public relations at the expense of faculty privacy, Robert writes:   If a liberal arts education is supposed to be a "marketplace of ideas," putting message control above all else is anathema…. Read more

  • Answering ‘The Harvard Crimson’ on ‘Unconstructive’ Flyers

    December 10, 2012

    In the wake of a controversy at Harvard University following the anonymous distribution of satirical flyers advertising a fake "final club," the editorial staff of The Harvard Crimson published a column on the incident last week. Rather than take on Harvard’s condemnatory response to this clearly satirical flyer, and reports that Harvard is actively searching… Read more

  • Wendy Kaminer Tackles Harvard’s Laugh-Free Culture

    December 4, 2012

    A controversy over an anonymously distributed flyer that was distributed in several of Harvard’s residence halls is roiling the Harvard community this week. The satirical flyer advertised a fake “final club” called “The Pigeon.” In context, the flyer—with statements such as “Jews need not apply” and “Coloreds OK”—is a biting satire of the exclusivity and… Read more

  • Changes to Harvard Student Disciplinary Process Reviewed

    November 7, 2012

    In 2009–2010, Harvard University’s Administrative Board (widely known as Ad Board) implemented a series of changes to its student disciplinary process. Over the last two weeks, The Harvard Crimson has published a four-part series to evaluate those reforms now that they have been implemented and utilized for nearly 2 years.  The first article of the… Read more

  • Feigning Free Speech on Campus

    October 24, 2012

    DESPITE high youth voter turnout in 2008 — 48.5 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds cast ballots that year — levels are expected to return to usual lows this year, and with that the usual hand-wringing about disengagement and apathy among young voters. Colleges and universities are supposed to be bastions of unbridled inquiry and expression, but they… Read more

  • FIRE Chairman Takes On Harvard’s Renewed Civility Push

    September 24, 2012

    Writing for Minding the Campus with Juliana DeVries, FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate weighs in on new reports of "sensitivity" training for incoming freshmen at Harvard University.  As the Harvard Crimson reported earlier this month, Harvard incorporated the sensitivity training into its programming for freshmen this year in lieu of the controversial "kindness" pledge… Read more

  • Not at Liberty to Discuss

    September 14, 2012

    Last week, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) published its second annual list of the “Seven Best Colleges for Freedom of Speech” on The Huffington Post. As FIRE’s president and a HuffPo contributor for the past five years, I knew what was coming next — and sure enough, the predictable culture war arguments were quickly trotted out by… Read more

  • Is Harvard More Repressive Than the Town That Banned Swearing?

    July 2, 2012

    That’s the question FIRE Chairman and Co-Founder Harvey Silverglate asks in his latest letter to The Boston Globe about Harvard University and the town of Middleborough, Massachusetts, which recently banned curse words (punishment: a $20 fine). Harvey makes the connection between the two:  [I]t should come as no surprise that a municipality makes the assumption… Read more

  • Compelling ‘Civility’

    June 1, 2012

    Earlier this week, an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) discussed the growing popularity on college campuses of programs aimed at promoting civility. While one might reasonably ask whether there is a connection between exorbitant tuition rates, administrative bloat, and programs such as the "transformational, saturation approach" civility projects discussed in the… Read more

  • ‘Crimson’ Reports on Due Process Concerns as Harvard Revises Sexual Assault Policy

    May 14, 2012

    Last Friday, The Harvard Crimson updated readers on Harvard University’s ongoing study of its sexual assault policies, noting that the university’s policy options have been affected by the controversial April 4, 2011, "Dear Colleague" letter from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Zeroing in on the ongoing debate about OCR’s decision to… Read more

  • Harvard Business School Fails to Live Up to Its Own Standards

    May 8, 2012

    "The teaching of ethics here is explicit, not implicit," proclaims the Harvard Business School (HBS) website, as the school sets for itself the goal of constructing "a model of the highest standards essential to responsible leadership in the modern business world." But the case of Ben Story, a student who recently ran afoul of the HBS… Read more

  • ‘Free Speech Week’ Celebrated on Campuses Nationwide

    April 13, 2012

    FIRE celebrated Free Speech Week last week by teaming up with Students For Liberty to send FIRE speakers and materials to student groups across the country. We’re pleased to announce it was a great success!   To mark the occasion, 72 student groups distributed FIRE materials and pocket-sized Constitutions on campus. More than 20 student… Read more

  • Does Harvard Deserve to be on the ‘Worst Colleges’ List?

    April 5, 2012

    This week, a staff editorial in the Harvard University student newspaper The Harvard Crimson takes issue with FIRE’s inclusion of Harvard in our list of the 12 "Worst Colleges for Free Speech." Our list, which appeared on The Huffington Post, has generated a good amount of online comments and discussion, student press coverage, and attention… Read more

  • ‘12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ List in the News

    March 30, 2012

    Tuesday, The Huffington Post released FIRE’s list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2012. In addition to the social media storm the story generated, the list caught the attention of a number of media outlets:  University of Cincinnati’s appearance at the top of the list garnered the attention of Cincinnati City Beat…. Read more

  • The top 12 worst colleges for free speech

    March 28, 2012

    Who doesn’t love a good awards show? The gowns, the acceptance speeches, the brutal infringements of civil liberties … the excitement just never ends. Once again, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, where I work), has sorted through the hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation that severely restrict the First Amendment rights of… Read more

  • FIRE’s 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2012

    March 27, 2012

    Here’s today’s press release:  PHILADELPHIA, March 27, 2012—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released its 2012 list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in The Huffington Post today. Harvard is new to the list this year, joining Yale, Syracuse, and the University of Cincinnati at the top of the list. "These colleges and universities… Read more

  • ‘Harvard Crimson’ Exposes Violations of Free Speech in Policies Identified by FIRE

    January 30, 2012

    FIRE’s annual report on campus speech codes has reached more and more college and university campuses since we released it a few weeks ago. Today The Harvard Crimson‘s Rebecca D. Robbins reports on Harvard’s poor, "red light" speech code rating in FIRE’s report. We explained Harvard’s rating in detail a couple of years ago, showing… Read more

  • This Month in FIRE History: Controversy at Harvard Business School

    January 19, 2012

    Nine years ago this month, FIRE happily announced the resolution of a case at Harvard Business School involving an overzealous administration and an egregious violation of free speech. Unfortunately, almost a decade later, Harvard continues to be host to such violations of liberty.  The case began in October 2002, when The Harbus, a student newspaper… Read more

  • FIRE Speaker in Philadelphia Thursday

    January 18, 2012

    Tomorrow, January 19, FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel will lead a dinner discussion hosted by the Harvard Radcliffe Club of Philadelphia. Adam, a Harvard alumnus, will discuss “Harvard’s Tradition of Oppressing Controversial Speech,” including several recent cases: In 2011, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted to fire a professor of economics after… Read more

  • FIRE Intervenes at Harvard after Faculty Fires Economics Professor over Political Article Published in India

    January 5, 2012

    Today, FIRE has asked Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) to reverse its action against a controversial economics professor after it canceled all of his courses due to an op-ed he published in India in the wake of last year’s Mumbai terrorist bombings. Although Harvard’s administration had defended Professor Subramanian Swamy’s rights after intervention by FIRE,… Read more

  • Harvard Faculty Fires Economics Professor over Political Article Published in India

    December 8, 2011

    Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) has effectively fired a controversial economics professor by canceling all of his courses due to an op-ed he published in India in the wake of the July 13 Mumbai terrorist bombing. Although Harvard’s administration had defended Professor Subramanian Swamy’s rights after intervention by FIRE, FAS blatantly and shamefully violated them in its meeting on Tuesday. Anyone reading… Read more

  • ‘Enthusiastic Consent’ at Harvard

    October 18, 2011

    On Friday, The Harvard Crimson ran an article on the university’s decision to postpone seeking student input into the reform of its sexual misconduct policies. Based on some of those students’ statements to the paper, Harvard should reconsider whether to take their input seriously. Samantha Meier ’12, one of the student representatives appointed to the policy… Read more

  • Victory at Harvard: University Stands Up for Rights of Controversial Professor

    September 22, 2011

    While Harvard has been the target of much deserved criticism of late due to its stumbles with the new "Class of 2015 Freshman Pledge" pressuring students to commit to vague notions of "kindness" as well as "inclusiveness and civility," it has acquitted itself better in one recent situation where many students—on their own—have been pushing… Read more

  • Joanne Jacobs on the Harvard ‘Kindness’ Pledge

    September 19, 2011

    Education blogger Joanne Jacobs has a good roundup of commentary on the Harvard "kindness" pledge controversy. Included are comments from FIRE President Greg Lukianoff and Board of Directors member Virginia Postrel. If you can’t think of why anyone could possibly object to a pledge to be kind, this roundup will provide good food for thought.

  • Virginia Postrel on Harvard’s Kindness Pledge

    September 16, 2011

    Author and FIRE Board of Directors member Virginia Postrel’s latest column for Bloomberg View covers the Harvard "kindness" pledge that all freshmen were pressured into signing this year (the signed pledges were to be posted in every dormitory—a plan that has now been abandoned). FIRE has covered the problems with this pledge in several articles… Read more

  • FIRE’s Harvey Silverglate and Adam Kissel Take on Harvard’s Civility Pledge at ‘Minding the Campus’

    September 13, 2011

    In an excellent article published today at Minding the Campus, FIRE Co-founder and Board Chairman Harvey Silverglate and FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel take on Harvard College’s recently enacted civility pledge for students. We have written about the pledge here on The Torch, as well as The Huffington Post and PolicyMic. Commenting on… Read more

  • Peter in ‘PolicyMic’ on Harvard Freshman Pledge

    September 12, 2011

    FIRE’s Peter Bonilla has a new article in PolicyMic today discussing Harvard College’s "Class of 2015 Freshman Pledge," which, as Peter points out, "asks incoming freshmen to sign a statement saying that they are ‘expected to act with integrity, respect, and industry, and to sustain a community characterized by inclusiveness and civility.’" In its 375-year-long history,… Read more

  • Greg Examines Harvard’s New Civility Pledge in ‘The Huffington Post’

    September 8, 2011

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff writes today in The Huffington Post on the introduction of a civility pledge at Harvard College, the undergraduate college at Harvard University. The "Class of 2015 Pledge" commits students to building a "place where all can thrive and where the exercise of kindness holds a place on a par with intellectual… Read more

  • Does Harvard Want Bold Thinkers or Good Little Boys and Girls?

    September 7, 2011

    Freshmen arriving at Harvard this year may not know it, but they are making history — and not in a good way. For the first time in Harvard’s multi-century history, students are being asked to sign a pledge to warm and fuzzy values. Students will pledge to conduct themselves with “civility,” “inclusiveness,” and “kindness,” along… Read more

  • In Unprecedented, Ill-Considered Move, Harvard Pressures Freshmen to Sign Civility Pledge

    September 1, 2011

    Administrators at Harvard College are pressuring the Class of 2015 to do something no other student class has ever been asked to do in 375 years: Sign a civility pledge. As the Harvard Crimson details in a story this morning, the “Class of 2015 Freshman Pledge” was presented to students before an opening convocation. Harry… Read more

  • Harvard, India, Swamy, and the Right to Advocate for Radical Social Change

    August 1, 2011

    Last week, FIRE wrote Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust after learning from The Harvard Crimson that the university was giving “serious attention” to student calls to fire economics professor Subramanian Swamy because of his expression in a column he wrote for a newspaper in India. The news of FIRE’s involvement has gone worldwide, appearing in the Times of… Read more

  • Harvard Must Remember Free Speech Promises, End Investigation of Professor’s Newspaper Column

    July 28, 2011

    FIRE has written to Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust after learning from The Harvard Crimson that the university was giving "serious attention" to student calls to fire economics professor Subramanian Swamy because of his expression in a column he wrote for a newspaper in India.  On July 16, in the Indian newspaper Daily News & Analysis, Swamy wrote  the column in response to a… Read more

  • ‘Harvard Law Review’ Note Tackles Complex Issue of Distinguishing Government Versus Private Speech

    January 31, 2011

    A student note published in the most recent volume of the Harvard Law Review advances a cogent approach to differentiating between government and private speech that would lend clarity to First Amendment law. Unfortunately, the note (Three’s a Crowd – Defending the Binary Approach to Government Speech, 124 Harv. L. Rev. 805 (2011)) supports a very robust usage of the… Read more

  • Dartmouth Newspaper Notes College’s ‘Green-Light’ Rating and Poor Performance of Ivy Peers

    January 6, 2011

    Writing for The Dartmouth, student Brendan Woods is pleased to note Dartmouth College’s status as one of the 12 schools in our most recent national survey of college speech codes to receive FIRE’s green-light rating (a designation, by the way, that did not come without a lot of work on FIRE’s part). Most of Dartmouth’s… Read more

  • Silverglate: Why Did Harvard Leave Out Education?

    December 13, 2010

    In a letter to the editor today in the Boston Globe, FIRE Chairman Harvey Silverglate opines on the historic restructuring of Harvard’s main governing board, asking why the university did not include education in its recent reexamination. Harvard’s focus on capital planning and risk management, Harvey writes, further evinces what he has called the "corporatization" of higher… Read more

  • Harvard-Yale 2010 T-shirt Wars Begin; No Free Speech Casualties … Yet

    November 9, 2010

    The 2010 Harvard-Yale T-shirt wars are officially under way, in anticipation of the schools’ annual football game on November 20. The Yale Daily News reports that Yale College’s Freshman Class Council (FCC) has released its official design for The Game 2010, a riff on the recent movie The Social Network: The blank space at the… Read more

  • After Retraction of ‘Media Policy,’ Harvard Med School Updates Faculty Conflict Rules

    August 31, 2010

    Starting in January 2011, Harvard Medical School (HMS) will change how it regulates the nature and extent of medical industry ties among the school’s 11,017 faculty members, HMS officials announced in late July. The updated policies, the product of a sustained student-led movement, include a ban on faculty accepting personal gifts from medical companies and… Read more

  • In Case You Couldn’t Find Harvard’s Free Speech Policy …

    August 11, 2010

    Yesterday we noticed that Harvard University no longer lists its “Free Speech Guidelines”–Harvard’s decades-long promise of free speech–in its usual place. It used to be at http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~secfas/public/FreeSpeech.html in a text-searchable HTML file. In case you were looking for it, the only copy we can find right now on Harvard’s website is linked from the bottom of… Read more

  • New England Ivies Earn ‘Muzzle Awards’ from FIRE Chairman

    July 2, 2010

    With Independence Day on the horizon, the Boston Phoenix turns its annual spotlight upon those who have ignored our nation’s founding freedoms. The “Muzzle Awards” are the undesired accolades reserved for the self-appointed censors of New England—politicians, police officers, judges, and public transportation officials, to name a few. This year, in the 13th installment of… Read more

  • Money Talks at Harvard, Even When Speech is Chilled

    May 10, 2010

    Further proof of the indisputable chilling effect that Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow’s denunciation of the private e-mail of one of her students has had on the community arrived in FIRE’s mailbox last week, in the form of a gracious letter and donation from Harvard employee Gary McGath. His letter reads in relevant part: Enclosed please find a… Read more

  • Dean’s Handling of Harvard Law E-Mail Controversy Continues to Generate Criticism

    May 10, 2010

    Last week Adam commented on Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow’s denunciation of a student’s e-mail showing openness to the results of research about the role of genetics in differences in intelligence by race, pointing out that the dean’s denunciation was anti-intellectual:  For the sake of human inquiry and knowledge a free university in a… Read more

  • Speech Chilled at Harvard Law

    May 3, 2010

    The prominent law-oriented blog The Volokh Conspiracy has been remarking extensively on the latest speech-related controversy at Harvard Law School (HLS), where Dean Martha Minow publicly mischaracterized and then criticized a private e-mail sent by one of the school’s students to, it seems, a small number of colleagues several months ago. UCLA law professor Eugene… Read more

  • Minority Views Unsafe at Harvard Law; Dean Betrays Marketplace of Ideas

    April 30, 2010

    If you value a true marketplace of ideas, beware of Harvard Law School unless you are able to handle being denounced by the dean. According to Dean Martha Minow, it is shameful even to be intellectually open to considering certain scientific questions. The case in point involves a third-year law student who, in a private… Read more

  • Beat Harvard – Just Don’t Call Them Sissies

    November 24, 2009

    When I was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, our various class councils endlessly outdid themselves in the art of emasculating the Princeton tiger, mascot of our archrival. Our depictions of the tiger, emblazoned on T-shirts, ran the gamut from gentle mockery to representations of acts that would be illegal in most if not… Read more

  • Withholding of Report on Harvard Disciplinary Body Shows Hypocrisy

    November 20, 2009

    The Harvard College Administrative Board—the school’s main disciplinary body that applies and enforces "undergraduate academic regulations and standards of social conduct"—has long been the subject of calls for reform. Potential conflicts of interest in student representation, the intimidating structure of Ad Board hearings, and a general lack of transparency have been cited by students and… Read more

  • FIRE Chairman on Harvard’s Censorship of Controversial Speaker

    October 23, 2009

    In this week’s Boston Phoenix, FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate weighs in on the latest free speech controversy at Harvard College. An anti-immigration speaker, invited to speak on an undergraduate-organized panel on the future of U.S. immigration, was disinvited last week by student organizers, the Harvard Crimson reported. Samantha pointed out that this latest… Read more

  • Harvard Students Unlearn Liberty

    October 20, 2009

    We speak and write often at FIRE about the phenomenon of college students "unlearning liberty." In our educational system, students are too often taught by example that censorship is an appropriate response to unpopular or offensive opinions. The result is a disturbing number of cases in which students themselves act as censors. One such incident… Read more

  • Harvard Medical School to drop policy restricting students from speaking to media

    September 2, 2009

    Last night, New York Times journalist Duff Wilson reported that Harvard Medical School (HMS) is dropping a recent policy that seemed to require students to have any and all communications with the media cleared ahead of time by both the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Public Affairs. Wilson consulted with Harvey… Read more

  • Jessica Corry Weighs in on ‘HLR’ Case Comment at ‘Human Events’

    August 28, 2009

    Jessica Corry is the latest commentator to criticize the Harvard Law Review (HLR) for its indefensible defense of speech codes, in an article posted yesterday at Human Events. Corry is an attorney and policy analyst with the Independence Institute in Colorado. The HLR, as Torch readers are no doubt aware of by now, published a… Read more

  • In ‘The Huffington Post,’ Greg Points out Dangers of Pro-Speech Code ‘Harvard Law Review’ Comment

    August 21, 2009

    In his blog at The Huffington Post, Greg elaborates on an observation made by the Law Librarian Blog (LLB) regarding FIRE’s harsh criticism of a comment defending speech codes in the Harvard Law Review. “Obviously,” LLB comments, “FIRE is trying to minimize the impact the comment may have by all means possible.” Exactly right, says… Read more

  • Why the ‘Harvard Law Review’ comment defending campus speech codes matters

    August 20, 2009

    Today the good folks over at the Law Librarian Blog (LLB) picked up on the recent kerfuffle surrounding a student-authored case comment that appeared in the April issue of the Harvard Law Review. The HLR comment–published unsigned, per the journal’s policy–strongly criticized the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s 2008 decision to… Read more

  • More Fallout from Shoddy Scholarship in Harvard Law Review

    August 14, 2009

    The reactions to Kelly’s dismantling of a sloppy case comment published in the Harvard Law Review‘s April edition continue to roll in. The comment, published unsigned as per HLR policy, maintained that DeJohn v. Temple University was incorrectly decided, that speech codes on campus are constitutional, and that workplace harassment standards should be applied to… Read more

  • David French on Sloppy Speech Code Comment in ‘Harvard Law Review’

    August 11, 2009

    In a blog entry penned for Phi Beta Cons yesterday, Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel and former FIRE president David French directs his readers to Kelly’s thorough critique of a “Recent Cases” comment published in the Harvard Law Review‘s April edition. Shockingly, the Harvard Law Review comment argues that the precedential speech code decision DeJohn v…. Read more

  • ‘Harvard Law Review’ Gets Lazy: Prestigious Journal Publishes Article Ignoring Case Law, Defending Speech Codes

    August 3, 2009

    In its April issue, a case comment in the Harvard Law Review (HLR) analyzes one of FIRE’s favorite legal victories, DeJohn v. Temple University, 537 F.3d 301 (3d Cir. 2008). As Torch readers will remember, in DeJohn, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit struck down Temple University’s broad sexual harassment policy on First Amendment grounds for proscribing a great deal of protected speech. Prior to the ruling, FIRE submitted an amicus… Read more

  • Silverglate on Gates Arrest and the First Amendment Right to be Rude

    July 30, 2009

    FIRE Co-founder Harvey Silverglate, who is also Chairman of FIRE’s Board of Directors, published a terrific piece in Forbes this week on the “First Amendment right to be rude to a cop.” The context was the “unconstitutional arrest” of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., by a city policeman, but the argument is a powerful… Read more

  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Harvard University

    July 2, 2009

    Since January, FIRE has been exposing the speech codes silencing students at America’s most prestigious colleges and universities in our "State of Free Speech on Campus" blog series. Today we come to the final institution in our series: Harvard University. To many, Harvard may be the quintessential liberal arts university. Certainly, the university appears to… Read more

  • Rights in the News: FIRE’s Thought Reform Efforts Continue to Resonate

    May 1, 2009

    It seems like every week we’re reporting that FIRE’s short film on the University of Delaware’s experiment in thought reform has doubled the amount of views received on YouTube from the week before—a trend I’m all too happy to continue. This week the folks at Reason (which—throwback!—published Alan Charles Kors’ article "Thought Reform 101" back… Read more

  • Harvard and Dartmouth Oppose Petition Candidates and Independent Trustees

    April 29, 2009

    College and university presidents gathered last week to discuss what they need from trustees in times of economic uncertainty. Difficult discussions often arise, and the best board members are "strong enough to say, ‘No, that is a bad idea,’" a university chancellor explained at the annual meeting of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities… Read more

  • Outside Input Unwanted: A Brief History of Petition Candidacies in University Governance

    March 24, 2009

    In cases of campus speech restrictions, the path to censorship is paved with seemingly benign intent: see, for instance, bans on "rude, disrespectful behavior," as in the case of Johns Hopkins University (covered extensively yesterday by Samantha). Yet the inherent conflict between free speech and open inquiry on one hand and enforcing "civility" on the… Read more

  • Harvey Silverglate Makes Case for Harvard’s Board of Overseers at Forbes.com

    March 23, 2009

    For weeks now, FIRE—along with a diverse array of supporters—has trumpeted the candidacy of co-founder Harvey Silverglate for Harvard University’s Board of Overseers, for which he was officially nominated in February. Today Harvey makes his case at Forbes.com in an article jointly written with fellow petition candidate Robert Freedman. Driven by the steadfast belief that… Read more

  • Rights in the News: Harvey’s Harvard Candidacy Continues to Grab Headlines

    February 27, 2009

    As April’s election for Harvard University’s Board of Overseers draws nearer, the candidacy of FIRE co-founder and chairman Harvey Silverglate continues to attract attention and enthusiasm. Scot Lehigh’s excellent column in The Boston Globe is just the latest testament to this, as Adam wrote earlier for The Torch (and as the Cato Institute’s Cato @… Read more

  • ‘Boston Globe’ Columnist on Harvey’s Harvard Candidacy

    February 25, 2009

    The energy around Harvey’s candidacy for Harvard Board of Overseers is growing. Today, Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh shares his excitement on behalf of "non-Harvard types" like himself: Why, you say, should we non-Harvard types care about an election for the lesser of Harvard’s two governing boards? Because two outspoken candidates are trying to storm… Read more

  • ‘Harvard Law Record’ Discusses Individual Rights with Harvard Board of Overseers Candidates

    February 19, 2009

    The Harvard Law Record has published a very good interview with Harvey Silverglate, FIRE’s co-founder and Chairman of FIRE’s Board of Directors—and petition candidate for Harvard University’s Board of Overseers—and with petition candidate Robert Freedman. Of course, Harvey and Bob have a lot to say about Harvard in addition to discussing free speech and due… Read more

  • FIRE Co-founder Nominated for Harvard Board of Overseers

    February 17, 2009

    It’s official: Harvey Silverglate, FIRE’s co-founder and chairman, has been nominated as a petition candidate for Harvard’s Board of Overseers, a vital governing body of the University. For the past two months, Harvey has been collecting Harvard alumni signatures to qualify as a candidate, attracting coverage from the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, as well as legal and academic blogs, in the… Read more

  • Eliminating Unconstitutional Speech Codes: A Nonpartisan Issue

    January 14, 2009

    Commentators and academic organizations from a variety of political viewpoints have recently denounced campus speech codes, echoing the alarm that FIRE has sounded for the past decade. In a January 2 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Peter Berkowitz discussed the need for fellow conservatives to find common ground after what many interpreted as a national repudiation of their views in the November elections. Social conservatives and… Read more

  • Harvey’s Harvard Board of Overseers Run: A Follow-Up

    December 22, 2008

    On December 12, we announced that Harvey Silverglate, FIRE’s co-founder and chairman, is running for the Harvard Board of Overseers. Harvey says that he has since been "overwhelmed" by the response. More than 100 Harvard alumni have, upon learning of Harvey’s candidacy, reached out and offered to sign his nomination form, putting him well on… Read more

  • Harvard Persists in Supporting Censorship of ‘Barely Legal’ Party

    July 7, 2008

    At Harvard University, free expression only goes so far. Student publications that publish nude photographs of Harvard students are OK at Harvard, but the words “Barely Legal” are off limits if you want to hold a party with that name with the permission of Harvard’s Adams House. After the Latino Men’s Collective and Fuerza Latina,… Read more

  • Maybe Harvard Thought It Was The ‘Manifestly Illegal’ Party?

    June 24, 2008

    For better or worse, Harvard University is enshrined in the popular imagination as our nation’s premier liberal arts institution. While I blame Elle Woods, the fact is that every aspect of Harvard’s institutional conduct is examined and imitated by the rest of the academy. Simply put, Harvard is a trend setter. So when Harvard does… Read more

  • Harvard’s Weak Response Fails to Address Censorship of Party Name

    June 11, 2008

    Last week, FIRE issued a press release detailing Harvard University’s recent censorship of a party proposed by two student groups due to the party’s name, “Barely Legal.” Specifically, Resident Dean Sharon Howell of the university’s Adams House threatened to reverse the residence hall’s initial acceptance of the party proposed by the Latino Men’s Collective and… Read more

  • Harvard Censors Student Groups because of Party’s Name

    June 5, 2008

    As described in FIRE’s press release today, Harvard University imposed a blatant act of censorship and double standard on two of its student groups because they had planned to host a party called “Barely Legal.” As we wrote: In April, the Latino Men’s Collective (LMC) and Fuerza Latina proposed that a party be held in… Read more

  • Censorship at Harvard University: Administration Threatened to Cancel ‘Barely Legal’ Party Due to Event’s Name

    June 5, 2008

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 5, 2008—Harvard University threatened to cancel a party planned by two Harvard student groups simply because of the party’s name: “Barely Legal.” The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has asked Harvard to reaffirm its commitment to its students’ right to freedom of expression. “Today is Harvard’s commencement, where students are… Read more

  • Hypocrisy and the Harvard Faculty

    November 16, 2007

    FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate has a great blog post over at The Free For All discussing a recent resolution at a Harvard University faculty meeting: The latest head-shaking Harvard story is that anthropology professor J. Lorand Matory introduced a one-sentence resolution at a faculty meeting stating that “this Faculty commits itself to fostering civil dialogue… Read more

  • U. of Delaware Story Hits Student Press

    November 9, 2007

    The college media has taken note of FIRE’s recent case at the University of Delaware. This morning, the University of Pennsylvania’s Daily Pennsylvanian ran a feature story on the controversy. And on Thursday, The Harvard Crimson ran a staff editorial critical of Delaware’s program. The Crimson staff wrote: This is not the stuff of cultural… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • ‘Free Speech and Double Standards’

    October 3, 2007

    Be sure to check out Stuart Taylor’s hard-hitting piece in the National Journal on “Free Speech and Double Standards” in academia. With regards to Columbia’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Taylor points out: It would be easier to stomach the free-speech grandstanding of Lee Bollinger, Columbia’s president and Ahmadinejad’s histrionically hostile host, and others of Bollinger’s ilk if… Read more

  • Larry Summers and ‘Academia at Its Worst’

    September 19, 2007

    It was disappointing to learn that the University of California (UC) withdrew its speaking invitation to former Harvard president Lawrence H. Summers after the invitations had gone out. The main pressure appears to have originated with a petition organized by faculty at UC Davis who argued that Summers “has come to symbolize gender and racial… Read more

  • Silverglate: Universities Take Over Alumni Magazines

    November 17, 2006

    Harvey Silverglate, FIRE’s co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors, writes in The Boston Phoenix this week about the alarming trend among major universities towards university-controlled alumni publications. Silverglate points out that just like politicians and major corporations, universities are increasingly concerned about “controlling the message”—a stance that means traditional independent alumni publications become… Read more

  • Harvard Football Coach Tosses Player for ‘Mean-spirited Attack’

    September 26, 2006

    In July I wrote about the increased restrictions student-athletes may face once they join an intercollegiate athletic team. At that time, the Athletic Director at Kent State University had announced that all student-athletes needed to remove their profiles from Facebook.com (he later reversed the decision). I said in the post, “ADs and coaches seem most concerned… Read more

  • ‘Inside Higher Ed’ Reports on Recent Cases of Censorship on Campus

    September 12, 2006

    As classes begin this fall across the nation, debate over censorship on university campuses continues to rage. Inside Higher Ed had an article yesterday, on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, detailing several recent controversies. Some involve the censorship of controversial ideas and figures by the university, others the defense of those ideas…. Read more

  • Journalism Association Condemns Press Freedom Violations

    August 16, 2006

    Yesterday, the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) reported the August 4 decision by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) to censure a community college in New Jersey for violating freedom of the press. Ocean Community College (OCC) has already been censured by the College Media Advisers, Inc. (CMA), a national organization… Read more

  • More Shocking Offensiveness from a College Newspaper

    May 9, 2006

    With the ongoing censure of and strike at Le Moyne College that FIRE reported on yesterday, FIRE was reminded that there are many reasons that college administrators have decided that a free press is simply not something with which they should have to contend. The Missouri State cartoon we reprinted on the blog yesterday is… Read more

  • Harvard Law: A Parody of Freedom

    March 27, 2006

    Every year, Harvard Law School holds a parody show, called “the Parody,” that lampoons professors, students, and various issues at Harvard Law School. Last year, I blogged about the controversy surrounding the Parody’s satirical song about Professor Lawrence Tribe (sample lyric: “He’s Jesus Christ/He’s Larry Tribe/Not just Harvard’s best professor/But the smartest man alive…”). Well,… Read more

  • Constructive Criticism for Campus Administrators in ‘The Economist’

    March 13, 2006

    A fantastic editorial in the latest issue of The Economist (subscription required) warns that many prestigious American universities are coasting on their reputation and no longer deliver the robust marketplace of ideas and innovation they once promised. Instead they end up catering to entrenched interests and so shortchange the vitality and rigor of their students’… Read more

  • Celebrating One Year of ‘The Torch’

    February 28, 2006

    One year ago this month, FIRE launched The Torch as a decisive step into the daily debate over civil liberties on campus. The blog format has proved to be a great forum for FIRE staff members to introduce and follow up on FIRE cases, discuss current legal and policy issues affecting campus rights, point out… Read more

  • ‘If Harvard’s President Can’t Be Provocative, Who Can?’

    February 24, 2006

    FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff is quoted in the current issue of USA Today responding to the deeply troubling idea that Lawrence Summers’ ouster is some sort of victory for “diversity.” Here’s Greg’s take: Summers’ ouster is a victory for intellectual intolerance, not diversity. Are some arguments now forbidden on campus? And if Harvard’s president can’t be… Read more

  • The Speech Larry Summers Should Have Given

    February 24, 2006

    FIRE cofounder and board member Harvey Silverglate’s column yesterday in the Boston Phoenix relates the speech that Harvard President Larry Summers, who is stepping down this year in the wake of numerous ideological conflicts with faculty members, “should have given six months ago.” It’s a ringing defense of academic freedom and the right to speak… Read more

  • Larry Summers Announces His Resignation from Harvard

    February 21, 2006

    It’s official; after a rancorous tenure, Harvard President Lawrence Summers resigned today. I share the concerns of Harvard’s Professor Alan Dershowitz (a member of FIRE’s Board of Editors for its series of Guides to Student Rights on Campus) who wrote in the Times Online about the most notorious controversy surrounding Larry Summers. As many will… Read more

  • Wendy McElroy Lauds FIRE

    December 21, 2005

    Friend of FIRE Wendy McElroy has an excellent article on foxnews.com about FIRE’s new Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus. McElroy writes: The Guide is yet another indication that political correctness is faltering on campuses across North America. To those who value the right of individuals to a conscience—that is, to judge… Read more

  • Truth in Advertising at Harvard

    June 15, 2005

    At FIRE, one of our core beliefs is that universities must engage in truth in advertising. That is, if a university restricts and/or punishes student or faculty speech, it should say so openly so that prospective students can decide to attend that college or university with full information. Sadly, many colleges and universities do not… Read more

  • ‘Training,’ Not Education

    May 31, 2005

    I wanted to further highlight FIRE cofounder Harvey Silverglate’s strong critique of portions of the reports by Harvard’s Task Force on Women Faculty and Task Force on Women in the Sciences and Engineering. Money graphs: The report on women in the sciences and engineering recommends that doctoral students in those fields (and eventually grad students… Read more

  • Silverglate in Sunday’s ‘Boston Globe’

    May 31, 2005

    Check out FIRE cofounder Harvey Silverglate’s op-ed, “Thought Reform in Disguise,” in Sunday’s Boston Globe.

  • Thought Reform in Disguise

    May 29, 2005

    THE DEVIL may be in the details of the reports of The Task Force on Women Faculty and The Task Force on Women in Science and Engineering, issued earlier this month at Harvard. Though generally greeted with hosannas, the reports contain recommendations for a form of attitudinal indoctrination that is disturbing. A panicked and compliant… Read more

  • Summers’ Time and the Livin’ is Easy…

    May 17, 2005

    Just in before the end of the school year, the Harvard community has now got something to look forward to over the summer—a new “$50 million initiative to address the dearth of female students and faculty in the University’s science departments.” A Harvard Crimson article reported yesterday that the university had just announced the new… Read more

  • ‘¡Viva el Presidente Summers!’

    May 2, 2005

    In other news, a debate between two professors organized to address Larry Summers’ January “flap” about “innate differences” took place on Friday, April 22. Johnstone Professor of Psychology Steven Pinker and Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Spelke engaged in “a showdown of the sexes” to analyze “the data behind University President Lawrence H. Summers’ controversial January… Read more

  • Students Sift Through Summers’ Spiel

    May 2, 2005

    In response to the controversy over Harvard University President Larry Summers’ comments on innate gender differences and on Native American history, a couple of students opined on freedom of speech on campus in The Harvard Crimson over the past weeks. Their articles are worth a read. In “The Death of Discourse,” freshman Ashish Agrawal writes:… Read more

  • Another Summers Offense Resurfaces—Seven Months Late

    April 20, 2005

    The headline news story of The Crimson today reports that remarks made by Harvard President Larry Summers back in a September 2004 conference on Native American studies has resurfaced as scholars now report that they were offended, insulted, and appalled by his speech. Summers released the transcript of the speech yesterday. He has been accused… Read more

  • ‘Harvard Says Nizzo to Snoop Dogg’

    April 18, 2005

    Harvard decided not to invite Snoop Dogg to perform at an upcoming concert, apparently for cost concerns—and his offensive lyrics about slapping women. (You can also read about this in The Crimson and The Columbia Spectator.)

  • FIRE’s French on Fox News Today

    March 30, 2005

    FIRE President David French will be on Fox News Channel’s Your World w/ Neil Cavuto today at 4:40 p.m. (ET) discussing the controversy surrounding Harvard President Larry Summers. If you’re near a TV, don’t miss it!

  • More ‘Mallard Fillmore’

    March 30, 2005

    For the third day in a row, Mallard Fillmore focuses on the problem of campus speech codes. In recent months, as the Larry Summers, Ward Churchill, and Columbia MEALAC department controversies have dominated the news, I think we are beginning to reach a “tipping point” of public awareness on the problems on our campuses. With… Read more

  • Free Speech and Harvard Law

    March 28, 2005

    I received today a promotional copy of The People v. Harvard Law: How America’s Oldest Law School Turned its Back on Free Speech by Maricopa County, Arizona, District Attorney (and HLS alum) Andrew Peyton Thomas. I’ll be interested to read what Mr. Thomas has to say. As someone who received threatening messages (such as “I… Read more

  • Silence in the Unfair “Marketplace

    March 25, 2005

    As free speech advocates, sometimes we forget that silence is also a form of speech that people engage in all the time.  We have a right to express an opinion and we also have the right to refrain from doing so.  What is key here is that a decision to exercise either right should stem… Read more

  • The Latest on Summers: Students (Just Barely) Reject Their Own No-Confidence Vote

    March 24, 2005

    Here is the latest on the Summers case from the Boston Globe. After the faculty’s vote of “no confidence” in Harvard President Larry Summers, the graduate students decided to have a vote of their own: The graduate student vote of no confidence failed by a margin about as slim as last week’s vote by the… Read more

  • Sommers Speaks About Summers

    March 23, 2005

    FIRE Board of Advisors member Christina Hoff Sommers has written an interesting article on the Larry Summers controversy at Harvard. While the bulk of the piece addresses the way in which the media have covered the underlying gender difference debate, the last paragraph resonated with FIRE’s experience and work: Of course, offending feminist professors was… Read more

  • A No-Confidence Vote in Academia?

    March 16, 2005

    In the past few weeks, more scrutiny has been paid to the direction of higher education than perhaps ever before. Driven by the twin pillars of the Ward Churchill affair and the Larry Summers controversy, the American press and public are increasingly taking a look at the state of academia—and they don’t like what they… Read more

  • Makin’ Some Harvard Lemonade

    March 8, 2005

    As the old saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It looks like Harvard President Larry Summers is trying hard to do just that with the lemons being pelted at him after making what some believe are pretty sour remarks about the possibility that innate gender differences explain the lack of women in… Read more

  • Insults and the Constitution

    March 7, 2005

    There is a nice piece by Suzanne Fields today in the Washington Times. In her column she discusses the recent controversies at Harvard and the University of Alabama. She also quotes from FIRE’s letter on the Ward Churchill case: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (thefire.org), which revels in its acronym FIRE because it… Read more

  • Jada Pinkett Smith: In Her Own Words

    March 3, 2005

    What did Jada Pinkett Smith say that caused such outrage at Harvard? I was unable to find a transcript, but thanks to ace blogger Mickey Kaus, we located a Harvard Crimson article that quotes some of her “heteronormative” statements: After being honored, Pinkett Smith gave a warm, teary thanks and shared life lessons with the… Read more

  • Harvard Loves Free Speech

    March 3, 2005

    Some things are beyond parody or comment. Apparently, at Harvard, there is a move to ensure that comments from outside speakers are no longer “heteronormative” (implying that “standard sexual relationships are only between males and females”). The outrage was generated by the notorious cultural firebrand Jada Pinkett Smith, star of such films as Collateral, Matrix:… Read more

  • Dershowitz on Summers

    March 1, 2005

    Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz (a member of FIRE’s Board of Editors for its series of Guides to student rights on campus), writes in the Times Online about Larry Summers. Dershowitz locates the controversy where it belongs—within the larger context of campus speech policies and censorship: The problem is that if a university president were to be… Read more

  • ‘The Economist’ on Summers

    February 28, 2005

    There is an outstanding article (link requires subscription) in The Economist summarizing the Larry Summers fiasco at Harvard. While acknowledging that faculty discontent with Summers predates his speech that mentioned possible innate gender differences at the high end of the math and science world, the article properly notes the chilling effect of the p.c. backlash…. Read more

  • A Rare Opportunity

    February 28, 2005

    Over the past month, I think I have been interviewed no less than 50 times by various media outlets—national (ABC, Time, U.S. News & World Report), international (Reuters), regional, and local. The questions most frequently revolve around Larry Summers and Ward Churchill—two men who are calling unprecedented attention to academic freedom in America’s universities. The… Read more

  • International News Lights on FIRE

    February 25, 2005

    What do Larry Summers, Ward Churchill, and David French have in common? They were all featured in an article published on Aljazeera today that discusses academic freedom in the United States. The article mentions recent controversies at Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of Colorado, and includes statements from David that highlight the issue… Read more

  • Are Things Getting Worse?

    February 25, 2005

    A FIRE supporter writes with an interesting question: Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that your two latest cases (and some of your other more recent reports from other campuses) almost seem to indicate a “ratcheting up” on the part of those who wish to squelch free speech on campus. The brazenness of their… Read more

  • Harvard Controversy Inspires Student Activism

    February 23, 2005

    Calling for everything from Larry Summers’ resignation to more benefits for Harvard workers to the “democratization” of the Harvard Corporation, student activists have taken advantage of the public attention garnered by the recent controversy to demand numerous changes on campus at a student-organized “Speak Out for an Anti-Sexist Harvard” rally. “Students for Larry,” a group… Read more

  • Marketplace of Fear

    February 21, 2005

    Last week, we received a long and thoughtful e-mail regarding political uniformity at major universities as well as its consequences for students. The author, a professor, closed his message with the following statement: [P]lease don’t print this—I have too much fear of what would happen to me if my name became too prominent. As a… Read more

  • The Summers Transcript

    February 18, 2005

    The transcript of Larry Summers’ controversial speech on the relative lack of women faculty in the hard sciences is now available. Here is the first paragraph: I asked Richard, when he invited me to come here and speak, whether he wanted an institutional talk about Harvard’s policies toward diversity or whether he wanted some questions… Read more

  • Welcome to ‘The Torch’

    February 8, 2005

    Today is the first official day of the new FIRE blog. Those who are familiar with weblogs will recognize both the format (the “group blog”) and the tone (slightly more familiar than the formal press releases on our home page). This blog represents FIRE’s decisive step into the daily debate over academic freedom and individual… Read more

  • The Re-‘Invasian’

    February 7, 2005

    The recent firestorm over Larry Summers’ remarks regarding gender and science has caused me to recall a free speech issue from my days as a Harvard undergraduate. One of the most controversial incidents I remember had to do, of course, with “offensive” speech—in particular, an article published by The Harvard Crimson in its weekend magazine,… Read more

  • The Censors’ Favorite Team

    February 4, 2005

    Tens of millions of people across America will watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX this Sunday night. In a gesture of magnanimity before the big game, those of us at FIRE’s headquarters here in Philadelphia would like to tip our hat to all the New England college administrators… Read more

  • Say It Ain’t So!

    January 27, 2005

    FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate has written an article in the Boston Phoenix on the controversy at Harvard involving Larry Summers. While I am undeniably biased (Harvey is one of my heroes), I consider this the best, most intelligent and most informed article on the topic so far. The saddest aspect of the controversy is that… Read more

  • Harvard Injustice: Kafka on the Charles

    January 4, 2004

    A Harvard graduate student has been barred from continuing his studies because a fellow student accused him of sexual assault in January of 2002. The student was acquitted on all six counts of rape and assault by Middlesex Superior Court last August and his accuser was shown to be fabricating parts of her story at… Read more

  • Speech Codes: Alive and Well at Colleges

    August 1, 2003

    Five years ago, a higher-education editor for The New York Times informed one of us, Harvey Silverglate, that Neil L. Rudenstine — then president of Harvard University — had insisted that Harvard did not have, much less enforce, any “speech codes.” Silverglate suggested the editor dig deeper, because virtually any undergraduate could contest the president’s… Read more

  • Letter from the Office for Civil Rights to Harvard University President Larry Summers, April 1, 2003

    April 1, 2003

    Dear Dr. Summers: This is to advise you that the Office for Civil Rights has completed our consideration of the above-referenced complaint, which was filed against Harvard University. The Complainant alleged that revisions to the peer dispute administrative procedures of Harvard College (College) discriminated against students, mostly female, who filed complaints of sexual assault. Specifically,… Read more

  • Letter from Harvard Business School Dean Kim B. Clark to FIRE, January 2, 2003

    January 2, 2003

    2 January, 2003 Alan Charles Kors Harvey A. Silverglate Foundation for Individual Rights in Education 210 West Washington Square, Suite 303 Philadelphia, PA 19106 Dear Messrs. Kors and Silverglate, Your recent letter touches on fundamental principles that comprise the very essence of a vibrant academic environment such as Harvard Business School. Let me assure you… Read more

  • FIRE Letter to Harvard Business School Dean Kim B. Clark, November 19, 2002

    November 19, 2002

    November 19, 2002 Kim B. Clark, Dean Harvard Business School Morgan Hall 125 Soldiers Field Boston, MA 02163 Dear Dean Clark, As you can see from our Directors and Board of Advisors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education unites leaders in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals… Read more

  • Harbus Editor Resigns

    November 18, 2002

  • Difficult Conversations

    November 18, 2002

  • FIRE Letter to Harvard Law School Dean Robert Clark, November 12, 2002

    November 12, 2002

    November 12, 2002 Dean Robert Clark Harvard Law School Cambridge, MA 02138 Dear Dean Clark: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (“FIRE”) is a non-profit civil liberties organization dedicated to the promotion of academic freedom, free speech, and fair procedures in American higher education. As you can see from our Board of Advisers, listed… Read more

  • Editor Resigns over Cartoon

    November 12, 2002

  • Letter to the Editor

    September 20, 2002

    To the editors: Your editorial (“Title IX Complaint Questionable,” Sept. 18) exhibits myopic and wishful thinking divorced from “real world” experience. My 35 years in criminal defense and civil liberties litigation give me a very different perspective. While Harvard would do well to re-think all of its disciplinary policies and procedures (not just in sexual assault… Read more

  • Title IX Complaint Questionable

    September 18, 2002