Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

Location: Shippensburg, Pennsylvania
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 3rd Circuit

Speech Code Rating

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

  • Pennsylvania House of Representatives Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom

    September 19, 2005

    The Pennsylvania House of Representatives brought together a committee to examine allegations that Pennsylvania’s public universities were plagued by liberal ideology and indoctrination. David A. French, at the time president of FIRE, served as a legal adviser to the panel. FIRE released FIRE Report on the First Amendment Responsibilities of Pennsylvania State-Funded Colleges and Universities, explaining that Pennsylvania universities are bound to follow the strictures of the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions, notably to respect the expressive rights of students and faculty members, to protect religious liberty on campus, and to protect freedom of conscience on campus.

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  • Shippensburg University: Speech Code Litigation

    April 23, 2003

    In April 2003, FIRE Legal Network attorneys David A. French and William Adair Bonner filed a complaint against Shippensburg University, challenging the legality of its speech code, on behalf of two unnamed students. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania later issued a preliminary injunction ordering Shippensburg to cease enforcement of certain aspects of the speech code. The attorneys reached an out-of-court settlement with Shippensburg in 2004, in which the school agreed to replace unconstitutional provisions of its Code of Conduct and to rewrite its Racism and Cultural Diversity Policy. Four years later, Shippensburg reinstated several unconstitutional […]

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Green Light Policies
  • Swataney: Student Code of Conduct and Judicial Process- Harassment, Intimidation and Disruptive Conduct 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    No person shall engage in harassing, intimidating, or threatening conduct.

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  • Swataney: Student Code of Conduct and Judicial Process- Computing and Telecommunications 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    No person shall use computing services or facilities to harass another, send obscene materials/messages, or to interfere with the work of others, including the University.

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  • Office of Social Equity: Sexual Harassment Policy Statement 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    For purposes of this policy, unsolicited sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, verbal comments, gestures, or physical contact of a sexual nature which are unwelcome constitute sexual harassment when: … Such conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or academic environment. In Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 526 U.S 629 (1999), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that in order to constitute sex discrimination in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 the harassment must be “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victim’s access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school.”

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  • Swataney: Student Code of Conduct and Judicial Process- Preamble 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    The community exists for the pursuit of learning, the transmission of knowledge, the development of students as scholars and citizens, and ultimately, for the general well-being of society. Freedom of inquiry, speech, action, and expression is indispensable in the attainment of these goals. Academic freedom is at the cornerstone of the enterprise.

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  • 6 of 10 universities can’t figure out 1st Amendment

    December 20, 2012

    by Bob Unruh at WND More than six of 10 colleges and universities across the United States have yet to figure out the First Amendment, because their “speech codes” conflict with the Constitution, according to a new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “FIRE surveyed 409 schools for this report and found that over 62 percent maintain severely restrictive, ‘red-light’ speech codes – policies that clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech,” said the executive summary. “That this figure is so large is deeply troubling, but there is good news: for the fifth year in a row, the percentage of schools maintaining […]

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  • Complaint claims Shippensburg U. ‘speech codes’ discriminated against religious group

    May 8, 2008

    by Don Aines Herald-Mail   The Alliance Defense Fund on Wednesday filed a complaint in federal court against Shippensburg University, claiming the university violated a 2004 settlement with a First Amendment advocacy group through “speech codes” that discriminated against a campus religious group. The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, states the university violated the 2004 agreement with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) when it “reinserted unconstitutional provisions into current university policy,” according to a press release from FIRE. That included “in many cases utilizing language copied seemingly verbatim from […]

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  • Shippensburg sued for reinstating speech codes

    May 8, 2008

    Shippensburg University, located outside Harrisburg, is back in court four years after officials agreed to settle a lawsuit by repealing its controversial speech codes, which civil rights advocates argued infringed on the First Amendment rights of students. Claiming the university breached a previous settlement agreement, civil rights attorneys filed another lawsuit against the university Wednesday claiming the school reinstated a number of unconstitutional speech codes, some containing the exact language of those originally challenged. “Shippensburg’s ‘courthouse conversion’ several years ago, when it promised to respect the First Amendment and change its ways, has now proven insincere,” said ADF senior legal […]

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  • When Speech Becomes a Crime

    June 28, 2006

    Roman Catholic Robert Smith is fired from an appointment on the Washington Metro transit authority board by Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich for the crime of saying that he doesn’t approve of homosexuality. Journalist and author Oriana Fallaci cannot visit her native country of Italy for fear of being thrown in prison because of a lawsuit brought against her by the Italian Muslim Union for the crime of “defaming Islam.” British neo-Nazi David Irving is sentenced to three years in prison in Austria for a 1989 speech in which he committed the crime of Holocaust denial. College Republican Steve Hinkle is […]

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  • Tools for School

    April 18, 2006

    It’s hardly worth asking anymore whether political indoctrination is a problem in higher education. The problem has been demonstrated and re-demonstrated ad nauseam over the last couple of decades, so serious observers are left with two main lines of inquiry: First, how can we reliably differentiate pernicious indoctrination from legitimate academic discourse? And second, what can we do to combat the indoctrination? The first of these questions is taken up in a short new book published by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based civil-liberties group. In FIRE’s Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus, attorneys […]

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  • Campus Conscience Police?

    December 21, 2005

    “Over one’s inner mind, and self, no one has coercive power.” So write attorneys Jordan Lorence and Harvey A. Silverglate, authors of the just-published Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). 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 right and wrong for themselves—this is welcome news. Political correctness is the belief that certain ideas and attitudes are improper and, so, should be discouraged or prohibited by […]

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  • Bad Frog Beer to ‘intelligent design’

    October 17, 2005

    Until he was assigned Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones 3d was probably best known, if at all, for some controversial decisions while presiding over Pennsylvania’s state-run liquor system. As chairman of the Liquor Control Board for seven years, Jones spearheaded then-Gov. Tom Ridge’s failed campaign to privatize the state stores and banned the sale of Bad Frog Beer because he thought that the label broke the boundaries of good taste. The offending label featured a frog flipping the bird. Today, Jones is presiding over the most closely watched trial in America. Kitzmiller v. […]

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  • Wronging student rights

    September 3, 2005

    By Greg Lukianoff in The Boston Globe As summer ends and college students return to campus, a number of dreadful court decisions may cause them to wonder if their rights have taken a permanent vacation. While the past decades have hardly been a golden age for student rights, there was good reason to be optimistic in recent years. Speech codes fell at colleges from New York to California, the Department of Education finally clarified that “harassment” does not mean just being offended, and Texas Tech University had to admit that its lone 20-foot-wide “free speech gazebo” was inadequate space for […]

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  • FIRE Chalks Up Another Victory for Students’ Free-Speech Rights

    May 16, 2005

    The State University of New York at Brockport has agreed to repeal its speech code. It is the fourth consecutive victory for a Philadelphia-based group in its campaign against such codes on America’s public college and university campuses. Last June, with help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), two students in the College Republican Club filed a federal lawsuit alleging that SUNY Brockport’s anti-harassment policies violated their free-speech rights. Under Brockport’s speech code, examples of harassment included “cartoons that depict religious figures in compromising situations,” calling someone an “old bag,” and “jokes … making fun of any […]

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  • Liberating America’s Intellectual Gulags

    April 15, 2005

    David French knows what intimidation is. French, the new President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, graduated from Harvard Law School in the early 1990s. One might say that anyone with similar credentials ought to know the definition of intimidation – but French’s experience is a bit more personal than that.“As a pro-life, Christian conservative, I received death threats in my campus mailbox, was shouted down by students and (once) was even shouted down in class by my own professor,” he says about his years in Cambridge. French now spends much of his time explaining to university general […]

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  • Beware of universities that wear diversity label

    April 14, 2004

    In far too many instances, what passes as college life and education today is no less than shameful. Under the name of diversity and political correctness, billions of taxpayer dollars and donor contributions are used to promote what might be charitably called enlightened racism, uniformity of thought and political proselytizing. Let’s look at some of it.The student code of Shippensburg University, in Pennsylvania, said that students had a “right to express a personal belief system” but only if such expression did not “demean,” “annoy” or “alarm” others. Thus, if a student expressed a distaste for race or sex preferences in […]

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  • Campus rules overreach

    March 3, 2004

    Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, several students at Shippensburg (Pa.) University put up posters in their dorms depicting Osama bin Laden in a rifle’s crosshairs. But school officials ordered the posters removed. The students said they were told the signs might offend other dorm residents. In response to that bit of political correctness run amok, a group representing the students sued the university, claiming its code of student conduct limits free speech. A federal judge agreed. Last week, the school revised its code, which had banned ”any unwanted conduct which annoys, demeans or alarms.” The case illustrates how colleges’ […]

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  • The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, and the Pasadena Star-News on FIRE

    March 3, 2004

    Universities still do not comprehend that their contempt for free speech places them far, far outside of the mainstream of American public opinion. In particular, they seem continually surprised that the media, who live or die by the Bill of Rights, understand freedom of expression full well. The March 1 lead editorial of The Philadelphia Inquirer, an editorial in today’s USA Today, and yet another editorial in the Pasadena Star-News offer a compelling textbook education, if academic administrators are willing to listen, in the relationship of higher education and freedom of speech.

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

    January 12, 2004

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

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  • Confronting the campus radicals

    January 7, 2004

    David Horowitz thinks that anybody who cares about the future should confront the fact that U.S. colleges and universities are the fountainhead of financing for the radical movement in America. He has personally taken up the challenge to do something about this.Horowitz was a left-wing campus activist in the 1960s, but he says that men who were too radical even for him and Ramparts, the magazine he edited in the 1960s, now hold tenure at major universities. During the 1970s, these hardcore leftists achieved critical mass on university faculties, took control of hiring committees, and then saw to it that […]

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  • Survey: many college students fuzzy on first amendment rights

    January 1, 2004

    PHILADELPHIA — One out of four college students in a nationwide survey was unable to name any of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment, according to a free-speech watchdog group.“These survey results are disheartening, but they unfortunately are not surprising,” says Alan Charles Kors, president of the nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).Even among campus administrators who were surveyed, from presidents to assistant deans, 11 percent couldn’t name any specific First Amendment rights, the survey indicated. And when asked which freedom the amendment addresses first, only 2 percent of the students and 6 percent of the administrators […]

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  • Speech Codes: Alive and Well at Colleges…

    August 1, 2003

    By Greg Lukianoff and Harvey Silverglate at The Chronicle of Higher Education 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 claim. A mere three years earlier, the faculty of the Harvard Law School had adopted “Sexual Harassment Guidelines” targeted at “seriously offensive” speech. The guidelines were passed in response to a heated campus […]

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  • War of Words

    May 23, 2003

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  • Fire on American Campuses

    May 7, 2003

    By Richard L. Cravatts at The Washington Dispatch

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  • Race, Diversity, Speech Rights, Dress Codes

    April 27, 2003

    By Scott Norvell at FOXnews A group of Boston ministers who used to enjoy free golfing at a city-owned course is saying the decision to rescind that privilege is racist, reported the Boston Globe. A city contract to run the course in Franklin Park, Mass., previously allowed the mayor, the parks commissioner and “duly ordained ministers” to play without paying greens fees. But last week, after details of the contract were revealed, the policy was abolished. The Rev. James Allen, pastor of the Shekinah Glory Church of God in Christ in Mattapan, Mass., said the decision was unfair because a […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech at Shippensburg: After Violating Terms of 2004 Settlement, University Once Again Dismantles Unconstitutional Speech Code

    October 24, 2008

    Shippensburg University (SU) has agreed―again―to dismantle its unconstitutional speech code. In a victory for free speech on campus, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) announced yesterday that it had reached an out-of-court settlement with Shippensburg. The settlement ends ADF’s lawsuit, filed this past May, which alleged that the university had violated the terms of a 2004 agreement in which the school had promised to rescind or reform its unconstitutional speech code. The 2004 agreement was reached after a federal district judge issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of its speech code, finding that many of the code’s provisions “could certainly be […]

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  • Shippensburg Issues Statement on Speech Code Lawsuit, Blames Student Government for Constitutional Violations

    May 15, 2008

    Shippensburg has released a statement in response to the federal lawsuit the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed against the school. In the lawsuit, ADF charged that Shippensburg unconstitutionally reinstated its speech codes in violation of a previous settlement, and denied recognition to a student organization based on its viewpoint. In its statement, Shippensburg concedes that reinstating the speech codes violated the settlement, and pledges to work harder to make sure the speech codes are not in place in the future. The school claims to have a commitment to free speech and upholding its students’ constitutional rights. Unfortunately, alongside its pledge […]

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  • Federal Lawsuit Filed against Shippensburg University for Violation of Settlement Repealing Unconstitutional Speech Codes

    May 7, 2008

    In a press release today, FIRE announces that a complaint has been filed in federal court today by attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) against Shippensburg University. The complaint alleges that Shippensburg University has dishonestly reinstituted unconstitutional policies in violation of the terms of a 2004 legal settlement reached with members of FIRE’s Legal Network. The settlement in 2004 came after the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued a preliminary injunction against the university, ordering Shippensburg’s then-president, Anthony F. Ceddia, not to enforce unconstitutional provisions of Shippensburg’s code. The settlement ended a lawsuit brought by […]

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  • Federal Lawsuit Filed against Shippensburg University as School Blatantly Violates Settlement Repealing Unconstitutional Speech Codes

    May 7, 2008

    SHIPPENSBURG, Pa., May 7, 2008—A complaint filed in federal court today by attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) alleges that Shippensburg University has dishonestly reinstituted unconstitutional policies in violation of the terms of a 2004 legal settlement reached with members of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) Legal Network. The existing settlement was reached in February 2004 after the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued a preliminary injunction against the university, ordering Shippensburg’s then-president, Anthony F. Ceddia, not to enforce unconstitutional provisions of Shippensburg’s code. The settlement ended a lawsuit brought by FIRE […]

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  • There Is No Such Thing as ‘Hate Speech’

    February 24, 2006

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

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  • Speech codes make universities intolerant

    January 5, 2006

    Have you ever known a legislator who didn’t think his job was terribly important?Imagine the campaign slogan: “Elect me, because who really cares?” Or the direct-mail letters: “It’d be nice if you sent me a donation — but it doesn’t really matter.” The very concept is ridiculous. But apparently someone forgot to tell that to state Rep. Dan Surra, D-Elk. Surra has been quoted in the news media as calling a committee on which he himself serves a “colossal waste of time.” This “colossal waste” is the bipartisan Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom, established last year via House Resolution […]

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  • Your ‘Guide’ to Fighting Thought Reform on Campus

    November 11, 2005

    If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us. —West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) These words recognize that the freedom of conscience is an inviolable right provided to Americans by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Tragically, however, many colleges […]

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  • The Authoritarian Communitarian Impulse

    July 27, 2005

    The Chronicle of Higher Education contains a fascinating account of an anthropology professor who spent a year posing as an undergrad student as part of a study of modern student life. Many of her findings were unsurprising (particularly for those of us who can still remember our own college days). Students are busy, focused on careers more than a love of learning, and they are animated by an overwhelming desire to have “fun.” The professor’s observations then led to this comment: That fun is a fundamental law of college life is no revelation to administrators who work closely with students, […]

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  • FIRE Has Never Been ‘Sheepish’ on the Danger of Confusing Free Speech with Indoctrination

    March 2, 2005

    I wanted to add to David’s post about the article from The Nation. The author wrote: New, well-funded organizations like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) specifically urge universities to monitor and divest themselves of those engaged in “rank political indoctrination”—which even they rather sheepishly acknowledge is an awfully thin line away from political speech. We have been sheepish in acknowledging the care you have to use to distinguish between political speech and indoctrination? Really? Does testifying before the United States Senate to warn about the dangers of confusing “indoctrination” with political speech count as being “sheepish”? I […]

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  • More on ‘Soft’ Violations of Conscience

    February 21, 2005

    Thank you David for the recent post, and I would like to assure him I am not much for skewering (except the barbeque kind). However, I do disagree, in part, with a recent post in which David discussed his thoughts on violations of the right to conscience. I fully agree that “mandatory diversity training, ‘sensitivity training’ as punishment for misconduct, and mandatory first-year orientation programs that teach students the correct way to think about race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion” can potentially violate students’ right to private conscience (you can read more about cases like this in the Guide to […]

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  • UC Santa Barbara’s Unlikely Claims

    February 8, 2005

    Last week the University of California at Santa Barbara capitulated in its attempt to force the owner of a site called to remove the initials “UCSB” on its site. This is a remarkable case for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it highlights the trend of using intellectual property law as a tool for silencing criticism. Obviously, it would be hard to criticize an organization or institution if you couldn’t say its name! “Man, I think BLANK is corrupt. You know who I mean by BLANK, correct?” just isn’t a very effective way to dissent. […]

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  • Shippensburg University: Freedom of Speech 101

    March 1, 2004

    Since the beginning, America has struggled with the concept of free speech. It’s a great idea in the abstract. But when reality hits – when free speech alarms, threatens and offends – the temptation is to rein it in. But then it’s not free speech anymore. Universities have become prime places to witness this free speech dilemma. Virtually all institutions of higher learning today declare devotion to free speech and encourage students from diverse backgrounds to express themselves in equal measure.At the same time – as if terrified all this free speaking might cross too many boundaries – universities also […]

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  • A Great Victory for Free Speech at Shippensburg

    February 24, 2004

    SHIPPENSBURG, PA—In a historic victory for free speech on college and university campuses, Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, which first vehemently defended its extensive restrictions upon student free speech, has agreed to repeal its unconstitutional speech code. The settlement comes after the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued a preliminary injunction against the university in September, ordering Shippensburg’s president, Anthony F. Ceddia, not to enforce provisions of Shippensburg’s code. The successful lawsuit was brought by Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) Legal Network attorneys David A. French and William Adair Bonner as the inaugural suit in […]

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  • Stifling freedom

    September 19, 2003

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  • Stifling Speech

    April 28, 2003

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