Valdosta State University

Location: Valdosta, Georgia
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

Valdosta State 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
  • Student Code of Conduct: Student Sexual Misconduct Code

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: November 9, 2018

    Unwelcome verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct, based on sex or gender stereotypes, that is implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of employment or status in a course, program or activity; is a basis for employment or educational decisions; or is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to interfere wit... Read More
  • Student Code of Conduct: Freedom of Expression Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: November 21, 2018

    Valdosta State University is a learning environment based on trust and mutual respect in which open dialogue, vigorous debate, and the free exchange of ideas are welcome. The University is equally dedicated to the core values of community, including a commitment to practice civility, integrity, and citizenship. The ... Read More
  • Information Resources Acceptable Use Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 20, 2018

    Prohibited activities when using University electronic mail shall include, but not be limited to, sending or arranging to receive the following: … Any material that may defame or libel the University, the University System, the recipient, the sender, or any other person and is in violation of the University S... Read More
  • Student Code of Conduct: Non-Academic Conduct Code- Disorderly Conduct

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: November 9, 2018

    Harassment, including intimidation, coercion or threats, that is unwelcome, discriminatory on the basis of a protected status, directed at a specific individual, and is sufficiently severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it interferes with or limits an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit fro... Read More
  • Student Handbook: Non-Academic Conduct Code – Inappropriate Use of University Computing Facilities

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: November 21, 2018

    The use of computing systems for making terroristic threats, unsolicited sexual advances, harassment, or obscenity which is blatantly offensive to the prevailing community standards are prohibited. Read More
  • After ‘Barnes’ Settlement, Colleges Must Answer $900,000 Question

    July 24, 2015

    Yesterday, FIRE was proud to announce a just resolution to Barnes v. Zaccari, a legal saga dating all the way back to the spring of 2007, when former Valdosta State University (VSU) student Hayden Barnes was expelled for posting a satirical collage on Facebook. Thanks to Hayden’s remarkable courage, and the tenacity and expertise of… Read more

  • Eight Years After Student’s Unjust Expulsion from Valdosta State U., $900K Settlement Ends ‘Barnes v. Zaccari’

    July 23, 2015

    ATLANTA, July 23, 2015—Today, more than eight years after his unjust expulsion, student Hayden Barnes’ federal civil rights lawsuit against Georgia’s Valdosta State University (VSU) and former VSU president Ronald Zaccari concluded with the announcement of a $900,000 settlement. In the spring of 2007, Barnes was expelled from VSU by Zaccari for a satirical environmentalist… Read more

  • Barnes Is Back! Eleventh Circuit Restores First Amendment Claim

    January 12, 2015

    ATLANTA, January 12, 2015—This morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit revived the First Amendment retaliation claim of former student Hayden Barnes, marking another victory in his long-running case. Barnes, who was expelled from Georgia’s Valdosta State University (VSU) in 2007 for posting a collage on Facebook, had already emerged victorious on… Read more

  • 2013 in Review: Threats from Washington, Victories in the States

    December 30, 2013

    As 2013 comes to a close, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) looks back on a year that was headlined by dire threats to free speech and student rights on campus.

  • FIRE and Broad Coalition File Brief Defending Free Speech in Student ‘Facebook Collage’ Case

    December 17, 2013

    Late yesterday, 11 organizations joined the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) in filing an amici curiae (“friends of the court”) brief in the case of Barnes v. Zaccari. The brief asks the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to reverse a federal district court’s September 2010 ruling dismissing former Valdosta State University (VSU) student Hayden Barnes’ First… Read more

  • ‘Augusta Chronicle’ on the ‘Defeat of Tyranny’ at Valdosta State

    March 12, 2013

    Over the weekend, the editorial staff of The Augusta Chronicle penned an excellent piece on the jury verdict delivered last month against former Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald Zaccari. In that verdict, a federal jury in Georgia found Zaccari personally liable in the amount of $50,000 for violating the due process rights of former… Read more

  • FIRE’s Robert Shibley On Air with Vicki McKenna This Evening

    February 18, 2013

    FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley will discuss the recent decision in Barnes v. Zaccari on air with Vicki McKenna this evening from 5:35 to 5:48 p.m. EST. Tune in to hear Robert on WISN in Milwaukee and WIBA in Madison, or listen live online.

  • Jury Finds Former College President Personally Liable for $50,000 in Victory for Student Rights

    February 1, 2013

    ATLANTA, February 1, 2013—A federal jury today found former Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald M. Zaccari personally liable for $50,000 for violating the due process rights of former student Hayden Barnes in the case of Barnes v. Zaccari. In May 2007, Zaccari expelled Barnes for peacefully protesting Zaccari’s plan to construct two parking garages… Read more

  • Barnes Verdict Expected Today

    February 1, 2013

    A verdict in Barnes v. Zaccari is expected today. The jury began deliberations yesterday afternoon. The Valdosta Daily Times (Ga.) has more from inside the courtroom proceedings, highlighting Bob Corn-Revere’s argument on behalf of former Valdosta State University student Hayden Barnes, who was expelled for peacefully protesting the planned construction of campus parking garages: [Former… Read more

  • UPDATE: Hayden Barnes Trial Underway in Georgia; New Video with Attorney Bob Corn-Revere

    January 29, 2013

    UPDATE, 1-30-13: Today, FIRE is pleased to release a new video interview about Barnes’ case with noted First Amendment attorney Robert Corn-Revere, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine and Barnes’ lawyer. Nearly six years after he was expelled from Valdosta State University (VSU) for peacefully protesting the planned construction of parking garages on campus, former VSU student… Read more

  • Expelled Valdosta State Student Earns Early Win in State Court

    July 27, 2012

    As we reported here on The Torch back in June, former Valdosta State University student Hayden Barnes is now fighting his legal battle against the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia in state court—and the early returns are encouraging for student rights.   Here’s the backstory. Barnes originally included his breach of… Read more

  • Date Set For Barnes v. Zaccari Trial

    July 20, 2012

    Important news in Hayden Barnes’ federal civil rights lawsuit, the ongoing FIRE case involving the university president who expelled a student for a critical collage. On Wednesday, the trial judge granted former Valdosta State University President Ronald Zaccari’s motion to transfer the case to a different United States District Court in Georgia. Today, the new… Read more

  • Victory Stands: Eleventh Circuit Denies Former Valdosta State President’s Appeal

    June 7, 2012

    In a victory for student rights, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has denied former Valdosta State University President Ronald Zaccari’s petition for rehearing en banc in the case of Barnes v. Zaccari.   A party may appeal an appellate court’s decision by requesting en banc review, which, if granted, means… Read more

  • Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on Eleventh Circuit’s Important Message to University Administrators

    February 9, 2012

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff weighs in today at The Huffington Post on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit’s important ruling in Barnes v. Zaccari. As we highlighted in on our press release yesterday, the Eleventh Circuit’s unanimous decision affirms a lower court’s denial of qualified immunity to former Valdosta State University… Read more

  • Eleventh Circuit to University Administrators: Respect Student Rights

    February 9, 2012

    In the nearly five years since I first began blogging about student rights here on The Huffington Post, I’ve written many times about the incredible case of former Valdosta State University (VSU) student Hayden Barnes, who was expelled from Georgia’s VSU in April 2007 for peacefully protesting the planned construction of a parking garage on campus. If… Read more

  • Eleventh Circuit Affirms Ruling against Former Valdosta State President in Victory for Student Rights

    February 8, 2012

    Here is today’s press release: ATLANTA, February 8, 2012—In a victory for student rights, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a unanimous decision late yesterday in the case of Barnes v. Zaccari, holding that former Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald M. Zaccari may be found personally liable for violating… Read more

  • Eleventh Circuit Affirms Ruling against Former Valdosta State President in Victory for Student Rights

    February 8, 2012

    ATLANTA, February 8, 2012—In a victory for student rights, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a unanimous decision late yesterday in the case of Barnes v. Zaccari, holding that former Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald M. Zaccari may be found personally liable for violating the due process rights of… Read more

  • Eleventh Circuit Hears Arguments in Major Student Rights Case, ‘Barnes v. Zaccari’

    November 17, 2011

    In a case that FIRE followers will remember dating back to 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit today will hear oral arguments in Barnes v. Zaccari, with important protections for students’ campus rights at stake. The case concerns Hayden Barnes’ long ordeal at Valdosta State University (VSU) in Georgia, which… Read more

  • This Month in FIRE History: Victory at Valdosta State

    September 19, 2011

    Last September, FIRE celebrated a major victory when former Valdosta State University (VSU) student T. Hayden Barnes won a federal civil rights lawsuit against former VSU President Ronald Zaccari. Not only was the victory a vindication of Barnes’ rights, but it also represented a major step forward for the fight for freedom on campus. Barnes’ case… Read more

  • FIRE Cases Figure Strongly in ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’ Article on Retaliation Against Faculty Speech

    August 3, 2011

    The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Peter Schmidt has an excellent article on the hair-trigger sensibilities of the college classroom, in which many professors have found themselves under fire for remarks seen as violent or threatening. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the free speech and academic freedom issues involved, several of the cases Schmidt cites in his… Read more

  • Hayden Barnes at the 2011 CFN Conference

    June 8, 2011

    FIRE is pleased to announce that at our 2011 Campus Freedom Network Conference, Hayden Barnes, a former Valdosta State University student and the subject of one of FIRE’s most infamous student rights cases, will be speaking about his experience. In 2007, Hayden was expelled from Valdosta State for peacefully protesting the use of student funds… Read more

  • Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on What’s at Stake for Students’ Rights in Eleventh Circuit Case

    April 13, 2011

    In his newest article for The Huffington Post, Greg details the latest legal developments in Barnes v. Zaccari and reviews the impressive list of organizations who have joined FIRE in filing an amicus brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. For more on our coalition and the implications of the… Read more

  • Joined by Broad Coalition, FIRE Files Brief in Support of Student Rights in ‘Barnes v. Zaccari’

    April 12, 2011

    On behalf of a broad coalition of 15 organizations concerned about student rights on public campuses, FIRE filed an amici curiae brief yesterday with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in the case of Barnes v. Zaccari. The brief asks the Eleventh Circuit to uphold a federal district court’s September 2010… Read more

  • Adam Kissel on Threat Assessment Teams in ‘USA TODAY’

    January 14, 2011

    In USA TODAY, reporter Mary Beth Marklein reports on the threat to students’ free speech rights posed by "threat assessment teams" at colleges and universities. She reports that in the wake of the Arizona shooting, questions are now being raised about the teams’ "appropriateness and effectiveness." Marklein portrays Valdosta State University student Hayden Barnes’ struggle… Read more

  • Hayden Barnes’ Victory in Federal Court, Currently on Appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, is a Major Story to Follow in 2011

    December 23, 2010

    Back in September, we rejoiced at the news that former Valdosta State University (VSU) student Hayden Barnes had won a compelling victory in federal court in his lawsuit against former VSU president Ronald Zaccari and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Barnes’ case, which FIRE has been involved in since its… Read more

  • Valdosta State Lawsuit Update: Hayden Barnes’ Qualified Immunity Victory Headed to Eleventh Circuit on Appeal

    November 2, 2010

    Back in September, FIRE celebrated a monumental (and long-awaited) victory when a federal district court judge in Georgia ruled that former Valdosta State University (VSU) president Ronald Zaccari and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia had violated the due process rights of former VSU student Hayden Barnes by expelling him from… Read more

  • In ‘Huffington Post,’ FIRE President Explains Importance of Valdosta State Win

    September 23, 2010

    In a new blog entry for The Huffington Post, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff discusses this month’s federal district court victory for former Valdosta State University student T. Hayden Barnes. Greg assesses the importance of the case for student rights and explains why the court’s ruling should be a wake-up call for university administrators who violate… Read more

  • Motion for Reconsideration in Valdosta State Case Seeks Recognition of First Amendment, Susbtantive Due Process Violations

    September 15, 2010

    A major federal court victory earlier this month vindicated the procedural due process rights of former Valdosta State University (VSU) student Hayden Barnes, but not his First Amendment or substantive due process rights. A motion for reconsideration filed last Friday by Barnes’ attorneys aims to change that. More than three years ago, Barnes was expelled… Read more

  • Media Reactions Regarding Benchmark Student Speech Victory Continue

    September 14, 2010

    Former Valdosta State University (VSU) student Hayden Barnes’ federal court victory has continued to perk up media moguls’ ears. As we’ve reported, Barnes’ First Amendment and due process rights were violated when his peaceful protest against former VSU president Ronald Zaccari’s plan to spend $30 million of student fee money on new parking garages got… Read more

  • Zaccari Statement on Federal Court Loss Ignores the Facts and Defies Rationality

    September 13, 2010

    Whatever magical wonder drug has former Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald Zaccari feeling so good about the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia’s ruling on his unconstitutional expulsion of former VSU student Hayden Barnes, I want it. Then I too will be able to gleefully ignore the less pleasant realities of… Read more

  • Let Valdosta State Ruling Be a Warning to University Administrators: Qualified Immunity Will Not Bail You Out

    September 10, 2010

    FIRE has been warning college presidents and administrators for some time that when they violate the expressive rights and due process rights of students at public universities, they do more than defy the dictates of the Constitution (and, for that matter, abandon their moral duties as leaders of our nation’s institutions of higher education). We… Read more

  • Press and Academic Community React to Federal Court Victory in Georgia

    September 8, 2010

    News of the federal court victory for former Valdosta State University (VSU) student Hayden Barnes is making its way through the media today. The prospect of a university administrator being held personally liable for damages for violating clearly established law regarding student rights must be that much scarier, now that it has happened to former… Read more

  • Victory in Federal Court for Student Expelled for Peaceful Protest; University President Held Personally Responsible for Rights Violation

    September 7, 2010

    More than three years after being expelled from Valdosta State University (VSU) for engaging in peaceful protest, former VSU student T. Hayden Barnes has won his federal civil rights lawsuit against former VSU President Ronald Zaccari. In an opinion issued late Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia found that because… Read more

  • Victory in Federal Court for Student Expelled for Peaceful Protest; University President Held Personally Responsible for Rights Violation

    September 7, 2010

    VALDOSTA, Ga., September 7, 2010—More than three years after being expelled from Valdosta State University (VSU) for engaging in peaceful protest, former VSU student T. Hayden Barnes has won his federal civil rights lawsuit against former VSU President Ronald Zaccari. In an opinion issued late Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of… Read more

  • Changes in Leadership Give Red Alert Schools Golden Opportunity to Restore Free Speech

    May 19, 2010

    The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Richard F. Celeste will step down as President of Colorado College at the end of the next academic year. This latest announcement means that four of the six schools on FIRE’s Red Alert list will undergo changes in leadership in the next year. Bucknell University President Brian C…. Read more

  • Brief in Valdosta State Lawsuit Argues Why Administrators Should Be Personally Liable for Rights Violations

    April 29, 2010

    In my previous post on the reply brief filed by former Valdosta State University student Hayden Barnes’ attorneys in support of their motion for summary judgment, I examined the brief’s discussion of the violation of Hayden’s First Amendment rights. While there is much more to discuss as well, this post discusses the brief’s argument regarding… Read more

  • Damning Reply Brief Filed with Federal District Court in Hayden Barnes’ Case

    April 29, 2010

    Hayden Barnes’ years-long battle with Valdosta State University (VSU) may be entering its final phase. Earlier this month, Barnes’ attorneys filed their reply brief in support of their motion for summary judgment with District Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division. It’s been… Read more

  • Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on the Campus Culture Wars

    April 22, 2009

    In his latest column for The Huffington Post, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff reflects on the campus culture wars with reference to two of our most famous cases: Hayden Barnes’ expulsion for a collage at Valdosta State University and the University of Delaware‘s former Residence Life program. Discussing the cases side by side, Greg demonstrates how… Read more

  • Rights in the News: FIRE Issues Get the Lou Dobbs Treatment

    March 13, 2009

    As Will wrote earlier in the week, FIRE has seen far too many instances of students’ First Amendment rights being thrown out the window when used to support Second Amendment rights. FIRE has been all over the news concerning the most recent instance of this, in which a student at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU)… Read more

  • Obama: Silencers of Dissent Are on the Wrong Side of History

    January 20, 2009

    Today we have asked President Obama to help fight speech codes on college campuses, which not only violate the rights of millions of college students but also teach them that censorship is more efficacious and desirable than tolerance of each person’s views, no matter how profoundly antithetical to one’s own. In this vein, one line… Read more

  • FIRE Pens Open Letter to President Obama

    January 20, 2009

    This Inauguration Day, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has sent President Barack Obama an open letter requesting that, as a scholar of constitutional law and the leader of the nation’s executive branch, he and his administration join the fight against college and university speech codes that are infringing on the rights of millions… Read more

  • FIRE in Action: Valdosta State University

    January 19, 2009

    This short film highlights FIRE’s fight against Valdosta State University’s (VSU’s) unconstitutional free speech zone policy and chronicles FIRE’s victory on behalf of VSU student T. Hayden Barnes, who was expelled for engaging in a peaceful protest. Featuring on-the-scene interviews with Barnes; his attorney, noted First Amendment lawyer Robert Corn-Revere; and FIRE President Greg Lukianoff,… Read more

  • 2008 Highlights: FIRE Places Full-Page Ad in ‘U.S. News & World Report’ Calling Out ‘Red Alert’ Schools

    December 31, 2008

    While FIRE works on cases from hundreds of schools in a given year, we have a special list for those schools that have shown unique intransigence in the face of criticism from FIRE for abusing student and faculty rights. We call that special list our Red Alert list, and right now five schools have earned… Read more

  • Questions Surround Proposed ‘Free Speech Zone’ at Northeastern Illinois University

    December 19, 2008

    Deanna Isaacs of the Chicago Reader reports troubling developments at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), a public university in Chicago. According to Isaacs, NEIU President Sharon K. Hahs has proposed instituting an unconstitutional free speech zone on the NEIU campus, with prior approval requirements that put an impermissible onus on students and faculty members seeking to… Read more

  • Stop Invoking Virginia Tech to Punish Protected Speech

    November 24, 2008

    Of particular note in the court order in Barnes v. Zaccari, the federal civil rights lawsuit filed after former Valdosta State University (VSU) student Hayden Barnes was expelled for posting a collage on Facebook.com protesting the construction of new parking facilities at VSU, is this excerpt: For purposes of the motion to dismiss, the court… Read more

  • Good News from Georgia: Federal District Court Issues Important First Order in Valdosta State Lawsuit

    November 21, 2008

    On Wednesday, District Court Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. issued his first order in the federal civil rights lawsuit filed by former Valdosta State University (VSU) student Hayden Barnes in January. In a promising development for Barnes—and, more generally, for free speech on campuses across the country—Judge Pannell’s order upheld the core of Barnes’ civil… Read more

  • Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on Valdosta State and the Importance of Free Speech on Campus

    September 26, 2008

    Check out FIRE President Greg Lukianoff’s Huffington Post entry today in which he praises Valdosta State University for the long-awaited dismantling of their free speech zone. Greg points out both how important it is that Valdosta is heading in the right direction, and why free speech on campus is so crucial to our democracy as… Read more

  • Valdosta State U Victory Discussed in ‘FIREside Chats’ Episode

    September 22, 2008

    Last week, FIRE was thrilled to announce that after months of pressure, Valdosta State University (VSU) revoked its unconstitutional free speech zone policy and restored free expression to VSU’s campus. In today’s episode of FIRE’s podcasting series, FIREside Chats, Will Creeley and Robert Shibley discuss the events that led to this victory and the removal… Read more

  • Weekly Media Round-up: Two Major Free Speech Victories Start the Year on a High Note

    September 19, 2008

    FIRE declared a pair of major victories for free speech this week in what we hope will set the tone for our efforts on campus during the 2008–2009 academic year. Valdosta State University (VSU), under the leadership of new president Patrick Schloss, revoked its unconstitutional free speech zone policy and made the VSU campus much… Read more

  • VSU Student Newspaper Notes University’s Removal from Red Alert List

    September 18, 2008

    The Spectator, Valdosta State University’s (VSU’s) student newspaper, ran an article yesterday about FIRE’s victory at VSU after VSU’s new president, Patrick Schloss, replaced the university’s "Free Expression Area" policy with a "General Public Forum Venue" policy. The old policy was awarded the dubious distinction of FIRE’s March 2008 Speech Code of the Month for,… Read more

  • Valdosta State Comes Off FIRE’s Red Alert List

    September 17, 2008

    What a difference a change in leadership makes! As those who follow FIRE—as well as the millions of people who saw our full-page advertisement in the most recent U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Colleges” issue—already know, Valdosta State University has been one of the leading free speech villains among America’s campuses for approximately… Read more

  • Victory for Free Speech at Valdosta State University

    September 17, 2008

    PHILADELPHIA, September 17, 2008—In a welcome reversal, Valdosta State University (VSU) has revoked its unconstitutional free speech zone policy, restoring free expression to the vast majority of VSU’s campus. Newly installed VSU President Patrick J. Schloss announced the new policy in a letter to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The change comes… Read more

  • Back to School: Remember FIRE’s Red Alert List

    September 9, 2008

    Students going back to school should be aware of the institutions that demonstrate a blatant disregard for their students’ rights. FIRE’s Red Alert list, recently featured in a full-page ad in the 2009 "America’s Best Colleges" edition of U.S. News and World Report, is a list of the "worst of the worst" when it comes… Read more

  • Sierra Club Fails Valdosta State for Free Speech Zone

    September 3, 2008

    The Sierra Club has released its second annual list of "cool schools" that promote environmental initiatives on their campuses. As a counterpoint, the Sierra Club also includes a list of schools that conspicuously fail to encourage—or even inhibit—environmental initiatives. And, interestingly enough, who should we find on that latter list but one of FIRE’s Red… Read more

  • How Can Valdosta State University Get off FIRE’s Red Alert List?

    August 27, 2008

    Following the debut of FIRE’s full-page ad in U.S. News & World Report‘s "America’s Best Colleges" issue, released nationwide this week, we thought it would be appropriate to explain exactly how each of our five Red Alert schools can rid themselves of the unfortunate distinction of being the worst of the worst when it comes… Read more

  • FIRE Exposes Unrepentant Abusers of Liberty in ‘U.S. News’ College Rankings Issue

    August 25, 2008

    PHILADELPHIA, August 25, 2008—The 2009 edition of U.S. News and World Report‘s America’s Best Colleges issue, released today, includes a full-page advertisement from FIRE highlighting the five colleges and universities that have earned FIRE’s Red Alert distinction for being the “worst of the worst” when it comes to liberty on campus. Students should think twice… Read more

  • At Valdosta State, New Leadership or More of the Same?

    August 21, 2008

    As dedicated Torch readers will remember, Ronald Zaccari, Valdosta State University’s former President, retired early this summer after a disastrous last year in office during which he expelled former VSU student Hayden Barnes for engaging in protected political expression. Indeed, Zaccari left VSU with his legacy in tatters, having been named one of our nation’s… Read more

  • For Olympic Free Speech Zones, China Takes Page From American Universities

    July 24, 2008

    As the start of the Beijing Games draws near―and with questions remaining about how Communist Party officials will address public dissent and protest―I was struck by this paragraph from an article in The New York Times this morning: The Chinese government will permit public protests inside three designated city parks during next month’s Olympic Games,… Read more

  • Pressed Again on Free Speech Zone, Valdosta State Finally Responds

    July 3, 2008

    It’s taken nearly eight months, but FIRE has finally received a response from Valdosta State University (VSU) regarding its blatantly unconstitutional free speech zone. We first wrote (now former) VSU President Ronald M. Zaccari regarding his university’s “Free Expression Area” policy in November of last year. Our letter detailed the myriad problems with the school’s… Read more

  • Legacy in Tatters, Embattled VSU President Retires

    June 30, 2008

    Valdosta State University President Ronald M. Zaccari retires today, leaving behind an embarrassing legacy of contempt for his students’ constitutional rights to freedom of speech and due process. Yes, the bell tolls today for Ron Zaccari’s disastrously unconstitutional tenure as VSU’s President―but not the Liberty Bell. (That’s an old FIRE chestnut), by the way, and… Read more

  • When Schools Punish Creative Work

    May 20, 2008

    As Samantha points out this morning, today’s Wall Street Journal features an excellent article by Elizabeth Bernstein on schools that punish students for their creative work—sometimes with good intentions, when there is a real chance that the work signifies that someone is dangerous—and sometimes vindictively, such as in the case of student T. Hayden Barnes… Read more

  • Schools struggle with dark writings

    May 20, 2008

    When Steven Barber turned in a short story this semester for his creative-writing class at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, his instructor was alarmed. The 23-year-old student had produced an imagined account of someone on the edge of a violent breakdown, touching on suicide and murder. “It had to be acted on immediately,”… Read more

  • Greg Lukianoff on ‘Threatening’ Speech in ‘The Wall Street Journal’

    May 20, 2008

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff is quoted in today’s edition of The Wall Street Journal in an article about the challenges universities face distinguishing true threats from protected expression. Greg explains that the problem on campus is that “Right now, if a university administrator claims that someone is a threat, even if that threat is virtually… Read more

  • VSU Lawsuit Update: Barnes Files Motion for Summary Judgment

    May 12, 2008

    Former Valdosta State University (VSU) student Hayden Barnes’s federal lawsuit against VSU President Ronald M. Zaccari and other university officials continues apace. Zaccari expelled Barnes from VSU for engaging in peaceful political protest in May of 2007. In the lawsuit, Barnes alleges that his expulsion violated his First Amendment right to free expression, among other… Read more

  • An Update on Valdosta State University Featured in New Podcast

    May 5, 2008

    Our latest installation of FIREside Chats features an interview with Hayden Barnes, the student at Valdosta State University (VSU) who was expelled for publicly protesting the school’s decision to construct two new parking garages on campus. Hayden is currently embattled in a lawsuit against the university, VSU President Ronald Zaccari, and the Board of Regents… Read more

  • University System of Georgia Conducting Student Survey on Free Speech Zones

    April 18, 2008

    The University System of Georgia is surveying students to find out what they think about various expression-related issues on the system’s campuses, including free speech zones. The University System of Georgia is currently home to one of the worst free speech zone policies on record—so bad, in fact, that FIRE named Valdosta State University‘s free… Read more

  • “Muzzle Tov” to Brandeis and Valdosta State from Greg

    April 11, 2008

    In his latest Huffington Post blog, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff recaps the 2008 Jefferson Muzzle awards, bringing special attention to with “winners” at Brandeis University and Valdosta State University. He also puts in an early nomination for 2009’s Muzzles: Finally, while I know it’s only April, I already have two nominations for next year’s Jefferson… Read more

  • Associated Press, Harvey Silverglate and Blogosphere Cover the Jefferson Muzzles

    April 10, 2008

    After Tuesday’s announcement of the 2008 Jefferson Muzzles awarded by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, the media and blogosphere have lit up with coverage of the “honors” given to “the country’s most egregious and ridiculous censors”. An article by the Associated Press mentioned the FIRE cases at Brandeis University and… Read more

  • Episode 104: FIRE’s Case at Valdosta State University

    March 10, 2008

    The fourth installment of our FIREside Chats podcast series is now available on the multimedia page. In this episode, Emily Guidry, FIRE’s Media Director, and Samantha Harris, FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, discuss Hayden Barnes’s case at Valdosta State University and the school’s unconstitutional speech zone, both of which are also the focus… Read more

  • FIRE in Action: Valdosta State University

    March 3, 2008

    This afternoon, we at FIRE are extremely pleased to present to you the following short film, an in-depth exploration of FIRE’s ongoing fight against Valdosta State University (VSU). If you’ve visited FIRE’s website in the past five months, chances are that you’re already familiar with the case of former VSU student T. Hayden Barnes, expelled… Read more

  • FIRE Challenges Valdosta State University’s Free Speech Zone in New Video

    March 3, 2008

    VALDOSTA, Ga., March 3, 2008—In response to Valdosta State University’s (VSU’s) unconstitutional free speech zone policy, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released a short film today explaining VSU’s continued disregard for its students’ rights and chronicling FIRE’s recent victory on behalf of a VSU student expelled for engaging in a peaceful protest…. Read more

  • Video of Hayden Barnes and Valdosta State on FOX News

    February 29, 2008

    Those who have been following the outrageous treatment of Hayden Barnes by Valdosta State University in Georgia will not be surprised to see that his story has hit the national news. Yesterday evening, in a full-length segment on FOX News’s Special Report with Brit Hume, Hayden was interviewed about his experience—after all, being kicked out… Read more

  • Media Take Note of Valdosta Victory

    January 18, 2008

    Yesterday, FIRE announced that the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia decided at long last to acknowledge the First Amendment and reverse T. Hayden Barnes’s expulsion from Valdosta State University (VSU). Today, both Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education cover the long-overdue vindication of Barnes’s rights. The Chronicle article… Read more

  • Victory at Valdosta State: Georgia Board of Regents Finally Reverses Expulsion

    January 17, 2008

    FIRE is pleased to announce today that the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has finally reversed the expulsion of Valdosta State University (VSU) student T. Hayden Barnes. The Board’s decision provides a welcome signal that the Board recognizes and respects the legal authority of the First Amendment on public university campuses… Read more

  • Victory for Free Speech at Valdosta State University

    January 17, 2008

    ATLANTA, January 17, 2008—In a meeting yesterday, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia reversed a ruling against Valdosta State University (VSU) student T. Hayden Barnes, who was expelled in May 2007 after using Facebook.com and other methods to publicly protest the school’s decision to construct two new parking garages on campus…. Read more

  • New Facebook Monitoring Software Raises Troubling Questions

    January 14, 2008

    The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today (subscription required) on legal questions raised by new software designed to monitor students’ activity on popular social networking websites like Facebook.com and Myspace.com. The program, called YouDiligence, was developed by MVP Sports Media Training and is targeted towards college athletic departments concerned about the online activities of their… Read more

  • Valdosta State Case Gets More Attention

    January 14, 2008

    The thoroughly unconstitutional expulsion of T. Hayden Barnes from Valdosta State University—mainly for his postings on Facebook.com protesting against new parking facilities on campus—has been getting some new attention since Barnes filed a lawsuit against the university. The story was picked up by the Courthouse News Service and by WALB of Albany, GA, on Thursday,… Read more

  • ‘Inside Higher Ed’ Covers Valdosta Suit

    January 11, 2008

    Inside Higher Ed has a comprehensive article today about Hayden Barnes’s federal lawsuit against Valdosta State University. The article does a good job of capturing the degree of paranoia that was necessary for university officials to seriously entertain the notion that Barnes posed a “clear and present danger”: As additional evidence of the threat posed… Read more

  • Student Files Federal Lawsuit Against Valdosta State University After Expulsion for Peaceful Protest

    January 10, 2008

    VALDOSTA, Ga., January 10, 2008—Expelled Valdosta State University (VSU) student T. Hayden Barnes has filed a lawsuit against the university, VSU President Ronald Zaccari, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, and other VSU administrators after being punished for publicly protesting the school’s decision to construct two new parking garages on campus…. Read more

  • Wrongfully Expelled Student to Valdosta State: See You in Court

    January 10, 2008

    As announced in FIRE’s press release this morning, expelled Valdosta State University (VSU) student T. Hayden Barnes has filed a federal lawsuit against VSU, VSU President Ronald Zaccari, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, and several VSU administrators. The complaint, filed late yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern… Read more

  • Stand Up for the First Amendment: Let the Georgia Board of Regents Know the Constitution Still Counts

    January 7, 2008

    Since his shocking case first reached our attention last October, FIRE has proudly led the defense of former Valdosta State University (VSU) student T. Hayden Barnes, expelled last May by VSU President Ronald M. Zaccari for engaging in speech clearly protected by the First Amendment. Along with many entries here on The Torch, FIRE has… Read more

  • Valdosta State: Silence on Free Speech Zone

    January 4, 2008

    Here at FIRE, we’ve been checking the mail twice a day, making sure our phone lines are open and sending out test faxes, but everything seems to be in working order. That means there’s absolutely no excuse for Valdosta State University’s (VSU’s) continuing silence regarding our concerns about the school’s blatantly unconstitutional free speech zone…. Read more

  • Colleges, Mandatory Counseling, and the Right of Private Conscience

    December 31, 2007

    The Virginia Tech tragedy earlier this year, in which student Seung-Hui Cho killed thirty-three people, ignited many policy debates. One of those debates focused on the college’s responsibility for the mental health of its students. Prior to Mr. Cho’s mass shooting, various Tech officials knew that Mr. Cho had exhibited a series of behaviors indicating… Read more

  • Valdosta State University: 2007’s Worst Becomes 2008’s Priority

    December 28, 2007

    Undoubtedly, FIRE has had an action-packed—and successful—2007. Thanks in large part to the support of readers like you, FIRE has won crucial victories for fundamental liberties at Brown University, UCLA, Central Michigan University, Colorado State University (twice!), Occidental College (finally!), the University of Delaware, San Francisco State University, Indiana University–South Bend, and Gettysburg College—and that’s… Read more

  • Threats, Intimidation, and Free Speech

    December 27, 2007

    One of the compelling storylines to take away from this year involves a matter that is still fresh in many people’s minds and remains troubling to this day: the Virginia Tech shootings. The horrific events of that day may understandably send a chill down the spine of anyone who has a friend, significant other, child,… Read more

  • University of Georgia Violates Anonymity of Course Evaluations to Punish Offensive Speech, Then Violates FERPA

    December 4, 2007

    Last year, a University of Georgia student wrote disparaging (but not threatening) personal comments about his professor in his anonymous course evaluations both semesters. The professor examined the student’s handwriting and identified him. The professor also notified the university, which brought in a handwriting expert to verify that the identified student was the writer of… Read more

  • In Letter to Valdosta State, FIRE Demands End to Free Speech Zone

    December 3, 2007

    Hot on the heels of awarding Valdosta State University (VSU) the ignominious “honor” of a place on FIRE’s Red Alert list, FIRE wrote VSU President Ronald M. Zaccari last Friday to demand an end to the school’s unconstitutional free speech zone. While VSU joined Tufts University and Johns Hopkins University on the Red Alert list… Read more

  • Red Alert: Valdosta State University

    November 27, 2007

    Upon retiring next June, Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald M. Zaccari can now add another achievement to his shameful legacy as head of Valdosta State, namely VSU’s addition to FIRE’s Red Alert list, where the university joins Johns Hopkins University and Tufts University as the “worst of the worst” when it comes to violations… Read more

  • Adding Insult to Injury: Valdosta State’s Shameful Free Speech Zone

    November 19, 2007

    As we noted last week, soon-to-be-retired Valdosta State University (VSU) President Ronald M. Zaccari will leave behind an appalling legacy with respect to liberty on campus. That’s mainly because Zaccari’s expulsion of student T. Hayden Barnes for peacefully protesting Zaccari’s plan to build $30 million parking garages on campus easily ranks as one of the… Read more

  • A Legacy of Repression: Valdosta State President’s Early Retirement Can’t Hide Unconstitutional Abuse of Power

    November 15, 2007

    It’s hard to blame embattled Valdosta State President Ronald M. Zaccari for announcing his early retirement yesterday. After being caught red-handed violating the constitutional rights of VSU student T. Hayden Barnes, it’s no surprise that Zaccari suddenly wants to get away from it all a little earlier than planned. Being publicly exposed for breaking the… Read more

  • Tune in to FIRE Discussing Valdosta State on the Radio Tomorrow!

    November 6, 2007

    FIRE is still working to defend Valdosta State University student T. Hayden Barnes after he was expelled for publicly protesting the school’s decision to construct two new parking decks on campus. For more on the ongoing status of this case, tune in tomorrow to Tallahassee’s 100.7 WFLA-FM at 8:05 a.m. Eastern to hear an interview… Read more

  • Valdosta Update: FIRE Responds to GA Board of Regents’ Non-Response

    November 1, 2007

    At FIRE, we’re all too used to fielding vapid, meaningless non-answers from college administrators in response to our concerns. (Sometimes I’m convinced that there’s a secret administrator instruction booklet dedicated to writing slightly insulting—and wholly unwarranted—“buzz off” letters.)   So I wasn’t extremely surprised to receive just such a letter from a Mr. J. Burns… Read more

  • Expelled From College for Eco-Collage

    October 31, 2007

    Much like the horrifying University of Delaware case, sometimes a story just sounds too outrageous to be true. So when I first learned that Valdosta State University (VSU), a public school in south Georgia, had expelled a student for a Facebook.com collage protesting the construction of a parking garage on campus, I admit I was… Read more

  • Valdosta Case Hits Blogs, Media

    October 29, 2007

    As outraged reaction from FIRE supporters to Valdosta State University’s (VSU’s) expulsion of student T. Hayden Barnes for protesting construction of parking garages on campus continues to roll in to FIRE’s offices, Hayden’s story is simultaneously gaining traction online and in local media.   WALB-TV in southern Georgia covers FIRE’s involvement with Hayden’s case, and… Read more

  • At Valdosta, an Atrocious Violation of Due Process

    October 25, 2007

    The facts surrounding Hayden Barnes’ expulsion from Valdosta State University (VSU) are so shocking that they raise a difficult question: What’s worse, VSU’s violation of Hayden’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech, or VSU’s violation of Hayden’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment right to due process? Unfortunately, VSU’s disregard for its constitutional obligations has been… Read more

  • Valdosta State University Expels Student for Peacefully Protesting New Parking Garages

    October 24, 2007

    VALDOSTA, Ga., October 24, 2007—Valdosta State University (VSU) has expelled student T. Hayden Barnes for publicly protesting the school’s decision to construct two new parking decks on campus. After VSU President Ronald M. Zaccari labeled Barnes a “clear and present danger” and mandated that Barnes submit certifications of his mental health and on-going therapy as… Read more

  • Valdosta State Student Expelled For Criticism of School

    October 3, 2007

    Hayden Barnes, an environmentally-minded student at Valdosta State University (VSU) in Georgia, has been expelled for criticizing the construction of two new parking garages on campus, according to a local news report. Concerned that new garages would provide little incentive for VSU students to rely less on cars, Barnes openly advocated for money budgeted for… Read more