Students return to campus with FIRE on their side

August 30, 2018

Laptop? Check. Class schedule? Check. America’s top civil liberties organization for student and faculty rights? Check.

As students and faculty head back to school with new opportunities to learn, teach, and defend their First Amendment rights, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is working to give them access to the resources they need. New this year is FIRE’s focus on high school students — so they know their rights in college from the moment they arrive on campus.

For those still in high school, some of FIRE’s resources include:

  • New materials for high school students and teachers: FIRE’s principled take on individual rights may be coming to a high school near you! FIRE’s free speech curriculum aims to give high schoolers a strong foundation in the philosophy, history, and legal principles of freedom of expression before they head to college. The first three units are now available, and FIRE is offering $50 Amazon gift cards to the first 100 high school teachers who review the curriculum. If you’d like us to let your local high school or favorite teacher know about it, email us at
  • FIRE’s high school essay contest is back! Love the First Amendment, or know someone who does? Enter FIRE’s high school essay contest — with a $10,000 first prize. We want to know why high schoolers think the First Amendment is important. The contest opens today and will close on Dec. 31.

And in case you missed it, here’s what else we have been doing over the summer:

  • “The Coddling of the American Mind”: FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff joined with New York University professor Jonathan Haidt to write a book that builds on their groundbreaking 2015 Atlantic cover storyKirkus Reviews calls it “[a]n important examination of dismaying social and cultural trends.” The book comes out this Tuesday, but you can pre-order your copy today.
  • Art censorship report: Art censorship remains alive and well, even on today’s college campuses, where administrators are still painting the proverbial fig leaf over art they find objectionable. Our recent report, “One Man’s Vulgarity,” paints a picture of just how far campus censors are willing to go to stifle artistic freedom instead of grappling with a work of art’s meaning.
  • Chicago Statement: FIRE continues its push for universities to endorse the “Chicago Statement,” which we have called the gold standard for campus free speech policy statements. So far, 44 institutions or faculty bodies have adopted or endorsed the statement — almost twice as many as this time last year! Do you want to lead a campaign to adopt the Chicago Statement at your college or university? Get in touch!
  • Speech codes: Around the country, more and more colleges and universities are improving their speech codes. So far in 2018, five more schools have earned FIRE’s highest, “green light” rating for free speech, including, most recently, Keene State College. (Dartmouth College is now the only institution FIRE rates in New Hampshire that is not a green light school.) You can encourage your school to join this elite group by searching FIRE’s Spotlight database and clicking “Take Action” on your school’s page.
  • Listen in: FIRE’s So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast tackles issues of outrage mobs in comedy, the future of free speech with artificial intelligence, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s history on free speech, and more. Also check out the FIRE-supported podcast Clear and Present Danger: A History of Free Speech, which tracks free speech history from Ancient Athens to the Great Chinese Firewall.

“Campus censors don’t take a summer break, so FIRE has worked hard to ensure students and faculty members return to campus with their civil liberties intact,” said FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley. “From orientation to graduation, it’s important that students know their rights — and that they stand up for them. FIRE is here to help.”

Students and faculty facing campus rights violations can contact FIRE through our easy-to-use case submission page.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of liberty.


William Rickards, Communications Coordinator, FIRE: 215-717-3473;

In need of First Amendment resources for teachers? The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has you covered. Our “First Things First” First Amendment textbook for college undergraduates explores the fundamentals of modern American free speech law. Meanwhile, our K-12 First Amendment curriculum modules help educators enrich and supplement their existing instruction on First Amendment and freedom of expression issues in middle and high school classrooms. Explore for even more First Amendment educational resources.