Syracuse Keeps Debating Satire, Adam Speaks in Georgia, Will Addresses Bullying, and UVA Goes ‘Green Light’!

October 29, 2010

It has been another big week at FIRE.

On Monday, we sent a letter to Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor addressing our concerns about Syracuse University College of Law’s (SUCOL’s) unacceptable disciplinary investigation of the satirical blog SUCOLitis and one of its alleged authors. Law student Len Audaer is being investigated for “harassment” even though the blog posts don’t even come close to constituting harassment under Syracuse’s “yellow-light” Code of Student Conduct or even its “red-light” Computing and Electronic Communications Policy. Plus, of course, nobody would think the fake news on SUCOLitis is true. John Sardino of Syracuse University’s Department of Public Safety even erroneously suggested that the blog’s author could be guilty under the state’s harassment laws.

The case has generated a good deal of press. Daniel Luzer of Washington Monthly exposes the outrageous nature of the investigation, and Syracuse’s student-run newspaper The Daily Orange published two articles this week on the case (here and here), mentioning FIRE’s involvement. Also, check out Robert’s great article on the case in Pajamas Media.

Adam toured Georgia from Saturday through Wednesday, delivering talks about free speech at the Students for Liberty Southeastern Regional Conference at Kennesaw State University, at Georgia State University College of Law (sponsored by the Federalist Society), at Georgia Tech (sponsored by the College Republicans), and in Swainsboro near East Georgia College (a school responsible for particularly egregious violations of a professor’s rights).

Will was interviewed this week by Inside Higher Ed about new guidance from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding schools’ obligations under harassment law, and Robert spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle about proposed new federal harassment legislation. Will argued that these efforts tend to treat adult college students as too weak for free speech, rather than appropriately defining harassment in the college context, and that existing laws and school policies already ban true harassment. Tomorrow morning at 7:45 a.m. EDT on FOX News’ FOX & Friends, Will will discuss these issues further.

Finally, saving the best news for last, we proudly heralded the University of Virginia’s (UVa’s) remarkable progression from a “red-light” to a “green-light” university over just three months! UVa became just the 13th green-light school in our Spotlight database, joining its fellow Virginia public institution The College of William & Mary. UVa eliminated four speech codes, including unconstitutional examples of “sexual harassment” that included mere “innuendo” as an example of sexual harassment. John Leo of Minding the Campus praised our work, as did The Volokh Conspiracy and Instapundit. We’re now focusing our attention on three Virginia public universities whose time to join the “true marketplace of ideas” club has come: George Mason University, James Madison University, and Virginia Tech.