October marks the ten-year anniversary of the publication of The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses, an examination of the erosion of liberty on American campuses co-authored by FIRE founders Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate. Public reaction to The Shadow University was the single most influential factor leading to FIRE’s establishment in 1999. The moment the book hit the shelves, Kors and Silverglate received pleas from students and professors across the country requesting aid and reporting horrific cases of censorship and abuses against liberty on college campuses. Less than one year later, Kors and Silverglate founded FIRE.
In the ten years since the publication of The Shadow University, FIRE has won more than 130 public victories affecting more than 2.3 million students nationwide. But more than just winning cases, FIRE has spearheaded a national campaign to educate students and professors about their fundamental individual rights and the ways to protect and sustain those rights on campus. Through this combination of casework and education, FIRE works to address the abuses documented by Kors and Silverglate. They founded FIRE for several reasons, not the least of which were to dissolve the repressive, chilling policies that exist on college campuses and to ensure that students in our country learn in environments where a marketplace of ideas truly exists. FIRE’s founders understood that censorship has dangerous repercussions that transcend the classroom: If students believe that they have fewer rights than the Constitution actually grants them and that they must "respect" the opinions of everyone by not "insulting" or "offending" anyone, then we will produce a generation of Americans who are unable to benefit from the power of debate. Debate is an indispensable educational tool for individuals and communities and without which the academy—and, for that matter, our democracy—cannot flourish.
Nearly ten years after FIRE’s inception, the founding principles of Kors and Silverglate continue to guide FIRE’s staff members, who have made it our personal goal to defend those principles each day. To commemorate the anniversary of The Shadow University and to celebrate FIRE’s success and hard work over the years, FIRE will send a copy of the book to anyone who donates $150 or more to FIRE in 2008. Please make sure to specify that you would like to receive the book when you give.
Alan and Harvey, thank you for your passion for free speech and for having the foresight to recognize the need for this organization, which has benefited millions over the past nine years. We look forward to another decade of success at FIRE. By the 20th anniversary of The Shadow University, with the help of FIRE’s committed supporters, we may have an even more significant landmark to celebrate—the success of FIRE’s efforts to change the campus culture so that campus discourse may flourish.