This Week in FIRE News

February 21, 2011

Greg’s Huffington Post article, “The 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech,” made the news for the fourth consecutive week, with three items featuring Tufts University’s placement on the list. Tufts made its way on to Greg’s “dirty dozen” by finding a conservative student publication, The Primary Source, responsible for “harassment” for running two controversial pieces-one on affirmative action and the other on Islamic extremism.

Tufts defends this indefensible decision to this very day, and as a result Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman and Tufts Community Union President Sam Wallis voiced opposition to Tufts’ placement on the list in Sarah Korones’ column in Tufts student newspaper The Tufts Daily. Our own Erica Goldberg, a Tufts alumna, explained why Tufts is on the list in this op-ed in the Daily, encouraging Tufts to defend, not silence, diverse viewpoints.

Meanwhile, in a column for the Yale Daily News, Dylan Walsh complained that an event with former General Stanley McChrystal and author Greg Mortenson left little room for tough questions and debateWalsh wondered if this was because Yale’s recent record of silencing certain expression had created an atmosphere where students were afraid to voice controversial opinions.

The website for the book New Threats to Freedom (in which Greg has a chapter) also pointed to the Huffington Post list.

In good news, the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently revised its very restrictive “Rallies” policy, which was FIRE’s Speech Code of the Year for 2010. Although First Amendment problems remain, the new policy does not include the blatantly unconstitutional decision to distinguish between “controversial” and “non-controversial” rallies. (For Will’s take on this policy change, click here.) Casey Mattox noted FIRE’s central role in convincing UMass to revise this repressive policy in a post on the Alliance Defense Fund’s student rights blog.

Last weekend, FIRE spread the message of individual liberty on American campuses at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). (FIRE regularly attends conferences held by people with a variety of political beliefs in order to spread our nonpartisan message of liberty on campus.) Adam’s speech about how students are “unlearning liberty” on campus was reported by Greg Halvorson of the Canada Free Press.

Finally, the Vanderbilt Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) are hosting a speech by Adam about student rights at Vanderbilt University this Wednesday. (Adam also will be speaking at nearby Belmont University on Tuesday.) YAL President Kenny Tan and Secretary Thomas Choate commented on Vanderbilt’s hazing policy and Community Creed in Lucas Loffredo’s column in The Vanderbilt Hustler about Adam’s upcoming talk.