This Week in FIRE News

November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day, and happy 11/11/11!

Fall is a habitually busy time for FIRE, and this season has been no exception. In addition to taking on specific free speech, due process, and religious liberty cases at colleges across the country, FIRE has also been working diligently to make sure students and faculty are armed with the resources necessary to keep their rights intact.

Fresh off the heels of the release of our survey of the standards of evidence employed by the nation’s top 100 colleges and universities, on Wednesday we released our Policy Statement on Political Activity on Campus for 2012, following censorship policies at Grambling State University and other colleges. This is good timing, as in the wake of election season, college students and faculty across the nation should be aware of their right to engage in political speech on campus.

For a recap of where other FIRE cases and issues made headlines this week, please see the following:


This Week in FIRE News

October 28, 2011

As most Torch readers know, in April of this year, the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) established new mandates requiring colleges and universities receiving federal funding to dramatically reduce students’ due process rights. Under the new regulations, colleges and universities must employ a "preponderance of the evidence" standard—a 50.01%, "more likely than not" evidentiary burden—when adjudicating student complaints concerning sexual harassment or sexual violence. Back in May, FIRE sent an open letter to OCR, sharply criticizing the agency’s new requirements, and we have been promoting these criticisms in the blog and through media coverage ever since.

Today, we released a survey of standards of evidence used by the nation’s top colleges and universities in an effort to gauge the impact of the new OCR requirements. Be sure to check out our survey in its entirety, and to stay tuned for further news on the impacts of OCR’s mandate next week.

Here’s a look at where this new mandate, and other campus due process and free speech issues, were captured in the media this week:

On OCR’s new mandate:

On UCSB’s lies about viewpoint discrimination against College Republicans:

On the due process victory for a student at University of North Dakota:

On "yellow light" speech codes at San Diego State University:

On CVCC student Marc Bechtol’s Facebook case:

On the professor who took a box cutter to a free speech wall at Sam Houston State University:


This Week in FIRE News

September 16, 2011

Happy Constitution Day!

As summer winds down and students get settled into their routines, we are reminding everyone on college campuses of the potential threats to free speech they face, and to be prepared to stand up for their rights. As a reminder, here is a recap of campus free speech issues in the news this week:

On Northern Arizona University’s Attempt to Censor a 9/11 Commemoration:

On 9/11:

On a proposed electronic communications policy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (read about FIRE’s victory here):

On Harvard’s "Civility" Pledge:

On Indiana University – Bloomington Students Advocating for Speech Code Reform:

This Week in FIRE News

September 2, 2011

As college students across the nation settle into their back-to-school routines, we’ve been reminding them on The Torch how to ensure that their free speech rights stay intact this year. If you haven’t yet, check out our new "Free Speech Toolbox" for students, professors, parents, concerned citizens, and members of the legal community to access the best resources for defending free speech rights on campus.

Here’s a recap of the campus free speech news that made headlines this week.

On back-to-school warnings:

On the threat to campus due process:

On the freedom to protest on campus:

On campus policies that violate freedom of expression:

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.