This Week in the News: Greg’s Dirty Dozen Still Making Waves!

March 4, 2011

Greg’s Huffington Post article, "The 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech," (reprinted in part by Vision to America) made headlines for the sixth consecutive week! Kimberly Veale wrote an article in DePaul University’s student newspaper The DePaulia about why DePaul was included on the list. Meanwhile, The Big Green, a student publication at Michigan State University, featured an article by Ian Kullgren extensively quoting Will about how MSU’s persistent defense of its unconstitutional bulk e-mail policy ensured it a spot on the list.

Reporters made use of Yale’s slot in Greg’s "Dirty Dozen" list for the fifth of the six weeks since the Huffington Post article was published. This week, FIRE Board of Advisors member Candace de Russy strongly criticized Yale’s free speech abuses and the endorsement of one such free speech debacle by a Yale Corporation member in a blog post for Big Journalism.

Elsewhere, Adam’s recent speech at Vanderbilt University sparked a very interesting free speech debate. Following Adam’s talk, The Vanderbilt Hustler published a column by student Katie Des Prez which questioned FIRE’s critical assessment of the Vanderbilt Community Creed as well as the school’s sexual harassment policies. In response, Samantha penned a response on The Torch to explain the chilling effect of Vanderbilt’s red-light policies, and called on Vanderbilt to uphold its own promises of free speech on campus. Kenny Tan, a Vanderbilt freshman and CFN member who organized Adam’s talk, supported FIRE in his letter to the editor of the Hustler, in which he used quotes from Samantha’s blog post to challenge Des Prez’s assumptions.

Staying busy, Adam also wrote an excellent blog post about recent interest in free speech at the University of Georgia (UGA). For example, Sarah Saltzman, who worries about the University Judiciary deciding a student’s fate based on UGA’s red-light policies, argued for reform of UGA’s unconstitutional speech codes and for First Amendment education in the University Judiciary (especially for peers in the student-run court) in UGA’s student newspaper The Red & Black.

Meanwhile, Terry Strickland of the University of West Florida’s (UWF’s) student newspaper The Voyager quoted Samantha in a column about UWF’s unconstitutional free speech zone. Although the zone is less restrictive than those in other schools, Christe explains why it’s still a deterrent to a truly free marketplace of ideas in this insightful Torch post.

After receiving pressure from the Alliance Defense Fund, the Indiana University Student Association recently revised an unconstitutional policy that had restricted religious student organizations from receiving funding. An article about the policy revision in Indiana University’s student newspaper Indiana Daily Student quoted Will and former FIRE Intern Nico Perrino’s praise of the university for changing this once viewpoint discriminatory policy.

In other news, the blog of the highly regarded Arizona State Law Journal features a well-reasoned post by Erica. Using the transformation of Arizona State’s advertising policy from mandatory to aspirational as an example, Erica’s post discusses why converting unconstitutional speech prohibitions into aspirational speech policies makes so much constitutional difference.

Speaking of the law, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled earlier this week in Snyder v. Phelps that the First Amendment protected the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) from civil liability for staging an anti-gay protest at a military funeral. A brief article in The Chronicle of Higher Education mentioned FIRE’s amici brief from last year, joined by several prominent law professors, supporting WBC’s constitutional right to picket such funerals.