Tufts University has displayed a profound disregard for press freedom and its own guarantees to protect controversial and offensive expression. As today’s press release reveals, Tufts’ Committee on Student Life (CSL) released its decision yesterday to punish the conservative student publication The Primary Source (TPS). TPS was charged with harassment for publishing two controversial items: “O Come All Ye Black Folk,” a parody of race-based admissions, and “Islam—Arabic Translation: Submission,” a satirical advertisement targeting Tufts’ Islamic Awareness week. The CSL’s decision was handed down after FIRE wrote to Tufts University and explained that TPS’s articles constituted protected expression under Tufts’ own policies protecting controversial expression.
What makes this decision even more surprising is the fact that Tufts President Lawrence Bacow wrote an editorial for The Tufts Daily last week criticizing TPS for its controversial material, but nonetheless saying that TPS should not be censored because “[t]he First Amendment protects freedom of speech and that includes most offensive speech.” So which is it, President Bacow? Is press freedom—even controversial expression—protected at Tufts or not?
Please join FIRE in urging President Bacow to stand by his word and the university’s own policies by overturning the decision against TPS.