April 7, 2010
Associate Vice President and Dean of Students
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400708
Charlottesville, Virginia 22904-4708
Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (434-924-3889)
Dear Mr. Groves:
Thank you for attending my March 30 presentation at the University of Virginia regarding threats to free speech on college campuses. I hope I properly conveyed that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE; thefire.org) unites leaders in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, legal equality, academic freedom, due process, freedom of speech, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.
As you know, in my presentation I mentioned four University of Virginia policies that threaten or restrict free expression. On this topic I have enclosed two items for your review. One is an explanation of the problematic provisions of each policy, written by my colleague Samantha Harris, Director of Speech Code Research at FIRE.
The other item is a short handbook for university administrators, Correcting Common Mistakes in Campus Speech Policies, written by Ms. Harris and another colleague, William Creeley, Director of Legal and Public Advocacy at FIRE. It also is available for free online at http://www.thefire.org/article/11188.html. Ms. Harris and Mr. Creeley are attorneys specializing in this area.
In addition, I enclose an opinion piece on this issue written by University of Virginia student Megan Stiles in today’s edition of The Cavalier Daily.
As I mentioned, FIRE brought significant positive attention to The College of William & Mary last October after it revised its problematic speech policies and achieved FIRE’s "green light" status. FIRE would be very pleased to help the
University of Virginia reach the same constitutional standard so that it may be known as a true "marketplace of ideas." Please feel free to contact us for additional information.
Director, Individual Rights Defense Program
Arthur Garson, Jr., Executive Vice President and Provost
Sharon Davie, Director, University of Virginia Women’s Center
Professor James Lark