Bucknell University claims to be committed to the "free and open exchange of ideas." Apparently this is false advertising—far from the truth.
In violation of students’ rights, Bucknell University has shut down an affirmative action bake sale. And the students got it on video. We have added it to our list of favorites.
On the video, an administrator shows up at the event and demands that it be shut down. Apparently, the bake sale prices were not exactly the same as those the group originally put on its approval forms (the group actually charged less than it said it would), which the administrator used as a reason for shutting them down. The administrator actually says that because of this discrepancy, "we have the opportunity to shut you down." (Emphasis ours.) Some opportunity! When the group offered to change the prices on the sign in order to keep the protest going, the administrator refused to allow it. Who knew that charging lower prices for baked goods was such a heinous offense?
This is just the tip of the iceberg of violations of students’ rights at Bucknell. The student group involved, the Bucknell University Conservatives Club, has told us of sustained efforts by Bucknell to thwart its freedom of expression, including a denial of a second attempt to hold the bake sale and the shutdown of another of its protest events on false pretenses. FIRE has been working with the student group involved to fully document these cases, and I predict that Bucknell will be hearing from us very soon.
Affirmative action bake sales are forms of protest that are protected by the First Amendment and by private universities’ guarantees of freedom of expression. As we have said many times before, accusing organizers of a one-day bake sale protest of engaging in discrimination is insulting to victims of real discrimination, and doing so willfully censors the message of the protest. FIRE has won cases in this area consistently over our ten-year history, even at private colleges. Looks like Bucknell, if it actually values the free exchange of ideas, is going to be next.