As we noted earlier this week, FIRE celebrated the announcement of President Greg Lukianoff as the inaugural recipient of the Playboy Foundation’s Free Expression Award, a proud moment for Greg as well as a ringing endorsement of FIRE’s efforts to protect free expression and individual liberties on campuses nationwide. As The Chronicle of Higher Education’s news blog stated, "the foundation praised Mr. Lukianoff for defending free speech and ‘the sanctity of conscience on our college campuses.’" Congratulations once again to Greg on this momentous achievement.
As noted on Wednesday, free speech advocate and FIRE Board of Advisors member Nat Hentoff (who is, incidentally, also a past honoree of the Playboy Foundation) published a blistering editorial this week taking the Brandeis University administration to task for its shocking treatment of Professor Donald Hindley. Hentoff’s syndicated article has been picked up in numerous news outlets, from the New Haven Register in the east to The Sacramento Bee in the west, bringing further ridicule to the university’s shameful actions. Hentoff points out the irony—as this blog for the Canadian Western Standard newspaper also does—of a university founded in the name of one of our justice system’s greatest free-speech advocates showing such contempt for free speech rights. Hentoff, who has written extensively on the issues of free speech and expression on campus over the years, pronounces Hindley’s case "the most outrageous case of all." Judging by the article’s exposure, Hentoff’s diagnosis sure seems to have gotten the public’s attention.
FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate was the subject of a pair of stories this week. The first, appearing Wednesday in the "Paper Cuts" blog of The New York Times Book Review, praises his principled, uncompromising defense of speech. The story notes in particular the issues raised by Harvey in his column "Parody Flunks Out" for The Boston Phoenix, a column that has surprised even Harvey in how much discussion and debate it has generated. Read Brandon’s blog for more.
And just today, Harvey published an editorial on Forbes.com entitled "The Coddling Campus," which takes as its starting point the demise of his favorite Cambridge-area off-campus diners and cafes and their eventual replacement by on-campus alternatives. While such moves by colleges may seem practical—why leave campus when we’ve got the same things right here?—Harvey sees them as anything but. Writes Harvey: "I suspect that it’s part of a long-running trend that started in the early-1980s, by which the university, acting in loco parentis, took over more and more aspects of its students’ lives and instilled upon them the peculiar, un-worldly world view that infuses our campuses today." Aside from the disappearance of Albiani’s, his favorite off-campus cafeteria, Silverglate points to speech codes, kangaroo campus courts, mandatory sensitivity training, and freshman indoctrination programs of the order seen last year at the University of Delaware as among the offspring of this mentality. Be sure to read the full text of Harvey’s article.
Elsewhere, our recent efforts on behalf of the Quad News, a new independent student newspaper at Quinnipiac University (QU), were given a boost by the staff of the Yale Daily News. The Daily News noted our recent letter to QU President John Lahey criticizing his administration’s threats against QU’s student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists over its associations with the Quad News. Thanks to editor-in-chief Jason Braff, any QU student can read FIRE’s letter on the News‘ website as well. We’ll keep you posted on future developments.