FIRE declared a pair of major victories for free speech this week in what we hope will set the tone for our efforts on campus during the 2008–2009 academic year.
Valdosta State University (VSU), under the leadership of new president Patrick Schloss, revoked its unconstitutional free speech zone policy and made the VSU campus much more open to free expression. Schloss’ decision brings an end to a nearly year-long effort by FIRE to bring changes to VSU’s policy, and results in the removal of Valdosta State from FIRE’s Red Alert list. As Luke noted earlier this week, VSU’s student newspaper The Spectator (in which FIRE had run an ad similar to our much-noticed U.S. News ad) featured an article highlighting the policy change.
FIRE’s other major victory this week came at the University of Delaware, in which the administration restored the free expression rights of students who had been prevented from distributing copies of the newspaper The LampLighter. Our victory was picked up on by the College Media Matters blog. Check out the blog, as well as FIRE’s press release and Adam’s Torch entry, on this latest of victories in what has been a tumultuous year for free expression rights at Delaware.
Finally, the expertise of Will Creeley, FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, informed a lengthy piece on PBS’ MediaShift blog, focusing on the conflict between an NYU journalism professor and an “embedded” student who blogged her experiences in the professor’s class for MediaShift. Will’s comments on the reasonableness of trying to control the extent to which students can comment on what goes on in the classroom lends an important legal perspective to a complicated story on the confluence of law, journalistic ethics, and academic freedom. The original article and Will’s reflection on the issue are both well worth your reading.