Volume 8 / Number 2 Spring 2010
Newsletter of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
In This Issue: Victory for Freedom of the Press: UC San Diego
2 My New Book Will Ask: Is College
Censorship Destroying Our Ends Unconstitutional Funding Freeze
Society's "Sophistication Machine"
In a victory for freedom of the press on campus, the
3 Victory for Free Speech on Campus: student government of the University of California,
Federal Court Strikes Down Gun San Diego (UCSD) voted on March 10 to end a
Rights Protest Restrictions at Tarrant moratorium on funding for student media. The vote
County College restores funding for student media organizations and
makes no changes to the current policy governing
4 Victory for Free Speech at Temple student media. FIRE worked with several of the
University As Unconstitutional
organizations to end the funding freeze.
Security Fee is Withdrawn; Policy
Still Troubling “It took far too long, but with last night’s vote, UCSD’s
5 FIRE Files Supreme Court Amicus student government has finally overruled its president’s
Brief Supporting Freedom of grievous disregard for the First Amendment,” said FIRE Ustav Gupta speaks to UCSD administrators and students
Association in Christian Legal Vice President Robert Shibley. “As FIRE and other civil Photo credit: NBC San Diego
Society v. Martinez
liberties organizations have repeatedly pointed out during
6 From the Campus the past two weeks, eliminating outlets for student dialogue
racial stereotypes, asked female partygoers to dress as
Freedom Network at precisely the time they are most needed was a terrible—
“ghetto chicks,” and invited partygoers to “experience the
8 New Reprimand Issued Against various elements of life in the ghetto.” As controversy
Professor for Unspecified ‘Offensive’ The unconstitutional funding freeze was unilaterally roiled campus in the week following the invitation’s
Speech Without Any Notice,
Evidence, or Hearing enacted on February 18 by Utsav Gupta, President of the publication, student media organization The Koala
Associated Students of UCSD (UCSD’s student broadcast a defense of the party on UCSD’s Student Run
9 Ford Hall Forum Honors FIRE with government), in the wake of controversy over a party Television (SRTV), including language that many persons
2010 First Amendment Award /
invitation for an off-campus event called the “Compton on campus found highly offensive. In response, Gupta took
Johns Hopkins Student Government
Association Asks President to Cookout.” Gupta had argued that his repressive actions immediate action to shut down the broadcast and then the
Defend Free Speech were necessary to combat “fracturing of the student body entire station because the broadcast was “deeply offensive
on an issue” and “hateful speech.” and hurtful.”
10 From the Director of the
Individual Rights Education Program FIRE condemned the media shutdown, which denied Chancellor Fox and other UCSD administrators promised
11 Fanning the Flames: funding to 33 student media organizations, in a letter sent “aggressive investigations” into possible disciplinary
Give Half for Liberty to Gupta and UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. FIRE’s violations. FIRE has warned UCSD that punishing students
letter to Gupta and Fox pointed out that these actions for protected speech would violate the First Amendment.
12 The Last Word: FIRE Hires Sweidy
Stata Video Fellow violate the constitutional rights of the organizations
“Gupta’s shockingly shortsighted and unconstitutional
involved, not least because the student government is an
media shutdown denied his constituents a forum for
agent of UCSD and is thus bound by the First Amendment.
discussing the controversy that engulfed UCSD’s campus,”
The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego &
said Will Creeley, FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public
Imperial Counties and the Student Press Law Center also
Advocacy. “The answer to controversial speech must always
denounced the freeze, and a Facebook group opposing the
be more speech, and never censorship. Hopefully, UCSD’s
mass censorship gained more than 1,500 members.
601 Walnut Street • Suite 510 student government has now learned that shutting down
Philadelphia, PA 19106 The invitation for the February 15 party, which first the media in a time of crisis is the hallmark of an illiberal
215.717.3473 tel appeared on social networking site Facebook, involved dictatorship, not American democracy.”
My New Book Will Ask: Is
Destroying Our Society's
"Sophistication Machine"? by Greg Lukianoff
I’ve been defending student and faculty rights for nearly a decade now, and it never ceases to amaze me how oblivious
most people are to the absurd abuses of student and faculty rights on campus. I firmly believe that if more people knew
how common these violations of free speech, due process, and other basic rights are on campus, the public will to end
those abuses would be virtually unstoppable.
This brings me to my big project for 2010: I’m working on a book demographic shifts, to out-of-control gerrymandering—that may be
highlighting the literally hundreds of cases I’ve worked on involving contributing to this polarization. But I do believe that, while higher
crazy abuses of student and faculty rights. I intend to demonstrate how education could help us reverse or push back this process of declining
campus censorship, far from being a niche concern applicable only to national dialogue, it is instead failing in its responsibility to foster serious,
those on campus, is a threat to the functioning of our democracy as a thoughtful debate and discussion.
In my opinion, higher education is supposed to work as a sort of
Originally, as I started this book project, my focus was on what I call “sophistication machine” for our society. That is, it is supposed to help
“unlearning liberty”: that is, the frightening tendency of students to learn us produce a citizenry with a deep, nuanced, complex, and multifaceted
from omnipresent speech codes (71% of public campuses have understanding of the issues confronting our nation and world. Many
laughably unconstitutional codes) and the bad examples of critics of higher education point to ideological imbalance within the
administrators that censorship is not only an acceptable option, but faculty, grade inflation and diminishing academic rigor, or the increased
actually something that good people do. The most chilling examples of corporatization of the university as factors that prevent it from fulfilling
students “unlearning liberty” are the relatively routine instances of this crucial function. These are all problems worth investigating. But I
students destroying (and, indeed, in some cases burning) student believe the most important factor interfering with the success and
newspapers that print articles with which they disagree. If students learn credibility of higher education is the continuing maintenance of campus
such terrible lessons about free and open discourse in higher education, speech codes and other policies and practices designed to discourage and
it genuinely poses a long-term threat to the health of our pluralistic even punish free speech and meaningful dissent.
As long as speech codes mandate that campus judiciaries investigate
Lately, however, I am increasingly interested in how 20 years of campus clearly protected speech, and “offensive” arguments can be and are
speech codes and the common punishment of dissenting opinions is censored on campus, the difficult process of learning through debate
affecting our society right now. My premise is that the state of American and discussion cannot properly take place. Without robust debate and
discourse has truly reached a new low over the past decade. While I discussion, we can only expect the national level of discourse to—in the
certainly remember some of the uglier political moments of the 1990s, best case—stay the same, or worse, become even more polarized.
the unreflective, hyper-partisan mentality currently gripping our country Meanwhile, when college administrators short-circuit the academic
makes the ‘90s look downright harmonious. Unfortunately, it only seems marketplace of ideas, they utterly undermine any hope the academy
to be getting worse by the day, and I believe higher education is part of might have of being taken seriously as a national resource on many
the reason why. important social and political issues. Therefore, I argue that until campus
censorship and speech codes are a thing of the past, the sophistication
I am not arguing that this degradation in national discourse is exclusively machine is and will remain broken.
the fault of higher education. One could write a dozen books on the
many different factors—from the rise of the new media, to massive
2 Spring 2010
Victory for Free Speech on
Campus: Federal Court
Strikes Down Gun Rights
Protest Restrictions at
Tarrant County College
In a striking victory for the First Amendment on campus, a federal district court in Texas ruled that a number of
restrictions on students’ speech at Tarrant County College (TCC) are unconstitutional. In his decision, U.S. District Judge
Terry R. Means found that TCC’s reliance on a policy prohibiting “disruptive activities” to restrict students Clayton Smith
and John Schwertz from holding an “empty holster” protest violated the First Amendment.
“This ruling is just the latest in an unbroken string of legal victories, policy, but TCC also introduced the unconstitutional ban on
dating back more than twenty years, over unconstitutional campus speech cosponsorship. The students’ lawsuit was amended to challenge this new
codes,” FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley said. “FIRE welcomes the policy and to ask the court to invalidate the former free speech zone
district court’s decision as yet another clear confirmation that restrictions policy because TCC otherwise would be able to reinstate it following the
on protected speech—especially core political speech—simply will not conclusion of the lawsuit. Judge Means struck down the cosponsorship
stand in a court of law.” ban, stating that “the Court cannot imagine how the provision could have
been written more broadly.”
In addition to ruling that students are entitled to protest by wearing
empty holsters in classrooms, hallways, and public areas of campus, Judge Judge Means also held that the challenge to the free speech zone was
Means ruled that TCC’s sweeping prohibition on “cosponsorship,” which moot because there was no indication that TCC would revert to the
forbade students and faculty from holding campus events in association discredited policy.
with any “off-campus person or organization,” prevented TCC students
“Even before yesterday’s ruling, TCC’s free speech zone had fallen due to
“from speaking on campus on issues of any social importance” and was
FIRE’s efforts. Now, Judge Means has struck down TCC’s latest attempt
therefore “overly broad” and “unconstitutional on its face.” Smith’s and
to restrict free speech on campus,” FIRE Director of Legal and Public
Schwertz’s protest was designed to coincide with the efforts of a national
Advocacy Will Creeley said. “Because Smith and Schwertz took a stand
pro-concealed-carry organization, Students for Concealed Carry on
to defend their constitutional right to free expression on campus, all TCC
students now enjoy the robust First Amendment rights to which they are
The lawsuit was filed on November 4, 2009, by Fort Worth attorney legally entitled.”
Karin Cagle in cooperation with FIRE and the American Civil Liberties
FIRE’s Speech Code Litigation Project, an initiative to dismantle
Union of Texas (ACLU-TX). On November 6, 2009, Judge Means
unconstitutional speech codes on public university campuses, has won
issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting TCC from quarantining
crucial victories at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, Texas Tech
protected speech to the school’s tiny “free speech zone,” holding that
University, the State University of New York at Brockport, Citrus College
continued operation of the free speech zone would result in “immediate
in California, San Francisco State University, and the California State
and irreparable injury” to students’ free speech rights. At that point, TCC
University System—and now at Tarrant County College.
already had prohibited students from participating in SCCC empty
holster protests for two years in a row.
In December, following the district court’s order, TCC voluntarily revised
several policies challenged by the lawsuit, including the free speech zone
Victory for Free Speech at Temple
University As Unconstitutional Security
Fee is Withdrawn; Policy Still Troubling
Temple University has withdrawn an unconstitutional, after-the-fact security fee levied by the university on a student group for hosting a
presentation last October by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is on trial in his native country for his controversial remarks about terrorism
and Islam. Temple dropped its demand for an extra security fee under pressure from FIRE. Temple’s policy for controversial events, however,
remains ambiguous and unacceptably arbitrary.
“Temple University has finally acquiesced to the First Amendment and Supreme Court’s decision. Four other public universities—the University
has accepted that, unlike in the Netherlands, controversial speech is of Colorado at Boulder; University of Massachusetts Amherst;
protected in the United States,” said Robert Shibley, FIRE’s Vice University of California, Berkeley; and University of Arizona—
President. “Unfortunately, Temple’s responses only show how arbitrary abandoned such security fees after being contacted by FIRE in separate
Temple administrators have been, abusing their discretion and failing to incidents last year.
explain why the fee was levied and then ultimately waived. While we
In a January 21 response, Temple misrepresented its responsibilities by
applaud Temple’s decision to abandon the unconstitutional fee, more
arguing that TUP could have been charged more than $6,000 for the
work must be done to make sure that the university’s policies do not
additional security deemed necessary by Temple. FIRE replied on January
unfairly burden controversial speech on campus again.”
26, noting that Temple’s apparent policy vested unconstitutional
Student group Temple University Purpose (TUP) hosted the Wilders discretion on administrators who apparently were acting arbitrarily in
event in Temple’s Anderson Hall on October 20, 2009. Wilders came to determining security fees that groups would have to pay for controversial
notice in the United States largely through the controversy surrounding events. In Temple’s second response dated February 8, Associate
his short 2008 film Fitna, which was shown during his presentation at University Counsel Valerie I. Harrison notified FIRE that any remaining
Temple. Extra security was provided for the event, which proceeded security fee demands had been “withdrawn,” but did not explain why
without disturbance. Temple reversed course.
Six weeks later, on December 3, TUP was surprised with a bill from Harrison’s letter also referred FIRE to a Temple policy that does not
Temple for $800 for “Security Officer,” apparently for the costs “to clarify who is responsible for paying for added security. One of the
secure the room and building.” TUP Interim President Brittany Walsh criteria for determining security needs at Temple includes “Increased
pointed out in an e-mail to administrators that Temple had agreed, before risks (e.g., threats received),” a criterion that Temple may not use when
the event, to pay for any extra security costs. She received no substantive charging security fees to students. FIRE has asked Temple to revise this
reply even after repeated e-mails. Frustrated with the university’s demand policy.
for payment and subsequent lack of explanation, Walsh and TUP turned
Adam Kissel, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program,
said, “This kind of consideration is not content neutral, and it is exactly
In a letter to Temple University President Ann Weaver Hart, FIRE what was contemplated by the Supreme Court in the Forsyth decision. By
described the university’s constitutional responsibility to pay for any extra failing to clarify this and other ambiguous elements of its policy and by
security it deemed necessary for the event. FIRE cited the U.S. Supreme failing to explain its actions in the Wilders case, Temple has left all student
Court’s decision in Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992), which organizations in the dark about whether their rights will be respected on
struck down a local government’s increased fee for police protection for campus. We ask Temple to reform and clarify its policies, consistent with
controversial events because “[s]peech cannot be financially burdened, its obligations under the First Amendment, to ensure that robust debate
any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might is welcomed and not burdened on Temple’s campus.”
offend a hostile mob.” As a public university, Temple is bound by the
4 Spring 2010
FIRE Files Supreme Court Amicus
Brief Supporting Freedom of
Association in Christian Legal
Society v. Martinez
FIRE has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to defend the First Amendment right to freedom of
association by overturning the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Christian Legal Society v. Kane (since renamed), which
allowed University of California Hastings College of the Law to forbid its chapter of the Christian Legal Society to organize
around shared religious and cultural beliefs. FIRE’s brief, which was joined by the national student organization Students For
Liberty, also pointed out that the Ninth Circuit’s decision let Hastings demand that all groups accept “all comers” as voting
members, which leaves groups with minority viewpoints subject to hostile takeovers by students in the majority.
“If student organizations cannot require that their the fact that the provision conditions membership was likely a violation of the First Amendment. The
leaders and voting members actually share the on changeable conduct and belief, not immutable court made the obvious point that “[i]t would be
group’s viewpoints, as the Ninth Circuit’s ruling status. Hastings’ restriction on freedom of difficult for CLS to sincerely and effectively convey
would have it, freedom of association on college association was eventually found constitutional by a message of disapproval of certain types of
campuses will be stripped of all meaning,” said the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the ground conduct if, at the same time, it must accept
Robert Shibley, FIRE’s Vice President. “Freedom of that the policy was viewpoint neutral and applied members who engage in that conduct,” and had “no
association means the right of individuals to form equally to all student groups, even though in difficulty concluding that SIU’s application of its
groups around shared beliefs, not the right of the practice it prevented groups like CLS from existing nondiscrimination policies in this way burdens CLS’
state to dictate what those groups’ beliefs should with equal (or any) recognition on campus. ability to express its ideas.” Since the Ninth Circuit’s
be.” decision directly conflicts with the Seventh Circuit’s
The Ninth Circuit’s decision should deeply alarm all
opinion, the Supreme Court’s decision in Martinez
Christian Legal Society v. Martinez concerns UC who care about the rights of those holding minority
will likely resolve this circuit split.
Hastings College of the Law’s refusal to recognize viewpoints on America’s campuses. “If adopted,
the Christian Legal Society (CLS) as a registered this decision would make nearly every campus Creeley added, “As FIRE’s brief makes clear, the
student group. Hastings based its refusal on the fact group vulnerable to takeover and dissolution by its Ninth Circuit’s decision would be disastrous for
that even though all students may attend and enemies,” said Will Creeley, FIRE’s Director of groups holding unpopular or minority viewpoints
participate in CLS meetings and activities, voting Legal and Public Advocacy. FIRE’s brief identified on campus. To protect the First Amendment right
members and group leaders must sign a “Statement real-life examples of exactly this motivation among to freedom of expressive association on our nation’s
of Faith” that expresses belief in CLS’ particular hostile students. “Using the Ninth Circuit’s public campuses, the Supreme Court must reverse
religious worldview. rationale, the College Republicans could take over the Ninth Circuit’s decision. Only by doing so will
the College Democrats, pro-choice groups could the Court ensure that all belief-based groups, no
At issue is a provision stating that “[a] person who
take over pro-life groups, and atheist students could matter how popular, are allowed to participate fully
advocates or unrepentantly engages in sexual
take over a Muslim group—and nobody could do in the daily life of our public institutions of higher
conduct outside of marriage between a man and a
anything about it. Far from encouraging diversity, education.”
woman is not considered to be living consistently
this decision makes possible the establishment of a
with the Statement of Faith and, therefore, is not Other amicus petitioners filing on behalf of the
stifling, majoritarian campus culture where
eligible for leadership or voting membership.” The Christian Legal Society include the Cato Institute,
dissenters’ voices are rarely heard.”
statement clarifies that “[a] person’s mere the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of
experience of same-sex or opposite-sex sexual The Ninth Circuit’s decision is in direct opposition America, the American Islamic Congress, the Boy
attraction does not determine his or her eligibility to an earlier, nearly identical case from the Seventh Scouts of America, Gays and Lesbians for
for leadership or voting membership.” Hastings Circuit, Christian Legal Society v. Walker. In Walker, the Individual Liberty, the U.S. Conference of Catholic
argues that this provision violates the university’s Seventh Circuit held that Southern Illinois Bishops, and 12 state attorneys general, among
ban on “sexual orientation” discrimination, despite University’s denial of recognition to a CLS chapter many others.
FIRE Staff Table at
Over the past couple of months, FIRE staff tabled at key student
conferences including the Students for Liberty International
Conference, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and
the Spring College Media Advisers Convention (CMA). At the
conferences, FIRE staff passed out Spotlight reports, signed up over one
hundred students for the CFN, and informed attendees about threats
to freedom on campus.
These are just three of the many conferences FIRE attends to spread
our non-partisan message of protecting free speech on the college
campus. (We'll be back in D.C. for the annual Campus Progress
conference this summer, as well.) Meeting face to face with the many
students eager to learn more about our efforts and take action in their
college communities is one of the most rewarding aspects of our work.
FIRE Invites Essay Contest Entrants to Join CFN
After receiving 2,700 entries for FIRE’s “Freedom in Academia” essay school students to join the CFN. Each received FIRE’s signature t-shirt with
contest for college-bound high school seniors, we extended a special a quote from FIRE’s co-founder Alan Charles Kors: “A nation that does not
invitation to those students to join the Campus Freedom Network. educate in liberty will not long preserve it and will not even know when it is
Normally, the CFN is open exclusively to college and university students and lost.”
faculty members. But because the students applying for our essay contest
demonstrated such erudition and dedication to liberty, we wanted to offer We welcome these enterprising and dedicated students into the CFN and
them the opportunity to join the award-winning CFN. we’re excited to see what they’ll do to protect liberty when they get to
college in the fall!
Over 300 students took up FIRE’s offer and became the first cadre of high
for comprehensive information on the state of liberty on America’s
campuses, including pages for individual academic institutions, relevant
links to our research of speech codes, and case materials from FIRE’s
Individual Rights Defense Program.
6 Spring 2010
FIRE Awards ‘Freedom in Academia’ Essay Winner
FIRE announced the 2009 "Freedom in Academia" essay contest last perhaps untactful way. Nor is the Delaware case merely one of a university
August and sent invitations for entries to nearly 11,000 high schools helping its students discuss controversial social issues. These are issues of
across the country. Students were asked to watch two documentaries on civil rights and of the authority of the Constitution-an authority that is being
FIRE cases, FIRE in Action: Valdosta State University and Think What increasingly ignored.
We Think... Or Else: Thought Control on the American Campus, and to
One might object that the principle of free speech has great potential for
write essays of 700-1,200 words explaining how the universities in the abuse. Colleges have to intervene, one might say, to prevent young people
videos abrogated the constitutional rights of their students and betrayed from saying outrageous things. Even if they go too far in regulating student
the true purpose of a university. Nathaniel Cornelius, a homeschooled speech, the courts will bring them back into line and no damage will have
student in Paynesville, Minnesota, penned the winning essay and was been done. However, the real potential for abuse actually lies on the other
awarded a $5,000 college scholarship. Here is his essay. side, as schools like Valdosta State intimidate students into giving up their
freedom without a murmur. If Hayden Barnes had not fought back in court,
Educational Institutions or Re-education Camps? he would have had to either acquiesce to the university's position or give up
By Nathaniel Cornelius, Homeschool student, Paynesville, Minnesota his pursuit of his degree. Other students would then infer from his example
that disagreeing with the administration is not an option for them if they
If, as a hoax, someone had replaced the facts of Hayden Barnes' story with valued their academic careers.
a tale of repression from 18th- or 19th- century France, it might not have
raised many eyebrows. Barnes was expelled from Valdosta State University At the University of Delaware, coercion operated on an emotional basis. The
after making a collage satirizing university President Ronald Zaccari's orientation program humiliated students in front of their peers for not
support for a $10,000-a-space parking garage. His story would have fit conforming to its ideology, and instances of political incorrectness were
perfectly well in a regime where, for example, the artist Honore Daumier treated as emergencies. This alone would browbeat the average student into
was jailed for an unflattering caricature of King Louis Philippe. Similarly, silence. Furthermore, the university attempted to keep the program secret so
the University of Delaware's bizarre orientation program could have just as that no one could step in and help those being intimidated. Thus, without
easily been the invention of a mad interrogator from Stalinist Russia, where anything official happening, this emotional pressure would have, in practice,
those who did not applaud long enough at the dictator's favorite concerts abridged students' rights of conscience and free expression.
risked execution. Stalin himself would have appreciated how Delaware's
orientation program forced students to display support for every official The most serious aspect of these situations is the fact that the leaders of
ideological tenet or political opinion. these schools seemed to claim exclusive knowledge of what is right for
students and for Americans in general. At Valdosta State, President Zaccari
However, these disturbing events did not unfold in the courts of the French refused to see any point of view but his as correct, considering Barnes'
Empire or in the gulags of the Soviet Union. They happened in the United disagreement a personal insult. Regardless of what was the best way to
States, a country whose name has always been synonymous with freedom provide more parking, Zaccari's administration should have at least had the
and has freedom of speech enshrined in its Constitution. What, then, has grace to listen sincerely to Barnes' input. The attitude of the leadership at the
gone so terribly wrong that these violations of conscience would occur? University of Delaware was much the same, only on a larger scale. As the
These two schools directly disobeyed the Constitution with hardly a second FIRE video points out, the school officials believed that they alone saw
thought-an ominous indicator of the low respect given to the supreme law society accurately.
of the land. Worse yet, they tried to use coercion, shame, and fear to prevent
students from exercising their rights to their own beliefs--rights that are These actions reveal blatant instances of circular reasoning, as the
nominally protected and intrinsically obvious. Underlying all this is the universities' philosophical conclusions predetermined the framework in
university's apparent goal of forcing its point of view on all members of its which students could acceptably think. Colleges should be gardens of free
community. These actions reveal that the schools in question have indeed inquiry and unbridled intellectual growth, not machines that stifle free
betrayed their own raison d'etre. expression and stunt students' development as persons. When a university
uses freshman orientation to squeeze students into an ideological mold based
Simply put, Valdosta State University and the University of Delaware on its particular set of presuppositions, or when it expels those who dare to
violated their students' rights by going contrary to the Constitution. The question its strategic decisions, it is functioning more like a re-education
First Amendment clearly states that "Congress shall make no law...abridging camp than an educational institution.
the freedom of speech," and this also applies to government-run or public
institutions such as universities. Therefore, such schools cannot at their own It would be a cause for rejoicing if the University of Delaware and Valdosta
discretion restrict expression on their campuses, even if that expression State's President Zaccari were alone in their radical behavior. Sadly, scores of
turns out to be dissenting, critical, or embarrassing. Both universities cases like these occur every year. That is why the future of intellectual and
claimed an exception to this rule for speech posing a "clear and present social progress in America lies largely with the defenders of free speech.
danger," but expressing one's concerns about a parking garage does not Without them, America will go the way of the ancient regimes or the Soviet
come close to fitting that description. Union: downward into repression, bloodshed, and chaos. With vigorous
advocates fighting for freedom of expression in America's colleges and
As one of FIRE's videos points out, the University of Delaware went even universities, there is hope that higher education will nourish students' minds
further, attempting to control its students' moral values and conscientiously and spur them on to intellectual discoveries greater than those school
held beliefs. This violates an enormously self-evident right. Similarly, while officials have already attained. There is hope that young people will choose
Valdosta State was already abridging students' freedom of speech with its their philosophical, religious, and political views because they genuinely
absurdly small free speech zone, it denied outright Hayden Barnes' right of believe in them, not because they fear punishment for thinking otherwise.
free expression by expelling him from school. This is more than an issue of Most of all, there is hope that America will continue to endure as a nation
a student who criticized the school administration in a humorous but with liberty and justice for all.
University of Chicago Repeatedly Censors
Student Facebook Posts
Joke about 'Israel Lobby' Author's Assassination Leads to Police Investigation
For the second time in two years, the University of Chicago has censored a student's
post on a private Facebook page. Undergraduate Joseph "Tex" Dozier posted a joke
that he had had a dream about assassinating University of Chicago professor John
Mearsheimer "for a secret Israeli organization." Mearsheimer is co-author of the
controversial book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. This post prompted an
investigator from the university's police department to question Dozier about his
political views, suggest that he would investigate Dozier's comments on his
university radio show, and demand that Dozier remove the post or else have the post
reported to Mearsheimer, one of his professors. Dozier came to FIRE for help.
Joseph “Tex” Dozier
"Any reasonable person would recognize that Martinez even told Dozier that he had "researched" This is the second time the University of Chicago
Dozier's post was unquestionably a joke," said FIRE Dozier and his weekly radio show The Boiling Point, has censored a student's Facebook post in violation
Vice President Robert Shibley. "If Dozier worked which is broadcast on the university-hosted station of the university's promises to its students. In 2009,
for a secret Israeli organization, would he have WHPK. When Martinez said that he was required undergraduate Andrew Thompson posted a
announced it via Facebook? And if the University to contact Mearsheimer to inform him of Dozier's photograph album on his personal Facebook page
of Chicago truly believed that Dozier presented a comment, Dozier replied that Mearsheimer had under the title, "[Name of ex-girlfriend] cheated on
threat to a professor's life, how would merely been one of his professors and that he feared me, and you're next!" The photos were of various
censoring the student have solved the problem? The negative repercussions if his innocent comment persons and were unremarkable, though some of
U of C is making a joke of itself by policing and was reported to Mearsheimer. Martinez responded Thompson's Facebook "friends" posted negative
censoring student comments on Facebook." that if Dozier deleted the comment within 30 statements about the ex-girlfriend.
minutes, Martinez would include the removal in his
On December 6, 2009, Dozier wrote on his The next day, after the ex-girlfriend complained,
official report and not contact Mearsheimer. Dozier
personal Facebook page, "Dreamt that I Susan Art, Dean of Students in the College,
negotiated a two-hour window and then deleted his
assassinated [University of Chicago professor] John demanded that Thompson "remove her name and
Mearsheimer for a secret Israeli organization - there remove the pictures you have posted of her"
was a hidden closet w/ Nazi paraphanelia [sic]. Neither the University of Chicago nor the UCPD because of an alleged Student Manual prohibition
Haha! :-)" Mearsheimer is popularly known for his has challenged FIRE's or Dozier's account of this against "disrespectful" speech.
2007 book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy with conversation.
FIRE wrote President Zimmer on February 23,
co-author Stephen Walt. According to the authors,
FIRE wrote University of Chicago President 2009, but the university eventually replied that since
the book "focuses primarily on the lobby's influence
Robert J. Zimmer on March 2 about the violation of FIRE was not threatening litigation, the University
on U.S. foreign policy and its negative effect on
Dozier's expression rights. While the University of of Chicago did not want to engage in any further
Chicago is a private institution not bound by the discussion regarding the issue.
University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) First Amendment, it explicitly promises students
"The University of Chicago had a chance to reverse
officer Abraham Martinez phoned Dozier on freedom of speech in its Student Manual, which
course last year and start respecting students' free
December 7. According to Dozier, Martinez called also states that "The ideas of different members of
speech rights, but it has continued to monitor
the post a "death threat" and asked if Dozier the University community will frequently conflict
students' off-campus Internet speech and censor
disagreed with Mearsheimer politically. Martinez and we do not attempt to shield people from ideas
innocuous comments," said Adam Kissel, Director
also asked if he had made "controversial that they may find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even
of FIRE's Individual Rights Defense Program.
comments" about Mearsheimer in the past that the offensive. Nor, as a general rule, does the University
"The university has failed to fulfill its own promises
UCPD should be aware of. intervene to enforce social standards of civility."
The university has not responded.
8 Spring 2010
Ford Hall Forum Honors FIRE with 2010
First Amendment Award
On March 18, FIRE was awarded the Ford Hall Forum’s Louis P. and
Evelyn Smith First Amendment Award, an honor bestowed upon
“individuals or organizations that demonstrate extraordinary
commitment to promoting and facilitating the thoughtful exercise of
our right to freedom of expression.” Greg Lukianoff, President of
FIRE; Harvey Silverglate, civil liberties lawyer and FIRE Co-founder;
and Steven Pinker, bestselling author and FIRE Board of Advisors
member, joined moderator Judge Nancy Gertner of the U.S. District
Court of Massachusetts to discuss FIRE’s work and what freedom of
speech means today. Previous First Amendment Award recipients
include journalist Gwen Ifill, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, and
CNN founder Ted Turner.
Johns Hopkins Student Government Association
Asks President to Defend Free Speech
A promising new development recently took place at Red Alert school and has a chilling effect upon all forms of speech.” Perkins also
Johns Hopkins University: Marc Perkins, President of the Student describes the effects of the bill, which would essentially require secular
Government Association, wrote to Johns Hopkins President Ronald private institutions to uphold the First Amendment rights of students,
Daniels in February on behalf of the Undergraduate Student just as public institutions are bound by law to do. Referring to the
Government Association to ask that he uphold free speech rights at Undergraduate Conduct Code that promises to “protect the university
Johns Hopkins. as a forum for the free expression of ideas,” Perkins asks that Daniels
support the bill so that the university will be held legally accountable for
His letter begins by asking that President Daniels support Maryland
keeping its promise.
H.B. 677/S.B. 805, the Free Speech at Nonpublic Institutions of
Higher Education Bill. If enacted, the bill would function much like the While FIRE takes no position on legislation—even on bills affecting
Leonard Law in California, requiring private institutions to afford their students’ free speech rights—we are heartened that the student
students free speech rights as long as the school does not have an government at Johns Hopkins is taking seriously the threats to the free
overriding religious purpose. speech rights that are promised to students by Hopkins’ own policies.
Whatever President Daniels’ decision on Maryland H.B. 677/S.B. 805,
Perkins cites Hopkins’ deplorable civility code that, in his words,
we hope that he rescinds Hopkins’ oppressive civility code, as we asked
“allows the university to punish students for merely expressing views
earlier this year, so that we are able at long last to remove Hopkins from
that are controversial.” He then states that such infringement of
our Red Alert list.
students’ rights “hurts the cause of academic freedom at our university
Want more FIRE news and views? Check out The Torch, FIRE’s blog,
for daily updates at www.thefire.org/torch.
From the Director of IREP:
In Courtrooms and Conference
Halls, FIRE’s Fight for Campus
Rights Wins New Victories
By Will Creeley
All of us at FIRE work diligently to ensure that our nation’s students and faculty learn and teach in an environment where the rights to free expression,
conscience, assembly, religion, and due process are honored. A quick glimpse at our case archives (available online at www.thefire.org/cases)
demonstrates that FIRE has scored impressive wins in our first decade of existence. But despite these many victories, the shocking abuses of liberty on
campus keep rolling into my inbox every semester with depressing regularity.
All of us at FIRE work diligently to ensure that our nation’s students and faculty speech, but now we’ve secured our latest Speech Code Litigation Project win.
learn and teach in an environment where the rights to free expression, More will follow.
conscience, assembly, religion, and due process are honored. A quick glimpse at
our case archives (available online at www.thefire.org/cases) demonstrates that FIRE attorneys have also been busy filing amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs
FIRE has scored impressive wins in our first decade of existence. But despite in several crucial court cases affecting student rights across the country during
these many victories, the shocking abuses of liberty on campus keep rolling into these past few months. Amicus briefs are filed by interested outside individuals
my inbox every semester with depressing regularity. or organizations that, while not party to the legal proceedings as plaintiff or
defendant, nevertheless are concerned about the issues before the court and
That’s why, as FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate often says, have particular expertise that may assist the court in reaching a decision. In the
winning individual battles for free speech and due process isn’t enough: FIRE last four months, FIRE has filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court of the
must work towards changing the culture on campus. Students, faculty, and United States (Christian Legal Society v. Martinez), the United States Court of
administrators must recognize that the answer to disagreeable speech is always Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Lopez v. Candaele), the United States Court of
more speech and never censorship; that every student and professor must be Appeals for the Third Circuit (McCauley v. University of the Virgin Islands), and the
free to determine the contours and content of their worldview independently of Nebraska Supreme Court (State v. Drahota). In each case, FIRE weighed in on
official mandate; that every student group must be allowed to articulate its behalf of a robust reading of the First Amendment and against censorship, and
message for itself; that students of every faith must enjoy equal participation in we’re confident that the expertise we’ve gained from a decade of fighting for
the life of their institution; and that every student accused of wrongdoing must free speech on campus will help each court reach the right decision.
be presumed innocent and afforded the rights to which he or she is lawfully
entitled. When I haven’t been working with my fellow lawyers on staff on daily casework
and amicus briefs in the past few months, I’ve been pleased to be able to address
While achieving this vast change in campus culture is certainly a tall order, FIRE two large conferences to spread FIRE’s message to non-legal audiences. First, in
has the right message, the right staff, and dedicated supporters—and, crucially, early February, Associate Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Azhar Majeed
we’ve got the law on our side. As Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, my and I attended the annual Association for Student Conduct Administration
job is to make sure it stays that way. But as my title indicates, I’m also responsible conference, where we addressed a packed room of university administrators.
for making sure FIRE’s message is heard clearly by many audiences, not just my Azhar and I lectured and fielded questions about the common mistakes we see
fellow attorneys. In order to turn the tide in the battle for core liberties on restricting speech in student conduct policies. Our talk is already paying
campus, FIRE must win in the court of public opinion as well as in the dividends, as we’ve been contacted in the last few weeks by several
courtroom. Happily, thanks to your continued support, I’m pleased to report administrators seeking further guidance from FIRE about how best to reform
that we’ve made excellent progress on both fronts in recent months. policies at their schools. And in early March, I delivered a lecture on the freedom
of the student press to students and faculty at the Campus Media Advisors
First, the legal news, beginning with a big win for student speech rights in the conference in New York City. It’s always a pleasure to tell student journalists and
case of Smith v. Tarrant County College District, in which a federal district court editors who to turn to if their college paper falls victim to campus censorship.
ruled recently that restrictions on student speech maintained by Tarrant County
College (TCC) violated the First Amendment rights of students wishing to While FIRE’s work is seemingly never done, I truly believe we’re getting closer
engage in symbolic protest on campus. The ruling is covered in greater detail on to changing the culture on campus for good. Each court victory, each amicus
page three, so I won’t delve too far into the details here, but I do want to say that brief filed, each conference attended means FIRE’s message resonates further.
I’m particularly proud of this victory because it’s a testament to FIRE’s With more hard work and your help, we’ll secure core freedoms for all students
perseverance. It took us two years to knock down TCC’s restrictions on student and faculty sooner rather than later.
10 Spring 2010
Publication Money talks. Get your school to listen.
The FIRE Quarterly is published four
times per year by the Foundation for In February, FIRE kicked off its newest campaign— Through the Give Half for Liberty campaign, you
Individual Rights in Education. Givehalfforliberty.org—which strives to help colleges can donate half of what you usually would donate
The mission of FIRE is to defend and reform their policies so students and professors can to a college or university to FIRE instead, so that
sustain individual rights at America’s enjoy freedom of expression while also helping FIRE we can help restore that school to the true
increasingly repressive and partisan raise the funds necessary to continue our vital mission. “marketplace of ideas” it was meant to be.
colleges and universities. These rights
While FIRE has a great success rate of Participate in our campaign at the $50 level and
include freedom of speech, legal
equality, due process, religious liberty, encouraging schools to reform overbroad, vague, FIRE will send the school of your choice our new
and sanctity of conscience—the and easily abused policies, we need your help in guide for administrators, Correcting Common Mistakes
essential qualities of individual liberty getting more college administrators to really listen in Campus Speech Policies, along with a letter alerting
and dignity. FIRE’s core mission is to to our message. The truth is that if there is administrators to the fact that they have lost half of
protect the unprotected and to educate anything that motivates college administrators, it’s your financial support and offering our help in
the public and communities of money, so colleges are likely to listen to YOU— reforming their speech codes so they can regain
concerned Americans about the threats their donors—especially if it means a more that support. Money talks, and FIRE is confident
to these rights on our campuses and impressive bottom line. Help us send a clear that with your help we can get school
about the means to preserve them. message to America’s colleges and universities that administrators to listen.
FIRE is a charitable and educational fundamental abuses of liberty will not be tolerated
Act now by pledging your support to the program
tax-exempt foundation within the and that until administrators start listening, their
using the supplied postcard or send in your
meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the schools will not earn your full support.
Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to donation in the provided envelope. Your
FIRE are deductible to the fullest extent How it works: contribution to this campaign just might be the
provided by tax laws. final push administrators at your school need to
You care a lot about your alma mater, the school restore freedom to campus. It’s time we put a price
your child attends, or the school with your favorite on neglecting our liberties.
college sports team, and as a donor you want to see
HOW TO REACH US: that school flourish. You also are aware of the sad Not a donor to your alma mater? If you still want to
state of liberty on college campuses today and support our work and send a message to your school,
don’t want to see your school fall prey to the PC you can. With a donation of $50 or more, we are happy
mafia, or worse yet, Orwellian repression. to send a copy of our Common Mistakes guide. Just
include a comment with your donation letting us know
you would like us to send one.
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Philadelphia, PA 19106
Follow FIRE on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!
215.717.3473 tel FIRE has always been at the forefront of social networking and internet
215.717.3440 fax technology, so it’s no surprise that one of the most popular ways to get FIRE
www.thefire.org news and updates is now through our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts.
To “follow” FIRE, go to http://twitter.com/TheFIREorg,
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Philadelphia, PA 19106
FIRE thanks all of its supporters for their dedication to FIRE and its mission.
• • •
If you would like to donate to FIRE, please visit www.thefire.org/support or call 215.717.3473.
The Last Word:
FIRE Hires Sweidy Stata Video Fellow
Thanks to donors Raymie Stata and Kimberly Sweidy,
FIRE has hired the first annual Sweidy Stata Video
The Video Fellow will be charged with the duty to create several different, high-
quality, documentary-style films about FIRE's cases and mission and will play a key
role in FIRE's outreach and publicity efforts. The first scheduled documentary is
a a five- to ten-minute film that will explore the issues surrounding gun speech on
campus while also putting a face on the individuals who have been directly affected
FIRE is excited to add this important position to its arsenal against abuses of
liberties on campus.
12 Spring 2010