Tag: Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Must Read: University Ex-Admin Alleges She Was Pressured to File False Harassment Claim Against Faculty Critic

 

Ever since FIRE launched its Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project last summer, I have been telling everyone to keep an eye on the Chicago State University case. And last week, we were able to learn a little more about why the Chicago State administration needs more public scrutiny. As the Chicago Tribune reports:

The president of Chicago State University tried to pressure a high level administrator to file false claims of sexual harassment against an outspoken professor to help the college try to silence him, according to court documents filed Thursday as part of an ongoing lawsuit. In a sworn statement, LaShondra Peebles, the college’s former interim vice president of enrollment and student affairs, said before she was fired that President Wayne Watson pushed her to accuse Phillip Beverly of sexual harassment, though Peebles said she was never harassed.

FIRE’s Worst for Free Speech Spotlight: Brandeis University

 

And now for the final installment of my Ricochet-exclusive spotlight on FIRE’s “worst” list for campus free speech in 2014. For my third and final spotlight, I want to introduce readers to the single college that has made the worst list more than any other college (finally edging out Syracuse University, which is a twotime recipient of this dubious honor). Here’s the entry for Brandeis:

Brandeis University

FIRE’s Worst for Free Speech Spotlight: Marquette University

 

And now for the list you’ve all been waiting for: FIRE’s “10 Worst for Free Speech on Campus” list for 2014. While the phrasing of that title may seem a little odd, we changed it from “Worst Colleges for Free Speech” this year because sometimes outside institutions are major threats to collegiate free speech. For the second year in a row, the Department of Education is likely the biggest threat to free speech on campus. You can brush up on the details in my December 2014 Ricochet post entitled Campus Speech Codes Decline, But Federal Government Threatens to Impose Censorship Codes at 100% of Colleges.

But I wanted to bring Ricochet readers’ attention to a handful of “winners” in particular. One of the most urgent cases here is the one still going on at Marquette University:

Do You Think “Liberals Are Stifling Intellectual Diversity on Campus?”

 

Ricochet readers, I’d like your help. Next week, I’m doing my first ever Intelligence Squared U.S. debate defending the following resolution: Liberals Are Stifling Intellectual Diversity on Campus. This may strike some readers as a little surprising, as you all know FIRE not only defends people all across the spectrum, but also employs people across the spectrum (not to mention I myself identify as a political liberal, as does my debating partner Kirsten Powers). But, I have also never hidden the fact if you’re going to be censored on campus these days, it’s far more likely that you’ll be censored from your left.

Ricochet readers in the D.C. area should come in person. Those who can’t attend should tune in online. The winner is determined by how many people decide to change his or her vote, and given that I’ll be doing this debate at George Washington University, I wonder how many will be willing to do that!

What Were Your Favorite Books of 2014?

 

Back in early January, I was just about to publish a list of some of my favorite books of 2014 when the free speech world exploded due to the horrible murders in Paris. I wrote a little bit about my thoughts on the issue for The Huffington Post about a week later, pointing out that the decision not to publish the Mohammed cartoons almost a decade ago may have been a fateful error. I decided to put off my review of books 2014 until today.

As you can see, like I do all my book reviews, I try to focus on how the book’s arguments or findings relate to my work defending free speech on campus and in the larger world. In this case I focused on The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self—Not Just Your “Good” Self—Drives Success and Fulfillment. The book is fascinating, as it argues for the psychological benefits of “negative” emotional states. It took me 2000+ words to do the book justice, but I thought Ricochet readers might like this excerpt:

Campus Speech Codes Decline, But Federal Government Threatens to Impose Censorship Codes at 100% of Colleges

 

The Wall Street Journal penned a great staff editorial about my organization’s (FIRE’s) 2015 speech code report, which was just officially released today. There is some good news in the report, as the Journal reports:

55% of the 437 colleges it surveyed this year maintain “severely restrictive” policies that “clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech.” They include 61 private schools and 180 public colleges. Incredibly, this represents progress from Fire’s survey seven years ago when 75% of colleges maintained restrictive free speech codes.

FIRE Files Four Free Speech Lawsuits in One Morning, Launches New Litigation Project

 

Today, my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), has a big announcement about a major step in the decades-long war against unconstitutional speech codes at America’s public colleges and universities. Below is my statement from FIRE’s press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.:

Twenty-five years ago we had reason to think that the “temporary insanity” of campus speech codes had come to an end.

FIRE Study: ‘Disinvitation Season’ Is Getting Worse

 

shutterstock_150667244It’s not just a question of perception; the push for speakers (commencement and otherwise) to be disinvited from campus has gotten worse.

As I wrote in a long piece today in the Huffington Post:

So far, FIRE has discovered 192 incidents in which students or faculty have pushed for speakers invited to campus (both for commencement and other speaking engagements) to be disinvited since 2000. Eighty-two of those incidents were “successful” in that ultimately the speaker did not speak. Of those 82 successful disinvitations, 53 occurred via the revocation of the speaker’s invitation to campus, 17 were from speakers withdrawing in the face of protest, and 12 were “heckler’s vetoes” in which speakers were shouted down, chased off stage, or otherwise prevented from speaking.