Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Update

September 24 Covers Mysterious ‘Sexual Harassment’ Case at East Georgia College is airing an extensive, 23-minute interview with East Georgia College (EGC) Professor Thomas Thibeault. As we have reported, two days after pointing out that EGC’s sexual harassment policy offered no protection against malicious allegations, the policy was used against him. Amazingly, he seems to have been fired maliciously for his "long history of sexual harassment" under that very policy. He has never been presented with evidence or even an accuser, and he has never had a hearing despite asking for one (as is his right by official policy). FIRE’s involvement in this case is highlighted several times in the video, and about halfway through, interviewer Scott Baker reads most of FIRE’s press release. After the interview, he and co-interviewer Liz Stephans discuss how scary it is that such severe violations of due process could happen against someone who is never even allowed to face his accuser.
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FIRE’s Will Creeley in ‘ Providence Journal’
Yesterday’s edition of the Providence (R.I.) Journal contained an op-ed by FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley criticizing Yale University over the most recent Mohammed cartoon controversy. The Yale University Press decided to remove cartoons depicting Mohammed from author Jytte Klausen’s forthcoming book, The Cartoons That Shook the World. As Will discusses, the university has succumbed to cowardice and fear in its handling of the matter, at the expense of academic freedom and free speech. In doing so, it has set a dangerous precedent in the world of academic discourse, making Will’s public criticism truly vital.
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Universities’ Compliance with Speech-Code Decisions Leaves Much to Be Desired
After the University of Michigan’s speech code was struck down by a federal court as vague and overbroad, the university removed the code’s most chilling provisions but maintained rules that punish protected speech. Many universities whose speech codes are found unconstitutional take this approach, professing a commitment to free speech while retaining policies that do not fully comply with the law. Compounding the problem, institutions in the same university system or jurisdiction where there has been an overturned speech code, like those in the Third Circuit after Temple University’s sexual harassment policy was invalidated, often ignore the judicial precedent. Until universities realize the importance of free speech to the proper functioning of academia, judicial decisions on speech codes will not possess the full force they deserve.
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Red Alert: Bucknell University Hardens Policy Used to Shut Down Student Protests; Student Newspaper Rejects FIRE Ad
A culture of fear appears to be chilling expression at Bucknell University, where even the student newspaper fears a libel lawsuit from Associate Dean of Students Gerald W. Commerford if it were to print a critical advertisement from FIRE. After Bucknell administrators misapplied and abused Bucknell’s Sales and Solicitation and nondiscrimination policies last semester to shut down the Bucknell University Conservatives Club’s (BUCC’s) protests of affirmative action and President Obama’s economic stimulus, the group turned to FIRE for help. Bucknell has expanded and hardened the language in its policies affecting such protests and still insists that "affirmative action bake sales" have no place in the public areas of the campus. FIRE now lists Bucknell as a Red Alert school, one of only six "worst of the worst" schools in America when it comes to student rights on campus.
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Register Online for FIRE’s 10th Anniversary Celebration in New York City!
Online registration is still available for FIRE’s 10th Anniversary Celebration Dinner. The event will take place on the evening of October 22nd in New York City at the award-winning Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Our event page has all the details, including ticket pricing and hotel accommodations. Dinner guests will also have the opportunity to mingle with the Honorary Vice Chairmen in attendance and watch a short documentary celebrating FIRE’s ten-year history. Seats are sure to fill up quickly, so register today to ensure you don’t miss out! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call or e-mail Alisha Glennon at 215-717-3473 or [email protected].

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September 24, "Universities’ Compliance with Speech Code Decisions Leaves Much to Be Desired," by Erica Goldberg

September 24, "Former FIRE Intern Encourages Reform at Cornell University in Letter to the Editor," by Luke Sheahan

September 23, "Rejected FIRE Ad at Bucknell Reported by Student Press Law Center," by Adam Kissel

September 23, "FIRE’s Will Creeley in Providence Journal," by Azhar Majeed

September 23, "FIRE’s Website: A Valuable Resource for Parents," by Brandon Stewart

September 23, " Covers Mysterious ‘Sexual Harassment’ Case at East Georgia College," by Adam Kissel
Read The Torch at »

Recent Media Coverage

"William Creeley: Yale’s cowardice erodes free speech," by William Creeley, The Providence Journal, September 23, 2009

"FIRE blames newspaper’s ad refusal on school’s ‘culture of fear’," by Anne Elliot, Student Press Law Center, September 23, 2009

"Professors have freedom of speech," by George Leef, The John Williams Pope Center for Higher Education, September 17, 2009

"Academic and free-speech groups join criticism of Yale U. Press over cartoons in book," by Jennifer Howard, The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 16, 2009

"Here today, gone tomorrow," by David Moltz, Inside Higher Ed, September 16, 2009

"Instructor criticizes sex-harassment policy, then is accused of violating it," by Robin Wilson, The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 15, 2009

More media coverage at »

Recent Multimedia Content

Video, BUCC President Talks About FIRE’s Case at Bucknell

Video, Radical Speech: Dave Barry Talks About Politically Correct Campuses

Podcast, Episode 205: Greg Lukianoff at FreedomFest 2009: "Unlearning Liberty"
More multimedia at »


The mission of FIRE is to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities.
Speech Code of the Month

FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for September 2009: the University of Idaho. In the University of Idaho’s residence halls, "Actions and/or communication that are discriminatory, harassing or insensitive are not permitted." (Emphasis added.) This policy prohibits a staggering amount of constitutionally protected speech. Moreover, it infantilizes college students by assuming they cannot cope with any sort of offense. Speech codes have been successfully challenged elsewhere in the Ninth Circuit (at San Francisco State University and the Los Angeles Community College District), so the university is maintaining this policy at its peril.


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