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Academe’s Worst Offenders

Dartmouth College was, until reform trustees Peter Robinson, Todd Zywicki, and T.J. Rodgers and a cabal of neanderthal students insisted otherwise, a bad place for freedom of expression. In fact in its bleakest hours the speech code, promulgated by College president Jim Wright in a public epistle, was no more liberal than the Ayatollah’s: the only distinction was that, at Dartmouth, one’s utterances were circumscribed by the most-easily-offended denominator; in Arabia, a piece of old text. But the notion, alas, was the same: to offend is to lapse, grievously.

This is all by way of noting that FIRE has set about educating this year’s crop of freshmenfolks about the worst free-speech offenders in academe:

Johns Hopkins University found student Justin Park guilty of “harassment” for posting an “offensive” Halloween party invitation on Hopkins President William Brody made matters worse by then implementing “Principles for Ensuring Equity, Civility and Respect for All,” a new and chillingly broad “civility” code prohibiting “rude, disrespectful behavior” on campus. To lose its shameful distinction on FIRE’s Red Alert list, Hopkins must repeal its civility code.

Tufts University found the conservative newspaper The Primary Source (TPS) guilty of harassment for publishing two satirical and controversial articles: a satirical Christmas carol and a mock advertisement entitled “Islam—Arabic Translation: Submission.” The first article was a parody based on race-based admissions, and the second presented facts about Islam as a response to Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week.” The university’s Committee on Student Life determined that TPS was guilty of “harassment” even while claiming its students enjoyed full First Amendment rights. The harassment finding still stands. Tufts must admit that simply publishing facts about a religion is not “harassment” and reverse the contrary finding against TPS.

Valdosta State University President Ronald Zaccari expelled student Hayden Barnes for posting a flyer on criticizing the school’s proposed parking garages. While this case is currently in federal court and out of the hands of Valdosta’s current leadership, Valdosta must repeal its current free speech zone, a ridiculously unconstitutional policy restricting speech to a twelve-foot stage for two non-consecutive hours per day.

Brandeis University found Professor Donald Hindley guilty of racially discriminatory harassment for critiquing the term “wetbacks” in a classroom discussion. Even though Hindley was never allowed to see the evidence against him, the administration punished him by posting a monitor in his classroom. Brandeis must reverse the decision finding Hindley guilty of making “inappropriate, racial, and discriminatory” remarks.

Colorado College found two male students guilty of “violence” after a three-hour trial for juxtaposing “weaponry and sexuality” in a flyer satirizing another flyer posted by the Feminist and Gender Studies Program. Disciplinary letters have been placed in the students’ files. Colorado College must remove these letters from the students’ files to get off the Red Alert list.


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