Latest News and Commentary: National

September 8, 2022
By Emma Camp
Reason Magazine

Excerpt: On Wednesday, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) released its annual College Free Speech Rankings. The rankings are derived from a survey of almost 45,000 college students at over 200 universities in the United States. The survey has been conducted since 2020, collecting a wide range of information about the campus political climate at a swath of universities.

According to the survey results released by FIRE, both discomfort in expression and outright censoriousness of unpopular viewpoints continue to be common problems on American college campuses.

September 8, 2022
By Defense of Freedom Institute Press Release

Excerpt:  As the Biden Administration pushes forward with its radical re-write of Title IX, the Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies (DFI) is pushing back.  With four days left in the public comment period, the Biden Administration has received a record breaking 163,000 comments from the public on its controversial proposed Title IX rule.  

September 7, 2022
By Sabrina Conza
Foundation for Individual Rights in Expression

Excerpt: After facing criticism for expelling a student over controversial art featured on the student’s social media account, Kansas City Art Institute has further limited students’ free speech rights by revising its social media policy to prohibit large swaths of protected expression that could make others uncomfortable.

This policy change comes less than two months after FIRE wrote KCAI in July when it expelled incoming student Ash Mikkelsen after receiving complaints about Ash’s pseudonymous Twitter account, which featured sexually-explicit Japanese-style cartoons called hentai.

September 7, 2022
By Paul Basken
Times Higher Education

Excerpt: US university students appear to be growing somewhat more tolerant of controversial speakers on their campuses, according to an annual free speech survey. Students have become slightly less supportive of shouting or violence to deter public speakers, and slightly more willing to self-censor their own comments, the advocacy group known as Fire said in its annual College Free Speech Rankings.

Still, the group said, the overall numbers remain high. Its online survey of nearly 45,000 students nationwide found 62 per cent endorse the idea of shouting down a speaker, and 20 per cent agree with using violent tactics. Those numbers were down from 66 per cent and 23 per cent the previous year.

 

September 7, 2022
By Rikki Schlott
New York Post

Excerpt: If you like free speech, don’t go to Columbia. A leading free speech organization ranked the best and worst college campuses for freedom of speech and New York’s top school, Columbia University, came in dead last.

Scoring just 9.91 out of 100, New York City’s Ivy was dragged down by its high number of scholars who were sanctioned for expressing their views. Between 2019-2020, seven academics faced investigation or disciplinary action for tweets or comments deemed unacceptable. Columbia did not immediately respond to The Post for comment.

September 7, 2022
By George Will
The Washington Post

Excerpt:  Although mediocrity is as rampant as usual, this is at least the golden age of the grovel. And James H. Sweet, the protagonist of academia’s most recent pratfall, is a maestro of self-abasement.

This history professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and president of the American Historical Association tried to say something sensible, and partially succeeded. It is, however, perilous to deviate even microscopically from progressive orthodoxy, as enforced by today’s censorious professoriate, so he experienced Twitter crucifixion. His “crap” was “white-centric” and advocating “white supremacist Aryan eugenicist” history, etc. Sweet’s critics reduced him to quivering contrition.

September 6, 2022
By Emma Pettit and Jack Stripling
Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpt: Last September, a professor at the University of Florida wanted to sign a scientific consensus letter about kratom, a tropical tree with pain-relieving properties. The faculty member’s proposal was forwarded to Gary Wimsett Jr., the university’s assistant vice president for conflicts of interest, who had a question: What did Ron DeSantis, the state’s Republican governor, think about kratom?

September 6, 2022
By Foundation for Individual Rights in Expression

Excerpt:  To protect free speech, the government must censor. That’s the absurd argument put forth by Florida lawmakers in the controversial “Stop WOKE Act.”

Today, a professor and student group from the University of South Florida sued to protect professors’ ability to teach and students’ ability to learn. The lawsuit, filed by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, alleges that the higher education provisions of Florida’s “Individual Freedom” law (dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act” by its proponents), impermissibly chill free expression and promote unconstitutional censorship on the state’s college campuses.

September 5, 2022
By Christopher Nadon
UnHerd

Excerpt: In 1993, I began my first teaching job at the University of Kyiv-Mohyla in newly independent Ukraine. I had been hired to teach Hobbes, Locke, and the Federalist to the sons and daughters of communist apparatchiks who had come to recognise the corrupt character of the Soviet regime and university system, and to introduce institutional reforms that would support the kind of liberal arts approach to education then typical on American campuses.

Thirty years later, the tables have turned. I am now a tenured professor at Claremont McKenna College, an elite institution that aggressively markets itself as the number-one ranked college for promoting freedom of speech by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. I don’t blame FIRE. But the administration here has built a Potemkin village.

September 3, 2022
By Helen Holmes
Daily Beast

Excerpt:  A federal judge has rejected a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Bandy Lee, a psychiatrist formerly employed by the Yale School of Medicine, against the university. Lee, who said in 2018 that she traveled to Washington, D.C. to brief more than a dozen members of Congress on the deteriorating mental state of then-President Donald Trump, alleges that Yale had violated her freedom of speech by terminating her contract.

“[Lee’s] vague assertion that some unspecified provision in the faculty handbook creates a right to ‘academic freedom’ is plainly insufficient to show that [the] defendant undertook a contractual commitment to guarantee plaintiff continued reappointment,” U.S. District Judge Sarah Merriam said in her ruling.