Latest News and Commentary: National

August 29, 2021
By Jonathan Turley

Excerpt: It is now common for universities to list offensive terms to be avoided by faculty and students, as we have previously discussed at schools like Michigan, James Madison, and Berkeley.  Now, Brandeis has issued a list of “oppressive” words that include such expressions as “killing two birds with one stone” and “beating a dead horse.” However, the school did not issue a trigger warning because “trigger warning” is now on the list as . . . well . . . triggering.

We previously discussed Brandeis’s concern over “trigger warning” warnings and a dean’s controversial declaration that “Yes, all White people are racists.” However, the new list contains further examples of oppressive language and the suggested substitutes.  For example, rather than use expressions like “killing two birds with one stone,” the school’s Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center (PARC) suggests “feeding two birds with one seed.” PARC is promising a more expansive list in the future.

August 27, 2021
By Nicole Divers
James G. Martin Center

Excerpt: Last month, North Carolina Congressman Greg Murphy introduced federal legislation aimed at combating censorship and protecting free speech rights at colleges and universities. The bill, the Campus Free Speech and Restoration Act, seeks to “ensure that public institutions of higher education eschew policies that improperly constrain the expressive rights of students.” It amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 by requiring campuses to uphold free speech rights in order to receive Title IV funding. Under this amendment, public universities would be explicitly prohibited from limiting “religious expression, free expression, or any other rights provided under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Another provision prohibits the implementation of free speech zones which limit speech to certain times and locations on campuses, among other measures. However, Murphy’s introduced bill fails to include other improvements recommended by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

August 26, 2021
By The Editors
National Review

Excerpt: The Standards Committee of the American Bar Association has recommended, as a condition of accreditation for American law schools, “requiring law schools to provide education on bias, crosscultural competency, and racism.” It suggests employing “guest lectures or trainings by experts in the areas of bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism,” a proposal that envisions money flowing into the pockets of Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, and their ilk. The ABA also proposes “setting and publishing goals related to diversity and inclusion” in faculty hiring and student admissions.

Given that it is all but impossible to practice law in the United States without graduating from an ABA-accredited school, the adoption of these proposals would amount to government-backed mandates, especially as applied to the nation’s many state-run law schools. Some of them are likely illegal, as they involve the promotion of race-conscious hiring and admissions and the invasion of the academic freedom of graduate-level university professional schools.

August 26, 2021
By John Sailer
City Journal

Excerpt: In August 2020, the faculty and staff of Sidwell Friends, the Washington, D.C. area’s top private school, convened to hear a special talk hosted by the school’s director of Equity, Justice, and Community. The speaker was Ibram X. Kendi, no stranger to the podium at posh private schools. “We’re either educating our children to be racist, or we are educating them to be anti-racist,” Kendi said.

The top five D.C.-area private high schools—Sidwell Friends, Georgetown Day, Holton-Arms, the National Cathedral School, and St. Albans—committed to this vision in the form of strategic plans. Similar plans may have generated backlash in New York, but so far, the D.C. schools have embraced diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) without notable dissent. D.C.’s top schools now require every corner of their institutions—from chemistry classes and athletic departments to boards of trustees—to demonstrate fealty to “antiracism.”

August 26, 2021
By Eugene Volokh
Volokh Conspiracy, Reason Magazine

Summary: This article includes excerpts from a decision by Judge Lawrence E. Kahn in Young America’s Foundation v. Stenger. The case concerns the State University of New York – Binghamton (SUNY Binghamton)’s refusal to properly protect a lecture conducted by economist and former presidential advisor Dr. Arthur Laffer, who was invited to speak by the school’s College Republicans and YAF organizations. The decision finds that the University Police Department (UPD) allowed protestors to gather right next to the lecture’s venue, and removed Dr. Laffer at the first possible opportunity when progressive hecklers stormed the room.


August 25, 2021
By Greg Childress
NC Policywatch

Excerpt: White shaming, “sexualization” of children and Critical Race Theory: These are among the overarching themes that Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson says emerged during his recent examination of North Carolina schools. Robinson, the state’s first Black lieutenant governor, shared the findings of his “Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students” (F.A.C.T.S.) task force during a press conference held Tuesday in advance of a Senate Education/Higher Committee meeting, where the controversial House Bill 324, which would ban certain concepts from being discussed in public school classrooms, received a favorable voice vote.

The measure has a tough path to becoming law. Thus far, no Democratic lawmaker in the House or Senate has expressed support for the measure. If the bill does pass both chambers, Gov. Roy Cooper would likely issue a veto that would be difficult to override.

August 25, 2021
By Sarah McLaughlin
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: The Daily Northwestern reported last month that the Faculty Senate passed a motion to update the handbook’s academic freedom policy in foreign campuses at its July 14 meeting, revisions which had been “at least two years in the making.”  This is an especially relevant subject given the administration’s cancellation of an event featuring an openly gay musician at its Qatar campus last year.

However, there are ongoing disagreements over the updated handbook’s language about academic freedom existing “to the extent that applicable laws allow.” This disagreement cuts to the heart of the issue about American institutions overseas: Universities may promise their faculty a certain set of rights, but they likely cannot supersede local law. But detailing how they’ll respond, what measures they’ll take, and what violations may cause them to withdraw from overseas programs, might be the most important step they can take.

August 24, 2021
By Jonathan Turley

Excerpt: There is a new legal challenge over academic freedom and free speech brought by former University of Miami Law School Professor Dan Ravicher. Ravicher filed an Equal Opportunity Employment Commission complaint. Such complaints can be the precursor for litigation and there is every indication that Ravicher is intent on a showdown with Miami Law School.

During his tenure at Miami, Ravicher was a relative rarity not just at the law school but in academia as an open supporter of Donald Trump. Ravicher was outspoken in his views outside of the school. That drew objections from some students. Many of the tweets referenced in earlier articles appear to be deleted. However, the accounts state that Ravicher accused of Democrats of cheating in the election. After these tweets, Ravicher claims that he was told by former Dean Anthony Varona that his contract might not be renewed.

August 24, 2021
By Corey Walker
The College Fix

Excerpt: Michigan State University recently published a 77-page diversity, equity and inclusion framework that lists dozens of goals to infuse the progressive ideology into every aspect of campus life, from curriculum to hiring practices to funding priorities.

Among the recommendations is to implement “a minimum of two DEI-related requirements in the formal curriculum for undergraduate students,” the document states. Another stated goal is to establish a “curriculum task force … to identify ways to incorporate DEI within university-wide undergraduate requirements.” The framework also recommends adding a “required component to New Student Orientation” focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. MSU spokesperson Dan Olsen told the Lansing State Journal that campus leaders are “exploring the feasibility of those recommendations. The next step is to determine what appropriate metrics should be put forward, and then implementation,” he said.

August 23, 2021
By Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: Last week, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a disappointing opinion on “the legality of introducing critical race theory and professed ‘antiracism’” in Arkansas’ educational institutions, including its public universities. Unfortunately, the opinion neglects the free speech rights of faculty members by asserting that their academic freedom is not protected by the First Amendment. It also unhelpfully suggests that the mere “communication” of ideas “based on critical race theory” may violate state and federal anti-discrimination laws, without providing any real guidance as to when or how such communications might cross the line.

First, the opinion asserts that “statements that public employees make pursuant to their official duties are not protected by the First Amendment.” Second, the opinion asserts that a “racially hostile environment could also be created through curricula, instruction, or other programs or activities that communicate the following ideas,” which it then goes on to list. Both arguments hardly stand to legal scrutiny.