Latest News and Commentary: National

May 13, 2022
By Graham Piro
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: A qualified free speech win for a student-run art gallery at Wichita State University, reported earlier this month, is raising questions about the expressive rights of other students who criticize the school’s student government.

Wichita State’s Student Supreme Court overruled the student senate’s decision to yank funding from student-run art gallery ShiftSpace after the group criticized a student senator.

May 12, 2022
By David Ingram
NBC News

Excerpt: E-reader apps that became a lifeline for students during the pandemic are now in the crossfire of a culture war raging over books in schools and public libraries.

In several states, apps and the companies that run them have been targeted by conservative parents who have pushed schools and public libraries to shut down their digital programs, which let users download and read books on their smartphones, tablets or laptops. Some parents want the apps banned for their children, or even for all students. And they’re getting results.

May 12, 2022
By Charles Lipson
RealClear Politics

Excerpt: It is rare to meet someone with true moral courage, someone who risks everything to do what he knows is right. I was privileged to know such a man, George Anastaplo. His story, set during the Red Scare of the 1950s, needs to be told because it applies today, when political zealots again demand rigid conformity.

The time was the early 1950s, and the demands came from ideological crusaders on the right, who insisted on anti-communist loyalty oaths. Today’s crusaders come from the left, demanding pledges of support for “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI).

May 12, 2022
By Nathan Biller
The College Fix

Excerpt: Georgetown University has not set an end date for its investigation into a professor canceled for a comment he made about then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. Ilya Shapiro has now been on administrative leave for more than 100 days.

He told The College Fix that pending the end of his administrative leave, he will continue “writing, speaking, filing briefs, and otherwise engaging in public discourse in my personal capacity on my areas of expertise, including constitutional law, the Supreme Court, and the importance of free speech and civil discourse.”

May 12, 2022
By Michael Martz
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Excerpt: On the eve of graduation ceremonies for Virginia’s public colleges and universities, Gov. Glenn Youngkin told their presidents this week that he expects them to promote free speech on campus and hire faculty and other staff “with diverse political perspectives.”

Youngkin sent the five-page letter to the Council of Presidents on Tuesday, making clear his expectations on a range of cultural issues important to his conservative political base — from in-person instruction during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to creation of lab schools as a kind of charter school outside of traditional K-12 public education.

May 11, 2022
By Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: In a university course called Writing the Body, whose bodies are acceptable to write about? And who decides?

At Soka University of America, a private university just outside of Los Angeles that makes strong promises of academic freedom, faculty have the right to select and discuss any materials relevant to the course topic. But Aneil Rallin, a tenured, three-time SUA “Professor of the Year” and recent critic of the university’s treatment of BIPOC students, now faces a university investigation. Rallin is accused of “triggering” students and not “creat[ing] a safe space” because they assigned materials by queer authors of color.

May 11, 2022
By Mike Sabo
RealClear Education

Excerpt: The opportunity to speak freely and openly – especially on controversial topics – is a cornerstone of civic education. But events that unfolded after the “Politics, Policy, and Panic: Governing in Times of Crisis” conference at Saint Vincent College demonstrate that freedom of speech at America’s institutions of higher education continues to stand on shaky footing.

Letters by Gary Quinlivan, CPET’s co-director, and Saint Vincent president Father Paul R. Taylor denounced the conference and apologized to students. The college initially prohibited the publication of all presentations, though a complete playlist was published on YouTube a few days later.

May 10, 2022
By Ben Rowen
Texas Monthly

Excerpt: One should never fight a multifront war by choice, the old wisdom goes, but progressives in North Texas don’t have much choice in the matter. School dramas have sprouted like bluebonnets across the Dallas–Fort Worth area these past eight months.

At Collin, protesters were rallying to oppose the college’s decision not to renew the contract of outspoken history professor Michael Phillips for the 2022–23 academic year. It was not the first time the college had been accused of dismissing a professor for criticizing the school, labor organizing, or publicly wading into political controversies. For two years running, Collin has been named one of the top ten worst colleges in the United States for freedom of speech by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

May 10, 2022
By Wesley Yang
Year Zero, Substack

Excerpt: During the Spring of 2006, much of the nation’s public was riveted by the story of a heinous crime initially reported in local outlets out of Durham, North Carolina. On March 27, Mike Nifong, the city’s District Attorney, alleged that earlier that month, three white members of Duke University’s highly ranked lacrosse team had raped a black stripper hired to perform at a house party hosted by the team’s captain. For months, leading newspapers and TV programs presented the alleged assault as a damning illustration of the injustices of American society now widely known as “white privilege” and “toxic masculinity.”

There was just one problem: the supposed rape had never actually occurred.

May 10, 2022
By Kathleen Stock

Excerpt: Well before they ever came for me, I got a relatively early look at the phenomenon of students protesting about speech, quite by chance. In April 2017 I was in California to give a talk at wealthy liberal arts college Claremont McKenna.  Student guests were to observe a strict dress code, and would enjoy a three-course dinner, after which they would be required to remain upright and vaguely sentient during the talk by me. Arriving at the building with my young family who were travelling with me, we were greeted with the incongruous sight of two policemen slouching at the entrance, guns prominently to the fore of their belts, vetting the preppily-dressed people trooping in to hear me discuss burning issues in the philosophy of fiction and imagination.

My host explained that four days earlier there had been a large protest against a speaker in the same lecture series as mine.