The home of “things said” by the National Association of Scholars.

How Diversity Came to Mean 'Downgrade the West'

Are students gaining anything by replacing the universalism of the West with the particularism of diversity?

You Are Cordially Disinvited

Peter Wood

Jason Riley is the most recent conservative speaker to recieve a disinvitation. 

The Censorship Epidemic

Chance Layton

Common Core: Yea or Nay?


A new book by Peter Wood and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Sol Stern addresses the question—Common Core: Yea or Nay?

Can Civility and Academic Freedom Coexist?

Ashley Thorne

Civility calls for restraint, and academic freedom, apparently, for lack of restraint. Colleges and universities strive for academic freedom and civil discourse; can they have both at the same time?

FIRE President Details Chilling New Federal Campus Speech Codes

Glenn Ricketts

Greg Lukianoff describes the numbing censorship imposed by the new federal guidelines.

FIRE Press Release Scores Federal Speech Code Standards

Glenn Ricketts

The Department of Justice embraces OCR's censorious harassment code.

Let's Talk About Free Speech on Campus

Glenn Ricketts

FIRE's Greg Lukianoff and Bob Shibley urge us to defend freedom of speech on college campuses, where it' s very much endangered.

Colleges Squelching Free Speech and Thought

George Leef

Thanks to unconstitutional university speech codes, students are losing their intellectual edge.

Greg Lukianoff's Terrific New Book

George Leef

George Leef reviews Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.

FIRE President Scores Suppression of Free Speech at Auburn

Glenn Ricketts

Auburn suppresses free speech but there's no outrage.  Greg Lukianoff is dismayed.

Free Speech Vindicated at University of Cincinnati

George W. Dent

Another university's restriction of free speech is judged unconstitutional.

FIRE Sends Followup Harassment Inquiry to OCR, NAS Co-signs

Glenn Ricketts

We sign on with FIRE' s letter asking OCR to break its silence on new harassment guidelines.

OCR Harassment Guidelines And Campus Policies: The Latest

Glenn Ricketts

The implementation of OCR's campus harassment guidelines unfolds.  Bad gets worse.

One Year Later: OCR Stonewalls Objections to New Harassment Guidelines

Glenn Ricketts

Despite strong protests from NAS, FIRE and the AAUP,  OCR says nothing about its new harassment requirements

FIRE Lists Rogues' Gallery of Free Speech Offenders

Glenn Ricketts

FIRE presents its list of the 12 most repressive campuses for freedom of speech.

FIRE Sends Open Letter to OCR on Sexual Harassment, NAS Co-Signs

Glenn Ricketts

We collaborate with FIRE against OCR guidelines that trivialize sexual harassment with severe results to the careers of those frivolously charged.

NAS Signs Open Letter Asking OCR to Better Define Sexual Harassment

Ashley Thorne

NAS joins ten other organizations in requesting the Office for Civil Rights to use the Supreme Court's standard in defining student sexual harassment in higher education.

That Man May Revel in His Freedom of Speech

Glenn Ricketts

Is the use of inclusive use of the masculine singular pronoun grounds for accusations of sexual harassment? It was at CSU-Chico till FIRE ridiculed them with "Speech Code of the Year."

Free Speech Zoned Out at Drake University

Glenn Ricketts

Free speech seems to be ever more unpopular on college campuses these days, where it’s increasingly regarded as an unwelcome nuisance. The administration at Drake University have decided that the public expression of individual students’ private political opinions is something that can’t be permitted on campus. So they’ve created a “free speech zone” nearby where – for the time being, at least – you can stump for your favorite candidate. I wonder if there’s a sign posted that reads “Restricted Area: Free Speech Allowed.”

No Evidence of Sexual Harassment? Guilty, Says the Dean

Glenn Ricketts

Professor Arthur Gilbert, a long-time, highly regarded faculty member in the University of Denver's Joseph Korbel School of International Studies is still seeking vindication, following his outrageous treatment by senior DU administrators.

FIRE: Sen. Leahy Pulls OCR Standards From VAWA Re-Authorization

Glenn Ricketts

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has withdrawn his proposal to incorporate the "preponderance of evidence" standard of proof from the current draft version of the Violence Against Women Act. 

FIRE Issues Statement on Campus Political Activity

Glenn Ricketts

Check out this statement on campus political activity from our friends at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. As the 2012 election year approaches, it'll be helpful to know the academic ideological landscape which, as FIRE's examples illustrate, hasn't been a citadel of free expression for some time now. We can thank FIRE once again for holding academics to the principles they once enshrined, but now often eschew.

No Really, Some Good News on Sexual Harassment

Glenn Ricketts

New mandatory regulations for college sexual harassment case procedures from the US Education Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) have made it much easier to return a guilty verdict but thanks to FIRE's tireless vigilance and PR efforts, a particularly egregious case at the University of North Dakota has seen justice done. 

FIRE Wins Major Free Speech Victory at UW/Stout

Glenn Ricketts

The news about free speech and free expression on college campuses these days is often depressing, but today, there's some good news, thanks to our friends at FIRE who've persuaded the UW/Stout administration to abandon the heavy-handed censorship imposed recently on a theater arts professor. 

FIRE Wins Another Case

George Leef

I wrote about the astonishing case of a professor at East Georgia College about two years ago; he was fired summarily for having had the temerity to criticize the school's sexual harassment policy. Just recently the case was settled for a mere $50,000. Read about it here. That seems like small compensation for the damage the college inflicted, but maybe there simply wasn't more to be gotten.

Fired: For Sexual Harassment? No, for Criticizing the Policy

Glenn Ricketts

A professor at East Georgia College was just legally vindicated after being terminated, NOT for sexual harassment itself, but for merely criticizing his school's proposed policy at a faculty meeting in 2009. You can read about the details here, courtesy of our friends at FIRE, who these days seem to have more and more work to do. First Amendment Rights? Not when it comes to the SHI (sexual Harassment Industry). Never, never assume that we've finally reached the limits of Orwellian absurdity where this subject is concerned.

Higher Sex Ed

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood examines the bewildering state of sexuality on many contemporary college campuses.

Feds Gut Due Process in "Sexual Harassment" Cases

Jonathan Bean

The Office of Civil Rights for the Department of Education has retreated from its firm stance in favor of due process and put forth a new standard for enforcing campus sexual harassment codes based on "the preponderance of evidence" (rather than "clear and convincing" evidence). 

NAS Delaware Head Jan Blits Keynotes Tomorrow at FIRE Conference

Professor Blits, who helped end the University of Delaware's ideological residence life program, will speak to students and others at the conference of the Campus Freedom Network.

Sexual Harassment: Probably Guilty is Good Enough

Glenn Ricketts

Recently, the US Dept. of Education's Office for Civil Rights mandated a new standard of proof for campus sexual misconduct procedures. Watch out, because it's going to be a LOT easier to find you guilty.

Yes, Virginia...You are All Right

Jonathan Bean

It is always nice to report good news. In the long struggle for sanity on college campuses, occasionally schools "do the right thing." In this case, the University of Virginia has eliminated all speech codes and earned a "Green Light" from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). For more on the story, click here. To see where your school stands in FIRE ratings, search here. Sadly, most schools are Red or Yellow. Take action by keeping an eye on your alma mater or local university. Report to your local NAS affiliate and/or contact FIRE.

Next Week in D.C.: Lukianoff Speaks to NAS Chapter

Ashley Thorne

Friends in D.C., we hope to see you on Monday, Nov. 1, when FIRE president Greg Lukianoff will address the D.C. chapter of the National Association of Scholars. He will speak on "CLS v. Martinez and the Campus Freedom of Association Crisis." To RSVP and for more details, see this flier.  

Social Justice and Censorship

Glenn Ricketts

On the release of a new FIRE video, NAS recalls our victory for freedom of conscience with an accrediting body and its biased "dispositions" requirements.

Penn State Censors Criticism of Islamic Extremism

Candace de Russy

From the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education:

A new short film by FIRE documents the experience of Penn State student artist Joshua Stulman, whose "Portraits of Terror" art exhibit was censored by the university because it satirized Islamic terrorism. Stulman is just one of numerous college students and faculty members who have been silenced for discussing or criticizing Islamic extremism.

Mandatory Rape Lecture for Male Freshmen at Hamilton College

Ashley Thorne

Male freshmen will be instructed tonight by "a national leader in social justice and sustainability education."

FIRE Educates for Free Speech on Campus

Glenn Ricketts

FIRE will offer a Free Speech Seminar in NYC on September 14.

Back on Track: U Illinois Reinstates Catholic Prof

Ashley Thorne

The University of Illinois has restored Professor Kenneth Howell to his position after dismissing him for an email he sent discussing Catholic teaching on homosexuality and natural law.

FIRE Scores Again for Academic Freedom

Glenn Ricketts

Our friends at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education continue their stellar work defending the academic freedom and First Amendment rights of college faculty members - especially untenured adjuncts - who collide with stifiling campus political orthodoxies. This time, they've scored against the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District, which will have to pay 100K in lost wages to an adjunct instructor who was terminated in 2007 after a student complained that her brief classroom discussion of the origins of homosexuality was "offensive." The district will have to pick up the tab for legal expenses as well. Too bad for them - and the taxpayers who will carry theses costs - that they didn't simply respect the instructor's academic freedom in the first place. But while I'm glad that FIRE was able to intervene successfully in this case, I also wish that they and other organizations such as the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) didn't have so much work to do. This is getting to be a depressingly familiar scenario: 1) Instructor in a psychology or ethics course examines homosexuality or sex differences, says something that a student finds "offensive." 2) A complaint is forwarded at the speed of light to the administration, cc to the campus women's center, the dean of multicultural affairs or the LGBT office, who don't necessarily need to interview the instructor, but nevertheless agree that yes, yes, the classroom discussion was indeed "offensive." 3) The administration informs instructor that she's outta here. 4) Board of directors upholds administration, unimpressed by quaint ideas about academic freedom or First Amendment protections. Honestly, I wonder what the worst aspect of cases such as this one is. It's appalling, of course, that such an Orwellian intellectual climate exists on so many campuses, and the examples of outrages such as this one seem to pop up weekly. See Ashley Thorne's recent post detailing the latest incident involving a socal work student whose religious convictions ran afoul of a counseling program at Augusta State University in Georgia. But what about boards of trustees, such as the one in the San Jose/Evergreen case? What could they, as the governing bodies at a public institution have been thinking? Apart from the deserved embarassment their school has incurred and the hefty settlement costs they've handed to taxpayers, what does academic freedom or First Amendment protections mean to them? Not much, I have to conclude, since they upheld the administration's outrage, without apparently seeing it as such. Kudos to FIRE once again, which seems to have a much firmer grasp of the academic enterprise and its mission than do many of the people to whom it's been directly entrusted.

The Illinois Railroad: Making Quick Work of a Catholic Prof

Peter Wood

U Illinois should restore Professor Howell to his classroom both for his own sake and for the quality of academic inquiry and classroom teaching throughout the university.

FIRE Reports: U Minnesota Promises Not to Mandate Beliefs

Ashley Thorne

The Foundation for Individual Rights has announced that the University of Minnesota, in response to a letter from FIRE, promised that "[n]o University policy or practice ever will mandate any particular beliefs, or screen out people with 'wrong beliefs' from the University." The FIRE letter was prompted by a proposal for the university's school of education, to be voted on in January, that would require all ed students to study “white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression.” NAS wrote about it here. FIRE is cautiously optimistic about the university's response. While warning that "The next version of the college's plans must reflect this promise," it has declared a victory for freedom of conscience. The letter from General Counsel Mark B. Rotenberg, however, gives cause for continuing concern. Rotenberg asserts that the university holds the right, under academic freedom, to "engage in creative thinking, dialogue, and advocacy with respect to a broad range of ideas for improving P-12 education." He added, "Academic freedom means little if our teaching faculty is inhibited from discussing and proposing curriculum innovations simply because others find them 'illiberal' or 'unjust.'" Rotenberg is right to praise the exchange of different and competing viewpoints. But U Minnesota needs to be more thoughtful about its proposals. Even illiberal brainstorming can take root when it results in public documents ready for approval. Take Virginia Tech, for example. Its  College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences recently came out with a "Strategic Diversity Plan" that aimed to put in systems for logrolling; provide incentives (some monetary) for faculty and staff to take part in diversity activities and for departments to make faculty hires; implement College-wide diversity course requirements; and enact racial preferences in spite of a Virginia Tech ban on affirmative action. It is not clear what bureaucratic hurtles remain for the Diversity Plan's approval or when it is likely to be granted (although the general CLAHS Strategic Plan has already endorsed the Diversity Plan), but it is clear that such a plan, if approved, will leave Virginia Tech's intellectual integrity in ruins. So no, proposing illiberal or unjust "curriculum innovations" is not as benign as Rotenberg would like it to sound. But for now, we join with FIRE in encouragement over the University of Minnesota's promises not to mandate particular points of view.

FIRE Publishes Speech Policies Guide

Ashley Thorne

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has published a guide to help administrators craft school policies in such a way as to protect First Amendment rights on campus. "Correcting Common Mistakes in Campus Speech Policies" (download PDF) details the problems - bias reporting sites, free speech zones, undefined terminology in harassment policies, mandatory university values - that FIRE frequently encounters among institutional policies. NAS of course has also dealt with these problems. Our statement Sexual Harassment and Academic Freedom showed how the rights of individuals can be violated by misguided efforts to combat sexual harassment. In Tolerance, Diversity, Respect, OR ELSE, Williams Chokes Up, and Snitch Studies at Cal Poly, we highlighted freedom-threatening bias reporting systems at William & Mary, Williams College, and Cal Poly, respectively. And this spring, in a series of articles (beginning with Free to Agree), NAS exposed Virginia Tech's faculty promotion and tenure policy that included a commitment-to-diversity litmus test. We are welcome FIRE's new guide for protecting individual rights on campus, and we hope to see more and more college administrators heeding the counsel therein.

Happy Birthday FIRE

Ashley Thorne

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) today celebrates ten years ofdefending Constitutional rights on college campuses. Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate founded FIRE in 1999 to combat "the systematic violation of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, due process, and other basic rights on campuses across the nation." Ever since then, FIRE has done great work, fighting - and often winning - battles on behalf of students, faculty members, and administrators whose freedoms were under attack. Tonight FIRE is hosting an anniversary gala, where NAS members Dr. Jan Blits and Dr. Linda Gottfredson will be honored with a special award for their efforts in exposing the abuses of the University of Delaware residence life program since 2007. The National Association of Scholars salutes FIRE's good work, and we are proud of the competent and influential organization it has become.

What's Cooking

Peter Wood

Yale, Virgina Tech, East Georgia, Eastern Michigan, Latin American Historians, 21st Century Cluelessness, and CampusReform.org--we've got it all.

Snitch Studies at Cal Poly: We Snare Because We Care

Peter Wood

The university launches a new bias incident reporting system to enforce "respect."

Bias Tuesday

Ashley Thorne

Current bias stories at MIT, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and University of Wisconsin.

Delaware Res Life Video Soars in YouTube Popularity

Ashley Thorne

Thursday The Complet

Peter Wood

Tea Parties, maintaining a belief system, UNC apologizes, grade inflation, coming soon, and Atkinson's war

Wednesday? Oui, Monsieur

Peter Wood

Vapor trails, lifeboats, higher ed on the brink, filtration at Virginia Tech, death to apostates, disappointment at Chapel Hill, and new Cognitive Science Network

Harvey for Harvard

Ashley Thorne

Harvey Silverglate is running for Harvard

Slouching Toward the Therapeutic University: Part 2

Tom Wood

How the "students as customers" attitude and the self-esteem movement undermine good education.

Suitable for Framing

Ashley Thorne

FIRE, student paper, CHE, and John K. Wilson weigh in on Virginia Tech diversity requirements for promotion and tenure.

Cracking the Speech Code

Greg Lukianoff

At the national NAS conference in January, Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, spoke on the state of free speech and civil liberties on campus. Here is the text of his speech, rich in links and civil liberties cases, where he correlates the rise of the speech code to the rise of college administrators.

How the Dorms Are Politicized: The Case of the University of Delaware

Adam Kissel

This paper was presented by Adam Kissel at a panel at the National Association of Scholars general conference in Washington, DC, on January 11, 2009. Kissel is the director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

Campus Speech Codes: Absurd, Tenacious, and Everywhere

Greg Lukianoff

Greg Lukianoff, the President for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, drafted the following article for and presented it at a conference on