It's no longer a matter of much debate that America's college campuses are not the beacons of free and open discussion they were intended to be. In its 14 years of existence, our organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), has documented hundreds of cases of gross abuses of students' and faculty members' fundamental rights.More than sixty percent of America's largest and most prestigious colleges have speech codesthat are either unconstitutional (at public universities) or directly contradict promises of free speech (at private universities).Click here to see their suggestions.
The two authors of this piece come from different political and personal perspectives. One is a liberal and an atheist (Lukianoff), the other a conservative evangelical Christian (Shibley). Our combined decades of work as president and senior vice president of FIRE have convinced us that the groupthink and the pressure to conform, be silent, or talk solely to those with whom you already agree that is fostered by the culture and rules of the modern campus is destructive to students, our educational system, and our society as a whole.
So what can people who recognize the importance of free speech on campus do about it? There are a number of possible measures that might be taken. FIRE is already doing some of them; others would require new large-scale and ambitious initiatives. Some are cultural. Some are political or legal. None are the silver bullet that a lot of us might like, and some have tradeoffs that might make them less desirable. Let's take a look at a few of them.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Defeating Campus Censors
There's a special place in 1st Amendment Heaven reserved for the people at FIRE: