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America’s Worst Colleges for Free Speech on Campus

Don't pass out any fake stimulus dollars at Bucknell University unless you want to get into trouble.

by
Robert Shibley

Bio

September 13, 2009 - 12:09 am
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Brandeis University, which is now in its second year on the list, found a professor of nearly 50 years guilty of racial harassment for using the word “wetbacks” in his Latin American Politics class — in the context of criticizing the term. Colorado College, another offending institution two years running, found two male students guilty of sexually related “violence” simply for posting a flyer that satirized another flyer circulated by a student group. Their crime? The male students mentioned both sex and guns (separately) in their flyer making fun of the “Feminist and Gender Studies Interns” flyer.

Johns Hopkins suspended a student for what it deemed to be an “offensive” Halloween party invitation posted on Facebook and then passed a repressive “civility” code over the protests of student leaders. Michigan State, currently in its first year on the list, found a student government leader guilty of “spamming” after she e-mailed a whopping eight percent of the faculty (in total, not even in one message) to encourage them to express their views on a proposed shortening of the school calendar.

And Tufts University found an entire student newspaper guilty of “harassment” for publishing two pieces, one satirizing affirmative action and the other commenting on Islamic Awareness Week. The latter of these two pieces included only factually verifiable information about Islam, as well as quotes from the Koran.

That’s right. At Tufts, quoting actual facts that some people would rather not know is considered “harassment,” giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “an inconvenient truth.”

All six of these universities will be admitting freshmen this year, many of whom will have no idea that they are surrendering their fundamental rights to those who have shown absolutely no concern for them. Thanks to FIRE’s advertisement in U.S. News, however, at least some of them may know going in that administrators at their schools have decided that the fundamental rights that they thought they would find at an institution of higher education — fundamental rights for which men and women fought and died — are less important than making sure that those on campus who are fortunate enough to hold the most “popular” views feel as comfortable and unchallenged as possible.

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Robert Shibley is the vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) in Philadelphia, PA.
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