Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Battle for Free Speech On Campus

It's no secret that a disproportionate number college and university administrators and professors lean to the left politically. That would not be a problem if not for the fact that all too often they try to squash the free speech of many of the students they are supposed to serve. This goes on constantly, across that nation. Let's look at two current examples of the ongoing battle for free speech and liberty on America's campuses. One involves the University of California - San Diego. The other concerns the University of Illinois - Champaign. One of the best free speech watchdog groups out there is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Their mission "is to defend and sustain individual rights at America's colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. FIRE's core mission is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them." FIRE has defended liberal students when their free speech was threatened, too, but the vast majority of cases involve suppression of free speech and other civil rights of conservative students (and sometimes faculty) by liberal educators. It should also be pointed out that student governments, often controlled by leftists, are as guilty of civil rights violations as are administrators and educators. SAN DIEGO DICTATORSHIP: One of FIRE's current battles involves "a blow-by-blow account of the First Amendment meltdown taking place at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD)." Frim a current FIRE report (emphasis added): "The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and its student government have violated the First Amendment by freezing funds for 33 student media organizations, dissolving the student-run television station, and threatening to punish students involved in a controversy over a party invitation for an event called the 'Compton Cookout.' Student government president Utsav Gupta has explained that his repressive actions were due to "fracturing of the student body on an issue" and 'hateful speech.' Further, under pressure from state legislators who seek to punish protected speech, UCSD has launched "aggressive investigations" into the party invitation. After many students came to FIRE for help, FIRE has written two letters to UCSD defending the First Amendment both on and off campus." Continue reading "University of California at San Diego: First Amendment Violations at UCSD" and also see their "brief rundown" of the UCSD events... FIRE maintains a list of their top current cases, which is well worth looking at. THE "ILL" IN UNIV. OF ILLINOIS: An interesting press release from a student group calling itself "Illinois Deserves Better" describes both the civil rights offenses being committed by the University of Illinois and the group's efforts to fight back. The Illinois Deserves Better press release (dated Feb. 24, 2010; emphasis added by me): Students Launch "Illinois Deserves Better" Organization to Combat Partisan Administrators Champaign, IL Students at the University of Illinois are announcing the official formation of a Registered Student Organization, the aim of which is to fumigate the Urbana campus of partisan and corrupt administrators. In reaction to a scandal wrought at the hands of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Renee Romano and her staff in the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations (OIIR), ‘I Deserve Better’ is striving for a refreshed administration of integrity and mutual respect so that the campus may finally move beyond an era of clout. The group will advocate for the replacement of Vice Chancellor Renee Romano and Associate Vice Chancellor Anna Gonzalez and will call for a full review of their offices and financial endeavors. Those at ‘I Deserve Better’ believe that in a time of extreme economic hardship, when students and their families are asked to give more and faculty and staff are asked to work for less, that runaway administrative costs and malfeasance are exceptionally intolerable. While students had hoped to work with University of Illinois Administrators, actions by Vice Chancellor Renee Romano and her offices have lead to an institutional impasse that can only be bridged by the immediate replacement of those administrators in question. The offensive actions of those in question include Vice Chancellor Romano's refusal to acknowledge inherent student rights to free speech, partisan viewpoint discrimination against students who do not share administration views, and a refusal to answer the questions of students who want a logical, truthful explanation or admission of wrongdoing regarding the Students for Chief Illiniwek FOIA scandal. Similarly, the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations acted dishonorably by sending student interns to a meeting where student government members were drafting a resolution to admonish the actions of that student's employers. A Washington Lobbyist has contacted the organization and is eager to contribute his time in Springfield to help obtain legislative remedies to the situation. In addition to this, the Illinois Student Senate will be voting on a resolution tonight [Feb. 23, 2010] that admonishes the administration and calls for more accountable leadership in the Pine Lounge at the Illini Union at 7 P.M. Vice Chancellor Renee Romano and Associate Vice Chancellor Anna Gonzalez have further tarnished the University of Illinois' reputation with their behavior and Illinois Deserves Better looks forward to working with Interim President Stanley O. Ikenberry and Interim Chancellor Robert Easter to restore integrity to the great institution that is the state's flagship school. Contact INFO: Illinois Deserves Better President: Jerry Vachaparambil, 630-632-0808, VP of Membership: Daniel Gilpin, 309-825-0227, Marketing Director: Gabe Hartwig, 217-898-9041, Communications Director Bobby McNeily, 630-885-0174, bobbymcn RELATED: ‘U.S. News’ Readers: FIRE's Red Alert List Exposes the Worst Violators of Campus Rights Who's Undermining Freedom of Speech on Campus Now Free Speech On Campus The New Republic Protecting free speech on campus - Washington Times Free speech on public college campuses ... University Of Illinois Political Ban May Extend To Students FOIA Request Reveals That University of Illinois Administrators ... FIRE on YouTube Leave a Comment * Conservative T-Shirts * Follow CNB on Twitter * RSS Feed