At Colorado College, a student responded anonymously to a post on the social media application Yik Yak that read "#blackwomenmatter" with the joke "They matter, they're just not hot." After administrators learned that student Thaddeus Pryor may have been responsible for the joke, they summoned him to a meeting at which he admitted to writing it. Colorado College responded by imposing a 21-month suspension, during which Pryor was forbidden from taking courses for academic credit at any other institution. Following Pryor's appeal and a letter from FIRE reminding Colorado College that its actions violated the freedom of expression that the college promises to its students, Pryor's suspension was reduced to six months.And here's the full release from FIRE:
Colorado College Named One of 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2016
PHILADELPHIA, February 17, 2016—Nearly half of America’s top colleges maintain speech codes that blatantly violate First Amendment standards. But every year the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) takes a closer look at the past year’s incidents of college censorship to determine the nation’s 10 worst abusers of student and faculty free speech rights.
This year’s list of the 10 worst colleges for free speech—published with detailed descriptions at The Huffington Post—includes many public colleges or universities bound by the First Amendment. Some of them, on the other hand, like Colorado College, are private colleges that, though not required by the Constitution to respect student and faculty rights, nonetheless promise to do so. In addition to Colorado College, this year’s list features:
Louisiana State University
University of California, San Diego
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
University of Oklahoma
University of Tulsa
Mount St. Mary’s University
Colorado College appears on FIRE’s annual “worst of the worst” list for suspending a student for making a six-word joke on social media.
Among the other institutions on FIRE’s list are a university that fired two faculty members for criticizing the university president’s plan to oust low-performing freshmen and another university that punished a student for something someone else said—and then went after the student newspaper for reporting on the story.
“This past year, free speech on campus took center stage and became international news,” said FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff. “For those of us who have worked for years on the frontlines, the threat to free speech on campus isn’t a new story. Too often students find their voices silenced, and increasingly their professors are finding themselves in the same boat. If this year’s ‘worst’ list proves anything, it’s that even tenured faculty members aren’t safe from the censor’s muzzle.”
FIRE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at thefire.org.
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