Wednesday, February 17, 2016

UPDATE: Colorado College named one of 10 worst colleges for free speech

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 12:56 PM

We did hear back from Colorado College spokesperson Leslie Weddell, but she didn't have a lot to say about the issue.

"Students’ disciplinary records are protected by federal privacy laws," she wrote in an email to the Indy. "Therefore, the college cannot discuss specifics about particular cases. I can tell you that Colorado College followed its disciplinary procedures in this case."


——- ORIGINAL POST, TODAY, 12:56 P.M. ——-

click image Colorado College - MARK LEE
  • Mark Lee
  • Colorado College

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a nonprofit educational foundation dedicated to preserving individual rights on college and university campuses, has named Colorado College one of 2016's 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech.

The unenviable distinction is a result of a suspension the college made in response to concerns over race relations. The Independent has emailed CC's spokesperson seeking comment on the issue, but has not heard back yet. If and when we hear back from the college, we will update this blog.

According to its website, "FIRE was founded in 1999 by University of Pennsylvania professor Alan Charles Kors and Boston civil liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate after the overwhelming response to their 1998 book "The Shadow University: The Betrayal Of Liberty On America’s Campuses."


Greg Lukianoff, President and CEO of FIRE, wrote in depth about each of the Top Ten for the Huffington Post. Here's what he had to say about Colorado College's placement (read the full article here):
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:

Northwestern University
Louisiana State University
University of California, San Diego
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
University of Oklahoma
Marquette University
University of Tulsa
Mount St. Mary’s University
Wesleyan 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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