The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has published a guide to help administrators craft school policies in such a way as to protect First Amendment rights on campus. "Correcting Common Mistakes in Campus Speech Policies" (download PDF) details the problems - bias reporting sites, free speech zones, undefined terminology in harassment policies, mandatory university values - that FIRE frequently encounters among institutional policies. NAS of course has also dealt with these problems. Our statement Sexual Harassment and Academic Freedom showed how the rights of individuals can be violated by misguided efforts to combat sexual harassment. In Tolerance, Diversity, Respect, OR ELSE, Williams Chokes Up, and Snitch Studies at Cal Poly, we highlighted freedom-threatening bias reporting systems at William & Mary, Williams College, and Cal Poly, respectively. And this spring, in a series of articles (beginning with Free to Agree), NAS exposed Virginia Tech's faculty promotion and tenure policy that included a commitment-to-diversity litmus test. We are welcome FIRE's new guide for protecting individual rights on campus, and we hope to see more and more college administrators heeding the counsel therein.
- November 16, 2009