OBSTACLES TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AT COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES TODAY


D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930):  "The censor-moron does not hate anything but the living and growing human consciousness. . . and our consciousness in its newest, most sensitive activity, its vital growth."

Please E-mail us  with problems you have encountered at your school. We hope to post some of these on this website



We have documented the incidents below from university sources such as student newspapers, and have attempted (and sometimes received) verification from administrators. Additions and corrections would be appreciated.

This website does not include issues related to student press freedoms, which are covered extensively by the Student Press Law Center



Fighting for your right to write and speak freely is an important part of learning who you are: MORE....


The public vs. the private university and First Amendment issues:
MORE....


Universities and the "Least Restrictive Means" of preventing "indecent" or "offensive" expression: MORE . . .


Universities can--if they have a will to--write your freedom of  speech into codes they abide by: MORE....


Here are some documents which sincerely respect students as responsible individuals:
A Model Campus Speech Code (posted from U. of Arkansas)

A non-punitive computer use policy (at Mansfield [PA] University)

A mediation-centered policy regarding controversial student artwork (from Penn State University)



Free expression on campus vs. "appropriateness" and "community standards: MORE....


Guidelines which insure free expression: MORE...
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Late adolescence provides many kinds of learning experiences. It is up to a university administration to determine which kinds it wishes to tolerate. A student who participated in the 1999 Nude Olympics at Princeton described her experience in an article (4/14/99) in Salon Magazine

RELATED LINKS

Justice on Campus:  dedicated to "preserv[ing] free expression and due process rights at universities." "Archive includes reports on disciplinary charges, speech codes, and censorship on college campuses around the country."

Other Voices: wonderful array of freedom of expression issues, created as part of a course in First Amendment issues at Northwestern University.

Peacefire: "an anti net censorship website for teenagers."

MIT Student Association for Freedom of Expression (SAFE): many resources, including a section on “censor bait”: what authorities do not want you to see related to indecency, drugs, music, etc.

Top Ten Threats to Academic Freedom”: although this site dates from 1995, there is excellent material on Censorship in Cyberspace, Codes of Conduct, Censoring the Student Press,Alumni Demands vs. Academic Freedom, and Censorship of Faculty.

The Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies (studying "community conflict over the arts")

Banned Music in the United States (listen to samples)

Rock Out Censorship: "a grass roots anti-censorship organization . . . not happy about having our First Amendment rights trampled, ignored, desecrated, and pissed on by spineless politicians that have sold out this country to corporate interests, religious zealots . . . and the so-called liberal sentries of political correctness in which nobody can dare utter a single word that might be construed as something that might offend someone."

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Margaret Sanger (1883-1966) produced films and books on birth control for which she was jailed several times. Her work was declared contrary to the laws of God and man. Officials thought Sanger was encouraging immorality in the common people for whom her works were intended. Many politicians and clergymen said slum dwellers, not having proper religious education,  would only use the films and books licentiously.

INCIDENTS
USING CAMPUS FACILITIES: DISPLAY of ARTWORK

Penn State, 1996-98: STUDENT SCULPTURE AND QUILT ORDERED REMOVED (see  The AAUP  guidelines describing how responsibly to protest against a speaker expressing a viewpoint from which a student dissents). MORE

Univ. Of South Florida, 2000: ART STUDENT ATTEMPTS TO PERFORM NUDE AT CAMPUS ART GALLERY. MORE

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USING CAMPUS FACILITIES: DISTRIBUTION OF LITERATURE OR POSTING PUBLIC  STATEMENTS

Brown Univ., 1997: FEMINISTS RESPOND TO "SEXIST" POSTERS WITH  PARODIES ADVERTISING "GRAB AND FEEL YOU UP PARTY." MORE

University of Oklahoma, 1998-99: GRAFFITI, POSTERS, AND DISTRIBUTING LITERATURE: "FIGHT MULTI-CULTURALISM," "READ A DIRTY BOOK.” MORE

Northwestern Univ., Jan 2000: A WHITE SUPREMACIST ATTEMPTS TO SET  UP A STUDENT CHAPTER OF HIS “HATE GROUP” AND APPEARS ON CAMPUS TO DISTRIBUTE PAMPHLETS.  MORE

Villanova University, 2000: OFFICIALS CONFISCATE PRO-LIFE PUBLICATION.  MORE

Bates College, 1997: ADMINISTRATION REMOVES GRAFFITI PROMOTING CAMPUS GAY RIGHTS.  MORE

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USE OF CAMPUS FACILITIES: RESTRICTING USE OF CAMPUS PUBLIC SPACES

Univ. of Massachusetts, 1990-98: UNIVERSITY REPRIMANDED FOR NOT ALLOWING SPACE FOR A PUBLIC MEETING TO PROTEST A VISIT TO CAMPUS BY THE BISHOP OF BOSTON.  MORE

San Diego State Univ, 2000: EXOTIC DANCERS NIXED AT THE SPRING  FIESTA   MORE

S.U.N.Y. Binghamton, 2000: STUDENT GOVERNMENT REQUEST FOR THE STUDENT UNION RENTAL OUTLET TO STOCK X-RATED FILMS REJECTED.  MORE

Princeton Univ., 1999: "NUDE OLYMPICS" BANNED BY TRUSTEES.  MORE

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CONTROVERSIAL SPEAKERS
(See the AAUP Guidelines for Freedom of Expression)

Univ. of Pennsylvania, 2000: WAS A READING FROM NOVEL ABOUT  STUDENT SUICIDES CONSIDERED TOO "CONTROVERSIAL"?  MORE

Harding Univ., 2000: APPEARANCE OF AUTHOR OF SUMMER OF MY GERMAN SOLDIER RESCINDED  MORE

Stanford Univ, Nov. 1997: INVITATION TO BLACK MUSLIM SPEAKER WITHDRAWN: A FREE SPEECH OR FINANCIAL ISSUE? DID STANFORD ALLOW THE INSURANCE CARRIER TO DETERMINE THE KIND OF SPEAKER THE UNIVERSITY WOULD ALLOW TO APPEAR?   MORE

Columbia University, 2000: JOHN McCAIN'S APPEARANCE QUESTIONED: A FREE SPEECH OR LEGAL ISSUE (FOR A NON-PROFIT INSTITUTION)?
MORE

Suffolk County Community College, 2000: NOTORIOUS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIM, CALLED POOR ROLE MODEL, PRESSURED TO CANCEL APPEARANCE.   MORE

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Robert Maynard Hutchins (1899-1977), famous President of the University of Chicago, was in retirement when, in 1959, a university publication came under attack from clergy and the media for publishing writing by William Burroughs, Jack Kerouc and other "Beat" poets. The current President of the university buckled under to the attackers, cutting the publication's budget. Hutchins' opinion was that it is a university's job to try to convince the community that "offensive" writing  is not necessarily evil. When literature is honest and  perceptive, the university's responsibility should be, he said, to teach the community why it is important, not to apologize and censor it.


ATTACKS ON COURSES

Nassau Community College, 1999: HUMAN SEXUALITY COURSE TAKEN TO COURT     MORE

Wesleyan (CT) University, 1999: WILL A COURSE IN “PORNOGRAPHY: WRITING OF PROSTITUTES” BE TAUGHT ANY LONGER? MORE

University of Michigan, 2000: COURSE IN “HOW TO BE GAY: MALE HOMOSEXUALITY AND INITIATION” CHALLENGED BY REGENT AND BY AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION. MORE

Randolph (NC) Community College, 1998: COLLEGE DROPS HISTORY COURSE WITH “PRO-CONFEDERACY” VIEWPOINT  MORE

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Salman Rushdie (b.1947) was sentenced to death by Ayatollah Komeini in 1989 for blasphemy against the Koran in his novel The Satanic Verses. Many book stores, including those on campuses, decided not to carry the novel because of threats of violence if they did. "What is freedom of expression?" he asked. "Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."


USE OF CAMPUS COMPUTERS, AND ACCEPTABLE USE POLICIES

Any messages ... offensive or disruptive ... that contain sexual implications ... that comment offensively on a person's race, sex, age, sexual orientation, ...." Think your school puts your freedom of speech second and their own protection first?Click here  for a view of one company's "Big Brother" type warning to its employees on how--and how not--to use its computers!

A strong essay on harassment, "hostile environment," and campus speech codes (including how students use computers). "I'm very suspicious when authorities piously insist that *their* power is not a problem and that the real problem is *our* racism, sexism, homophobia, etc."

A good summary of types of Acceptable Use Policies re campus computers.

Univ. of Oklahoma, 1997: "BE VERY AFRAID": UNIV. PRESIDENT REMOVES ALT.SEX AND OTHER NEWSGROUPS FROM SERVER. MORE

Univ. of Arizona, 1998-99: BILL REQUIRING UNIVERSITY TO FILTER SITES DIES IN STATE LEGISLATURE  MORE

Seattle Pacific Univ., 2000: A RELIGIOUSLY-AFFILIATED UNIVERSITY BEGINS BLOCKING “SEXUALLY-RELATED" WEBSITES   MORE

City College of San Francisco; Clemson University, 1999: STUDENT- POSTED TEACHER EVALUATION WEBSITES CHALLENGED  MORE

Georgia State Univ., 1996: NEO-NAZI WEB SITE CENSORED: BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE TO ROAST THE PIG? IT IS TRUE, AS THE NAZI "LESSON IN HISTORY" TEACHES, THAT HATEFUL IDEAS SOMETIMES WIN OUT OVER HUMANE ONES. IN A COLLEGE SETTING, HOW SHOULD THIS LESSON BE TAUGHT, WITHOUT CENSORING THE NAZIS? MORE

Clemson University, 2000: STUDENT ACCESS TO INTERNET LONG DISTANCE SERVICE SUSPENDED, THEN, THROUGH MEDIATION, RESTORED    MORE

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Maya Angelou's (b.1928)  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is in the top 20 on the list of most frequently banned books in public schools. The scene in which 8-year-old Maya is raped is often given as a reason the book is unsuitable. Consider also this comment  by a school superindentent in MD: "If a child didn't have negative feelings about white people, this could sow the seeds." Of course, one might have the confidence in his teachers to believe that they would not present the book in that way . But for many administrators, pleasing the public is the key consideration.


 CAMPUS RADIO BROADCASTS: COMMUNITY STANDARDS, SAFE HARBOR PERIODS, TIME, PLACE, MANNER, AND THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION   MORE

St. Norbert College (MN), 1999: PLUG PULLED ON READING OF CATCHER IN THE RYE, BUT COLLEGE LEARNS FROM INCIDENT   MORE

Siena (NY) College, 1999: HEAVY METAL AND "SHOUT OUTS" BANNED  MORE

Univ. of South Carolina, 1996: OFFENSIVE SONGS RESULT IN FORCED RESIGNATION OF STUDENT DISK JOCKEYS    MORE

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POLITICAL ADVERTISING IN CAMPUS PUBLICATIONS

Rutgers University, 1999: ADVERTISING SPACE IN ALUMNI MAGAZINE DENIED TO PROTESTING GROUP    MORE

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