Philly-Based Group Sues 4 Universities for Free Speech

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says university speech codes squelch First Amendment.

A Philly-based advocacy group, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has sued four universities across the country, saying those institutions are squelching their students’ First Amendment rights.

The New York Times reports:

“We’re cultivating an intellectually unhealthy attitude that it is not O.K., or even dangerous, to hear opinions that might make you uncomfortable,” said Greg Lukianoff, the president of the group filing the suits. “Universities have been much too shy in saying that there’s a great educational benefit from hearing dissent. You have a whole generation of people who think that they should be protected from anything they see as unwanted or disagreeable.”

The suits allege that both Iowa State University and Ohio University banned certain T-shirts; Chicago State University, tried to shut down a faculty blog; and Citrus College in Glendora, Calif., set limits on where a student could collect signatures for a petition.

According to the group, many colleges have adopted vague anti-harassment policies that ban speech deemed offensive, and that give administrators the power to quash all sorts of political debate, satire or art.

Last year, I helped interview Lukianoff for City Journal about FIRE’s work challenging university speech codes. You can hear the podcast here.