No. You still can’t scream it in a crowded room without cause due to the ruling in Schneck v. US, but FIRE, which stands for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, thinks you should be able to say a lot of other things in school that you can’t currently say.

Every year FIRE grades the universities of the country on how their policies limit free speech. A green light is given to those universities that don’t limit it. A yellow is given to those that have policies that may limit it, and a red light is given to those that have at least one policy limiting free speech.

The FIRE report this year found that 74.2 percent of universities had policies in place that violated free speech, Penn State included (Down from 74.9 percent last year). FIRE particularly took issue with the Penn State Principles, saying:

Penn State University requires its students to agree that “I will not engage in any behaviors that compromise or demean the dignity of individuals or groups,” including any “taunting,” “ridiculing,” or “insulting.”

FIRE also represents students and faculty who have been affected by these university policies.

They recently represented students in battles against the State University of New York at Binghamton, Temple University, Valdosta State University, and the University of Delaware.

Now you might be asking, “What does this mean for me at Penn State?”

Absolutely nothing… until someone is prosecuted by the University for breaking the Principles and decides to contact an organization like FIRE, the policies will still be in effect. Penn State is in the majority in its restriction of free speech and likely will be into the future.

UPDATE (3:30): Through a tip, we were reminded that Safeguard Old State actually hosted an executive staff member from FIRE last week. Adam Kissel addressed a group of students in 110 Thomas on December 11 about university censorship issues. Onward State didn’t make it to the lecture, but SOS has put a video of the event online. The video’s format is weird– Ogg Theora– so we’ll try to get a streaming version up for you.

[FIRE via CHE]

About the Author

Eli Glazier

Eli is a junior majoring in International Politics. He enjoys paninis and books.


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