Category: Academia

Stanford Student Government Blocks Funding For Pence Speech

One of the free speech issues that we have previously discussed is whether universities are effectively curtailing free speech through student surrogates on campus. We have seen student government bodies and boards engage in blatant content-based discrimination in exercising their control over budgets or publications (here and here and here). The latest example comes from Stanford University where the student government voted against approving a $6,000 grant request from the College Republicans to help host former Vice President Mike Pence for a campus speech. That’s right, they voted against supporting the right of other students to hear from a former Vice President of the United States. Continue reading “Stanford Student Government Blocks Funding For Pence Speech”

Were the Framers Really Pro-Choice? Not Likely

The Washington Post has been criticized for running a column by Aaron Tang, professor of law at the University of California at Davis, claiming an originalist basis for the right to abortion.  The column makes highly dubious claims over the legality of early stage abortions and the likely understanding of the Framers of such a right. The suggestion is that, at least as to early abortions, the Framers and early legal commentators may have been technically pro-choice. I recently wrote a column on how abortions were treated as crimes at the time of the drafting of the Constitution.  The assertions made by Professor Tang have been refuted by scholars like John Finnis, professor emeritus of Law and Legal Philosophy at Oxford University, and Robert P. George, McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University. The Supreme Court will hear one of the most important abortion cases in decades this week in in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Continue reading “Were the Framers Really Pro-Choice? Not Likely”

“Rittenhouse Should Pay for his Crimes”: ASU Students Demand the Expulsion of Kyle Rittenhouse

President Joe Biden and media figures are not the only persons who are “angry” after a jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse on all charges. Despite a jury with the same racial makeup convicting the defendants in Georgia in the Arbery case, many have denounced the entire legal system as racist. It does matter that there was evidence supporting Rittenhouse’s claim of self-defense that was largely missing from prior coverage of the case. Now students and groups at Arizona State University are planning a rally and demanding that Rittenhouse be expelled. With leaders like President Biden calling Rittenhouse a “white supremacist” before any investigation was completed and legal analysts calling the entire trial “white supremacy on steroids,” there is a sense of legitimacy in demanding such extrajudicial punishments.

Continue reading ““Rittenhouse Should Pay for his Crimes”: ASU Students Demand the Expulsion of Kyle Rittenhouse”

Hollins University Faculty and Students Challenge “Binary” Gender Classifications For Admission

Hollins University is one of the oldest women’s colleges in the country but now faces a growing challenge over the use of gender as a defining characteristic. Some students and faculty are demanding that Hollins allow for non-binary individuals to apply for admission. However, that step raises additional questions as to applicants who were born female but identify (or have transitioned) as males . . . or biological males. Continue reading “Hollins University Faculty and Students Challenge “Binary” Gender Classifications For Admission”

University of Pittsburgh Students Disrupt Pro-Life Conference

We have been discussing how faculty and students are increasingly shutting down speakers or destroying opposing memorialsin the name of free speech. The latest such example is at University of Pittsburgh where abortion activists disrupted a conference on fetal tissue research held by a pro-life group. The university is investigating but apparently no students were stopped or identified at the event by campus security despite their forcing the suspension of the event. Continue reading “University of Pittsburgh Students Disrupt Pro-Life Conference”

Yale Law Students Sue Over Alleged “Blackballing” For Supporting Law Professor

We have often discussed how dissenting faculty and students are increasingly subjected to retaliation for the exercise of free speech or free association on campuses.  In many cases, such treatment involves shunning or blackballing by school administrators to prevent professors or students from participating in programs. That is the complaint by two law students (identified only as John Doe and Jane Doe) who allege that they were blackballed for supporting Professor Amy Chua, who was previously discussed as embroiled in a controversy at the school after she defended Justice Brett Kavanaugh.  The students make some shocking allegations against the Yale Dean and other administration officials.

Continue reading “Yale Law Students Sue Over Alleged “Blackballing” For Supporting Law Professor”

Fordham University Sued By Both A Professor and Student In Bizarre Zoom Class Incident

Fordham University is the subject of two separate lawsuits stemming from a bizarre incident in a Zoom class. Professor Howard Robinson, 69, was accused by a student of masturbating during a virtual class in an academic version of the Jeffrey Toobin controversy. Robinson, however, insists that he not only did not commit the act but could not have done so physically. In the meantime, the student who recorded the incident, Andrea Morin, is suing after flunking the class under a substitute professor. She alleged retaliation. Continue reading “Fordham University Sued By Both A Professor and Student In Bizarre Zoom Class Incident”

Duke Student President Blocks Pro-Israel Group Over Social Media Post

We have been discussing controversies over social media postings by students and faculty. The latest controversy at Duke University shows again the dangers to free speech in barring groups over such postings. A chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) was approved for Duke but that approval was then rescinded by Duke Student President Chistina Wang over an Instagram response by SSI to a critic. The SSI posting was a measured and civil response to the highly critical tweet from the student. The concern is that the incident was used as a pretext for claiming a viewpoint neutral basis for barring a pro-Israel group. Continue reading “Duke Student President Blocks Pro-Israel Group Over Social Media Post”

“Minor-Attracted People”: Old Dominion University Professor Faces Calls For Termination Over his Views of Pedophilia

An assistant professor at Old Dominion University is facing calls for his firing after an interview where he discussed his highly controversial views of pedophilia.  Allyn Walker, who teaches sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University, believes that it is not immoral for adults to be sexually attracted to children. He insists that “minor-attracted persons” are wrongly stigmatized for “an attraction they didn’t ask for.” As will come to no surprise to readers on this blog, I believe that Walker’s views are protected by free speech as well as academic freedom principles.[Update: Walker is now on leave from the university].

Continue reading ““Minor-Attracted People”: Old Dominion University Professor Faces Calls For Termination Over his Views of Pedophilia”

Burning the “Bad Stuff”: School Board Members Call for Book Burning

We recently discussed a book burning organized by a school district in Canada. Now, members of the Spotsylvania County School Board have called for the burning of books with “sexually explicit” content from school libraries. There has been a disturbing rise in calls for censorship, bans, and removal of books from book stores and other forums. Book burning is the most grotesque manifestation of censorship and view intolerance.

Continue reading “Burning the “Bad Stuff”: School Board Members Call for Book Burning”

St. Louis University Students Destroy Pro-Life Memorial

We have previously discussed how many are now claiming that the prevention of others from speaking is a form of free speech. The latest such example comes from the campus of Saint Louis University where students vandalized a pro-life memorial. What is most striking is how unconcerned the students are in their destructive conduct as they are videotaped. They clearly believe that they have the privilege to stop others from speaking because they espouse opposing viewpoints. Continue reading “St. Louis University Students Destroy Pro-Life Memorial”

California Teachers Under Fire For Political Commentary in Classes

Two California teachers are under fire this week for political commentary, though only one has been suspended. A California middle school teacher in Ventura was removed from her classroom after a recording surfaced of her telling students that the government “has way too much power” and allegedly saying Donald Trump is still president. In the meantime, a high school teacher is under investigation after he trashed conservatives in a multiple choice question on an exam. Continue reading “California Teachers Under Fire For Political Commentary in Classes”

Canadian Professor Under Fire For Allegedly False Claim of Indigenous Ancestry

University of Saskatchewan is embroiled in a controversy over “self-identification” of ethnic or cultural status. According to news reports, Carrie Bourassa of the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology has claimed Indigenous/Native American heritage, but is “entirely [of] European descent.”  Self-identification has long been accepted in many universities and recently The Hill ran a story that over one-third of white students may have lied about their race on college applications. Continue reading “Canadian Professor Under Fire For Allegedly False Claim of Indigenous Ancestry”

AAUP Journal Solicits Papers on Conservative Intolerance on Campuses

The number of republican, conservative and libertarian faculty members have plummeted at most schools in the last twenty years. Many top law schools have only a couple conservative faculty members and we have discussed the startling increase in attacks on faculty, trustees, and students (including student publications, editors and columnists) over dissenting views on subjects ranging from critical race theory to police abuse. Nevertheless, the American Association of University Professors’ Journal of Academic Freedom is calling for papers on intolerance on campuses but only by conservatives. The call seems to be an effort to come up with a narrative to deflect from the complaints over the rising orthodoxy and intolerance on our campuses.

Continue reading “AAUP Journal Solicits Papers on Conservative Intolerance on Campuses”

University of Florida Bars Professors From Testifying Against New State Voting Rules

There is a troubling report in The New York Times of another free speech fight on one of our campuses. Three University of Florida political science professors have told a federal court that the university barred them from assisting plaintiffs in a challenge to the state’s new voting laws. As state employees, they were told that litigating against a state law would be “adverse to U.F.’s interests.” That is a departure from long-standing practices at state universities. It constitutes an obvious attack on the free speech and associational rights of these faculty members as well as academic freedom. The plaintiffs in the challenge wanted to retain Daniel Smith (the chair of the university’s political science department), Michael McDonald, and Sharon Wright Austin. Continue reading “University of Florida Bars Professors From Testifying Against New State Voting Rules”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks