The Torch

CCAC Finally Approves Student Concealed Carry Advocacy Group

February 17, 2010

Yesterday afternoon, the student government of the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) finally approved a chapter of the national concealed firearms advocacy group Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC). The approval ends a saga that began last April when CCAC administrators told student Christine Brashier that such a group would never be allowed on campus and threatened her with disciplinary action for her attempts to inform her fellow students about the cause. Brashier turned to FIRE for help, and after we procured for her the assistance of a FIRE Legal Network attorney, CCAC agreed to approve her group on a viewpoint neutral basis. By approving the group yesterday, CCAC has fulfilled this agreement. FIRE will continue to ensure that the group is treated fairly.
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The Torch

Facing Criticism, Virginia Tech Disavows Efforts to Censor Student Paper

February 15, 2010

In the face of mounting criticism, Virginia Tech administrators distanced themselves on Friday from efforts to cut the funding of the Collegiate Times, the school's independent student newspaper, because of the paper's refusal to eliminate anonymous comments from its website. A university spokesman told The Roanoke Times that Virginia Tech does not support ending the school's contract with the Collegiate Times or its parent company and is not contemplating a ban on advertising in the newspaper. Both steps had been recommended earlier this month by Virginia Tech's Commission on Student Affairs. The university's prompt clarification regarding the potential censorship follows strong statements of disapproval from FIRE, the Student Press Law Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. Read Full Article

Press Release

Victory for Free Speech at Temple University As Unconstitutional Security Fee is Withdrawn; Policy Still Troubling

February 11, 2010

Temple University has withdrawn an unconstitutional, after-the-fact security fee levied by the university on a student group for hosting a presentation last October by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is on trial in his native country for his controversial remarks about terrorism and Islam. Temple dropped its demand for an extra security fee under pressure from FIRE. Temple's policy for controversial events, however, remains ambiguous and unacceptably arbitrary.
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The Torch

Victory for Free Speech at San Jose State University: Administrators Lead the Way

February 8, 2010

There is good news today for students living in the residence halls at San Jose State University (SJSU). The housing department has revised several restrictive policies, including a previous FIRE Speech Code of the Month, thanks to the efforts of administrators seeking to protect the free speech rights of SJSU students.
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Press Release

FIRE Files Supreme Court 'Amicus' Brief Supporting Freedom of Association in 'Christian Legal Society v. Martinez'

February 4, 2010

Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. FIRE is asking the Court to defend the First Amendment right to freedom of association by overturning the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in Christian Legal Society v. Kane, which allowed University of California Hastings College of the Law to forbid its chapter of the Christian Legal Society to organize around shared religious and cultural beliefs. FIRE's brief, which was joined by the national student organization Students For Liberty, also pointed out that the Ninth Circuit's decision let Hastings demand that all groups accept "all comers" as voting members, which leaves groups with minority viewpoints subject to hostile takeovers by students in the majority. Read Full Article

The Torch

Speech Code of the Month: Westfield State College

February 3, 2010

FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for February 2010: Westfield State College in Massachusetts. Westfield's Student Handbook prohibits "discrimination," which it defines to include "making disparaging remarks that insult or stigmatize a student's cultural background or race" as well as "making insensitive remarks that reflect a student's disability." Westfield State College is a public university, bound to protect its students' First Amendment right to free speech. Unfortunately, this policy prohibits large amounts of protected speech and could easily be applied to punish the kind of controversial expression about important political and social issues that is at the very heart of what the First Amendment exists to protect. Read Full Article