Voices in the Wilderness

A forum for discussion of all things Dartmouth.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Pants on FIRE

What do ACLU President Nadine Strossen, former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz all have in common?

They all happen to be members of the Board of Editors for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, known asFIRE. FIRE champions basic freedoms of expression and association that are increasingly being restricted on academic campuses. These restrictions on Constitutional rights, which affect both students and faculty, often masquerade as "speech codes" or "community standards."

Recent offenses to First Amendment rights include policies such as: "inappropriately directed laughter" at the University of Connecticut, the use of "language that is not gender specific" at the University of West Virginia, and the use of language that is interpreted to cause loss of "self-esteem" at Colby College.

Via speechcodes.org, FIRE rates the speech policies of individual institutions. Dartmouth's comprehensive rating reveals that it has at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.

FIRE appeals to students to provide more information. Personally, I was surprised that Dartmouth did not go on the record as having a policy on diversity and multiculturalism. Dartmouth's emphasis on diversity is so great that it actually created a Dean of Plurality and Office of Pluralism, so how can this be so?