Editorial : FIRE unfairly ranks SU as worst campus for free speech
Nonprofit organization Freedom for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) ranked Syracuse University as the worst school in the nation for freedom of speech. FIRE listed the prosecution of a student in the SUCOLitis case and SU’s policies for speech on the Internet as ways SU limits free speech.
From the insight of a student-run publication practicing free speech every day, FIRE’s ranking has exaggerated the sordid state of free expression on campus.
Dozens of regular print and online publications, public blogs and websites devoted to rating anything from professors to off-campus parties operate completely uncensored and uninhibited. In addition to these, thousands of students, faculty and staff post freely on their personal websites and Facebook pages and distribute flyers or chalk the Quad with no interference.
The activities at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, College of Visual and Performing Arts, and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs — not to mention the many SU research centers practicing free political expression — reveal healthy, thriving free speech and expression on campus.
FIRE accurately points to some of the worst cases of administration or staff members infringing on students’ free speech rights. The SUCOLitis case, shutting down student-run Hill TV in 2005 and an attempt at creating a policy to limit publication distribution a year ago exemplify an ongoing struggle between free speech and protecting people from harassment or discrimination.
But in each of these cases, advocates on all sides have spoken out. This campus is hypersensitive to the issue of free speech. How could it not be with the First Amendment etched into the side of Newhouse III? Perhaps FIRE should consider how most of these cases and policies came to light at SU: through members of this campus practicing their right to free speech.
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