Posts Tagged ‘colleges and universities’

Free speech roundup

  • “Utah poised to outlaw mentioning people’s names online with intent to ‘abuse’ or ‘harass’” [Eugene Volokh]
  • In win for Paul Alan Levy, Eugene Volokh & co., filer of fake R.I. lawsuits aimed at search engine takedown agrees to settle [Consumer Law & Policy, earlier]
  • Activists shut down speech at Ontario university by criminal defense lawyer who helped CBC radio host beat sex-assault rap [David Millard Haskell, Toronto Star; Wilfrid Laurier University, Brampton invitation to Danielle Robitaille] More: Richard Reeves and Dimitrios Halikias, Brookings on Middlebury case and the “bad news for free speech.” Related: [walks to window, closes blinds as if somehow to keep Christopher Hitchens from seeing what has happened to Slate]
  • North Carolina law prohibits released sex offenders from using Facebook, other social media. Consistent with First Amendment? [Packingham v. North Carolina at the Supreme Court: Cato amicus brief and Ilya Shapiro/Devin Watkins blog post, Federalist Society preview and oral argument podcasts, Issie Lapowsky/Wired]
  • Featuring Frank Buckley, Robert Corn-Revere, and Flemming Rose, John Samples moderating: “Cato Panel Discusses Free Speech, Media, and Trump” [Campaign Freedom] And while on the topic of libel laws: “TechDirt deserves a vigorous defense.” [Eric Turkewitz, earlier]
  • “Another Convicted Felon Tries To Use The DMCA Process To Erase DOJ Press Releases About His Criminal Acts” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]

Higher education roundup

  • “If this becomes the new normal… the intellectual thugs will take over many campuses….A minority of faculty are cowing a majority in the same way that a minority of students are cowing the majority.” Why Charles Murray is pessimistic following the Middlebury attack [AEI] Frank Bruni on the Middlebury events and “the dangerous safety of college” [New York Times]
  • “Faculty and students need to be free to express ideas and viewpoints rather than be penalized for their politics.” [letter from group of Wellesley alumnae]
  • Finally! Federal government in January opened door for universities to relax some of their IRB (institutional review board) scrutiny of human-subjects research in low-risk areas not involving medical intervention [Richard Shweder and Richard Nisbett, Chronicle of Higher Education, related Institutional Review Blog] Update: some annotations/corrections from Michelle Meyer;
  • “Colorado student expelled for raping his girlfriend, even though both he and his girlfriend both deny the charge.” [Robby Soave/Reason on CSU-Pueblo case, via (and described by) Radley Balko] “End federal micromanagement of college discipline under Title IX” [Hans Bader/CEI, and related] “Maybe I’m drunk, but this doesn’t seem fair” [The Safest Space on “both were drunk, he got charged” poster]
  • What, no taxpayer dollars to pursue favored legal causes? North Carolina proposal would bar public universities from representing lawsuit clients [Caron/TaxProf]
  • I hadn’t followed the “New Civics” movement. It sounds pretty bad [George Leef, Martin Center]

The ADA takes Berkeley courses offline

Andrew Ferguson on the ADA-inflicted loss of one university’s public treasury of online course materials: “UC Berkeley, needless to say, is deeply involved in the disability rights movement and has gone to great lengths to keep it satisfied.” None of which did it any good facing off against activist groups and the U.S. Justice Department, so now thousands of free lectures and other materials are set to come down. And some historical perspective: “After the ADA the country was much less free but its rulers were much more pleased with themselves.” [Andrew Ferguson, Weekly Standard] More: Hans Bader/CEI, earlier.

Campus climate roundup

  • Hundreds of colleges now have bias response teams, with many deeply involved in regulating speech [Adam Steinbaugh, FIRE survey]
  • Trump’s tweet made old idea new: in 1991, Rep. Henry Hyde filed unsuccessful bill to cut off federal funding of colleges that punished students for speech otherwise protected by First Amendment [The American Interest, earlier] A new cadre of federally mandated administrators, modeled on Title IX coordinators and backed by the threat of funding cutoffs, to ride herd within universities? Uh-oh [Michael Rappaport, ambivalent]
  • Arizona lawmakers quickly kill bill to cut state support from classes and activities that “promote division, resentment or social justice toward a race, gender, religion, political affiliation, social class or other class,” which would have extended earlier curb on Mexican and other ethnic studies [Tucson Star, Arizona Republic, Christian Science Monitor; background Melinda Anderson, Atlantic]
  • 47 Boston College faculty members ask “zero-tolerance” policy on hate speech. That’s different from the speech that Arizona was looking at that “promote[s] division, resentment” along ethnic lines, right? [Washington Times]
  • At the University of Minnesota, you might lose a student-advisor job for not demonstrating “a commitment to social justice growth and promotion to residents.” [David Blondin, Minnesota Republic/Campus Reform]
  • View that speech is violence, and thus properly countered by violence in response, is popular at UC Berkeley student paper [screencap by Ashley Rae on Twitter] More: The new religious establishment: Berkeley’s Division of Equity and Inclusion has $20 million a year, 150 staff [Heather Mac Donald]

February 8 roundup

  • Freedom of association is at risk from California’s effort to crack open donor names of advocacy nonprofits [Ilya Shapiro on Cato Ninth Circuit amicus]
  • “Center for Class Action Fairness wins big in Southwest Airlines coupons case, triples relief for class members” [CEI, earlier here, here]
  • Campus kangaroo courts: KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor Jr. have spent a week guestblogging at Volokh on their new book (first, second, third, fourth, fifth, earlier links; plus Christina Hoff Sommers and WSJ video interviews with Stuart Taylor, Jr.]
  • Despite his I’m-no-libertarian talk, two 2015 cases show Judge Neil Gorsuch alert to rights of Drug War defendants [Jacob Sullum]
  • Drug pricing, estate/inheritance double tax whammy, shaken baby case, mini-OIRA in my new Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
  • And the legal fees flowed like water: dispute with Georgia over water rights has clocked $72 million in legal bills for Florida [Orlando Sentinel]

President Trump: “No federal funds” for Berkeley?

A President might not find it simple or straightforward to use direct executive orders to cut off funds to universities that tolerate disruption of speech or exclude speakers based on the content of their speech. But the power that the Department of Education and allied agencies have gathered to themselves over university life has steadily mounted, often against little resistance from the universities themselves, as in the Title IX instance. That gives an administration plenty of handles to make its will known, a process previewed in October, as to Trump, in a Chronicle of Higher Education piece. It quotes Alexander Holt, an education-policy analyst at New America, saying: “I could see a Trump administration going crazy on these ‘Dear Colleague’ letters.”

Two years ago I cited several examples of rule by Dear Colleague letter, as I called it, in this area. (More here.) And I noted one big problem with invoking judicial oversight to check the federal government’s power:

It may be difficult to persuade a college to serve as a test case, given the annihilating possibility of a federal funds cutoff as the penalty of its presumption.

More: cross-posted, slightly expanded, at Cato at Liberty. And FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has now weighed in on last night’s events at Berkeley surrounding an invited speech by Milo Yiannopoulos. On the federal funding issue, FIRE states its view as follows:

It is true that, under current law, public universities that enforce blatantly unconstitutional speech codes and private universities that violate their own promises of free speech do not face the same potential loss of federal funding for censoring campus speech that they do for violating other federal civil rights laws and regulations. However, FIRE has so far seen no evidence that Berkeley as an institution made any effort to silence Yiannopoulos.

Those who engage in violent and/or destructive protests are ultimately responsible for their unlawful behavior and may be subject to arrest and prosecution by law enforcement. To punish an educational institution for the criminal behavior of those not under its control and in contravention of its policies, whether through the loss of federal funds or through any other means, would be deeply inappropriate and most likely unlawful.

Higher education roundup

  • Student claims public college required him to mouth correct views regarding social justice as part of class. Not since Barnette v. West Virginia you don’t [Ilya Shapiro and Devin Watkins on Cato amicus brief in Felkner v. Rhode Island College (“The First Amendment prohibits government actors from compelling private citizens to express views with which they disagree.”)]
  • In the mail: KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor, Jr.’s “The Campus Rape Panic: The Attack on Due Process at American Universities” [Encounter Books; review, Robert VerBruggen; plus excerpt; interview with Taylor] “The Title IX Mess: Will It Be Reformed?” [KC Johnson, Minding the Campus]
  • Departing Obama administration revises Common Rule on IRB/institutional review board human subjects protection [NEJM, Verrill Dana redline via Michelle Meyer, Zachary Schrag first, second, third posts on implications for social science research]
  • Notwithstanding early reports, PEN America report on campus expression mounts “unflinching defense of free speech” [Anthony Fisher, Vox; related, José Cabranes/Washington Post and Orin Kerr]
  • U.K.: graduate sues Oxford for negligent teaching, wants £1 million [Lowering the Bar, more links at Paul Caron/TaxProf]
  • When should you report classmates to the Syracuse University administration? Suspect behavior includes “avoiding or excluding others,” “telling jokes based on a stereotype,” “posting or commenting on social media related to someone’s identity in a bias matter,” “imitating someone’s cultural norm or practice” [guidelines (from mission statement: “never privatize any wrongful act, no matter how small”) via Robby Soave]

Higher education roundup

  • Colleagues demand Oregon law prof resign over Hallowe’en costume [Paul Caron/TaxProf; Eugene Volokh (“We have reached a bad and dangerous place in American life, and in American university life in particular.”)] Title IX and expression: “What the feds have done to colleges and schools” [Hans Bader, Minding the Campus]
  • Institutional review boards (IRBs) “as a rule are incredibly difficult to study…. There is no public record of their decision or deliberations, they don’t, as a rule, invite scrutiny or allow themselves to be observed.” [Dr. Steven Joffe quoted by Tyler Cowen]
  • “An emphasis on intersectionality”: mandatory diversity course for first-years at AU now has course description [earlier] “U-M’s New ‘Chief Diversity Officer’ Will Collect $385,000 per Year” [Derek Draplin, Michigan Capitol Confidential]
  • “Plaintiffs’ Bar Steps Up Profitable False Claims Act Assault on Higher Education” [U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform]
  • Notwithstanding initial wave of critical coverage, Will Creeley says PEN report on campus speech is actually pretty good [FIRE] “Student group at Cal State Northridge boasts of ‘shutting down’ speech by award-winning scholar” [Volokh; Armenian students vs. Ataturk lecture]
  • On question whether universities must treat student athletes as employees, NLRB “may be battling for field position” with future ruling in mind [Brennan Bolt, McGuire Woods]

Could a president “end” political correctness on campus?

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke recently of his intent if elected to “end” political correctness on university campuses, and Steve Kolowich at Chronicle of Higher Education asks a number of observers, including some who have been critical of that phenomenon, to describe what practical changes in federal higher education policy that might entail. I’m quoted on how Trump’s intent is “not something that you could easily reduce to the four corners of a policy proposal.”