- What is FIRE?
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, is a nonprofit educational foundation based in Philadelphia. FIRE's mission is to defend and sustain individual rights at America's colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. FIRE protects the unprotected and educates the public about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them.
- How do I join FIRE?
FIRE is not a membership organization. However, you can join the fight for liberty on America's college campuses by signing up for our e-mail list so that you may receive the latest news and updates on cases happening around the country.
- How can I contribute to FIRE?
FIRE offers its donors many different options for donating including the option to give right now through our secure online donation form. To learn about all the ways you can contribute, see our Ways to Donate page.
- I care about the issues. What can I do?
FIRE encourages you to Take Action in cases that you feel passionately about. On our website, we have given students, faculty, every-day citizens, and lawyers examples of ways they can help create change on college campuses. From hosting FIRE speakers, to posting widgets on your website, to writing to university administrators, there is a lot you can do to help the fight for liberty.
- I feel my rights were violated, who can help?
FIRE may be able to help you if your case fits within our mission. Please submit your case to FIRE at thefire.org/cases/submit.
- Who works at FIRE?
FIRE employs a diverse staff from across the ideological and political spectrum with varying educational backgrounds. For more information about individual members of FIRE's staff please check out the biographies on the Staff webpage.
- What is FIRE's political affiliation?
FIRE is nonpartisan; its staff, Board of Directors, and Board of Advisors comprise individuals from across the political spectrum.
- How does FIRE pick its cases?
FIRE responds to all case submissions. We only take cases, however, that fall within FIRE's mission and programs. FIRE has limited resources and receives a remarkable number of requests for help. We are, therefore, unable to take many cases that touch upon important issues. FIRE does not adjudicate genuine questions of academic merit, which sometimes arise during tenure reviews and grading of student work. FIRE also does not take cases that are from the staff of colleges or universities, involve elementary or high schools, are from outside the United States, or are submitted by phone or fax.
- Does FIRE litigate?
Since its incorporation as a nonprofit organization in 1999, FIRE has intervened successfully in defense of liberty-related issues on behalf of hundreds of students and faculty members at colleges and universities across the country. While many of the cases we accept can be resolved quickly and amicably by FIRE's staff, other cases require the intervention of an attorney. Because FIRE is not a law firm and does not undertake direct litigation, these cases must be referred to FIRE's Legal Network, a nationwide team of outside attorneys who share our principles, values and goals.
- What are FIRE's Guides to Student Rights on Campus?
FIRE's Guides to Student Rights on Campus is a set of innovative, widely respected, and well-received handbooks that serve as a vehicle for changing the culture on college and university campuses. They do so by emphasizing the critical importance of legal equality over the selective assignment of rights and responsibilities, of self-governance over coercion, and of the rule of law and fair procedure over the ad hoc and arbitrary imposition of partisan and repressive rules.
A distinguished group of legal scholars from across the political and ideological spectrum serves as Board of Editors to this series. The diversity of the members of this Board proves that liberty on campus is not a question of partisan politics, but of the rights and responsibilities of free individuals in a society governed by the rule of law.
FIRE's Guides to Student Rights on Campus include:
- FIRE's Guide to Free Speech on Campus,
- FIRE's Guide to Religious Liberty on Campus,
- FIRE's Guide to Due Process and Fair Procedure on Campus,
- FIRE's Guide to Student Fees, Funding, and Legal Equality on Campus,
- FIRE's Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus.
- Where can I find out about jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities at FIRE?
All job openings for full-time and part-time positions are posted under the "About" section of the website, on other employment websites, and in some publications. Job postings on this website will be the most up-to-date.
FIRE participates in the Drexel Co-op program by hiring one paid, full-time co-op student each co-op cycle. Interested Drexel students should look for the job posting on the Drexel Co-op website and apply using that system. This position is limited to only current, qualifying students at Drexel University.
Students interested in internship opportunities at FIRE should check out the Summer Internship Program webpage for more information or contact the Internship Coordinator if interested in an internship during the academic year.
- Where do I sign up to join the mailing list?
You can join FIRE's e-mail list here.
- What is the Campus Freedom Network?
Campus Freedom Network (CFN) is a loosely-knit coalition of over 3,000 faculty members and students dedicated to advancing individual rights at their colleges and universities. This program advances FIRE's mission by providing resources and educational opportunities to students and faculty engaged in the fight for individual rights on campus. The goal is to encourage energetic students and faculty members to pressure their administrations to change illiberal and unconstitutional policies. To facilitate this activity, the CFN arranges speeches by FIRE speakers, rewards active students through an incentive program, organizes an annual FIRE summer conference, and bolsters FIRE's programs with grassroots support. By organizing students and faculty, the CFN strives to change the culture of censorship on college campuses from the inside.
- Who can I speak to regarding a certain case?
All media requests can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact a FIRE representative by calling 215-717-3473. If you are involved in a certain case, contact Peter Bonilla at email@example.com.
- Where can I buy The Shadow University or Unlearning Liberty?
Copies of The Shadow University and Unlearning Liberty can be purchased at Amazon.com.
- What is the First Amendment?
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that expressly prohibits the United States Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion" or that prohibit the free exercise of religion, infringe the freedom of speech, infringe the freedom of the press, limit the right to peaceably assemble, or limit the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
- Who does FIRE defend?
FIRE effectively and decisively defends American liberties on behalf of thousands of students and faculty on our nation's campuses. In case after case, FIRE brings about favorable resolutions for these individuals who continue to be challenged by those willing to deny fundamental rights and liberties within our institutions of higher education. In addition to individual case work, FIRE works nationally to inform the public about the fate of liberty on our campuses.
- What does free speech encompass?
Freedom of speech is a fundamental American freedom, and nowhere should it be more valued and protected than at America's colleges and universities. The "marketplace of ideas" upon which a university depends for its intellectual vitality cannot flourish when students or faculty members must fear punishment for expressing views that might be unpopular with the public at large or disfavored by university administrators. Yet this freedom is under continuous assault at many of America's campuses. Speech codes dictating what may or may not be said, "free speech zones" confining free speech to certain areas of campus, and administrative attempts to punish or repress speech on a case-by-case basis are common today in academia.
- What is religious liberty?
Religious liberty is a cornerstone of our nation and is the very first freedom guaranteed to Americans by the Bill of Rights. Yet on many college and university campuses, the right to associate on the basis of religious belief and even the right to express those beliefs is under attack. Under the guise of "nondiscrimination" policies, religious groups are often told that they may not choose the membership or leadership of their groups using religious criteria. Other students who merely express religious beliefs in public are condemned for "hate speech" or "intolerance." FIRE's public cases dealing with religious liberty display our commitment to defending America's religious pluralism by protecting students' rights to express their views and to associate around shared beliefs.
- What is due process?
The rights of all Americans can be secured only through the establishment of fair processes and with a consciousness that all are equal in the eyes of the law. Yet on many campuses, the unfortunate accused face "kangaroo courts" without fair procedures, in which the political viewpoint of the "judges" greatly affects the outcomes of trials. The accused are often charged with no specific offense, given no right to face their accusers, and sentenced with no regard for fairness or consistency. This generation of students must come to know that justice means more than merely the enforcement of the will of the powerful and the suppression of the views of the powerless.
- What is freedom of conscience?
Liberty cannot exist in a society in which people are forced to conform their thoughts and expression to an official viewpoint. Differences of opinion are the natural byproducts of a vibrant, free society. At many of our nation's colleges and universities, however, students are expected to share a single viewpoint on controversial matters like the meaning of diversity, the particulars of racism, and the impermissibility of "hate speech." Mandatory "diversity training," in which students are instructed in an officially-approved ideology, is commonplace. Some institutions have enacted policies that require students to speak and even share identical attitudes on these matters or face disciplinary charges.
About This Web Site
- What's available on thefire.org?
FIRE's website is an educational resource for students, faculty, parents, administrators, journalists, and lawyers. The site informs visitors of the current state of liberty on American campuses through school ratings, archived cases, news reports, publications, event listings, and more. It also offers more interactive features, such as a confidential venue for the submission of cases and direct links to FIRE's Guides to Student Rights on Campus Project and Spotlight: The Campus Freedom Resource (which contains comprehensive information on the state of liberty on hundreds of America's campuses). In 2005, FIRE launched its own weblog (or "blog"), The Torch, which is a forum for FIRE staff to provide updated news and to comment on administrative abuse, campus trends, misunderstandings of the law, and other issues.
- How do I get to the Campus Freedom Network's website?
You can find the CFN's website at http://www.thecfn.org
- How do I find a topic I'm looking for?
There are several ways to search FIRE's website. The site map provides a comprehensive outline of all the pages and topics associated on the website. You can also use the Google search engine at the top right of every page. Additionally, there are search engines for all FIRE cases and for our Spotlight database of almost 400 school policies around the country.
- How can I make The Torch blog my homepage?
- In Internet Explorer:
- Open the Tools menu located on the top left of the browser and select Internet Options.
- Make sure the General tab is selected.
- Type "www.thefire.org/torch/" in the Address field. If you're already at The Torch, you can click Use Current instead.
- In Firefox:
- Open the "Tools" menu located on the top left of the browser and select Options.
- Locate the section titled Start Up.
- Enter the www.thefire.org/torch/ in the box to the right of the word "home page".
- Click the OK button at the bottom.
- In Internet Explorer: