FIRE's Biggest Ad Campaign Ever Hits 'U.S. News'
August 25, 2009
For the second year in a row, FIRE has run a full-page advertisement in U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges issue, released today, highlighting the colleges and universities that have earned FIRE's Red Alert distinction for being the "worst of the worst" when it comes to liberty on campus. Brandeis University, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and Tufts University are listed in the print ad, while Bucknell University, a late addition to the list, will be prominently featured in Facebook ads and in the school's own newspaper.
But that's not all—in the coming weeks, FIRE will also run ads in U.S. News' bestselling guidebook, every Red Alert school's newspaper, and the papers of the top 25 largest and most prestigious universities in the nation, while drawing even greater attention to these schools through Facebook and Twitter. It's our biggest public information campaign ever. As Greg says, "FIRE will be talking about the issue of free expression on campus everywhere students and parents turn this fall."
This year's U.S. News advertisement highlights the shocking story of Keith John Sampson, a student at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) who was found guilty of racial harassment simply for reading a book about how Notre Dame students defeated the Ku Klux Klan in a 1924 street fight. The very fact that an American university was willing to call reading a book "harassment" highlights the disturbing repression that is all too common in academia today. Readers can see a video about this shocking case at http://www.thefire.org/redalert.
The Red Alert rogue's gallery includes:
- Bucknell University, the newest addition to the list, which repeatedly used flimsy or patently false excuses to censor a conservative group's satire of President Obama's stimulus plan and an "affirmative action bake sale" protest.
- Brandeis University, which found a professor of nearly 50 years guilty of racial harassment for using the word "wetbacks" in his Latin American Politics class—in the context of criticizing the term.
- Colorado College, which found two students guilty of "violence" simply for posting a flyer that satirized another flyer circulated by a student group.
- Johns Hopkins, which suspended a student for what it deemed to be an "offensive" Halloween party invitation posted on Facebook, and then passed a repressive "civility" code over the protests of student leaders.
- Michigan State, which found a student government leader guilty of "spamming" after she e-mailed eight percent of the faculty to encourage them to express their views on a proposed shortening of the school calendar.
- Tufts University, which found an entire student newspaper guilty of "harassment" for publishing two pieces satirizing affirmative action and Islamic Awareness Week. The latter of these two pieces included only factually verifiable information about Islam, as well as quotes from the Koran.
FIRE will run ads in all of these schools' newspapers, and for good measure, at the newspapers of 25 of America's largest and most prestigious universities. We'll be inviting students and professors to become members of FIRE's Campus Freedom Network, where they can join thousands of others working to reform their campuses for liberty. Readers of the official U.S. News college guidebook, which will be on newsstands for twelve months, will see an advertisement for FIRE's Spotlight speech code database, where they can discover the state of free speech at more than 400 universities. And FIRE will be making even more of a push to use Facebook, Twitter, USNews.com, and The Torch to spread our message to the public. We'd also like to thank the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation, whose grant helped make this all possible.