How Can Colorado College Get Off FIRE’s Red Alert List?
August 26, 2008
by Adam Kissel
The current edition of U.S. News and World Report's "America's Best Colleges" issue, released on Monday, includes a full-page advertisement by FIRE highlighting the five 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. Students should think twice before choosing to attend one of the Red Alert schools: Brandeis University, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins University, Tufts University, or Valdosta State University.
These schools got on the list because they not only have committed egregious violations of individual rights but even after sustained public scrutiny they have refused to back down from their actions.
How can they get off the Red Alert list? For most schools the answer is simple. This is the first in a five-part blog series explaining how each school can get off the Red Alert list and save itself from further shame.
At Colorado College, two male students posted a satirical flyer in parody of a flyer posted by the Feminist and Gender Studies Program's interns. The male students posted the flyer under the pseudonym "The Coalition of Some Dudes." President Richard Celeste immediately denounced the flyer, calling its content "demeaning" and asking the authors of the flyer to reveal their identities. They immediately did so, and they were then subjected to a three-hour show trial. At least one administrator even solicited for witnesses against the two students. Finally, the students were found guilty of "violence" because of their "juxtaposition of weaponry and sexuality" in the flyer. Disciplinary letters were placed in both students' files, where the letters are to remain until they graduate.
Celeste, meanwhile, has said falsely that the students have been neither sanctioned nor punished, and he has turned the whole case into one of protecting students from the "violence" perceived by a few oversensitive souls. The truth is that these people, from the start, actually objected to the content of the flyer. Making matters even worse, Celeste has invoked the true tragedies of actual campus shootings in order to justify his administration's shameful actions.
For the purposes of the Red Alert list, FIRE is willing to put aside the many injustices committed by Colorado College and the double standard that the college has applied in this case. All that Colorado College needs to do to get off the list is to remove the disciplinary letters from the students' files. It is unconscionable that the two parodists should have a finding of responsibility for sexually-related violence in their files even for a day. If Celeste is not lying when he says that the students have not been sanctioned, then the only reasonable course of action is to remove the disciplinary letters from the students' files.
Come on, President Celeste. It's quite simple to remove the letters. Or has this matter always been about appeasing the objects of the parody instead of following the path of justice?