are strongholds of left liberalism where constitutionally protected rights,
such as freedom of speech and religion, are routinely violated.
This September, make sure the students you care for pack protection of their
civil liberties in with clothing and reference books.
This is essential for students who are male, white, conservative, openly Christian, or from affluent families.
Male. Speech codes -- or anti-harassment codes that function
in the same manner -- are rampant on campuses. Since "women" are a group
offered protection against "offense," the codes especially restrict the speech
of males. Students accused of "sexual misconduct" -- from a crime as serious
as rape to telling off-color jokes -- can face the university equivalent
of a "star chamber" -- a secret proceeding in which they have no judicial
rights even though the outcome could ruin their academic careers.
White. Whites are not only disadvantaged by admission
policies that explicitly discriminate in favor of "minorities," they are
also targeted by "hate speech" policies. A white CalPoly student was punished
last month for posting an ad in the "public" multicultural center for a speech
by a well-known black conservative; the speech compared welfare dependence
to living "on the plantation." An offended black student called the police.
Conservative. The University of Miami recently denied
recognition to a conservative club on the grounds that, since a Republican
club already existed, another conservative group would be redundant. Yet
liberal groups, including a Democratic club, abounded. Without such recognition
a student group cannot use the tax-paid facilities to meet on campus.
Openly Christian. The University of North Carolina-Chapel
Hill recently threatened to remove all privileges and funding from the InterVarsity
Christian Fellowship because adhering to Christian doctrine was a requirement
for those assuming group leadership. Last year, Rutgers did "de-list" an
IVCF group who refused to accept non-Christian leaders because it would violate
their right to meet based on "shared belief."
Affluent. The University of California is pioneering a
proposal that undergrads with family incomes exceeding $90,000 should pay
as much as $3,000 more to attend despite the fact that those families would
have paid more in taxes to support its nine "public" campuses.
How do you protect the rights and dignity of a student for whom you care?
One place to start is with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
that has been defending the victims in such cases ... and doing so with resounding
FIRE's most recent project
directly addresses "the urgent need for students and parents to understand
the legal and moral status of student rights on our nation's campuses and
to understand the means to defend and assert these rights." It does so in
the form of five books: three of which are currently available.
The free online guides offer the theory, history and legal precedents surrounding
five specific areas of rights violation. But more than this. They offer specific
and subtle advice on how to handle violations of those rights. Subtle because
the guides carefully distinguish between obligations of private and public
(state-funded) universities in relation to student "rights."
The Guide to Religious Liberty on Campus
advises, "Consider Tufts University, Grinnell College, Williams College,
Ball State University, Whitman College, Middlebury College, Randolph-Macon
Women's College, the State University of New York at Oswego, Wichita State
University, Castleton State College, and Purdue University." These are just
some of the "schools that have sought to either ban outright or heavily regulate
the activities of religious students or religious student groups."
The Guide to Religious Liberty explains that, if a public university permits
any "expressive organization" -- those organized around a specific belief
-- then it must allow religious ones on the same basis: equal access to campus
facilities and funding, freedom from interference and due process. If a private
university has a stated policy on religious toleration, then it may have
a contractual obligation to sponsor religious groups on the same footing
The Guide to Student Fees, Funding and Legal Equality on Campus
explains, "Many students attending public colleges and universities are surprised
and sometimes outraged to learn that school rules require them to fund groups
that advocate ideas they find morally or politically unacceptable" -- from
feminism to communism, from environmentalism to transgendered rights. Students
ask, "How can universities force me, as a condition of getting an education
here, to fund groups with which I morally disagree?"
This second guide explains whether mandatory funding is legal and how objecting
students can defend themselves against the practice.
The Guide to Due Process and Fair Procedure on Campus
states, "Students should know their rights and liberties ... If an innocent
person is charged with wrongdoing, what protections should that innocent
person have against being wrongly or arbitrarily punished and dishonored?"
The guide details precisely which judicial rights accused students retain
and what they should do to protect themselves against arbitrary punishment.
The remaining two guides -- on free speech and on thought reform -- will be available by the end of September 2003.
The guides are essential to the civil liberties and human dignity of every
university student. Let the students you care for know how to defend themselves
Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com
and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. Her
new book is Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century.
Reprinted with permission of ifeminists.com.