mailing list archives
Re: UCSD Chancellor bans 'disparaging' email and re: Stanford's
From: David Farber <farber () central cis upenn edu>
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 1995 13:17:07 -0500
From: jmc () SAIL Stanford EDU (John McCarthy)
Date: 14 May 1993 01:23:22 GMT
FREE SPEECH PROTECTED IN SCHOOLS
Students in California have a new defense against over-
zealous administrators out to ensure that no one is offended,
ever. A section added to the state's education code in
January guarantees students the same First Amendment
rights on campus that they have off campus. The law applies
to both public and private colleges and universities (with a
narrow exception for schools operated by religious
denominations), and even extends down into the high schools.
To ensure that schools pay attention, the law provides that
students who sue their institutions for infringement of their
free-speech rights and win can collect court costs and
attorney's fees. Two institutions have settled suits filed by
students rather than risk an almost certain loss in court.
At California State University, Northridge, officials lifted a 14-
month suspension imposed on the fraternity Zeta Beta Tau
for fliers advertising a Mexican theme party that mentioned
"Lupe," the title of a vulgar song about a Mexican whore. The
fliers did not quote the song, but it had earlier caused an
uproar at UCLA, where it had been found in a (different)
fraternity's songbook and published in a feminist magazine.
Campus activists had demanded the expulsion of the
Northridge fraternity from campus, and greeted news of the
settlement with demonstrations and protest vigils.
Occidental College agreed to rewrite its sexual harassment
policy to be consistent with the First Amendment after
students in the Oxy chapter of Alpha Tau Omega filed suit
against the college and several individual professors. The
policy went beyond the usual definition of sexual harassment
to forbid written and spoken material that offended a third
party who happened to come in contact with it, as well as
voluntary relationships that might cause someone else to
perceive a possibility of prejudicial treatment. ATO had been
threatened with a variety of sanctions for a limerick published
in its newsletter and a "nude run." Although the college
administration had agreed to take no action against the
fraternity for its poor taste in poetry after its attorney
informed them of California's new law, agitation for
punishment had continued.
Attorney John Howard of San Diego acted for the students in
both cases. Howard, who likes to describe himself as a "First
Amendment vigilante," took the cases _pro_ bono_ for the
Individual Rights Project, which is sponsored by the Center
for the Study of Popular Culture. The Center also publishes
the irreverent monthly magazine "Heterodoxy," under the
editorship of David Horowitz and Peter Collier.
Linda Seebach is a writer for the Los Angeles _Daily_
News_. She wrote this article especially for _Measure_.
John McCarthy, Computer Science Department, Stanford, CA 94305
He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.
A recent Calif law (SB 1115, 1992) added the
following language to the California Education Code.
"(Chapter 3.3, Section 94367) Private postsecondary
educational institutions shall not make or enforce any
rule subjecting any student to disciplinary sanctions
solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other
communication that, when engaged in outside the campus
or facility of a private postsecondary institution, is
protected from governmental restriction by the First
Amendment to the United States Consitituion or Section 2
of Article 1 of the California Constitution."
- Re: UCSD Chancellor bans 'disparaging' email and re: Stanford's David Farber (Feb 06)