Student Conduct Judge Tobin Klinger finds protest violated conduct code

10/12/2017 update:

Just kidding. Tobin Klinger is UO’s chief PR flack, not a Student Conduct Judge. He is not responsible for enforcing the student conduct code, nor has anyone at UO conducted any sort of investigation as to whether or not the student conduct code was violated, or whether any such violation was significant enough to supersede the UO policies on freedom of speech and academic freedom.

So what in the world was Klinger doing, in his official capacity as UO spokesperson, telling an Oregonian reporter 5 minutes after the administration suspended President Schill’s speech, that

“.. the demonstration actually violated university policy…”

Speaking in my private capacity as a blogger, I think the administration can make a plausible case that it did violate the code (and the Freedom of Inquiry and Speech policy). If that case succeeds they can then discipline the students accordingly.

But that case is going to be harder to make given this official statement from Klinger, which the students can argue is prejudicial.

10/9/2017 update: Small, ineffective, and reflects poorly on the student body

The Oregon Daily Emerald editorial board rarely posts editorials. They have written a good one on Friday’s protest:

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Editor withdraws pro-colonialism paper after credible threats of violence

Inside Higher Ed:

[Portland State University professor] Bruce Gilley’s eyebrow-raising essay in favor of colonialism has been scrubbed from the scholarly record, but not for any of the reasons cited by its critics. (Among them: that it was historically inaccurate, that it ignored the vast literature on colonialism and colonial-era atrocities, that it was rejected by three peer reviewers, and that Gilley himself requested it be pulled.)

Rather, the article has been withdrawn because the editor of Third World Quarterly, the journal in which it appeared, has received credible threats of violence. That’s according to a note posted online by journal’s publisher, Taylor & Francis.

President Schill on Free Expression on Campus – Rights and Some Responsibilities

10/29/2016: The Daily Emerald now has a brief report by Desiree Bergstrom: “UO plans to tighten protest policy”

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10/28/2016: Now posted on the Senate blog here, along with a draft of the administration’s proposed “Time Place and Manner” restrictions on free-speech and expressive activities. Please post your comments there.

Colleagues,

Over the past year, controversies involving free expression have cropped up on campuses throughout the United States. Speakers have been disinvited at several universities as a result of objections to their views. At other universities, speakers arrived on campus only to be shouted down by their audiences. A student was disciplined at one college for making a joke about feminism; at another a similar fate met students who criticized the university’s affirmative action program. And at many universities, students demanded administrative sanctions against other students for their expressions of political views.

The University of Oregon has a proud history as a leader in the protection of free expression. In 1963, the university created a free speech platform outside the EMU. A few years later, during the height of Vietnam War protests, the university created new procedures that recognized the rights of students to protest and drafted policies that took a lenient approach to nonviolent demonstrations. In 1986, the free speech zone was expanded to the plaza outside our student union. Wayne Morse—our former law professor, dean, and US senator—was throughout his career an outspoken advocate for unpopular political positions.

Today, members of our community still use demonstrations to drive attention to their causes, including in just the past year marches organized by the Black Student Task Force, the Divest UO movement, and our own classified workers. Like other UO presidents, I have sometimes been mentioned less than lovingly during these protests. But like the majority of my predecessors, I am also deeply committed to the principle of free expression, both as embodied in the First Amendment and in the institution’s tradition of academic freedom.

Let me ground this conversation in the unequivocal statement that the UO embraces free expression as one of its core principles. It is outlined in the policy on Freedom of Inquiry and Free Speech passed by the University Senate in 2010 and signed by President Richard Lariviere. The policy states the following:

“Free inquiry and free speech are the cornerstones of an academic institution to the creation and transfer of knowledge. Expression of diverse points of view is of the highest importance, not solely for those who present and defend some view but for those who would hear, disagree, and pass judgment on those views. The belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, and in any other way despicable, detestable, offensive, or ‘just wrong’ cannot be grounds for its suppression.”

My own views on free expression are entirely consistent with this strong statement of principle. As the inscription at the EMU Free Speech Plaza states, “Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one.” Today’s unpopular sentiment or theory may become tomorrow’s orthodoxy. Perhaps even more important, unpopular views, even those that never catch on, cause us to question our commonly held presuppositions and engage in critical thinking, which is at the core of what we teach at a great university.
Of course, free speech is not and never has been an absolute right. Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said it best when stating that the law does not sanction someone “falsely shouting ‘fire’ in a theater.” Courts have determined that it is appropriate and necessary for government to define the time, place, and manner in which speech may coexist with the functions of government. In a university setting, we create restrictions that protect the safety of our community, the rights of our students to obtain an education, and the ability of our faculty, staff, and administrators to do their jobs effectively.
Last year, a group of students representing Divest UO occupied the waiting room of Johnson Hall and attempted to plant a sign in front of the main door for more than a month. They were respectful, interesting, and fun to engage in conversation. To be honest, I sort of liked having them there, even though they refused my offers of food. On the other hand, they disrupted business at Johnson Hall. When we looked for policies pertaining to the sit-in, we found that we had little more than vague rules prohibiting disruption and allowing for scheduling the use of facilities.

The absence of appropriate and well-understood rules for the use of campus spaces for the free exchange of ideas makes us all vulnerable. We don’t have a set of consistent policies and rules that are clear to students, members of the faculty and staff, or other entities who may wish to appropriately protest. More important, the absence of clearly articulated policies means that there is an unacceptable risk of arbitrariness and ad hoc rulemaking that in itself is a threat to the UO’s foundational free speech principles. While I liked the students sitting in the foyer, what if they had been hateful people advocating for policies we find reprehensible? Restrictions on speech—even those allowed by law—must be content-neutral.

To deal with this problem, I have asked our Office of General Counsel to draw up a proposal that sets forth a clear set of guidelines to govern the time, place, and manner of expressive activity on campus. They are in the process of getting feedback from stakeholders across campus and plan to take that proposal to the Policy Advisory Committee in the next few weeks. It is my hope that this process of circulating a proposal will allow us to craft the best policy possible, one that reflects the values of the community and serves the legitimate needs of the university. I view it as the beginning of a campus dialogue that will involve all constituents of our university including our students, classified workers, administrators, faculty, and University Senate. Because of the vulnerability I described in the previous paragraph, if for some reason we are unable to come to a consensus in four months, then I will enact a temporary policy until that consensus is achieved.

The final topic that I would like to cover is how we treat each other. At our September convocation, I spoke to more than 3,000 incoming members of the Class of 2020. I told them that sometimes professors or classmates might say things that angered or even offended them. But the antidote to speech that one doesn’t like is not to shut down that speech. That is what totalitarian governments do. Instead—to paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis—the antidote to speech we don’t like is more speech. I am delighted that we have not experienced the type of intolerant behavior that has taken place at many other universities in the 15 months since I assumed the presidency of the University of Oregon.

The fact that we have the right to say what it is on our mind, of course, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t think about the effects of our words on others. Racist or sexist speech, hate speech, is not welcome on this campus. Students, faculty and staff members must all remember that we are a family—a family of Ducks. That means something. We should not harm members of our community by making them feel bad or unwelcome. As a community of scholars, we can debate ideas and theories without insulting each other or resorting to name-calling. Think about how your speech affects the people who hear it. And if you say something, even inadvertently, that does create offense, consider apologizing or engaging that person in a discussion. That’s what people in a family do. That’s also how we learn from each other—through discussion.

This message—that there is nothing inconsistent between the notions of protecting free speech and being careful that our speech doesn’t harm members of our community—is one that we should all put into practice. Not because the university’s administration will step in to squelch the speech with disciplinary proceedings. We won’t do that unless it rises to the level of pervasive harassment that deprives members of our community of their rights to teach or learn. We should consider the effect of our speech on others because we are a community of scholars.

So let’s argue with each other robustly over ideas and policies. Let’s protest against oppression; let’s argue about politics; let’s even debate about questionable decisions emanating from Johnson Hall. But let’s do so respectfully, assuming that each of us just wants to do the right thing. And let’s also keep open the possibility that all of this speech might convince us to change our minds. That is the essence of rational discourse; it is why our university was created and why we chose to be here.

Mike Schill, President

Office of the President, 1226 University of Oregon, Eugene OR 97403-1226

Campus free-speech advocates are dupes of a vast right-wing conspiracy

9/4/2016 update: Greg Lukianoff of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education points out the fallacies in Jim Sleeper’s NYT op-ed:

Of course, this isn’t the only thing that Sleeper gets wrong. As he has done before, Sleeper attempts to present FIRE as part of a vast right-wing conspiracy, conveniently ignoring the incredible political diversity of our staff and the many, many cases in which we have fought for speakers and expression popular on the left, as well as speech that’s popular with practically no one at all. An honest reading of our case archives attests to this. As FIRE’s Will Creeley wrote just last month:

To be clear: FIRE defends student and faculty speech regardless of the viewpoint expressed or the speaker’s identity. If expression is protected by the First Amendment, FIRE defends it—period. That means we defend Democrats,Republicans, Libertarians, Democratic Socialists, and those affiliated with no party at all; Muslims, Jews, Christians, and atheists; environmental activists, animal rights activists, pro-choice activists, anti-rape activists, anti-war activists, and LGBT activists;free market advocates, pro-life activists, anti-immigration activists, and anti-affirmative action activists; student reporters, student government members, adjunct faculty, and tenured professors; and many, many more. FIRE even stands ready to protect the expressive rights of those who call for censorship, though we flatly disagree with those advocates’ goals.

Sleeper also pretends that we never wrote anything positive about protests at Yale. That’s not true, either.

Lukianoff has a point. Here at UO, FIRE even fought for the UO Divest students’ right to keep their Divest Now banner up outside Johnson Hall. I’m guessing that the Koch Brothers are not big CO2 divestment fans, but they are paying to help maintain our students’ right to argue publicly for it.

9/3/2016: The NYT has the scoop here. The author, a political scientist from Yale, is shocked to learn that Republicans are supporting free-speech. I wonder how many Republicans he has met while teaching at Yale?

For the record, UO’s free-speech and academic freedom policies, which are as strong as any in the country – far stronger than Chicago’s, for example – were written by an overwhelmingly liberal faculty. UO’s United Academics faculty union has defended free-speech and academic freedom from the University administration during each contract negotiation, with the help of the AAUP.

So this Yalie thinks the UO faculty, our union, and the AAUP are the Koch brother’s “useful idiots”? Sure.

University of Chicago warns students there is no safe space from new ideas

Scott Jaschik in InsideHigherEd:

Looking for safe spaces on campus or trigger warnings on a syllabus?

Incoming students at the University of Chicago have been warned they won’t find either in Hyde Park.

They all received a letter recently from John Ellison, dean of students, which went beyond the usual platitudes of such letters and made several points about what he called one of Chicago’s “defining characteristics,” which he said was “our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression.” Ellison said civility and respect are “vital to all of us,” and people should never be harassed. But he added, “You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.”

To that end, he wrote, “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial and we do not condone the creation of intellectual safe spaces where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

The letter referred to a website where Chicago maintains a report on academic freedom and its centrality to the university. …

Chicago has been getting a lot of free publicity for their defense of free speech lately, while UO has been hyping the Olympics.

The truth is that UO actually has better policies than Chicago – but our administration’s history of implementing them is weak, and as a result the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education gives our prospective students a “Red Light” warning. More here and here:

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The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has a press release here on Chicago’s free speech efforts:

University of Chicago Reforms All Speech Codes, Earns FIRE’s Highest Free Speech Rating

CHICAGO, April 26, 2016—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is excited to announce the latest university to earn its highest, “green light” rating for free speech: the University of Chicago (UC). In cooperation with FIRE, UC revised all of its speech codes to join an elite group of colleges and universities that maintain policies respecting student and faculty free expression rights and meeting First Amendment standards. …

Here’s my take – sorry, long story:

In January 2015 Chicago announced the Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression, chaired by Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law. The full text of his windy and self-congratulatory report is here. The gist:

From its very founding, the University of Chicago has dedicated itself to the preservation and celebration of the freedom of expression as an essential element of the University’s culture. In 1902, in his address marking the University’s decennial, President William Rainey Harper declared that “the principle of complete freedom of speech on all subjects has from the beginning been regarded as fundamental in the University of Chicago” and that “this principle can neither now nor at any future time be called in question.” Thirty years later, a student organization invited William Z. Foster, the Communist Party’s candidate for President, to lecture on campus. This triggered a storm of protest from critics both on and off campus. …, …, …

In a word, the University’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose. Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the University’s educational mission. …, …, …

Actually, that’s a lot of words.  The University of Oregon Senate and President Richard Lariviere said it less pompously, more forcefully, and five years earlier in UO’s 2010 Freedom of Speech and Inquiry Policy. The full text:

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Journalism prof Kyu Ho Youm in the Oregonian on UO’s Bias Response Team

More on Professor Youm, who came to the US as a student from Korea when it was still a military dictatorship, here. He’s been a longtime advocate for free speech and government transparency. His full Op-Ed is here. (Now in the RG too here.) The ending:

… It gets worse.

As a media law teacher-scholar and a former campus newspaper adviser, I was stunned by another case that has made UO a laughingstock in the national press: “An anonymous student reported that a newspaper gave less press coverage to trans students and students of color,” the BRT report stated. “Response: A BRT Case Manager held an educational conversation with the newspaper reporter and editor.”

The BRT’s ham-handed way of dealing with a student’s complaint about the Daily Emerald’s coverage was embarrassingly misguided. And it was a lost teachable moment for the BRT.

First Amendment attorney Charles Glasser adjures the BRT to take a more enlightening approach: “Students need to learn that living in a vibrant democracy requires being able to hear upsetting ideas without losing your mind. The same democracy allows — even encourages — responsible counter-speech. You could even teach them to write a coherent letter to the editor.”

The University of Chicago’s widely praised report of 2015 on freedom of expression offers good guidance about encouraging, not discouraging, free speech in academia: “Debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrongheaded.”

UO ought to join other schools, including Princeton University, in adapting and adopting the University of Chicago’s free-speech statement as its framework for campus expression. As a Supreme Court justice once opined, the best corrective for bad speech is good speech, not censorship or punishment.

I have engaged with my journalism and law colleagues on the BRT in recent weeks. Few have been eager to step forward and express their thoughts on the BRT. And I have been advised to be more “politically astute” in taking issue with the BRT and its impact on the UO faculty, staff and students.

A discerning UO colleague, who has endured a real-life chilling experience with the BRT, has told me: “Now that we have become a laughingstock to the entire nation due to our relationship with the BRT, nothing could be more important than discussing this issue with the entire faculty and staff.”

I agree.

Those of us who understand that free speech versus cultural sensitivity is not a zero-sum game should scrutinize the BRT in an uninhibited, robust and wide-open way. As Professors Jeffrey Aaron Snyder and Amna Khalid at Carleton College cogently noted in their New Republic article: “BRTs are fatally flawed” and that “BRTs will turn the genuine, transformative educational power of diverse voices into a farce.”

I’d like to applaud my journalism and communication colleagues for leading the UO conversations on the BRT. The BRT has been entrenched in the UO community as part of its institutional machinery for the past 17 years, but it has been subject to little scrutiny throughout its entire history.

The Bias Response Team has received little scrutiny because university professors are in general terrified of being accused of bias. Fortunately Prof Youm is not.

For the record, UO’s Academic Freedom and Free Speech and Inquiry policies are stronger than the University of Chicago’s policy. See here for the UO language and some history on how hard we had to fight former UO GC Randy Geller, former President Mike Gottfredson, and Sharon Rudnick, Tim Gleason, and Doug Blandy to get the Academic Freedom Policy passed and signed.

That fight’s not over – GC Kevin Reed is probably going to bring “time and place” restrictions to the UO Senate this year. Here’s hoping they’re not as ridiculous as Randy Geller’s anti-chalk efforts. And of course having a policy is the easy part. The hard part is following it. Has the BRT broken UO’s policy?

Senate recommends suspension of controversial tenured blogger

Given the threats I’ve had from past UO presidents, interim presidents, provosts, interim provosts, presidential advisors, VP’s, AVP’s, VPAA’s, general counsels, interim general counsels, faculty athletic representatives, and former journalism deans, which have ranged from vague to specific, I’m always curious about where the line on faculty blogging is.

This story out of Marquette shows that one of their faculty bloggers crossed it. Their Senate carefully investigated the situation with full recognition of academic freedom, and specifically noting the tendency of administrators to use civility clauses against free speech. The Senate then came down in support of the administration and a one-year suspension without pay. Their argument is persuasive.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel  has the story here. The Marquette administration has posted the documents here, with explanation. The Senate’s Faculty Hearing Committee’s report, here, is well worth reading in its entirety.

Note the contrast in transparency between UO and Marquette (which is private and not subject to WI FOIA). When UO gets sued they use it as a reason to hide documents. When Marquette gets sued they use it as a reason to post documents on the web. Or at least documents that make them look good.

U of Chicago gets free publicity for promoting free speech. UO doesn’t.

Chicago has some good public relations people, and a smart President and/or Board of Trustees. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has the press release here, on their free speech efforts:

University of Chicago Reforms All Speech Codes, Earns FIRE’s Highest Free Speech Rating

CHICAGO, April 26, 2016—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is excited to announce the latest university to earn its highest, “green light” rating for free speech: theUniversity of Chicago (UC). In cooperation with FIRE, UC revised all of its speech codes to join an elite group of colleges and universities that maintain policies respecting student and faculty free expression rights and meeting First Amendment standards. …

Here’s my take – sorry, long story:

In January 2015 Chicago announced the Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression, chaired by Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law. The full text of that long and self-congratulatory report is here. The gist:

From its very founding, the University of Chicago has dedicated itself to the preservation and celebration of the freedom of expression as an essential element of the University’s culture. In 1902, in his address marking the University’s decennial, President William Rainey Harper declared that “the principle of complete freedom of speech on all subjects has from the beginning been regarded as fundamental in the University of Chicago” and that “this principle can neither now nor at any future time be called in question.” Thirty years later, a student organization invited William Z. Foster, the Communist Party’s candidate for President, to lecture on campus. This triggered a storm of protest from critics both on and off campus. …, …, …

In a word, the University’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose. Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the University’s educational mission. …, …, …

Actually, that’s a lot of words.  The University of Oregon Senate and President Richard Lariviere said it less pompously, more forcefully, and five years earlier in UO’s 2010 Freedom of Speech and Inquiry Policy. The full text:

The University of Oregon values and supports free and open inquiry. The commitment to free speech and freedom of inquiry described in this policy extends to all members of the UO community: Faculty, staff, and students. It also extends to all others who visit or participate in activities held on the UO campus.

Free speech is central to the academic mission and is the central tenet of a free and democratic society. The University encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to this community. Further, as a public institution, the University will sustain a higher and more open standard for freedom of inquiry and free speech than may be expected or preferred in private settings.

Free inquiry and free speech are the cornerstones of an academic institution committed to the creation and transfer of knowledge. Expression of diverse points of view is of the highest importance, not solely for those who present and defend some view but for those who would hear, disagree, and pass judgment on those views. The belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, and in any other way despicable, detestable, offensive or “just plain wrong” cannot be grounds for its suppression.

The University supports free speech with vigor, including the right of presenters to offer opinion, the right of the audience to hear what is presented, and the right of protesters to engage with speakers in order to challenge ideas, so long as the protest does not disrupt or stifle the free exchange of ideas. It is the responsibility of speakers, listeners and all members of our community to respect others and to promote a culture of mutual inquiry throughout the University community.

But that’s not the whole story. Randy Geller, UO’s General Counsel at the time, tried to subvert this straight-forward defense of free-speech rights with a “Facilities Scheduling Policy” restricting free speech with weasel words like these:

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The UO Senate fought Geller off, passed a policy with none of this language, and President Lariviere signed that too.

Then in 2013, during negotiations with the new UO faculty union, new UO President Mike Gottfredson tried to argue that UO faculty could be disciplined for criticizing the UO administration. Colleen Flaherty had the story in Inside Higher Education, here:

But the university’s counterproposal decouples academic freedom and free speech, addressing them separately. Academic freedom is “necessary to teaching and research,” it says, with no mention of the role of academics in speaking out if not related directly to teaching and research. Rejecting explicit union language on free speech, the counterproposal instead guarantees protections afforded by the First Amendment and state law. [Which are weaker for public employees.] …

Margaret Paris, professor of law and president of the Faculty Senate, has not been involved in union negotiations but said that the union statement likely would influence the ultimate Senate document, since it would be difficulty to work off two different policies when most of the faculty belong to the union (although law professors do not).

Paris also said she was aware of the university’s preference to decouple academic freedom and free speech in the final Faculty Senate statement, and that she would likely support it. Because the policies “spring from different sets of values,” it makes sense that each deserves individual attention, she said.

Oregon’s administration works closely with the Faculty Senate and Paris is looking forward to a collaborative process finalizing the document, she said.

But those involved in union contract negotiations said otherwise.

Bill Harbaugh, professor of economics and moderator of the “UO Matters” blog, which is frequently critical of university policy, said decoupling academic freedom from free speech left room for administrators to punish those faculty – like him – who say things administrators don’t like. He also objected to the idea that administrators would be the ones deciding what qualifies as “civil.”

The university has previously publicly accused Harbaugh of including “consistently anti-university” statements on his blog.

“The university is place of higher learning,” warranting explicit protections of free speech, Harbaugh said. “The new policy takes out all the pro-free speech stuff and instead includes many restrictive rules about how faculty can be engaged in free speech. It’s aimed in part at limiting the critical faculty right to criticize the administration outside of [the formal university setting].”

(Full disclosure: that would be me, and this blog.)

The UO faculty union fought off Mike Gottfredson with the help of Mike Mauer of the AAUP. The UO Senate then set up an academic freedom working group to work around the obstructive efforts of Senate President Margie Paris, and her support for Gottfredson’s efforts to make criticizing his policies on a blog a disciplinary offense.

Margie Paris was out-maneuvered and out-voted, and in the end Gottfredson had to sign a new UO Policy on Academic Freedom that augmented Lariviere’s policy on free speech with specific language on the right to criticize the UO administration:

c. POLICY AND SHARED GOVERNANCE. Members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy or practice, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance.

… These freedoms derive immediately from the university’s basic commitment to advancing knowledge and understanding. The academic freedoms enumerated in this policy shall be exercised without fear of institutional reprisal. Only serious abuses of this policy – ones that rise to the level of professional misbehavior or professional incompetence – should lead to adverse consequences.  Any such determinations shall be made in accordance with established, formal procedures involving judgment by relevant peers.

Reviewed and Approved By: Michael Gottfredson, President. Date: 05/28/2014

So why is Chicago getting all the good press, instead of UO?  Because Chicago agreed to work with FIRE to ensure that *all* their policies are consistent with their policy on free speech. UO has not, and therefore we are on FIRE’s “red light list”. Details and examples from the UO Student Code of Conduct and more, here.

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And the UO administration recently added this disclaimer to our Academic Freedom Policy. And, from a cursory search of AVP Chuck Triplett’s policy library, only to this policy. How odd:

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UO administration removes CO2 Divest banner from Johnson Hall bush

4/6/2016 update: The day Merle Haggard died? Have our administrators no sense of patriotism? Or irony? More on the troubling response from the UO Foundation CIO here.

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3/29/2016 update: Press Conference on the Johnson Hall steps, Facebook event page here.

Our students have been conducting a quiet CO2 Divestment sit-in the Johnson Hall lobby for months. The administration has banned their banner from the bush outside JH, and now the students are apparently going to reassert their free-speech rights.

Do they have the right to put up the banner? I’m no lawyer, but here’s some UO history. Back in 2010, former UO GC Randy Geller wanted to change UO policy to implement “Free Speech Zones”, outside of which First Amendment rights would be tightly controlled. This was in reaction to the Pacifica Forum incidents. Geller’s policy starts on page 13 here. It’s funnier than Animal Farm.

Free speech is indispensable, but:

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UO will restrict Free Speech, except inside the Free Speech Zones, and even then you’ll need insurance and maybe a reservation:

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No unapproved banners outside free speech zones – and don’t even think about posting the video on the internets:

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Oh yeah, no camping or chalk either. Chalk? What’s that about?

All of Geller’s silly language above was rejected by the UO Senate and it is not UO policy. 

The Facilities Use Policy that was adopted instead is at http://policies.uoregon.edu/policy/by/1/04-facilities/facilities-scheduling. It turned Geller’s policy on its ass, by limiting the areas UO can control to buildings and “scheduled outdoor spaces” i.e. the EMU amphitheater. The Senate rejected all of Geller’s anti-free speech, anti-banner, and anti-chalk language.

The Facilities Use policy is paired with the powerful Free Speech and Inquiry policy, at http://policies.uoregon.edu/policy/by/1/01-administration-and-governance/freedom-inquiry-and-free-speech:

Free speech is central to the academic mission and is the central tenet of a free and democratic society. The University encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to this community. Further, as a public institution, the University will sustain a higher and more open standard for freedom of inquiry and free speech than may be expected or preferred in private settings.

How much clearer could this be? It’s not like the CO2 Divestment students are doing anything reprehensible, like using chalk.

3/13/2016: UO bans students’ fossil fuel divestment banner from a bush? Continue reading

UO Code of Ethics requires employees to “dedicate ourselves before God to our chosen profession”, plus civility

11/28/2015: From what I can tell $130K VP for Collaboration Chuck Triplett is actually going to bring his UO ethics policy to the Senate for debate and vote.

You must “make decisions based upon the greater good” and act in “wise, ethical, and prudent manner”, while not “shifting blame or taking improper credit”. And the administration thinks the *Senate* is wasting faculty time with pointless discussions?

I’ve already seen some pretty good suggestions for amendments, including the admirably brief

“University of Oregon Code of Ethics: All employees must follow the University of Oregon Policy on Freedom of Speech and Inquiry“.

If that fails, I’ll bring up my proposal for a Senate Unethical Activities Committee, with the power to investigate and blacklist offenders:

Meanwhile, rumor down at the Faculty Club Chapel (Episcopalian) is that there will also be questions from the faculty on how we can behave ethically without dedicating ourselves before God to our chosen profession, as VPFA Jamie Moffitt has been requiring the UO Police to do, ever since that unfortunate Bowl of Dicks incident:

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 8.01.40 PM

Good thing our Johnson Hall bowl game junketeers aren’t sworn officers. That part about “never accepting gratuities” would be a problem.

As for the God business, sorry, but a higher authority disagrees: “… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

11/13/2015: UO ethics policy requires “civil, respectful, and nurturing environment”

And if you fail to “make decisions based upon the greater good” or don’t act in “a wise, ethical, and prudent manner” or if you engage in “shifting blame or taking improper credit”, you have violated UO policy, and you are subject to university discipline.

That’s according to UO’s newly revised “Code of Ethics” policy, posted on VP for Collaboration Chuck Triplett’s website, and open for comment here.

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Firing professor for “incivility” costs chancellor her job, university $875K

11/13/2015: The Nation has the news that the University of Illinois has settled with Steven Salaita, here.

8/11/2015: Former university trustee asks tough questions about buyout payment

Among those upset by the decision is former U. of I. board Chairman Christopher Kennedy, who approved Wise’s initial employment agreement.

“I wouldn’t give someone $400,000 to leave peaceably if they (did what she did). My belief is that those emails will reveal behavior that should be investigated,” Kennedy told the Tribune. “This is actionable information. You can fire someone for cause for this. When have we started giving money to people who (do this)?”

U. of I. on Friday released about 1,100 pages of emails that show Wise and other campus administrators used their personal email accounts in an attempt to circumvent state public records law, a violation of university policy.

8/7/2015: Chancellor Phyllis Wise out, after AAUP censures UIUC over Salaita firing

Long story. UIUC hired Professor Steven Salaita away from Virginia Tech, then fired him for “incivility” before he even started teaching, after some donors discovered he’d tweeted some things that they didn’t like. Seriously.

Chancellor Wise could have stood up for academic freedom, but instead she caved to the donors and the UIUC Board of Trustees. This summer the American Association of University Professors voted to censure UIUC over this.

Salaita sued UIUC, with the help of the Center for Constitutional Rights and various pro academic freedom groups. So far Chancellor Wise has spent $850K on outside lawyers to fight him. Yesterday was not a good day for those lawyers, when the judge tossed their motion to dismiss. Peter Schmidt of the Chronicle has a good summary of the judge’s decision here, if you are interested in contract law.

Shortly after the judge’s ruling was announced, UIUC announced that Chancellor Wise was fired, or resigned, or whatever you want to call it.  She gets a $400K buyout, a year’s paid sabbatical, and then a ~$300K tenured job as a professor of biology – her contract says she gets the same salary as the highest paid person in the department. And the Oregonian reports she’ll keep her position on Nike’s board.

Meanwhile Salaita has a one year visiting job at the American University of Beirut.

Bowl of Dicks trial reveals UOPD’s casual spying on employees

10/8/2015: This is from the trial transcripts, which I’m slowly getting through:

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 7.29.18 PM

8/4/2015: UO administrator accessed employee email account without notice

Here’s the description of recent events, from an anonymous correspondent:

Administrators Are Permitted to Monitor Emails without Notice or Authorization

Consider the following scenario: Alice,* a staff member with a disability, has been ordered by her doctors to utilize her federally protected leave in order to recover from symptoms emerging from a potentially hostile work environment. Alice has been in contact with the Union, who are investigating the climate at her department for possible discrimination.

While Alice is away in recovery, Bob,* her supervisor and a department administrator, somehow acquires full access to all of Alice’s emails. Bob does not notify Alice that he intends to access her information, nor does he seek authorization from Information Security, General Counsel, or the Union. Rather, Bob simply unilaterally seizes full, unsupervised, and ongoing access to the entirety of Alice’s email account, including her correspondences with the Union.

Such an obvious conflict of interest and invasion of privacy would seem ludicrous if it wasn’t for the fact that it recently occurred at the University of Oregon.

As soon as this data breach came to light, the Union contacted UO’s Chief of Information Security Officer (CISO) to clarify what exactly the criteria were for an administrator gaining access to an employee’s email. The CISO responded that the UO does not offer “wholesale access to another employee’s email.” There would have to be a “specific request” driven by a “business need” and submitted through the proper channels. If such criteria are met, then Information Security will attempt to provide the specific information, and only that information, which was requested. The CISO continued, “The only time we would give over all email would be in the case of a subpoena or other legal request.”

Under such criteria, Bob had obviously violated university policy by accessing and monitoring all of Alice’s emails during her absence from the office. The Union reported the data breach immediately, in conformity with the newly minted executive policy on Data Security Incidence Response.

A few weeks later, the Union inquired with the Director of Employee & Labor Relations (DLR) at Human Resources to inquire after the progress of the investigation. What a difference a few weeks can make! The DLR responded that there had been no violation of policy, because UO in fact has no policy at all restricting administrator access to an employee’s email.

The Union reached out again to the CISO to clarify. The CISO responded that he believed that the situation was handled poorly, and that he did not believe that Bob was “philosophically” justified in accessing Alice’s data. Unfortunately, he admitted, there are no “specific policies” in place at UO at present to prevent, discourage, or reprimand an administrator who unilaterally decides that they have a “business need” to access and monitor an employee’s personal data without their prior knowledge or consent.

The CISO seemed as disturbed by this state of affairs as the Union, noting that it “raises a need for a procedure to be put in place regarding access to an employee’s email account” and that he “intend(s) to write up a procedure for situations like this” which will “hopefully alleviate situations like this in the future by providing a standard process.”

The Union applauds the CISO’s pledge to put policies in place that will provide the necessary checks and balances to reign in administrators who feel justified in violating their employee’s privacy at will.

The response at HR has been less encouraging however. As of this writing, the DLR has chosen to fully back management in this matter. Amazingly, rather than stand up for the rights of one of the most vulnerable members of the UO community in a case of discrimination, harassment, and gross invasion of privacy, HR has chosen instead to escalate the harassment by pursuing disciplinary action against Alice on behalf of Bob.

And as of this writing, Bob still retains full access to Alice’s email.

So, until the new policies are in place, be careful what you write and who you write it to.

* All names have been changed.

It’s more than two years since I started the thread below, trying to find out UO’s policy for email monitoring and access. Page down for the entire history. Obviously there are situations when supervisors need access to an employee’s email, e.g. a public records request or a court order, an emergency illness or death, etc. On the other hand there are situations where that access would be very problematic, e.g. like that above, or when an employee has a complaint about the supervisor, or has used UO email to contact a doctor or counselor or lawyer, etc. So most universities have a sensible policy along the lines of UC’s, here:

An electronic communications holder’s consent shall be obtained by the
University prior to any access for the purpose of examination or disclosure of the
contents of University electronic communications records in the holder’s
possession, except as provided for below. …

1. Authorization. Except in emergency circumstances (as defined in Appendix
A, Definitions) in accordance with Section IV.B.2, Emergency
Circumstances, or except for subpoenas or search warrants in accordance with
Section IV.B.6, Search Warrants and Subpoenas, such actions must be
authorized in advance and in writing by the responsible campus Vice
Chancellor or, for the Office of the President, the Senior Vice President,
Business and Finance (see Section II.D, Responsibilities).1
This authority may not be further redelegated. Authorization shall be limited to the least perusal of contents and the least action necessary to resolve the situation.  …

3. Notification. The responsible authority or designee shall at the earliest
opportunity that is lawful and consistent with other University policy notify
the affected individual of the action(s) taken and the reasons for the action(s)
taken.

Each campus will issue in a manner consistent with law an annual report
summarizing instances of authorized or emergency nonconsensual access
pursuant to the provisions of this Section IV.B, Access Without Consent,
without revealing personally identifiable data.

UO’s policy is here. It’s not as cogent, but it also seems to ban the sort of blanket access that is described above. And UO IT also passes on the following helpful advice, here:

  • Never share your password with anyone.  This includes your supervisor, co-workers, and IT staff.
  • There may be some destinations (such as China, Russia, and other areas overseas) where it may be difficult or impossible to prevent your computer from being attacked and electronically compromised.

China and Russia indeed.

8/2/2013: UO has no policies limiting which administrators can read your email or monitor your web use, or why. From Dave Hubin’s PRO:

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Trigger Warning

The gist:

… However, the Faculty Senate does not endorse offering “trigger warnings” or
otherwise labeling controversial material in such a way that students
construe it as an option to “opt out” of engaging with texts or
concepts, or otherwise not participating in intellectual inquiries.

… In issuing this statement, the Faculty Senate affirms that shielding
students from controversial material will deter them from becoming
critical thinkers and responsible citizens. Helping them learn to
process and evaluate such material fulfills one of the most important
responsibilities of higher education.

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY FACULTY SENATE RESOLUTION ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

9/9/15 Unanimously Approved

For hundreds of years, the pursuit of knowledge has been at the
center of university life. Unfettered discourse, no matter how
controversial, inconvenient, or uncomfortable, is a condition
necessary to that pursuit. American University stands in this tradition,
as stated in section 4 of the Faculty Manual.
(http://www.american.edu/provost/academicaffairs/faculty-manualtoc.cfm)

Freedom of speech–protected by the First Amendment to the United
States Constitution– undergirds the cherished principle of academic
freedom. As limits, either subtle or explicit, are increasingly placed on
intellectual freedom in venues of public discourse, the academy is
committed to the full expression of ideas.

American University is committed to protecting and championing the
right to freely communicate ideas—without censorship—and to
study material as it is written, produced, or stated, even material that
some members of our community may find disturbing or that
provokes uncomfortable feelings. This freedom is an integral part of
the learning experience and an obligation from which we cannot
shrink.

As laws and individual sensitivities may seek to restrict, label, warn,
or exclude specific content, the academy must stand firm as a place
that is open to diverse ideas and free expression. These are standards
and principles that American University will not compromise.
Faculty may advise students before exposing them to controversial
readings and other materials that are part of their curricula. However,
the Faculty Senate does not endorse offering “trigger warnings” or
otherwise labeling controversial material in such a way that students
construe it as an option to “opt out” of engaging with texts or
concepts, or otherwise not participating in intellectual inquiries.
Faculty should direct students who experience personal difficulties
from exposure to controversial issues to resources available at
American University’s support-services offices.

In issuing this statement, the Faculty Senate affirms that shielding
students from controversial material will deter them from becoming
critical thinkers and responsible citizens. Helping them learn to
process and evaluate such material fulfills one of the most important
responsibilities of higher education.

FIRE free speech lawsuits producing results

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education advocates for free speech for students and faculty. Starting last summer they decided to ramp up their game, with a legal fund set up to hire local law firms to sue universities that violated free speech rights.  They’ve had a good year:

One year ago today, with support from allies like you, FIRE launched our Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project and signaled the start of a new era for our advocacy. In the time since, Stand Up For Speech has dramatically reshaped the fight for free expression on campus.

None of the project’s successes would have been possible without your support. Whether through a direct contribution, a “like” or “retweet,” a forwarded press release, or a personal conversation, you’ve joined us in standing up for speech. You’ve helped us coordinate 10 lawsuits, secure five settlements, record nearly 40 individual policy changes in court or on campus, attract over 200 media mentions, and expose some of the nation’s worst speech codes to fellow liberty-lovers.

Even more importantly, you’ve given a voice to “the little guys” on campus. Thanks to you, students at Modesto Junior College and the University of Hawaii no longer have to confine their activities to tiny “free speech zones,” Citrus College student activists can organize events without a two-week wait, Western Michigan University student groups are no longer required to submit flyers for approval, and individuals at Ohio University no longer have to worry about a ban on “demeaning” language. By empowering each individual Stand Up For Speech plaintiff, you ultimately empowered more than 150,000 other students, who are now free to enjoy their expressive rights more fully.

This was just the beginning.

By donating today, you can help more students and professors fight back against the unconstitutional policies that fuel campus censorship. With your support, FIRE will continue to team up with the “little guys” to take on unconstitutional policies and absurd acts of censorship, coordinating lawsuit after lawsuit until administrators finally recognize and respect the First Amendment rights of their students and faculty members.

We’ve come a long way in a single year, and FIRE is proud of these accomplishments. As we move forward, I hope you will help us add to that record. Your 100% tax-deductible donation will empower more plaintiffs, challenge more unconstitutional policies, and expose more overzealous administrators. Ultimately, together with allies like you, FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project can generate the pressure necessary to finally rebalance the incentives in higher education and restore the marketplace of ideas on campus.

Yours in Liberty,
Greg Lukianoff
President and CEO

P.S. Please help us celebrate by sharing our anniversary materials with your friends, so that more and more Americans start to stand up for speech!

As a commenter has noted, UO is currently on FIRE’s “red light list” for free speech violations – the worst ranking in the state. We used to have a green light, based on Lariviere’s free speech policy, but last summer a student yelled “I hit that first” out a dorm window. The Office of Student Conduct got medieval, so the student went straight to FIRE, who got them to back off pretty quick – this time without a lawsuit. Story here.