Tufts University: Conservative Student Journal Found Guilty of Harassment

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Tufts University

In 2006, Tufts University’s conservative student newspaper The Primary Source (TPS) published a satirical Christmas carol titled “O Come All Ye Black Folk,” a parody of race-based college admissions. In April 2007, TPS ran a piece titled “Islam—Arabic Translation: Submission,” a satirical advertisement that ridiculed Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week.” After students complained about the articles, Tufts’ Committee on Student Life found TPS guilty of harassment for having “targeted” black students and Muslims for “embarrassment.” The committee banned TPS from running anonymous items and recommended that the student government “consider the behavior of student groups” in future decisions about recognition and funding. FIRE and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts protested the punishment of TPS’ protected speech, which garnered national media attention. Tufts finally lifted the punishment but refused to honor its promises of free expression, failing to reverse the finding of guilt.





















    • Tufts Defines Speech Limits

      December 1, 2009

      Nearly three years after Tufts University drew headlines for a student journal’s publication of a racially charged article, trustees have declared that “freedom of expression and inquiry are not absolute.” The university’s “Declaration on Freedom of Expression” calls free speech “fundamental to the academic enterprise,” but outlines a series of broadly defined values that could limit what students can say and do. The statement notes, for example, that expression at Tufts should “respect the human dignity of others” and maintain a climate that does not interfere with students’ ability to “study, grow, and attain their full potential.” The declaration was […]

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    • Partially free is better than partially pregnant

      August 29, 2007

      When the conservative student newspaper at Tufts University published two articles that some at the school considered racist, university president Lawrence Bacow urged the campus to remain calm and to consider the controversy a “teachable moment.” This week, Bacow reversed a joint student-faculty committee penalty against the newspaper, sending the message that if this free-speech teachable moment was graded, some at Tufts would’ve got an “F.” By the end of this past school year, emotions were running high on the Tufts campus. In December 2006, The Primary Source, a student-run “journal of conservative thought,” published a mock Christmas carol, titled “O, […]

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    • Defining free expression

      August 28, 2007

      Responding to a case involving controversial material that appeared in a student publication, the president of Tufts University said Monday that the private institution will give its students, faculty and staff the same right to free expression as their peers at public institutions. But some say a concurrent ruling by a top administrator in that case sends a contradictory message. In a written statement, Lawrence S. Bacow, the university’s president, said that while Tufts isn’t technically bound by First Amendment guarantees, “it is my intention to govern as president as if we were.” “Universities are places where people should have […]

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    • Tufts offical says racial parody was harassing, hostile, and an exercise of free speech

      August 27, 2007

      A conservative magazine at Tufts University that was found to have harassed black students has successfully appealed a university ruling that would have required it to publish author bylines on all of its articles, the Associated Press reported. The byline requirement was imposed in May by a university judicial committee after the student-run magazine, The Primary Source, printed an anonymous parody of a Christmas carol called “O Come All Ye Black Folk” that many deemed racist but that defenders said was a legitimate satire on the university’s affirmative-action policies. To read the full story, please click here: http://chronicle.com/news/index.php?id=2929

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    • Byline requirement on conservative student journal lifted

      August 27, 2007

      Tufts University is taking a stand for freedom of expression. James Glaser, the private school’s dean of undergraduate education, today reversed a campus board’s requirement that a student-run conservative journal include authors’ names with articles. The rule was imposed last year after the magazine “The Primary Source” published an unbylined parody song that many said was racist. Glaser says the byline requirement was an unfair restriction on free speech. Tufts President Lawrence Bacow agreed. Glaser left intact a ruling that found “The Primary Source” guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment in violation of the school’s nondiscrimination policy.

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    • Is Mayor Bloomberg OK with being duped by Tufts University?

      August 2, 2007

      Two months ago, as president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), I wrote an open letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg to inform him that he had been badly deceived. I’m still waiting for an answer. Back in May, Mayor Bloomberg delivered Tufts University’s commencement address. In the course of his speech, the Mayor praised Tufts for dealing with The Primary Source (TPS), a campus paper which had over the school year written articles that offended some students, without resorting to censorship or official punishment. Bloomberg said, “I think the students and the faculty and all of Tufts […]

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    • And the award goes to…

      June 25, 2007

      As the founder and sole member of the Sheldon Award Society, I am dedicated to identifying the worst college president of each academic year. So far the presidents or chancellors of Berkeley, Georgetown, DePaul, and countless other universities have copped the Sheldon. Somewhat mysteriously, none offered to resign. The award is a statuette that looks something like the Oscar, except the Oscar features a man with no face looking straight ahead, whereas the Sheldon shows a man with no spine looking the other way. The award is named for Sheldon “Water Buffalo” Hackney, the former president of the University of […]

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    • CSL hearing turns spotlight on controversial Source pieces

      May 20, 2007

      Just hours after it was released on May 10, the Committee on Student Life’s (CSL) decision finding The Primary Source guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment was thrust into the national media. For many free speech experts, it seemed to land with a dull thud. “It’s very surprising, and troubling,” said Michael Hiestand, a Washington-based attorney and a consultant to the Student Press Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit organization that offers legal guidance to campus media. “It really does open up the door to a great deal of administrative interference in what are typically very strong free speech […]

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    • Tufts University: Hostile environment for free thought

      May 17, 2007

      In April, Tufts University in Boston held an “Islamic Awareness Week.” As is well known the purpose of various “awareness” weeks and months is the indoctrination of “correct” thinking on the subject being singled out for this treatment. It is highly unlikely that there are any students at Tufts not already aware of Islam’s existence. The point of Tufts’ awareness week is to provide faculty and administrators with an excuse to promote the Politically Correct version of the “Religion of Peace.” For proof one need look no further that Tufts’ treatment of student dissenters to the university’s Party Line. The […]

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    • Campus Alert: Free speech on trial

      April 30, 2007

      Free speech is on trial today at Tufts University in Massachusetts. This afternoon, the editors of “The Primary Source,” a conservative student publication, will go before the school’s student judiciary panel to answer charges leveled against the paper by other students. The charges at the disciplinary hearing include “harassment” and “breach of community standards.” The actual “crimes”? Satirical articles published in TPS in the past few months—specifically, a Christmas carol parody lampooning race-based admissions policies (“O Come All Ye Black Folk”) and an Islamic Awareness Week article focusing on the religion’s fundamentalist fringe (“The seven nations in the world that […]

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    • Student: Tufts Must Improve Free Speech Record

      April 11, 2012

      Last week, Tufts University student newspaper The Primary Source lamented Tufts’ placement on FIRE’s list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech as well as its poor recent history with respect to freedom of speech. The editor’s piece (PDF; see page 4) explores the issues that have caused Tufts to languish on FIRE’s Red Alert list, reserved for the “worst of the worst” when it comes to liberty on campus, and to find itself on the “Worst Colleges” list for the second straight year. Of course, The Primary Source knows all too well exactly what Tufts has done to earn these […]

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    • Still Looking for a New Year’s Resolution, Red Alert Schools?

      January 14, 2010

      Here’s an easy New Year’s resolution that Brandeis University, Bucknell University, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and Tufts University can make: get off of FIRE’s Red Alert list of America’s worst violators of campus liberty! This week, FIRE sent the presidents of each of the six Red Alert schools a letter reminding them of their schools’ serious and ongoing violations of student and faculty rights, and just how easy it is for each of them to remedy their mistakes and reaffirm their commitment to freedom of expression. FIRE also included with each letter a copy of the […]

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    • FIRE 2010 U.S. News Letter to Tufts President Bacow

      January 7, 2010

      January 7, 2010 President Lawrence S. Bacow Office of the President Tufts University Ballou Hall, Second Floor Medford, Massachusetts 02155 Re: The Primary Source case and FIRE’s Red Alert list Dear President Bacow: I am writing to draw your attention to the full-page advertisement that FIRE ran in the most recent “America’s Best Colleges” issue of U.S. News & World Report. The advertisement appears on page 89, immediately adjacent to the rankings of the top 100 national universities, in the same position our advertisement appeared last year. We have enclosed a copy of the issue for your information. FIRE plans […]

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    • Tufts ‘Declaration on Freedom of Expression’ Misunderstands the Concept

      December 1, 2009

      Last month, the Tufts University Board of Trustees approved its “Declaration on Freedom of Expression at Tufts University.” Unfortunately, what Tufts touts as an attempt to harmonize the values of free expression and respecting others’ feelings is a transparent rejection of controversial speech.   Tufts’ declaration claims that it supports “freedom of expression and inquiry as fundamental to the academic enterprise” yet outlines “obligations” to exercise that freedom “in ways that respect the human dignity of others.” This facile statement was recognized by several sources as an attempt to limit free speech on campus. Today’s article in Inside Higher Ed […]

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    • How Can Tufts University Get Off FIRE’s Red Alert List?

      August 25, 2009

      FIRE’s full-page ad in U.S. News & World Report, right next to the annual college rankings, exposes the colleges and universities that have acted so poorly regarding individual rights on campus that FIRE is warning students to think twice before they apply and put their rights at risk. (Here is last year’s ad.) Brandeis University, Bucknell University, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and Tufts University are very unsafe when it comes to student and faculty rights. Please follow the links above for more information—if you have not encountered college censorship before, you’ll be amazed by what you […]

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    • This Month in FIRE History: Tyranny at Tufts

      May 19, 2009

      This May marks the two-year anniversary of a case that is etched into our memories as one of the most outrageous we’ve ever had. Tufts University’s punishment of the conservative student newspaper The Primary Source for parody and satire was, and remains, indefensible. The Primary Source hadn’t made any friends at Tufts by the time they released their article “Islam: Arabic Translation: Submission.” A few months earlier, in December of 2006, the paper published their annual Christmas carol parody entitled “O Come All Ye Black Folk,” which mocked the school’s affirmative action policy. Realizing that the carol had offended large […]

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    • Comment Period on Tufts Freedom of Expression Policy Comes to a Close

      October 20, 2008

      Last Friday, the public comment period for Tufts University’s Draft Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Inquiry ended. FIRE believes this draft is highly deficient and poses a serious threat to free expression at Tufts, and on October 7th, FIRE issued a detailed statement listing our concerns. Tufts is, of course, a private university so it is not directly bound by the First Amendment. But as we ask in our statement, even though Tufts may choose to place certain values above free speech, should they? Our answer: A private college or university may, if it chooses, adopt policies that reject […]

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    • As Tufts Faculty Discuss Free Expression, Remember Yale’s Woodward Report

      October 8, 2008

      Today, faculty members at Tufts University are discussing the draft Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Inquiry, which is open for feedback until October 17. As faculty members consider their response, we encourage them to carefully consider FIRE’s comment and objections, including a recommendation that Tufts take its cues from one of the strongest statements on free expression available, the 1974 Woodward Report from Yale University. Here is the executive summary of our comment, which we distributed yesterday to Tufts’ Task Force on Freedom of Expression and other members of the Tufts community. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The draft Declaration on Freedom […]

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    • FIRE Officially Comments on Tufts’ Draft Free Speech Declaration

      October 7, 2008

      Since last year, FIRE has been fighting a protracted battle for liberty at Tufts University after the school found a conservative student publication, The Primary Source, guilty of “harassment” for publishing two articles: the first, a satire of affirmative action, and the second, a satirical advertisement ridiculing Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week.” While the university overturned its original punishment of the publication, the bogus “harassment” finding remains—earning Tufts a place on FIRE’s Red Alert list of the “worst of the worst” campuses in the country when it comes to defending individual rights. While Tufts President Lawrence Bacow undoubtedly would have liked […]

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    • How Can Tufts University Get Off FIRE’s Red Alert List?

      August 28, 2008

      To continue our series on how the five Red Alert schools named in our U.S. News advertisement can get themselves off the list, today we discuss the situation at Tufts University (we have blogged about how Colorado College, Brandeis University, and Valdosta State University). As you can see, Tufts University is a repeat offender against the principles of liberty on campus, with no less than four separate FIRE cases to its name, including three between 2000 and 2001, when FIRE was still new. Unfortunately, during the intervening years between 2001 and 2006, when the first hint arose of the controversy […]

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    • FIRE Exposes Unrepentant Abusers of Liberty in ‘U.S. News’ College Rankings Issue

      August 25, 2008

      PHILADELPHIA, August 25, 2008—The 2009 edition of U.S. News and World Report‘s America’s Best Colleges issue, released today, includes a full-page advertisement from 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 Red Alert schools, which include Brandeis University, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins University, Tufts University, and Valdosta State University. “Every year, millions of students and parents turn to U.S. News and World Report to see the latest college rankings,” said FIRE President […]

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    • Tufts University: So Close, But Yet So Far

      December 27, 2007

      As we wrap up 2007 FIRE is proud to have scored victory after victory at universities across the country, but if there’s one case that frustrated me more than any other this year it is the ongoing saga at Tufts University. As loyal Torch readers know, in April Tufts found a conservative student publication guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment for publishing political satire. Despite explicitly promising to protect controversial and offensive expression in its policies, the Tufts Committee on Student Life decided to punish The Primary Source for printing two articles that offended African-American and Muslim students […]

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    • As President Bacow Continues to Stonewall, John Leo Blasts Tufts

      December 14, 2007

      Last week, FIRE wrote Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow to ask him again why a verdict declaring conservative student publication The Primary Source (TPS) guilty of “harassment” and “creating a hostile environment” still stands―despite the fact that Bacow himself has openly admitted that such a punishment could not stand under the First Amendment. We explained to President Bacow (again) that the only way for Tufts University to shed the dishonor of being one of three schools named to FIRE’s Red Alert list―reserved for schools FIRE deems “the worst of the worst” when it comes to protecting rights on campus―was by […]

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    • FIRE to Tufts: Drop the Guilty Finding, Get Off Red Alert List

      December 5, 2007

      The letter FIRE sent out this morning to Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow and the Tufts Board of Trustees makes absolutely clear what the school must do to end its embarrassing tenure on FIRE’s Red Alert list: Immediately drop the remaining finding of “guilty” against conservative student publication The Primary Source (TPS), which Tufts charged with creating a “hostile environment” and “harassment” for publishing two satirical articles. Torch readers will no doubt recall the shameful saga that has led FIRE to write Tufts for a third time to issue this request. But if your memory needs refreshing, here’s a quick […]

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    • David Ross Responds to Tufts

      August 31, 2007

      FIRE friend and Rochester Institute of Technology Professor David Ross, and those like him, are essential to FIRE’s work. After receiving a FIRE press release, Dr. Ross always forwards it to the appropriate university president and carbon copies dozens of academics across the country. He sends a simply query: is this true? And if so, could you explain your actions and reasoning? If Dr. Ross finds the president’s response wanting, he gives a rebuttal and asks for further explanation or for a change of course. After FIRE’s latest press release regarding Tufts’ half measures to alleviate the illiberal and wrongful […]

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    • Tufts Frustrates Students’ Wish for Dialogue

      August 31, 2007

      Despite Tufts President Lawrence Bacow’s happy talk on freedom of speech at Tufts (which, as Harvey and Jan mention in Emily’s entry from yesterday, is not exactly backed up by action), there still appears to be dissatisfaction among Tufts’ students about how the whole situation with The Primary Source has been handled. And I’m not just talking about the students who write for TPS—who, although the punishment has now been rescinded, are still officially “harassers” according to Tufts’ Committee on Student Life (CSL). (Regarding this committee, Bacow said, “In retrospect, I think that the CSL was ill-advised to hear this […]

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    • Tufts University Case in ‘The Phoenix’

      August 30, 2007

      FIRE cofounder Harvey A. Silverglate and Jan Wolfe published a piece in yesterday’s edition of The Phoenix commenting on recent developments at Tufts University. Torch readers are undoubtedly familiar with the latest developments at Tufts: Even though University President Lawrence Bacow issued a statement affirming First Amendment protections at the private institution, the school’s harassment finding against a conservative student publication for printing satire still stands. Echoing our statements in yesterday’s press release, Harvey and Jan write: While Bacow and Glaser should be commended for their eloquent defense of the First Amendment, it’s puzzling that they have not reversed the […]

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    • Progress for Freedom of Speech at Tufts

      August 29, 2007

      FIRE’s press release today announces that our efforts to revive free speech at Tufts University have finally yielded some real progress. Throughout the past year, Tufts made a mockery of free speech by finding the conservative student newspaper The Primary Source (TPS) guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment for printing two satirical articles about race-based admissions and militant Islam. Tufts’ decisions to proceed with a hearing on these charges, to find the paper guilty, and to impose sanctions that placed the paper’s existence in jeopardy—all while paying lip service to the significance of free speech in the university […]

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    • Tufts University Makes Progress on Free Speech, but Wrongful Harassment Finding Remains

      August 29, 2007

      BOSTON, August 29, 2007—Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow took a significant, positive step this week by pledging that Tufts students will now enjoy the fullest protections guaranteed by the First Amendment. Unfortunately, the administration failed to overturn a wrongful harassment finding against the conservative student newspaper, The Primary Source, for publishing clearly protected political satire. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) spearheaded the defense of the student paper after Tufts punished it for printing two articles that offended African-American and Muslim students on campus, and is calling upon Tufts to fully exonerate the paper. “While President Bacow’s statement […]

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    • Byline requirement on Tufts journal lifted

      August 28, 2007

      A Tufts University dean on Monday reversed a campus board’s requirement that a student-run conservative journal include authors’ names with articles – a rule imposed after the magazine published an unbylined parody that many found racist. James Glaser, the private school’s dean of undergraduate education, said the byline requirement was an unfair restriction on free speech, a view echoed by Tufts President Lawrence Bacow in a statement issued before the start of a new school year. Glaser ruled on an appeal by the publication, The Primary Source, of a decision last spring by the Committee on Student Life. The panel, […]

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    • FIRE Commentary on Mayor Bloomberg and Tufts in ‘The Huffington Post’

      August 3, 2007

      Check out Greg’s latest piece on The Huffington Post on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s public praise for Tufts University’s behavior in The Primary Source (TPS) case. When Bloomberg delivered Tufts University’s commencement address back in May, he commended the university for not exercising censorship over the controversial student publication The Primary Source, stating, “I think the students and the faculty and all of Tufts University deserve an enormous amount of respect because you respected the rights of others to express themselves.” If you just did a double take after reading that comment, you’re not alone. Not only did […]

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    • FIRE Writes to Tufts Again About Erroneous ‘Harassment’ Finding

      July 31, 2007

      Today, FIRE sent a second letter to Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow and the Tufts Board of Trustees regarding Tufts’ punishment of the conservative paper The Primary Source (TPS). As FIRE’s followers will recall, a university panel found that TPS was guilty of “harassment” and “creating a hostile environment” for printing a Christmas carol that mocked affirmative action last December and a satirical article about “Islamic Awareness Week” in April. In addition to pointing out that Tufts makes a mockery of a defined legal term by dubbing TPS’ opinionated, satirical articles “harassment,” FIRE’s letter today also emphasized that both Tufts’ […]

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    • FIRE Letter to Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow and Tufts Board of Trustees, July 31, 2007

      July 31, 2007

      July 31, 2007 President Lawrence S. Bacow Ballou Hall Tufts University Medford, Massachusetts 02155 Sent by U.S. Mail and Facsimile (617-627-3300) Dear President Bacow: FIRE is disappointed to write to you once again to express our continuing concern about Tufts University’s punishment of the student journal The Primary Source (TPS). We note with dismay that, despite receipt of FIRE’s April 24 letter and numerous public admonitions, Tufts has yet to reverse its ruling that TPS’ December 2006 and April 2007 issues constituted harassment and created a hostile environment for Tufts students. As we stated in our previous letter, neither TPS’ […]

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    • When the Truth is Too Outrageous to Parody

      July 24, 2007

      The following entry was authored by FIRE summer intern Braum Katz, a rising sophomore at the College of William and Mary. In my freshman year of college, I became involved with The Pillory, William and Mary’s only satire and humor magazine. As expected, our first staff meeting consisted of an obligatory discussion on standards of decency in the parodies we would produce. Our editor-in-chief, a humorist wholly convinced of the power of satire, relayed a story that for the first time demonstrated how dangerously “chilled” satirical writing has become on college campuses. In turn, I will relay it here. At […]

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    • ‘The Washington Times’ Targets Tufts’ Ban of Unsigned Editorials

      July 6, 2007

      The Washington Times editorial yesterday highlighted an important aspect of FIRE’s recent case at Tufts University. The Primary Source, a conservative student paper at Tufts, was punished for publishing two satirical articles parodying affirmative action and “Islamic Awareness Week.” As punishment, The Primary Source is not allowed to publish anonymous articles, a long standing tradition of a free press. Far from being an effort by the paper to avoid responsibility for the content of an article, anonymous editorials represent statements made by the entire editorial staff, who together accept all the responsibility such an editorial entails. The Washington Times writes: […]

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    • Tufts Awarded ‘Muzzle Award’

      July 5, 2007

      The Boston Phoenix has announced its 10th Annual Muzzle Awards. Inspired by FIRE co-founder and Board Chairman Harvey Silverglate, the Muzzle Awards are based on news accounts of freedom-of-expression stories in New England within the last year. One of the recipients of this dubious distinction is Tufts University, where a student-faculty disciplinary panel found the editors of The Primary Source, an independent student newspaper, guilty of harassment for publishing two articles offensive to some students on campus. Author Dan Kennedy points out that even if one grants that the articles were racist and genuinely offensive, they still fall under the […]

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    • Tufts tops list of free-speech foes

      July 1, 2007

      After a year marked by controversial college free-speech cases, Tufts University landed itself on a dubious list organized by a First Amendment watchdog group that monitors U.S. campuses. The university’s reaction and punishment for two articles printed by The Primary Source, a student-run conservative magazine, earned Tufts top company with Johns Hopkins University on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s first “Red Alert” list of the “worst of the worst” offenders of speech rights. Last December, The Primary Source printed “Come All Ye Black Folk”—what the magazine maintained was a satirical Christmas carol about affirmative action at Tufts. Not […]

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    • John Leo’s 2007 Sheldon Awards: Tufts Leads the Pack

      June 25, 2007

      John Leo, nationally syndicated columnist and tireless critic of campus PC, has announced his Sheldon Awards for 2007 in today’s New York Sun. The Sheldon is “named for Sheldon ‘Water Buffalo’ Hackney, the former president of the University of Pennsylvania,” and is “dedicated to identifying the worst college president of each academic year.” Leading the pack is: The president of Tufts University, Lawrence Bacow, [who] looked the other way when a student-faculty committee put a conservative Tufts publication on trial for publishing two parodies. One was a mock Christmas carol making fun of racial preferences in college admissions, the other […]

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    • FIRE Launches ‘Red Alert’ List of Worst Offenders Against Liberty

      June 18, 2007

      Today FIRE is unveiling a new tool in our fight for liberty on America’s college and university campuses: FIRE’s Red Alert. Red Alert is our newly developed list of campuses that pose an ongoing and serious threat to the rights of current and future students and faculty. FIRE deals with some horrendous offenses against liberty on a daily basis, and even FIRE’s least serious case is an enormous problem for the person or group involved, as well as for the academic environment at the college or university where the abuse is taking place. But even so, some schools seem to […]

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    • ACLU Writes Letter to Tufts in Defense of ‘The Primary Source’

      June 12, 2007

      Tufts University got some added encouragement to reverse its decision against the conservative student journal The Primary Source (TPS) when the ACLU of Massachusetts weighed in by writing a letter to President Lawrence Bacow and Dean of Undergraduate Education James Glaser, who will oversee TPS’ appeal. Sarah Wunsch, who signed the ACLU’s letter, wrote: While the ACLU of Massachusetts does not condone or agree with the views expressed in [the December 2006 and April 2007 issues of TPS], the offensiveness of the speech does not turn it into prohibited harassment within the meaning of the university’s policies. We believe that […]

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    • Student Press Law Center and Howard Ziff on Tufts

      June 6, 2007

      In an article on its website yesterday, the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) discussed Tufts University’s actions against The Primary Source. The SPLC focused on Tufts’ requirement that the paper include a byline with every editorial it prints from now on, putting an end to unsigned editorials. Barbara Grossman, who headed the committee that found TPS guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment, explained in a statement that “The Primary Source can continue to print what it chooses, but it should not have the shelter of anonymity from which to launch hurtful attacks.” Grossman ignores the fact that Tufts’ […]

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    • More Evidence That Tufts Let Bloomberg Down

      June 6, 2007

      As Torch readers know, last month FIRE exposed the fact that Tufts University had punished a student publication, The Primary Source, for “harassment” for running articles criticizing affirmative action policies and Islamic violence. Its punishment is that it is now forbidden to run any unsigned articles—unlike every other publication on Tufts’ campus, and unlike just about every newspaper in America. This sanction makes a lot of sense when you realize that this will make it much easier for future bogus charges of “harassment” at Tufts to be lodged against individuals, instead of just a publication. After all, you can ruin […]

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    • Well, That Was Fast

      May 29, 2007

      A quick update on the Tufts situation: we were just informed by a Torch reader that Tufts has restored the link to the text of Bloomberg’s address, barely more than an hour after our last blog entry. I guess that means they’re watching our blog pretty carefully, so I have this message for Tufts: we’re not going to go away until Tufts lives up to its own promises and restores full freedom of the press to The Primary Source. Publishing a satire is not harassment, and every day that goes by that Tufts stands by this punishment is a slap […]

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    • Tufts Shoves Bloomberg’s Speech Down the Memory Hole

      May 29, 2007

      There is a bit of old advice known as the First Rule of Holes: “When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.” Alas, Tufts University has ignored this adage when it comes to the dispute over the school’s decision to punish a student publication, The Primary Source, for printing a couple of satires (criticizing affirmative action policies and Islamic violence) that offended some people on campus.   Tufts took a lot of well-deserved criticism for that decision, but then things got worse: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave the commencement address […]

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    • FIRE on Bloomberg and Tufts in ‘The Huffington Post’

      May 27, 2007

      Popular website ‘The Huffington Post’ has published an open letter to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg authored by FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. Mayor Bloomberg’s recent commencement address at Tufts University praised Tufts for its supposed commitment to free speech—when, in fact, Tufts has recently punished the very students Bloomberg cites for publishing a parody of affirmative action policies and a satirical advertisement critical of Islam. In the letter, FIRE informs Bloomberg that “it appears you have been badly misled by the Tufts administration concerning the university’s respect for free speech in the incident you mentioned.”

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    • Open Letter to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

      May 26, 2007

      Dear Mayor Bloomberg, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education was very pleased to see your strong endorsement of the basic principles of free speech in your commencement address at Tufts University last weekend. You may be distressed to learn, however, that it appears you have been badly misled by the Tufts administration concerning the university’s respect for free speech in the incident you mentioned. You said: This past December, The Primary Source—which is a campus magazine—printed some things that much of the community ardently disagreed with and many considered quite offensive. But instead of suppressing the publication (which might […]

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    • Feelings and Freedom of Speech

      May 25, 2007

      In response to the national media attention the recent The Primary Source (TPS) harassment case has attracted, the The Tufts Daily recently ran a piece analyzing the possible long-term implications the decision could have. The article features not only FIRE’s Samantha Harris, but also Stanley Fish, Jon B. Gould, the Student Press Law Center (SPLC), and the Anti-Defamation League. As readers of The Torch know, the recent punishment of TPS troubles FIRE. Samantha, in her statement to The Tufts Daily, wrote: The legal definition of harassment in the educational context is conduct ‘so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it […]

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    • Tufts President Bacow Just Doesn’t Get It

      May 22, 2007

      A FIRE supporter wrote to Tufts President Larry Bacow to express his concerns about free speech and academic freedom at Tufts after FIRE exposed the university’s disgraceful decision to punish The Primary Source (TPS) student magazine for harassment for publishing two parodies that offended some people on campus. Below is President Bacow’s response in full: Dear [FIRE Supporter], I believe in freedom of speech and expressed my own views in the attached article that was published in the Tufts Daily. I have no problems with students expressing political opinions however unpopular. That said, they should take responsibility for what they […]

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    • Mayor Bloomberg on Free Speech at Tufts

      May 21, 2007

      New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the commencement address at Tufts University this weekend. Among his many remarks, he mentioned FIRE’s case at Tufts, where the independent student paper The Primary Source (TPS) was investigated for publishing two satirical articles. Mayor Bloomberg described the incident thusly: This past December, The Primary Source—which is a campus magazine—printed some things that much of the community ardently disagreed with and many considered quite offensive. But instead of suppressing the publication (which might very well have happened on other campuses) and despite the emotion of the moment, I think the students and the […]

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    • The PC enforcers

      May 18, 2007

      At Tufts University, a disciplinary board sternly rebuked a liberal student publication for printing a satire of Christian hypocrisy. The board ruled the matter a punishable case of “harassment” that created “a hostile environment” for Christian students. Something rings false about this “news” item, doesn’t it? Actually, the board came down in full, righteous fury against a conservative publication at Tufts for a satire of Islamic hypocrisy. There. That has more of a ring of familiarity and truth to it, does it not? It’s more in keeping with academia’s lockstep, herd-thinking, rigorously PC tendencies these days, wouldn’t you say? The […]

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    • Silverglate Defends Parody on Campus in ‘The Phoenix’

      May 17, 2007

      Today’s edition of The Phoenix features a prominent article by FIRE co-founder Harvey Silver and Jan Wolfe detailing the recent censorship of satirical student newspapers at Tufts and Brandeis. At Tufts, as we’ve reported, The Primary Source offended campus sensibilities by publishing two satirical articles—a Christmas carol parody targeting race-based admissions and a mock ad criticizing Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week.” Tufts dispensed with First Amendment protections of parody—what Silverglate tags an “inherently risky art form”—and found the independent student paper guilty of “harassment” and “creating a hostile environment.” At Brandeis, the humor magazine Gravity printed a fake ad for “BlackJerry,” […]

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    • Well shut my mouth!

      May 16, 2007

      Are today’s college students thinner-skinned than were previous generations? That may be the sad truth emerging from Tufts and Brandeis Universities, where campus ideologues and their faculty enablers are purging student publications that used parody to comment on religious and race-relations issues. The real danger, of course, is not that today’s students are emotionally frail, but that they are willing to sacrifice freedom of speech and academic freedom to protect themselves from mere offense, never mind intellectual challenges. On May 10, a Tufts student-faculty judiciary board found the student-editors of conservative student magazine the Primary Source guilty of “harassment” and […]

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    • Tufts Case Launches Media and Blogosphere Commentaries

      May 15, 2007

      News of Tufts University’s disregard for freedom of speech and of the press has hit the media and the blogosphere. In addition to our Campus Alert in this week’s New York Post, The Washington Times’ Robert McCain covered the controversy yesterday, including thoughts from FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff: “The students were responding to what they thought was a one-sided and overly rosy depiction of Islam during Islamic Awareness Week,” the FIRE official said. “But is it unprotected harassment? One certainly hopes not, or else ‘harassment’ just became a truly lethal threat to free speech—an ‘exception’ that completely swallows the rule.” The […]

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    • Today’s ‘Campus Alert’: Don’t Joke at Tufts

      May 14, 2007

      Today’s installment of our weekly Campus Alert column in the New York Post focuses on the recent controversy at Tufts University, where conservative student journalists have been found guilty of “harassment” and “creating a hostile environment” for publishing two satirical articles that offended African-American and Muslim students. Torch readers are undoubtedly familiar with FIRE’s efforts in this case, which began with two satirical articles in The Primary Source (TPS) that are prime examples of controversial yet constitutionally protected speech. First, TPS printed a satirical Christmas carol called “Oh Come All Ye Black Folk,” mocking race-based admissions policies at Tufts. Four […]

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    • Campus Alert: Don’t joke at Tufts

      May 14, 2007

      A disciplinary board at Tufts University in Massachusetts has found the conservative student publication “The Primary Source” guilty of “harassment” and “creating a hostile environment” for publishing two articles that offended African-American and Muslim students. One ridiculed Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week” by highlighting instances of Islamic brutality, such as Islamic countries’ oppression of women and homosexuals and a quote from the Koran that that instructs believers to “strike off [the] heads and strike off every fingertip” of disbelievers. Tufts declared that this article “targeted” Muslim students. The other was a satirical Christmas carol printed last December called “Oh Come All […]

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    • Tufts case called hit to speech

      May 14, 2007

      A campus magazine at Tufts University has been found guilty of “harassment” by a disciplinary board, a decision that could establish “a terrifying precedent,” according to an academic-freedom group. The Primary Source, a conservative monthly published by Tufts students, commemorated “Islamic Awareness Week” last month on the Medford, Mass., campus with a full-page “supplement” headlined “Islam—Arabic Translation: Submission,” that cited facts about Muslim history. That unsigned article, along with a satirical “Christmas carol” in the magazine’s December issue mocking the university’s affirmative-action program, was cited as a violation of Tufts’s “nondiscrimination policy.” “From now on, all material published in the […]

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    • Factual Statements=Unprotected Harassment!? A Terrifying Precedent at Tufts

      May 11, 2007

      Today, FIRE announced the decision by a disciplinary panel at Tufts to find the conservative student newspaper, The Primary Source, guilty of “harassment” for, among other things, publishing a satirical ad that listed less-than-flattering facts about Islam during Tufts’ Islamic Awareness Week. You can see the ad here, and Eugene Volokh has also published it with excellent commentary over at his blog, but, just to make sure people see the ad for themselves, I have reprinted the full text:   Islam Arabic Translation: Submission   In the Spirit of Islamic Awareness Week, the SOURCE presents an itinerary to supplement the […]

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    • Tufts University Defies Free Press and Punishes ‘The Primary Source’

      May 11, 2007

      Tufts University has displayed a profound disregard for press freedom and its own guarantees to protect controversial and offensive expression. As today’s press release reveals, Tufts’ Committee on Student Life (CSL) released its decision yesterday to punish the conservative student publication The Primary Source (TPS). TPS was charged with harassment for publishing two controversial items: “O Come All Ye Black Folk,” a parody of race-based admissions, and “Islam—Arabic Translation: Submission,” a satirical advertisement targeting Tufts’ Islamic Awareness week. The CSL’s decision was handed down after FIRE wrote to Tufts University and explained that TPS’s articles constituted protected expression under Tufts’ […]

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    • Tyranny at Tufts

      May 11, 2007

      BOSTON, May 11, 2007—Showing profound disregard for free speech and freedom of the press, Tufts University has found a conservative student publication guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment for publishing political satire. Despite explicitly promising to protect controversial and offensive expression in its policies, the Tufts Committee on Student Life decided yesterday to punish the student publication The Primary Source (TPS) for printing two articles that offended African-American and Muslim students on campus. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has spearheaded the defense of TPS, is now launching a public campaign to oppose Tufts’ outrageous […]

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    • Tufts Delays Decision on Paper’s Punishment

      May 8, 2007

      Under a barrage of media pressure, the student judiciary at Tufts University has decided to delay their decision about whether satirical political content published by The Primary Source (TPS), a conservative student newspaper, constituted “harassment” and created a “hostile environment.” FIRE was informed yesterday afternoon by the editors of TPS that the decision was not being released yesterday, as previously expected. The notification regarding the delay comes on the heels of last week’s national media attention to the case in the form of a feature on FOX News and an editorial by FIRE in the New York Post. We at […]

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    • Fox News Covers Censorship Case at Tufts

      May 7, 2007

      Fox News covered FIRE’s case at Tufts University, where The Primary Source (TPS), the independent campus paper, faced a hearing last Monday on charges of harassment, creating a hostile environment, and breach of community standards. TPS had printed a satirical Christmas carol, “O Come All Ye Black Folk,” and “Islam—Arabic Translation: Submission,” a satirical advertisement for Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week.” TPS faces a number of possible repercussions including a campus-wide ban on the paper. The hearing panel is expected to hand down their decision today.

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    • John Leo on Censorship Tactics in ‘The New York Sun’

      May 3, 2007

      Yesterday’s issue of The New York Sun includes a very telling opinion piece by John Leo that looks at the ploys used by university administrators in their efforts to stifle student speech. “It’s not news that the modern university is censorship-prone, particularly when conservatives wish to speak, but the tactics of the censors keep changing,” Leo writes, and Torch readers undoubtedly realize the truthfulness of such an observation. Leo goes on to recount different approaches we at FIRE are all too familiar with, as many of these examples are straight from recent FIRE cases. Leo’s list of censorship devices includes […]

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    • Ben Shapiro Skewers Tufts for Show Trial of ‘The Primary Source’

      May 2, 2007

      As FIRE reported on Monday, The Primary Source (TPS), Tufts University’s conservative paper, underwent a hearing on Monday night for charges of harassment, creating a hostile environment, and breach of community standards. These charges were filed by students because TPS had printed a satirical Christmas carol “O Come All Ye Black Folk,” a critique of affirmative action; and “Islam—Translation: Submission,” a parody of Tufts’ Islamic Awareness Week.” Tufts University’s student handbook claims that Tufts will protect even “controversial speech.” TPS asked syndicated columnist Ben Shapiro, a student at Harvard Law School, to serve as their advocate at the hearing and […]

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    • Students Await Tufts’ Ruling on Satirical Articles

      May 1, 2007

      As we reported yesterday, the Tufts University independent conservative student journal The Primary Source (TPS) attended a hearing last night where the university addressed charges of harassment, creating a hostile environment, and breach of community standards brought against the publication. The hearing was conducted by the Committee on Student Life (CSL)—a panel comprised of faculty and students—and dealt with two complaints lodged by students offended by TPS’ Christmas carol satire last December and the more recent article “Islam—Translation: Submission,” a parody of Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week.” Last night’s hearing began around 6:30 p.m. and lasted until after midnight. The hearing […]

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    • The Hypocrites at Tufts

      April 30, 2007

      As we reported earlier, Tufts University’s Committee on Student Life (CSL) is holding a hearing today to address charges of harassment, encouragement of hostile environment, breach of community standards, and libel brought against the conservative student paper The Primary Source. The charges stem from two satirical articles printed in the paper, one last December and one just last week. In seeking to punish political satire—the type of speech that lies at the absolute core of the First Amendment—Tufts University is displaying the most despicable hypocrisy. Although Tufts is a private university, and thus is not bound by the First Amendment, […]

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    • Tufts University Puts Newspaper on Trial for Satire

      April 30, 2007

      Today, Tufts University will hold a hearing on charges of harassment, creating a hostile environment, and breach of community standards brought against the independent student publication The Primary Source. The charges were brought by students who were offended by two articles that ran in the paper over the last few months.   As FIRE’s column in this morning’s New York Post explains, the first of TPS’ alleged misdeeds includes running a satirical Christmas carol last December entitled “Oh Come All Ye Black Folk.” Although TPS runs a Christmas carol parody every year, December’s carol sparked controversy on campus because it […]

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    • Tufts Reacts to Christmas Carol Controversy

      January 22, 2007

      Before Christmas, Tufts University’s conservative newspaper The Primary Source printed its annual satirical Christmas carol, called “O Come All Ye Black Folk.” The carol targeted affirmative action and garnered more criticism than previous carols, with several meetings, a rally, and much media attention following on its heels. The Primary Source has issued an apology for printing the carol and removed the carol from its website, but the full text can be found here. In an article last Thursday, The Tufts Daily reported that Tufts is exploring ways to deal with the fallout from the carol. New initiatives proposed by the […]

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