The Battle for Free Speech on Campus
“The U.S. Department of Education just redefined harassment to make every single man, woman, and child arguably guilty of harassment in one fell swoop,” says Greg Lukianoff, who is the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which advocates for free speech rights on campus.
Lukianoff is referring to a recent letter sent by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice to the University of Montana that redefined harassment as “any unwelcome sexual speech.” The letter also stated that it’s intended as a “blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country.”
Lukianoff joined the New York Times’ John Tierney for a discussion of the implications of this letter and FIRE’s ongoing fight against campus speech codes. Lukianoff also discussed his recent book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.
The discussion took place at New York City’s Museum of Sex on May 14, 2013, at an event sponsored by the Reason Foundation.
UPDATE: Two weeks after Lukianoff spoke at the event, the U.S. Department of Education responded to the controversy, claiming that its letter was “entirely consistent with the First Amendment, and did not create any new or broader definition of unlawful sexual harassment under Title IX or Title IV.” Lukanoff responded that the DOE’s “weak attempt to walk back its disastrous May 9 letter is too little, too late.” You can read more about the ongoing controversy here.”