L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 232, August 3, 2003
VERY SAD RESPONSIBILITY
University students deserve human rights
Special to TLE
University campuses are strongholds of left liberalism where Constitutionally-protected rights, such as freedom of speech and religion, are routinely violated. This September, make sure the students you care for pack protection of their civil liberties in with clothing and reference books.
This is essential for students who are male, white, conservative, openly Christian, or from affluent families.
How do you protect the rights and dignity of a student for whom you care?
One place to start is with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) which has been defending the victims in such cases... and doing so with resounding success.
FIRE's most recent project directly addresses "the urgent need for students and parents to understand the legal and moral status of student rights on our nation's campuses and to understand the means to defend and assert these rights." It does so in the form of five books: three of which are currently available.
The free online Guides offer the theory, history, and legal precedents surrounding five specific areas ofrights violation. But more than this. They offer specific and subtle advice on how to handle violations of those rights. Subtle because the Guides carefully distinguish between obligations of private and public (state-funded) universities in relation to student "rights."
The Guide to Religious Liberty on Campus advises, "Consider Tufts University, Grinnell College, Williams College, Ball State University, Whitman College, Middlebury College, Randolph-Macon Women's College, the State University of New York at Oswego, Wichita State University, Castleton State College, and Purdue University." These are just some of the "schools that have sought to either ban outright or heavily regulate the activities of religious students or religious student groups."
The Guide to Religious Liberty explains that, if a public university permits any "expressive organization"those organized around a specific beliefthen it must allow religious ones on the same basis: equal access to campus facilities and funding, freedom from interference, and due process. If a private university has a stated policy on religious toleration, then it may have a contractual obligation to sponsor religious groups on the same footing as others.
The Guide to Student Fees, Funding and Legal Equality on Campus explains, "Many students attending public colleges and universities are surprised and sometimes outraged to learn that school rules require them to fund groups that advocate ideas they find morally or politically unacceptable"from feminism to communism, from environmentalism to transgendered rights. Students ask, "How can universities force me, as a condition of getting an education here, to fund groups with which I morally disagree?"
This second Guide explains whether mandatory funding is legal and how objecting students can defend themselves against the practice.
The "Guide to Due Process and Fair Procedure on Campus" states, "Students should know their rights and liberties...If an innocent person is charged with wrongdoing, what protections should that innocent person have against being wrongly or arbitrarily punished and dishonored?"
The Guide details precisely which judicial rights accused students retain and what they should do to protect themselves against arbitrary punishment.
The remaining two Guideson Free Speech and on Thought Reformwill be available by the end of September 2003.
The Guides are essential to the civil liberties and human dignity of every university student. Let the students you care for know how to defend themselves against injustice.
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