As a former intern with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), I was pleased to learn recently that the University of Virginia has been designated by the organization as a “green light” school for rescinding all of their policies that threatened free speech. If you haven’t heard of FIRE before, they are a 501(c)(3) non-profit group dedicated to protecting individual rights on college campuses across the nation, one of the chief liberties being freedom of expression. Indeed, FIRE has surveyed hundreds of colleges across America and given each a traffic light-colored rating corresponding to the state of civil liberties on their campus. UVA managed to change its rating all the way from red to green– quite a dramatic alteration for the better.
This swift change is proof of how violative and unconstitutional campus policies can almost literally be eliminated over night. All that is needed is a handful of students with a passion and dedication to liberty– like those associated with Students For Liberty! Indeed, my recent experience at Berkeley I believe has shown that fighting for individual rights on college campuses can attract interested students to the larger movement for liberty.
After a recent slew of free speech violations occurred on my campus last month– namely, the punishing of a student for cursing at a cop and the theft of 3,000 newspapers– I had an op-ed published in The Daily Californian about the importance of free expression. Within a matter of hours, I noticed that the number of members in my club’s Facebook group had sharply increased and received a few inquiries about my organization and the liberty movement in general. Unfortunately, there is still a lot to be done regarding free speech at Berkeley. Nevertheless, this ordeal taught me how fighting for civil liberties on campus can be an effective method to draw attention to the broader liberty movement.
After all, standing up for individual rights is an extremely favorable position to be in. Freedom of expression is a unique issue in that almost everyone agrees it is a good thing. Thus, capitalizing on free speech violations on your campus can make you and your organization appear on the moral high ground, fighting against an unnecessarily intrusive administration. Everyone likes to fight The Man!
Thus, I encourage all liberty-oriented students to take advantage of FIRE’s resources, specifically their Campus Freedom Network, not only to fight for individual rights on your campus, but also to promote the broader liberty movement. After all, it is only when our minds and speech is free that we can truly arrive at the larger liberated society we strive towards every day!