[lg policy] Free Speech Rating Sets High Standard for University Policy

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Jan 26 13:02:20 EST 2018

 Free Speech Rating Sets High Standard for University Policy
By The Editorial Board <http://emorywheel.com/author/the-editorial-board/> Jan
25, 2018

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has awarded Emory
University its highest rating for free speech on campus, making Emory the
first university in Georgia to achieve the “green light” rating.

Sasha Volokh, the chair of the University’s Open Expression Committee and
an associate professor of law at Emory, worked with FIRE to bring Emory’s
policies in line with the Foundation’s standards. Many of the changes
involved modifying language and improving the definitions of infractions so
that violations of Emory’s policies cannot be construed in a overly broad

A noteworthy example of a change involves Emory’s Information Technology
(IT) Usage Policy <http://policies.emory.edu/5.1>. The policy previously
prohibited personal use of University IT resources for supporting political
candidates or campaigns or in any manner which “reflected poorly on” Emory,
which would have included the use of EmoryUnplugged wifi on a private
computer for either of the aforementioned purposes. That language has since
been excised. For more details on these changes, reference the Wheel’s news
coverage here

We wholeheartedly agree with these changes.

It is important to take a moment to recognize the achievement of Volokh and
the Open Expression Committee and the goodwill demonstrated by University
President Claire E. Sterk and other Emory administrators. Emory joins a
list of only 37 schools
nationwide which have received a green light rating for their speech codes.

However, it is equally important to take note of progress that is yet to

In addition to tracking University speech codes, FIRE also maintains a list
of due process procedures at top academic institutions. Emory adjudicates a
wide range of student misconduct and is capable of levying punishments
which can have enormous effects on the opportunities of students after

It is appropriate for Emory to have this power and is of vital importance
to our community that students who violate policies regarding academic
integrity, student safety and interpersonal conduct meet proper
consequences. Still, it is troubling that Emory’s policies regarding the
rights of the accused received a D rating
<https://www.thefire.org/schools/emory-university/> from FIRE. Out of 10
criteria evaluated, Emory was judged satisfactory on only the meaningful
right to appeal.

We commend the University for its ongoing commitment to the free exchange
of ideas, and fully expect that Emory will continue its efforts and work to
improve all University policy.

*The above Editorial represents the consensus opinion of the Wheel’s
editorial board.*


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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