I am currently a student or faculty member affiliated with Marywood University, is my speech on campus protected by the first amendment of the US Constitution?
No. Since Marywood is a private institution the first amendment does not protect speech on Marywood's campus. In the absence of a codified free speech policy, anyone on Marywood's campus is essentially subjected to whatever speech code Marywood's administrators favor.
I am currently a student or faculty member affiliated with Marywood University, may I be disciplined for my personal writings and publications?
Yes. Without free speech protections, authors and artists affiliated with Marywood can be disciplined for any speech that Marywood's administrators do no consider reflective of Marywood's values.
I am currently a student or faculty member affiliated with Marywood University, may I be disciplined for the content of my personal website (Myspace, FACEBOOK, livejournal, etc.)?
Yes. Without free speech protections, any content placed online by those affiliated with Marywood that someone else finds offensive may be reviewed by Marywood's administrators and the poster of the content may be disciplined.
This seems a bit crazy. Can anyone affiliated with Marywood University really be disciplined for the content of their speech or expression?
Yes, it's true. As a private institution, Marywood can choose with whom they affiliate and the terms of that affiliation. So far Marywood has not chosen to protect the speech of its students and faculty. Since one's affiliation with Marywood may turn upon whether what they say or do as scholars and private citizens is reflective of Marywood's values, those affiliated with Marywood do not really have academic or intellectual freedom.
Will a free speech policy based on the first amendment weaken Marywood's catholic identity?
We don't believe so. Protecting the free speech of individuals at Marywood will not affect Marywood's ability to promote its institutional catholic identity. In fact, if the history of religious freedom has shown anything, it's that the tenets of religion are most persuasive when they openly engage the wider culture. Marywood has nothing to fear from openness and tolerance.
So far only one professor has been censored, and I didn't even agree with what he was saying. Why should I worry about free speech?
Without free speech protections clearly enshrined, anyone at Marywood may be similarly censored and disciplined. There can be no academic freedom if all speech is essentially subjected to an arbitrary review. Even if you agree with the point of view of censor today you may not tomorrow. The bottom line is that Marywood needs to allow students and faculty to openly explore the contentious issues that face the world if it wants to truly prepare its students to, "Live responsibly in an interdependent world."
Why should I care? I am not political. I keep to myself. I study and have a job and a social life. I am not into politics or causes. As long as I am happy enough that's fine. Why should I get involved?"
A few replies to this might be:
(1) You might change your mind in the future and want to speak your mind. Therefore, protect or gain rights for all now so you can use them in the future as needed and desired.
(2) Even though you may never want to speak out, you may be pleased that others can clearly voice opinions with which you agree.
(3) Even though you may never want to speak out, it may please you that anyone can voice opinions, even when you strongly disagree with such opinions.
(4) Some brief examples (you decide how to categorize them as liberal or conservative and whether those notions really come into play here): How about producing the Vagina Monologues Play or supporting abortion as an option? How about the rule where you can't have alcohol posters in a dorm room? How about the notion that you are worried to say what you think about the "xxx group or policy" because you might be accused of harassment?
(5) No matter what you currently believe, your time at Marywood will be greatly enriched by an academic atmosphere that allows a robust debate. College is supposed to be the penultimate bastion of free inquiry -- why should a university operate under a scheme that limits the very ideal of academic freedom justifying its existence?
What is your group's political identity? Do you have a political agenda? Why did you choose to affiliate with FIRE?
We have no political identity or agenda beyond our advocacy for free speech. For a deeper history of why we chose to work with FIRE, please see Bill Ziegelbauer's article: Our Affiliation With FIRE and Our Political Identity.
What is the current state of free speech at Marywood and why do you want to change it?
For a good synopsis of the current free speech troubles at Marywood, please read Bill Ziegelbauer's upcoming WoodWord article: What You Need to Know about Free Speech at Marywood.
I am currently a student or faculty member affiliated with Marywood University and I want to protect my right to free speech, what can I do?
You can show support for the cause by joining our FACEBOOK group, our email newsletter list, and showing up at our campus events. Due to the strong support for free speech on campus, our group has grown rapidly; however, we know there are still many out there who want to help us make this change. Make your support known now and take a stand for academic freedom!