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Education Reporter

Conservative Faculty and Staff Group Organizes at MSU
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Like many universities, Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing has gone through a number of skirmishes over free speech on campus in recent years. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which promotes first amendment rights on campus, gives MSU a speech code rating of "red" (the three ratings are green, yellow, and red). The school's anti-discrimination policy makes students punishable if they engage in behavior that "alters the terms or conditions of a person's employment or educational experience." This vague, subjective criterion means that students can be punished for expressing unpopular opinions that offend the people around them.

MSU became infamous for its Student Accountability in Community (SAC) program, which served to reeducate students who had offended others. Offending students were forced to attend the sessions and to conform to the program leaders' opinions and beliefs. FIRE called the program "Orwellian," "immoral," and "unconstitutional." Largely in response to FIRE's persistent criticism, MSU dismantled SAC in 2007.

The school has also made headlines for attempting to charge a conservative student group an exorbitant fee for screening the controversial film Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West, and for trying to suspend a student for sending an email that was critical of the university's scheduling policies to a group of faculty members.

In response to these and other happenings, and the generally menacing atmosphere toward free thought and free speech that such occurrences have created at MSU, a Conservative Faculty and Staff group has organized on campus. The group's mission statement is "to protect and defend the values articulated in the Declaration of Independence here at Michigan State University."

The Conservative Faculty and Staff at MSU have announced they will fight against the administration's attempts to silence dissenting views and squelch freedom of inquiry at the university. The group pledges to advocate for students and faculty whose first amendment rights are under fire, and to educate the university community on the importance of free speech and on other issues. (Townhall.com, 5-13-09, www.thefire.org)

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