FIRE billboard criticizes University

By Courtney Flagg

News Editor

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has purchased a billboard advertisement on Route 15 in Lewisburg to publicize their opinion that the University has a poor record for free speech.

According to their recent press release, FIRE has timed the release of the billboard to coincide with Family Weekend.

“Parents, trustees, alumni and the public should know that speech is not free at Bucknell. The goal of this attention is to restore students’ free speech at Bucknell,” said Adam Kissel, FIRE’s vice president of programs.

FIRE, whose mission is to preserve and maintain individual rights at American institutions, first came into contact with the University because of a free speech case in 2002. The organization has a Campus Freedom Network and goes to student conferences where FIRE staff members meet University students. Bucknell University Conservatives Club (BUCC) originally contacted FIRE in April 2009 in reference to the shutting down of their affirmative action bake sale.

“The billboard draws attention to Bucknell’s poor free speech record since 2009. We hope that parents, trustees, alumni and the public will see the billboard, learn about the case and then join us in advocating for students’ free speech rights at Bucknell,” Kissel said.

Representatives of FIRE hope the new billboard advertisement will force the University to make amendments to the policies that prevented the bake sale from continuing.

“We hope that Bucknell will revise the two policies it has used to infringe upon freedom of speech. Bucknell promises free speech, so Bucknell students deserve the same rights that students have at public colleges that are bound by the First Amendment. Why would Bucknell want to offer fewer rights than they have off of campus or at a public college?” Kissel said.

Kissel urges students to express themselves if they feel strongly about the issue.

“Students, Bucknell Student Government and other student organizations can advocate for their rights at Bucknell. They can contact President Bravman to express their views. Writing for student publications, posting flyers and holding events are just some of the other things that students can do to advocate for their rights,” Kissel said.