AMHERST, Mass., April 16, 2009—Multiple First Amendment violations have rocked the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus in recent days. UMass has done nothing about the videotaped theft of and, later, the student government’s official censorship of The Minuteman, a conservative campus newspaper that mocked a student government official. Worse, last night, when a student senator offered a bill to reverse the unconstitutional censorship of The Minuteman, the Senate’s speaker had the UMass police throw him out (video of this incident is expected soon). These assaults on free speech came in the wake of last month’s disgraceful episode in which a speech by columnist Don Feder was shouted down by hecklers while UMass police officers did nothing. The many aggrieved parties on this out-of-control campus have come to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help.
“The situation at UMass has spiraled out of control,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “UMass’ offenses against the Constitution are legion. So far, it has done nothing after copies of a student newspaper were stolen because the paper mocked a student government official, it has stood by while the student government unconstitutionally censored the newspaper, and it has allowed its police to be used to silence a free speech advocate.”