2011 Muzzle Awards: Another year of crushing free spirits at our colleges and universities


Every year, around July 4th, Dan Kennedy and I collaborate on the Boston Phoenix’s annual “Muzzle Awards,” recognizing those people and organizations that have done the most in the prior 12 months to further the cause of censorship. Kennedy selects the “winners” of the award out in the world at large, and I focus on academic institutions and people who are responsible for censorship in the world of higher education (notwithstanding, of course, that old quaint notion of “academic freedom”).

This year, Wesleyan University and Yale College have each earned a Muzzle (Yale is on the list for the second year in a row), while repression at Widener School of Law has earned the Wilmington, Delaware institution a dubious Double Muzzle. And UMass-Amherst, for proposing a Draconian change to its student code, gets a Muzzle warning. What were the other infractions on student liberty? Find out, here.

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What Yale's President Should Have Said about the Frat Boys


No one can deny that Yale University is in a difficult position. In late March, the Department of Education began investigating the New Haven campus for allegedly maintaining a sexually hostile environment. Last month, Yale enacted changes to lower the standard of proof in sexual assault cases, and last week, College Dean Mary Miller announced that a fraternity would be banned for five years, a result of an incident last fall in which pledges shouted sexually-graphic chants. Yale, under pressure from Washington, is by all appearances capitulating. It didn’t have to. On Minding the Campus, my research assistant Kyle Smeallie and I explain how Yale President Richard Levin could have stood tall, on behalf of educators and liberal arts institutions (and their students) everywhere, in the face of Washington’s unwelcome—and ultimately destructive—intrusion.

"What Yale's President Should Have Said about the Frat Boys," Minding the Campus (May 23, 2011)

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2010 Muzzle Awards: Harvard and Yale once again lead the way...for academic censorship


As we prepare to celebrate our nation’s independence, the 
Boston Phoenix spotlights those who have honored our founding freedoms in the breach with the annual Muzzle Awards, the 13th installment in this award-winning series. My friend and sometimes colleague Dan Kennedy, Northeastern University professor and Media Nation blogger (and tireless soldier in the war for press freedoms as well as quality journalism), serves up his unbecoming accolades to New England power-brokers who, over the past year, have abused their authority in suppressing free speech and personal liberties, including Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department, former Newton Mayor David Cohen, and the MBTA, to name a few.

Accompanying Kennedy's Muzzle Awards is my collegiate sidebar, a window into repression on, of all places, college and university campuses, where censorship remains (sadly and outrageously) a reality both much practiced but also much denied. This year’s edition focuses, interestingly, on Harvard and Yale Universities, New England Ivy League schools that should know better but that have helped pave the censorial frontiers of the corporatized academy, while employing public-relations armies to perpetuate the aura of the liberal-arts sensibility.

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