Last year, a group of Emory Law School students established the Emory Free Speech Forum (EFSF). Their belief is that the best answers are often found through open inquiry and debate. Having witnessed intolerance at Emory (and on other college campuses), the EFSF students sought to create a place for interested students to hear, consider, and debate diverse ideas.
In October 2021, the EFSF applied for formal recognition as a student organization, which would enable it to use school space and potentially receive funding. Applications are heard and decided by Emory’s Student Bar Association (SBA). The SBA denied the EFSF’s application twice, under the pretext that open inquiry is “harmful” and the EFSF “overlapped” with other organizations. Notably, during the hearings, an SBA member remarked that the EFSF members were incapable of operating a free speech organization because of their perceived skin color: “I don’t know how like y’all would foster like such diverse conversations because … like no offense … all of you are white.” (The EFSF members are not all “white.”) Another SBA member stated that funding would be inappropriate because the EFSF has “very few individual[s] of color.”
FAIR sent a letter to the Emory SBA and administration on January 18, 2022, informing them that their actions violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits federally-funded institutions from discriminating based on skin color and race.
UPDATE: Following its letter to the Emory SBA, FAIR took it a step further to support free speech and the EFSF by engaging FAIR Legal Network attorney Lee Parks to represent the EFSF. On March 29, 2022 the EFSF was notified that the Emory SBA had suddenly granted the EFSF charter! We are thrilled the EFSF will now be able to promote viewpoint diversity on Emory’s campus!
If you are concerned about intolerance and civil rights violations on university campuses, please donate here. Funds raised will support legal efforts on behalf of the Emory Free Speech Forum and similar endeavors.
Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism is a Fiscally Sponsored Program of United Charitable, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.