A group that advocates for free speech on college campuses has named LSU to its list of worst offenders this year, following the firing of a professor who used profanity in class.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education examined what it considers “college censorship” incidents over the past year to name the 10 “worst abusers of student and faculty free speech rights.”
LSU is featured largely due to the firing of Teresa Buchanan, the tenured associate professor who was fired for sexual harassment last June, despite a faculty panel’s recommendation that she keep her job.
Buchanan has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the school seeking monetary damages and her old job back.
Buchanan worked for LSU for two decades. She specialized in early childhood education and trained elementary school teachers.
But the LSU Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to fire the tenured professor following complaints over vulgar language she used in the classroom.
A few examples of Buchanan’s controversial comments: Saying “F*** no” repeatedly in the presence of students, using a slang term for vagina that implies cowardice and telling a joke that the quality of sex gets worse the longer a relationship lasts.
The LSU Faculty Senate voted to censure University President F. King Alexander and others over Buchanan’s firing, and the American Association of University Professors also criticized the firing and pledging money to aid her legal defense.
According to a news release from FIRE, other schools who made the group’s worst offender list include “a university that fired two faculty members for criticizing the university president’s plan to oust low-performing freshmen, a college that suspended a student for making a six-word joke on social media and even one university that punished a student for something someone else said—and then went after the student newspaper for reporting on the story.”
“This past year, free speech on campus took center stage and became international news,” FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff said in a statement. “For those of us who have worked for years on the frontlines, the threat to free speech on campus isn’t a new story. Too often students find their voices silenced, and increasingly their professors are finding themselves in the same boat. If this year’s ‘worst’ list proves anything, it’s that even tenured faculty members aren’t safe from the censor’s muzzle.”
Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter @elizabethcrisp.
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