Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

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The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a non-profit group founded in 1999 and focused on selected civil liberties in academia in the United States. Its goal is stated as "to defend and sustain individual rights at America's colleges and universities," including the rights to "freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience - the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity".[1]

One of FIRE's primary focuses is opposition to campus 'speech codes.'[2] FIRE defines a "speech code" as "any university regulation or policy that prohibits expression that would be protected by the First Amendment in society at large."[3]

FIRE often claims to identify 'speech codes' within college and university sexual or racial harassment policies.


According to Donald Downs, the Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights 'served as a model for FIRE after FIRE's co-founder, Harvey Silvergate, witnessed the key role that CAFR played in the process that led to Wisconsin's abolition of its faculty speech code by a vote of the faculty senate in March 1999.[4]



  1. About FIRE.  Retrieved 2008-03-25.
  2. Free Inquiry? Not on Campus. Winter 2007.  Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
  3. FIRE What are speech codes?
  4. Donald Downs, 'Political Mobilization and resistance to Censorship' in Evan Gertsmann and Metthes J. Streb, Academic Freedom at the Dawn of a New Century, Stanford, California: Stanford University press, 2006, p. 72
  5. Donors Trust, 990 Form, 2014