Seemingly Troubling Behavior from NYU:

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group whose accounts I have generally found quite accurate, reports (see here for the version with links):

In violation of its own policies, New York University (NYU) is refusing to allow a student group to show the Danish cartoons of Mohammed at a public event tonight. Even though the purpose of the event is to show and discuss the cartoons, an administrator has suddenly ordered the students either not to display them or to exclude 150 off-campus guests from attending....

Earlier this month, the NYU Objectivist Club decided to hold a panel discussion entitled "Free Speech and the Danish Cartoons," at which the cartoons will be displayed.... Like previous NYU Objectivist Club events, the discussion was to be open to the public.

However, on Monday afternoon, NYU Director of Student Activities Robert Butler sent an e-mail requesting a meeting with the leaders of the Objectivist Club the next day. He also informed them that NYU would now "require that this event be open only to members of the NYU community." Butler cited "the campus climate and controversy surrounding the cartoons," ordering the students to inform the "non-NYU people" who had already registered that they "should not plan on attending." He concluded, "This is not negotiable."

Following the meeting, Butler sent another e-mail clarifying that the students have two choices: they must either not display the cartoons, or not allow anyone from off campus to attend the event. Approximately 150 off-campus guests are currently registered to attend....

NYU is a private institution, and is thus legally free to limits access to its property however it pleases. But most private universities have generally understood their mission as including enriching the intellectual lives of their students and fostering debate among students, including by helping the students spread the message to the broader community. FIRE reports that NYU has indeed accepted this view: "NYU's own policies recognize student groups' right to open events to the public." Events focusing on the Mohammed cartoons should be no less protected by NYU's policies than events focusing on other controversial ideological questions, whether involving race, sex, class, politics, or religion.

Now I understand that NYU might be concerned about the risk of vandalism or violence that might flow from events that display and discuss the cartoons. But it seems to me that leading universities should be at the forefront of defending speech against those who would suppress it, rather than giving in to the vandals' and thugs' heckler's veto.