ACLU to help Pitt student in Web
                              site dispute 

                              Thursday, April 12, 2001

                              By Bill Schackner, Post-Gazette Staff

                              The American Civil Liberties Union says it
will represent
                              a white University of Pittsburgh student
ordered by the
                              school to halt research that includes a
Web site Pitt says is
                              racist against blacks.

                              A day after campus police hand-delivered a
                              cease-and-desist letter, Matt Schiros, 19,
continued to
                              operate his site yesterday in apparent
defiance of the order.
                              The freshman political science major from
Cleveland has
                              said he will not comply with Pitt
officials, who contend his
                              activities violate laws governing funded
                              involving human subjects.

                              "I don't intend on stopping," Schiros said
just after
                              receiving the order.

                              Schiros' Web site --
-- invites
                              visitors to use racial slurs in casting
votes for "how black"
                              various people are. He said it is part of
a personal
                              research project concerning race relations
on college
                              campuses and how politically incorrect
views are

                              The issue, as lawyers for the ACLU see it,
is less science
                              than it is the First Amendment. Witold
Walczak, director of
                              the Pittsburgh ACLU, said the university
has no right to
                              punish Schiros because it disagrees with
what he says.

                              "The answer for hateful speech is more
speech, not
                              censorship," Walczak said. "If you
disagree with what
                              Schiros says, don't shut him up. In fact,
the First
                              Amendment prohibits you from shutting him

                              He said Pitt's actions will only give
Schiros a wider

                              Black student leaders have decried the
site as

                              Late yesterday, university officials were
                              their next move.

                              "The university has a responsibility to
make sure that its
                              policies, practices and procedures are
obeyed," said Pitt
                              spokesman Robert Hill. He said Schiros
must comply with
                              Tuesday's order or face possible
disciplinary proceedings.

                              Initially, Pitt said it was powerless to
act since the Web
                              site was not operated with university
resources. But the
                              school Tuesday said it reversed course
because Schiros
                              characterized his work as research that,
in Pitt's view, is
                              subject to campus approvals that Schiros
has not sought. 

                              One of those rules requires that subjects
of the study give
                              informed consent to participating.

                              Schiros said his work is aimed at testing
a theory -- that
                              people "will do anything they can do to
shut down"
                              politically incorrect views, "especially
[at] institutions as
                              left-leaning as universities," he said.

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