‘12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ List in the News

By March 30, 2012

Tuesday, The Huffington Post released FIRE’s list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2012. In addition to the social media storm the story generated, the list caught the attention of a number of media outlets: 

  • University of Cincinnati’s appearance at the top of the list garnered the attention of Cincinnati City Beat. In "UC Gets Drawn into Free Speech Battle," University of Cincinnati spokesman Greg Hand mischaracterizes the school’s "free speech zone" policy, so FIRE responded to his claim here.
  • Syracuse, New York, press Syracuse.com, CNYCentral.com, and WSYR-TV (Channel 9 in Syracuse) have noted Syracuse University’s placement as second on the list and its presence on the list for the second year in a row.
  • MLive in Michigan covered Michigan State University’s appearance on the list, noting that MSU’s placement is due to the school’s incredibly restrictive "spam" policy. 

Reason‘s blog Hit & Run points to the whole list in a post titled "12 Colleges that Suck When it Comes to Free Speech. Does your Alma Mater Make the Grade?"

Several student media outlets covered the list as well:

  • The Newhouse Communications Center at Syracuse University notes that Syracuse University’s second year on our list is due to its effective expulsion of Matthew Werenczak and for its threats to expel law student Len Audaer.
  • The Tufts Daily student newspaper at Tufts University published an editorial explaining the list and the reason for Tufts’ appearance on it. The editorial points out that a lot of expression has occurred on campus but fails to appreciate that we’ll never know how much expression has not occurred due to Tufts’ speech code and Tufts’ failure to state that it won’t punish protected speech. Former FIRE Jackson Legal Fellow Erica Goldberg, a Tufts alumna, had an excellent response to similar complaints from the Daily last year, and it’s worth reading again. 
  • The Harvard Crimson reports Harvard University’s placement on the "Worst" list and the events that caused it. It also previews Free Speech Week at Harvard, a national event which begins April 1.

We are excited to see our list receiving significant attention. Hopefully, public, faculty, and student attention to the "Worst 12" schools will encourage them to change their restrictive policies, rescind unjust punishments, and promote free speech as they have promised.

Schools: University of Cincinnati Michigan State University Syracuse University Tufts University Harvard University