Is Syracuse University the worst college for free speech?

January 27, 2011

Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), deals with hundreds of student rights violations every year.

In an editorial on Huffington Post, he named Syracuse University the worst school in the nation for freedom of speech. Why?

In October, the SU College of Law came under fire over its response to a satirical blog called SUCOLitis. At least one student named in the blog felt it contained harassing statements, and asked the university to investigate.

The alleged author, law student Len Audaer, was charged with harassment and issued a gag order. The SUCOLitis site is now private, yet Audaer has continued publishing information about the proceedings on another site.

SU associate professor of law Gregory Germain defended himself and the university at a Student Bar Association general meeting earlier this month. "We have gotten a lot of criticism… [but] they have misrepresented what the blog says, they have misrepresented what I am doing, and they have misrepresented the law."

FIRE president Lukianoff also complained about other university policies. "Syracuse has other speech codes like a ban on ‘offensive’ e-mails and a ‘bias’ reporting system where students can inform on one another for an ‘inappropriate verbal comment.’"

Lukianoff also objected to a report that campus police required SU students to remove "offensive" Halloween costumes or else be reported for discipline.

Binghamton University was also named one of the twelve worst schools for free speech.

The article claimed Binghamton tried to expel a graduate student for putting up posters criticizing the Social Work department, and successfully expelled another for classroom expression after being "required" to sign away his free speech rights.

Rounding out the rest of Lukianoff’s list were DePaul University, UMass Amherst, Yale University, Bucknell University, Michigan State University, Colorado College, Tufts University, Brandeis University, Johns Hopkins University, and Marshall University.

» Huffington Post: Greg Lukianoff: The 12 worst colleges for free speech

Schools: Syracuse University