Syracuse Press Takes Note of University’s Return to ‘Worst Colleges’ List

By on March 28, 2012

For the second straight year, Syracuse University has made FIRE’s list of the "Worst Colleges for Free Speech," unveiled yesterday on The Huffington Post. Already, The Post-Standard, a local newspaper, has taken note of the university’s dishonor.

Syracuse’s road to the "Worst Colleges" list was aided this year by its retaliatory treatment of education student Matthew Werenczak, who was effectively expelled from Syracuse’s graduate teacher education program after posting on his own Facebook page that he had found a comment by a community leader in his presence to be racially insensitive. As The Post-Standard‘s Matt Harrigan summarizes:

According to NewsChannel 9, Werenczak was student-teaching at Danforth Middle School when an African American community activist made a comment that offended him.

"We need to start hiring our teachers from historically black colleges," the activist said inside Danforth.

Werenczak complained about the comment on Facebook, posting "Mind you, two white tutors were in the room. I’ll let you take your own inference from that."

SU deemed the post "unprofessional, offensive, and insensitive" in a letter informing Werenczak that he could be administratively removed from the school for his actions. He was forced to undergo anger-management counseling, complete a course on cultural diversity and write a reflective paper if he wanted to be readmitted to the school. Just two hours after FIRE published Werenczak’s story, the University readmitted him into the program.

Syracuse may have quickly backtracked in the face of public pressure, but its disgraceful treatment of Werenczak was more than enough to guarantee itself a spot on this year’s list.

Syracuse’s place on the list last year was ensured by its ruthless prosecution of law student Len Audaer for his alleged role in publishing an anonymous, satirical blog about law school life; as Adam documented recently, a disdain for free speech continues to reign among Syracuse administrators in spite of these multiple embarrassments. Little wonder, then, that Syracuse was a shoo-in for our list this year.

To learn more about the misdeeds of the schools on this year’s list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech, which includes carryovers like Syracuse as well as a batch of newcomers, be sure to read our feature at The Huffington Post. For a preview, watch our YouTube video below:

Schools: Syracuse University