Applying to college? Here are 5 tips to help you choose a school that respects free speech

December 6, 2019

From coast to coast, students and parents are regularly confronted with unsettling media reports and personal stories about unacceptable speech restrictions on campus.

Whether it’s colleges stifling student voices on campus or violating academic freedom abroad, expressive rights are not consistently protected across the spectrum of American colleges and universities. 

What can a prospective college student do about this long-standing  problem? We recommend that you include respect for free speech rights among your top criteria when narrowing down your target college list! And to help you do so, we’ve prepared a short report for the college-bound—based on FIRE’s annual Spotlight Database rankings—to help you identify the schools where students’ free expression rights are most likely to be respected. 

5 tips for choosing a college that respects free speech” is a free, downloadable resource that clearly and succinctly guides you towards making an informed decision as you apply to colleges and make your final selection. It will help you to pinpoint the schools with the strongest speech protections and exercise due caution regarding “Red Light” schools. (These are institutions with at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.) 

Short, sweet, and to the point, this 8-page report will empower you or your student to analyze collegiate marketing materials and hone in on the relevant facts you’ll need to make this important life decision with informed confidence. It will also equip you to speak up and ask the tough questions required to hold college administrators accountable to create a climate that encourages robust debate and open discussion. 

Armed with “5 tips for choosing a college that respects free speech” and FIRE’s Spotlight Database, you’ll be well prepared to navigate the challenge of finding an institution that protects and honors expressive rights. We hope you’ll share this helpful resource with your high school’s college counselor as well, so that FIRE can spread the word and let more colleges across the country know that students are paying attention to student rights when deciding where to enroll in postsecondary education.