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BACK TO SCHOOL: FIRE’s Spotlight Database Offers Comprehensive Picture of Campus Speech Codes

By August 31, 2016

According to FIRE’s research, over 93 percent of colleges and universities maintain policies that restrict students’ free speech rights. These policies, which FIRE calls “speech codes,” come in many forms, from onerous restrictions on protest and demonstration to bans on controversial or offensive speech.

Regrettably, many students don’t learn about their school’s restrictions until they land in a dean’s office for violating one. Fortunately, FIRE is here to help.

Our Spotlight database contains comprehensive information on speech codes at more than 440 colleges and universities nationwide. And the database is easy to use: You can search for a school by name; by state; or even by the type of restriction you are looking for. Schools are rated as “red light,” “yellow light,” or “green light,” depending on the extent to which they prohibit expressive activities that, off campus, would be protected by the First Amendment. (If your school isn’t listed in Spotlight, you can fill out this form and we will happily take a look at your school’s policies.)

By looking your institution up in Spotlight, you will know whether and how your school restricts free speech, and you can take action to challenge those restrictions. Knowledge is perhaps the most powerful weapon against the all-too-common abuses of student rights on today’s college campuses, so look your school up in Spotlight today and empower yourself!