Mount Holyoke College: Event Hosts Must Recite Mandatory Land Acknowledgement as a Statement of Personal Beliefs


Mount Holyoke College

Search all Cases

Case Overview


In Spring 2021, Mount Holyoke College adopted a land acknowledgement policy mandating that all hosts of college-affiliated events, on-campus or off, open with a scripted statement of the college’s stance on the historical ownership of the land where MHC sits. As the statement is written in the first person, it forces speakers to recite the land acknowledgement as if it reflects their own personal beliefs. FIRE wrote Mount Holyoke on October 6, 2022, explaining that compelling students and faculty to recite college-prescribed ideology contradicts MHC’s clear and repeated promises to protect free expression. After MHC did not respond to FIRE’s letter or subsequent November 2 email, FIRE filed a complaint on January 17, 2023 with MHC’s accreditor, the New England Commission of Higher Education. On May 2, the Commission responded but refused to take action, claiming the college’s actions did not violate its accreditation standard.