In February 2022, the University of St. Thomas College Republicans (St. Paul, Minnesota) sought to host political commentator Michael Knowles for a campus event. St. Thomas rejected the request because Knowles “made statements that are derogatory to the transgender and autistic community.” FIRE wrote to St. Thomas in June, calling on it to follow its commitment to free speech by allowing the group to host Knowles. After St. Thomas alleged it doesn’t promise students the full array of expressive rights, FIRE sent another letter in August explaining how the university’s clear, unequivocal written policies promising to protect students’ free speech rights preclude administrators from rejecting speaker requests based on viewpoint.
On May 12, 2023, FIRE sent an accreditor complaint to the Higher Learning Commission, calling on the Commission to ensure St. Thomas abides by its accreditation requirement to protect free speech. The Commission refused to take action, claiming the university’s actions did not violate the free speech accreditation standard.