LEXINGTON, Ky., February 4, 2013—Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in nearby Richmond has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating for free speech from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). While the overwhelming majority of the nation’s colleges and universities maintain policies that clearly and substantially restrict freedom of speech, EKU is now a proud exception as one of just 16 schools nationwide to earn a green light and as Kentucky’s first green light school. EKU administrators worked with FIRE attorneys to ensure compliance with the First Amendment.
“The entire Eastern Kentucky University community should feel extremely proud today,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “The university’s commitment to First Amendment rights has made the university a shining example of how to respect and protect free expression on campus.”
“It pleases me very much that Eastern Kentucky University has joined the ranks of FIRE’s green light institutions,” said EKU President Dr. Doug Whitlock. “Our universities need to be places where thoughts and ideas are expressed openly and freely consistent with the letter and spirit of the First Amendment. That is our commitment at EKU. We are most appreciative of the help the FIRE staff has been in helping us reach this distinction.”
FIRE began working on speech code reform with EKU administrators in August 2012. Samantha Harris, FIRE’s Director of Speech Code Research, and Michael Reagle, EKU’s Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, led the effort.
While there are only 16 green light schools nationwide, EKU is the seventh university in just over the last three years to earn the designation. This positive trend reflects growing awareness of free speech issues on campus, as well as increased cooperation between students, administrators, and FIRE.
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at thefire.org.
Samantha Harris, Director of Speech Code Research, FIRE: 215-717-3473; firstname.lastname@example.org
Marc Whitt, Associate Vice President for Public Relations, Eastern Kentucky University: 859-622-8615; Marc.Whitt@eku.edu