Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (Edinboro) has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning FIRE’s highest, “green light” rating. Of the roughly 450 colleges and universities in FIRE’s Spotlight database for campus speech codes, Edinboro is now one of just 29 schools in the entire country to earn a green light rating.
FIRE wrote to Edinboro about its speech codes three times in the last decade. Until its recent policy revisions, Edinboro maintained two speech codes earning a “yellow light” rating. The first was a policy that vaguely banned “intolerance, incivility and disrespect for others,” which, like many yellow light policies, had the potential to chill constitutionally protected speech. The second policy required all demonstrations on campus to be registered in advance, making spontaneous student demonstrations—which are so often key to responding to unfolding events and are typically constitutionally protected—impossible. Edinboro eliminated the threat of punishment from the first policy, and now allows students to hold demonstrations in public areas on campus without advance registration. With these restrictive policies off the books at Edinboro, approximately 6,000 more students now have their First Amendment rights protected.
Pennsylvania now has four green light universities, the most of any state. Pennsylvania’s other green light institutions are Carnegie Mellon University, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Pennsylvania.
FIRE commends Edinboro for these changes, and encourages other colleges and universities to work with us to eliminate their restrictive speech codes. Edinboro is the first university to earn an overall green light rating in 2017, and we hope to welcome more institutions to this elite group this year.
To learn more about the speech codes at a particular institution, search our Spotlight database. If the school you’re looking for isn’t included in Spotlight, or you would like to learn more about how you can reform speech codes at any college or university, contact FIRE for more information.