PHILADELPHIA, March 2, 2015—More than half of America’s top colleges maintain speech codes that blatantly violate First Amendment standards. But every year the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) takes a closer look at the previous year’s incidents of college censorship to determine the nation’s 10 worst abusers of student and faculty free speech rights.
This year’s list of the 10 worst colleges for free speech—published with detailed descriptions at The Huffington Post—includes many public colleges or universities bound by the First Amendment. Some of them, on the other hand, are private colleges that, though not required by the Constitution to respect student and faculty rights, nonetheless promise to do so. Two of the institutions listed aren’t colleges but still deserve inclusion for the profound effect they had on campus expression throughout the country last year. This year’s list features:
- Brandeis University
- California State University, Fullerton
- Chicago State University
- Georgetown University
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- University of Iowa
- Marquette University
- Modesto Junior College (Modesto, Calif.)
- Kansas Board of Regents
- U.S. Department of Education
Among the examples of censorship that landed these institutions on FIRE’s annual “worst of the worst” list include one college that stopped a student from distributing Constitutions on Constitution Day and then punished professors who came to his defense. Another university sought to censor a faculty blog that is highly critical of the administration. One university even forced sorority sisters to publicly repent and undergo re-education for the alleged insensitivity of their “Taco Tuesday” event.
“Our colleges and universities are supposed to be where students go to debate and explore new ideas,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “But too often on the modern college campus, students and their professors find their voices silenced by administrators who would rather they be absent from the often contentious marketplace of ideas. When this happens, FIRE will be there to call out these reckless censors.”
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.
Nico Perrino, Associate Director of Communications, FIRE: 215-717-3473; firstname.lastname@example.org
Schools: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Georgetown University Marquette University Chicago State University Modesto Junior College Brandeis University University of Iowa California State University – Fullerton Cases: Kansas Board of Regents Approves Vague and Overbroad Social Media Policy Departments of Education and Justice: National “Blueprint” for Unconstitutional Speech Codes