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FIRE launches database of college leaders’ statements on free speech, due process

By September 27, 2017

In the fight for free speech on college campuses, university presidents and administrators have a big role to play.

Each day, higher education leaders are quoted in the media articulating their institutions’ positions on guest speakers, academic freedom, speech policies, due process, and more. Some institutions live up to their responsibilities and promises; others don’t. FIRE’s goal in compiling this Leader Statement Database is to provide you a record of these positions.

Some presidents give flowery praise to the First Amendment, but hypocritically clamp down on free speech rights by maintaining “free speech zones,” caving to calls to disinvite guest speakers, and maintaining terrible speech policies. Others thoughtfully articulate the position that, painful as it may be sometimes, even vile speech is preferable to administrative censorship — a position FIRE shares. Most fall somewhere in the middle.

We didn’t design this resource to shame college leaders. This isn’t a blacklist of wayward presidents, nor is it an exhaustive list of the leaders who support free speech rights.

This is a simple tool to help document the changing course of American higher education.

Just a few things you should know:

  • University statements issued without a name are filed under the university president’s name.
  • Joint op-eds or statements are filed under one author’s name. The other name is noted with the quote.
  • Each statement links to a news article or university website where the quote can be found.
  • This is a work in progress. The list is not comprehensive. We’re working hard to update this list constantly, but we need your help. If you come across a statement from a university president, chancellor, provost, dean, or other leader, send it our way. And if you spot a mistake, let us know!

We hope you use this resource to keep up the conversation about free speech and due process in American higher education. We hope you find these leaders’ statements as interesting — or laudable! Or cringeworthy! — as we did. And we hope you keep the leaders at your university or alma mater accountable for the promises they make.