As we head into the homestretch of the academic year at many colleges and universities, FIRE is reaching out to administrators around the country to let them know we are always available to work with them to improve the state of free speech on campus.
Through our collaborative efforts over the years, FIRE has helped many institutions eliminate their speech codes and become leaders in the fight for freedom of expression — and we want your school to be next.
FIRE’s Policy Reform department is dedicated to working with administrators and general counsels every day to help them revise their institutions’ unconstitutional and restrictive speech codes. These efforts are collaborative, amicable, and, of course, free of charge. For example, FIRE sends periodic mailings to universities explaining the constitutional problems with their speech codes, and based on the responses to those letters, we work individually and privately with university leadership to improve their policies.
And when universities reform their policies, we provide those schools with the positive publicity they deserve, in order to highlight their efforts.
Already this year, we have welcomed two new members to the growing list of institutions earning our highest, “green light” rating — meaning that their written policies no longer threaten student and faculty expression protected by the First Amendment. Those two schools, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, join an elite group of 29 colleges and universities that we are proud to call our highest-rated institutions for free speech on campus.
In recent years, the following institutions (and many others) have worked successfully with us to reform their written policies and regulations and earn a green light rating from FIRE:
- Purdue University
- The University of Chicago
- The University of Florida
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- The University of Maryland
These policy changes not only benefit the students and faculty members who no longer need to fear censorship and punishment for engaging in protected speech, they often lead to administrators themselves rethinking and gaining a greater appreciation for open discourse and free inquiry on their campuses. The result is a much-improved climate for freedom of expression throughout the academy.
In addition to these efforts, FIRE provides resources specifically for university administrators, such as our Correcting Common Mistakes in Campus Speech Policies handbook, so that they will find it as easy and straightforward as possible to fix their policies and protect First Amendment rights on their campus. And, of course, our Spotlight Speech Codes Database is the first place anyone should look to see how their college or university stacks up in terms of its written policies and regulations.
We hope more universities will take advantage of the resources FIRE has to offer, in the remainder of the current academic year and beyond, and take the necessary steps to uphold their students’ and faculty members’ freedom of expression.