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Heterodox Academy Releases Guide to Colleges that Incorporates FIRE Ratings

By October 24, 2016

Last week, Heterodox Academy introduced the Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges, incorporating FIRE’s analysis of college speech codes in its rankings.

NYU professor and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who co-authored The Atlantic’s September 2015 cover story, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” with FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff, formed Heterodox Academy with a group of professors to advocate for viewpoint diversity and freedom of inquiry across college campuses.

The new Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges is an effort to rank the “commitment to viewpoint diversity” of the top 150 national universities from the US News & World Report  college ranking guide through a variety of metrics and factors, including FIRE’s rating of the institution’s speech code.

For reference, FIRE’s Spotlight database rates policies at more than 430 colleges and universities using a traffic light-inspired system. A “red light” rating indicates that the school has at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts freedom of expression. A “yellow light” institution is one whose policies restrict a more limited area of speech, or, by virtue of vague wording, could too easily be used to restrict protected expression. A “green light” rating is awarded to schools with policies that do not imperil freedom of expression.

With regard to free speech, along with FIRE’s ratings, Heterodox Academy also considers whether or not an institution has endorsed the University of Chicago policy statement (Chicago Statement) on freedom of expression to rank its commitment to free speech. The Chicago Statement, which FIRE has called the gold standard for such commitments to freedom of expression at colleges and universities, has been adopted by faculty or administrative bodies at more than a dozen institutions to date. If your school or alma mater isn’t one of them, we encourage you to write to your school using FIRE’s endorsement letter template.

We at FIRE welcome any organization that wishes to provide college rankings to include our Spotlight findings, and we hope that the Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges will provide another useful way for prospective students, current students, and faculty to evaluate the free speech commitments of their institutions. Those seeking more information can search for their school’s Spotlight database entry, or can request a rating for their school from FIRE.