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Kansas State University adopts free speech statement, earns FIRE’s highest speech rating

By August 25, 2017

MANHATTAN, Kan., Aug. 25, 2017 — The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is pleased to announce that Kansas State University has earned FIRE’s highest, “green light” rating for free speech. In consultation with FIRE, the university revised its speech-related policies to fully reflect the university’s commitment to free speech. Kansas State University further affirmed its commitment to free expression by adopting a statement similar to the University of Chicago’s laudable statement on academic freedom.

“This is an important, reaffirming moment for our university,” said Cheryl Strecker, general counsel for the university. “We are committed to our values of inclusion, diversity, anti-discrimination and nonviolence. At the same time, our principles and policies reflect the university’s longstanding commitment to free speech, a commitment that now is also formally expressed in our Statement on Free Speech and Expression. I hope that we can serve as a leader on this front as we and other institutions face the challenges of our day.”

The university became the 33rd green light institution in FIRE’s Spotlight database of nearly 450 colleges and universities, and the third institution to earn a green light this summer. This positive trend is the result of increased cooperation between students, faculty, administrators, and FIRE. In August, Strecker informed FIRE not only that the university had reworded its policies, but also that it had adopted a robust statement of commitment to free speech.

Kansas State University joins a growing list of colleges and universities that have adopted free speech policy statements that closely mirror the University of Chicago’s “Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression,” better known as the “Chicago Statement.” Kansas State University’s version expands upon the Chicago Statement, acknowledging not only that “the ideas of different members of the University community will often and quite naturally conflict,” but also that “some individuals’ ideas will even conflict with the University’s values and principles.”

The university’s statement further provides that freedom of speech is “one of our most cherished rights, protected by the United States Constitution. Without unwavering protection of that right, our society would suffer, and the vulnerable in our society would suffer the most. Progress such as civil rights movements and the resulting gains would not be possible.”

“With its robust new free speech statement and its other policy revisions, Kansas State University has established itself as a leader in championing the free speech rights of its students and faculty,” said Samantha Harris, FIRE’s Vice President of Policy Research. “We could not be happier to welcome Kansas State University to our list of green light institutions.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.

CONTACT:

Daniel Burnett, Communications Manager, FIRE: 215-717-3473; media@thefire.org

Jennifer Tidball, Division of Communications and Marketing, Kansas State University: 785-532-2535; jtidball@k-state.edu 

Schools: Kansas State University