NOTE: The article excerpted on this page is from an outside publication and is posted on FIRE's website because it references FIRE's work. The viewpoints expressed in this article do not necessarily represent FIRE's positions.
by Timothy Dionisopoulos
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has released a list of the worst colleges in the United States for free speech.
In an article on the Huffington Post, FIRE listed the top ten most egregious free speech abuses on campus since March of 2012.
DePaul University made the list after the school charged conservative student activist Kristopher Del Campo with multiple violations after he published the names of students who admitted to vandalizing the Young Americans for Freedom’s pro-life display.
Troy University was profiled for their restrictive “harassment” policy, which FIRE claimed “prohibits an astonishing amount of protected speech, including almost any expression of a political opinion that another person finds offensive.”
The Departments of Education and Justice were also included for “arguably the biggest free-speech-on-campus story of the year,” mandating unconstitutional speech policies for universities receiving federal funds.
“College is where inquisitive minds go to be exposed to new ways of thinking. But on some campuses, the quest for knowledge is frustrated when administrators censor speech they would prefer be kept out of the marketplace of ideas,”
The controversy arose from an agreement with the University of Montana over a sexual harassment issue, which resulted in a speech code mandate and a sexual harassment “blueprint” for all schools receiving federal funding.
FIRE claimed sexual harassment was defined in a broad fashion and that federally funded schools would have their resources threatened if they did not adopt the policy.
The federal agencies sent FIRE a letter claiming they had backed off from the policy, but have yet to notify any of the colleges affected that they are no longer required to implement the “blueprint.”
Other colleges on the list include SUNY-Oswego, Dixie State University, Harvard, the University of Alabama, Central New Mexico Community College, Appalachian State University, and the University of North Carolina.
FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said that censorship clashes with the ability for students to learn.
“College is where inquisitive minds go to be exposed to new ways of thinking. But on some campuses, the quest for knowledge is frustrated when administrators censor speech they would prefer be kept out of the marketplace of ideas,” said Lukianoff.
Schools: Troy University University of Montana DePaul University Cases: Departments of Education and Justice: National “Blueprint” for Unconstitutional Speech Codes DePaul University: Student Punished For Exposing Vandals of Pro-Life Display Troy University: Speech Code Litigation