The Worst Colleges And Universities For Free Speech

March 3, 2015

By Michael Barone at Washington Examiner

It’s a list with a lot of diversity — something that is valued seemingly above all else in American colleges and universities these days. The list includes highly respected flagship state universities (the University of Illinois, the University of Iowa), universities founded to nurture ancient religious traditions (Georgetown, Marquette, Brandeis), an urban college under severe stress (Chicago State), a suburban second-line college (Cal State at Fullerton) and a small city two-year institution (Modesto Junior College).

What do these diverse institutions have in common? Hint: it’s not positive. All are on the list of the Foundation for Individual Right in Education (F.I.R.E>) of America’s 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2014.

In the Huffington Post F.I.R.E. president Greg Lukianoff provides documentation. At Modesto Junior College, for example, a student was prevented from handing out copies of the Constitution on Constitution Day. University of Iowa administrators criticized an art professor’s collage of reports of racial violence, saying there was “no room for divisive, insensitive and intolerant displays.” Georgetown University forced a group called H*yas for Choice to relocate a display table off campus. And on and on.

It would astonish the people who ran higher education institutions a half-century ago — and to the faculty who formed the American Association of University Professors exactly a century ago — that colleges and universities are now the part of our society where there is the least freedom of speech.

But that’s the case today, as I argued in a December Washington Examiner column, which also decried college and university kangaroo courts handling charges of sexual assault, as well as the blatant racial discrimination in admissions to selective colleges and universities.