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Auburn University earns FIRE’s highest rating for free speech

AUBURN, Ala., Jan. 30, 2018 — Auburn University has earned the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s highest rating for free speech, becoming the first university in Alabama to earn this distinction. In cooperation with FIRE, Auburn revised a number of speech codes to join an elite group of only 38 universities nationwide that have brought their written policies fully in line with the First Amendment.

“As a place of higher learning, a university campus should be the first to embrace the free exchange of ideas and speech,” said Bobby Woodard, Ph.D., Auburn’s vice president for student affairs. “It’s not always easy, but we’re pleased that FIRE has recognized our efforts in that regard.”

Auburn worked with FIRE to revise, among others, its policies on campus demonstrations and internet usage. In doing so, Auburn has attained a “green light” rating, which indicates that its written policies do not imperil student or faculty free speech, according to FIRE’s Spotlight database. The database rates more than 450 colleges and universities based on the degree to which free speech is protected or curtailed by their policies.

Auburn is the first university to earn a green light rating in 2018. With its revised policies, Auburn ensures that the approximately 27,000 students that make up its student body are protected by clearly written and constitutionally sound policies.

“By revising its policies to attain green light status, Auburn is showing that its administration is serious about the university’s commitment to free speech and its obligations to students and faculty,” said FIRE Vice President of Policy Reform Azhar Majeed. “We hope that other colleges and universities in Alabama will follow Auburn’s lead and improve their own policies.”

As part of the Auburn University Critical Conversations Speaker Series, FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley will speak at the university on Feb. 13, at 5 p.m. in the Mell Classroom Building. More information on this program can be found on Auburn’s website.

To learn more about the state of free speech on college campuses, see FIRE’s “Spotlight on Speech Codes 2018” report.

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.


William Rickards, Communications Coordinator, FIRE: 215-717-3473;

Mike Clardy, Auburn University Communications, 334-844-9999;

Take Action: Congratulate Auburn University for its green light

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