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Claremont McKenna becomes first college in California to earn FIRE’s highest rating for free speech

CLAREMONT, Calif., March 21, 2018 — Claremont McKenna College has become the first institution in California to earn the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s highest, “green light” rating for free speech. Claremont McKenna joins 38 other institutions across the country with the distinction.

“Claremont McKenna is the first college in California to fully achieve what many colleges only pay lip service to: a commitment to student and faculty speech,” said Samantha Harris, FIRE’s vice president of policy research. “We hope CMC’s efforts to stand up for the free exchange of ideas on campus inspire other institutions in the state to follow suit.”

To earn its green light rating, Claremont McKenna worked with FIRE to update policies on disorderly conduct and internet usage.

“Even more important than policy is our ethos for learning—the critical intellectual and responsive social skills (from active listening to effective dialogue) that put academic freedom to work,” said Claremont McKenna President Hiram E. Chodosh.

Most of the California colleges and universities surveyed by FIRE maintain policies that threaten student and faculty speech. Five institutions in the state earn FIRE’s worst, “red light” rating for seriously imperiling free speech. Thirty-five others earn a “yellow light” rating for policies that restrict a more limited amount of protected expression or could too easily be used to restrict protected expression. Nationally, about one-third of institutions earn a red light rating, and almost 60 percent earn a yellow light rating, according to FIRE’s Spotlight on Speech Codes 2018 report.

Claremont McKenna is also one of 34 institutions nationwide to have adopted a version of the “Chicago Statement,” the gold standard for university policy statements regarding freedom of expression at colleges and universities. FIRE launched a national campaign in 2015 to urge colleges to adopt the statement.

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.


Daniel Burnett, Communications Manager, FIRE: 215-717-3473;

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