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DUMPSTER FIRES: America’s ‘10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech’

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FIRE’s annual list highlights the worst-of-the-worst in campus censorship

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 2, 2023 — It’s Groundhog Day, and Punxatawney Phil is predicting at least six more weeks of chilling effects on many American campuses.

In our 12th edition of the “10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech,” released today, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression names and shames last year’s worst campus censors. 

This year’s list includes colleges guilty of many forms of censorship, including: firing an art history professor for showing a medieval depiction of Muhammed in class, punishing students for holding a drag show, and forcing professors to agree to a DEI statement drafted by the university.

“FIRE gave each school on the list multiple opportunities to do the right thing,” said FIRE attorney Alex Morey. “Instead, they've shown just how committed they are to violating student and faculty rights. This list should be a warning to anyone considering joining one of these college or university communities. Think again.”

The 10 worst colleges for free speech, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Collin College (McKinney, Texas)
  • Emerson College (Boston, Mass.)
  • Emporia State University (Emporia, Kan.)
  • Hamline University (Saint Paul, Minn.)
  • Loyola University New Orleans (New Orleans, La.)
  • Pennsylvania State University (State College, Pa.)
  • Tennessee Tech University (Cookeville, Tenn.)
  • Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas)
  • University of Oregon (Eugene, Ore.)
  • University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Detailed descriptions of each college’s speech-chilling misdeeds are available on FIRE’s website.

“Since 2020, we’ve seen an upswing in campus censorship unlike anything I've encountered in my 22-year career,” said FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff. “You’d think they'd eventually run out of students and professors to censor, but no such luck in 2022. Fingers crossed for 2023.”


FIRE also issued its fifth Lifetime Censorship Award, reserved for those colleges that deserve special recognition for their commitment to censorship. This year, Georgetown University earned the award for taking 122 days to investigate a 45-word tweet by incoming faculty member Ilya Shapiro. Georgetown’s fondness for censorship is nothing new; in addition to appearing on last year’s “10 Worst” list, it was also featured on our 2019, 2017, and 2015 lists.

Georgetown joins Yale University, Syracuse University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and DePaul University on our list of Lifetime Censorship Award recipients. Congrats?


Previous editions of FIRE’s annual “10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech” list can be found on FIRE’s website.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought — the most essential qualities of liberty. FIRE recognizes that colleges and universities play a vital role in preserving free thought within a free society. To this end, we place a special emphasis on defending the individual rights of students and faculty members on our nation’s campuses, including freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience.


Katie Kortepeter, Communications Campaign Manager, FIRE: 215-717-3473;

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