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Emory University earns FIRE’s highest rating for free speech

ATLANTA, Dec. 5, 2017 — Emory University has removed language from its policies that chilled free expression on campus, earning it the highest, “green light” rating for free speech on campus from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

After working to ensure that the policies across all of its departments reflect the university’s commitment to free speech, Emory has become the first green light institution in the state of Georgia — and just the 37th institution nationwide to earn FIRE’s most favorable rating.

“We are excited to welcome Emory to the ranks of green light institutions,” said FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley. “As one of only 37 schools in the country to earn a green light rating from FIRE, Emory is now positioned to become a national leader in protecting free speech on campus.”

To earn its green light rating, Emory revised its undergraduate conduct code, as well as policies governing campus bias incidents and the use of information technology resources. FIRE worked on the changes with Alexander “Sasha” Volokh, chair of Emory’s Open Expression Committee and a professor at Emory University School of Law.

“Once these policies were brought to our attention, everyone basically agreed that it was a matter of mistaken or outdated language that did not reflect the values of Emory’s Open Expression Policy,” Volokh said. “The credit really belongs to Emory’s administrators, from President Claire Sterk on down, who strongly support open expression on campus — as well as to the University Senate that adopted the Open Expression Policy five years ago.”

“It was a pleasure to work with Emory on these revisions,” said FIRE Vice President of Policy Research Samantha Harris. “We hope other institutions both in Georgia and across the country will follow Emory’s lead and adopt policies that fully protect students’ free speech rights.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit student rights 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;

Alexander “Sasha” Volokh, Emory Law School: 626-354-4581;

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