Table of Contents

FIRE names America’s 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2020

FIRE's worst colleges for free speech
  • These 10 colleges represent the worst campus censors over the last year
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute receives Lifetime Censorship Award

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 29, 2020 — Who are the worst campus censors? The competition is stiff, but today the nonpartisan Foundation for Individual Rights in Education released its annual list of America’s 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech.

This year’s “worst-of-the-worst” list includes a college that fired a professor for an innocuous joke on social media, another that allowed its student government to flatly reject a student club because of its conservative beliefs, one that unilaterally canceled a faculty-organized lecture, and a college that chose to suspend a librarian for curating a historical display highlighting the university’s own photos of its racist past.

The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2020 are, in alphabetical order:

  • Babson College (Wellesley, Mass.)
FIRE's 10 worst colleges for free speech map
Click for full size.
  • Doane University (Crete, Neb.)
  • Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Jones County Junior College (Ellisville, Miss.)
  • Long Island University Post (Brookville, N.Y.)
  • Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vt.)
  • Portland State University (Portland, Ore.)
  • Syracuse University (Syracuse, N.Y.)
  • University of Connecticut (Storrs, Conn.)
  • University of Scranton (Scranton, Pa.)

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


“Our hope is that one day creating this list will be difficult, not because of the sheer number of contenders, but because of how few colleges and universities are eager to censor,” said Robert Shibley, FIRE’s executive director. 

FIRE also issued its second Lifetime Censorship Award, reserved for those colleges that are so frequently contenders for our annual worst list that they deserve special recognition. This year’s Lifetime Censorship Award goes to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for its brazen, years-long record of censoring its students and its total disinterest in protecting the very student rights that it promises.

In 2018, the first Lifetime Censorship Award went to DePaul University for its decade-long rap sheet of censorship spanning the ideological spectrum.

Today’s 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech list marks FIRE’s ninth year compiling its “worst-of-the-worst” list. Previous editions can be found on FIRE’s website.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of liberty.


Daniel Burnett, Assistant Director of Communications, FIRE: 215-717-3473;

Recent Articles

FIRE’s award-winning Newsdesk covers the free speech news you need to stay informed.