STARKVILLE, Miss., June 19, 2012—Free speech is the rule at Mississippi State University (MSU), which no longer maintains any policies restricting student speech protected by the First Amendment. MSU now holds the highest, "green light," rating for free speech from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). While the overwhelming majority of the nation's colleges maintain policies infringing upon students' free speech rights, MSU is now a proud exception as one of just 17 schools nationwide to earn a green light rating. MSU administrators worked with FIRE to address the university's speech codes.
"The entire Mississippi State community should feel extremely proud today," said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. "The university's exemplary commitment to free speech now rings out as loudly and clearly as its famous cowbells."
While there are only 17 green light schools nationwide, MSU is the sixth university in less than three years to earn the designation, and the second in Mississippi this year. Ole Miss eliminated all of its speech codes in January 2012, joining James Madison University, the University of Virginia, Arizona State University, and The College of William & Mary as the most recent universities to earn a green light. This positive trend reflects growing awareness of free speech issues on campus and increased cooperation between liberty-minded students, administrators, and FIRE.
"Over the past few years, we have been happy to see an increasing number of schools eliminate their speech codes, but much work remains to be done," said Samantha Harris, FIRE's Director of Speech Code Research. "We are thrilled to have MSU join the green light ranks and hope that more universities will follow suit this year."
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, and rights of conscience at our nation's colleges and universities. FIRE's efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at thefire.org.