In January 2006, FIRE and the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy released a Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System. The report took an in-depth look at the speech codes in force at each of the sixteen universities in the UNC System and made detailed recommendations for how those codes could be improved.
At the time, 13 of the 16 schools in the system received a "red-light" rating from FIRE for maintaining policies that clearly and substantially restricted students' right to freedom of speech. Happily, a number of the schools cited in the report made significant improvements to their policies, and today only 8 out of the 16 schools still receive a red light from FIRE. Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T, UNC Asheville, UNC Chapel Hill, and UNC Pembroke have all improved their policies enough that they are no longer "red-light" schools.
This is exciting news, and it's a perfect example of how public exposure can bring about significant—and voluntary—change by universities. As FIRE prepares to release our third annual report on the state of speech codes nationwide, we hope we can bring about the kind of change that has happened in North Carolina across the country. And we hope this very encouraging news out of North Carolina inspires those of you on red-light campuses to pressure your administrations to revise policies that restrict your right to free speech. It really works!