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QUIET CAMPUSES: America’s 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech

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

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 2, 2022 — Like our collective obsession with Wordle, censorship is spreading fast.

In the 11th edition of the “10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech,” released today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education pillories the worst campus censors over the last year. (And trust us, narrowing down the list was no easy task!) The 2022 “worst-of-the-worst” list features seven new campuses that haven’t made the cut before.

This year’s list includes other colleges guilty of many forms of censorship, including: suspending a student group for passing out stickers critical of China’s government; firing a Jewish professor for calling out the college president’s remark about “Jewish noses”; punishing a student for sending a satirical email; and using a former professor’s bogus lawsuit threat as a justification to censor (and then seize control of) the student newspaper.

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

  • Boise State University (Boise, Idaho)
  • Collin College (McKinney, Texas)
  • Emerson College (Boston, Mass.)
  • Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)
  • Linfield University (McMinnville, Ore.)
  • Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.)
  • Tarleton State University (Stephenville, Texas)
  • University of Florida (Gainesville, Fla.)
  • University of Illinois Chicago (Chicago, Ill.)
  • University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, N.C.)

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

“Each of these colleges had the opportunity to restore the student and faculty voices they censored — but leaders deliberately chose not to do so,” said Greg Lukianoff, FIRE president and CEO. “We don’t back down. If college leadership is willing to muzzle, censor, and punish their own students and faculty members, the public should know. And prospective students and faculty applicants should take notice of which colleges will go to outrageous lengths to silence their voices. FIRE will continue to advocate for free expression at these campuses and campuses across the country.”


FIRE also issued its fourth Lifetime Censorship Award, reserved for those colleges that deserve special recognition for their commitment to censorship. This year, Yale University earned the award for disclaiming its own academic freedom commitment in court, trying to coerce a student into signing a pre-written apology for a party invitation that included the words “trap house,” and for keeping quiet as a psych lecturer’s job was threatened by accusations that she “dehumanized” rural Ohioans by expressing surprise at their enthusiasm for artisanal coffee. Yale’s motto translates to “light and truth,” but the university seems hellbent on keeping dissenting opinions in the dark. 

Yale, the fourth college to receive FIRE’s lowest honor, joins Syracuse University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and DePaul University on our list of Lifetime Censorship Award recipients.


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 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.


Katie Kortepeter, Media Relations Associate, FIRE: 215-717-3473;

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