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UNC Charlotte earns FIRE’s highest rating for free speech

CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 22, 2017 — The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has earned the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) highest, “green light” rating for its commitment to the First Amendment. The state of North Carolina now has five institutions with this rating, more than any other state.

“UNC Charlotte is showing a sincere commitment to free speech — a commitment that only a few dozen colleges and universities nationwide have made,” said Laura Beltz, FIRE’s policy reform program officer. “FIRE is thrilled at the progress in North Carolina and around the country, and looks forward to working with more colleges to protect student and faculty speech rights.”

After UNC Charlotte student Savannah Soto asked her university’s administration to revise its speech codes in accordance with FIRE's recommendations, the 28,700-student university reformed three policies to meet the criteria for a green light rating.

UNC Charlotte joins 31 other colleges and universities that earn a green light rating because their written policies do not imperil student and faculty expression, according to FIRE’s Spotlight database. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and North Carolina Central University earned green light status in May, joining Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as North Carolina’s five institutions with FIRE’s highest rating for campus free speech.

“A key component of UNC Charlotte’s institutional mission is to promote a robust intellectual environment that values social and cultural diversity, free expression, collegiality, integrity, and mutual respect,” said UNC Charlotte Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Jesh Humphrey. “FIRE’s green light rating is a public recognition of our progress toward that goal, and of our commitment to uphold individual rights while cultivating a community in which those rights are exercised thoughtfully, responsibly, and constructively.”

To learn more about the state of free speech on college campuses, see FIRE’s “Spotlight on Speech Codes 2017” report.

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;

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