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University of Chicago Reforms All Speech Codes, Earns FIRE’s Highest Free Speech Rating

CHICAGO, April 26, 2016—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is excited to announce the latest university to earn its highest, “green light” rating for free speech: the University of Chicago (UC). In cooperation with FIRE, UC revised all of its speech codes to join an elite group of colleges and universities that maintain policies respecting student and faculty free expression rights and meeting First Amendment standards.

“The University of Chicago has been a leader for free speech on college campuses with the Committee on Freedom of Expression’s exemplary free speech policy statement, and now I’m happy to say that it is also a green light institution,” said Azhar Majeed, FIRE’s director of policy reform. “I’m even more pleased to report that UC is the fourth university to earn FIRE’s highest rating for free speech this year.”

In January 2015, UC’s Committee on Freedom of Expression, chaired by Professor Geoffrey Stone, released its policy statement on free speech, which guarantees “all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.” FIRE quickly endorsed the robust statement and, in September 2015, launched a national campaign encouraging all colleges and universities in the country to adopt the principles set forth in the statement. To date, at least 11 institutions and faculty bodies have adopted their own version of the Chicago Statement.

“As a long-time member of the University of Chicago faculty and a scholar of the First Amendment, I am delighted that the University of Chicago has earned FIRE’s green light commendation,” said Stone. “From its very founding, the University of Chicago has prided itself on its commitment to free and open discourse and debate.”

“I am grateful for the efforts of Professor Stone. He really has been the driving force in making UC a model university for free speech,” said Majeed. “It was an honor working with him and the UC administration.”

UC becomes the 27th green-light institution in FIRE’s Spotlight database of over 400 colleges and universities, as well as the first in the state of Illinois. With the addition of UC, FIRE has helped four colleges and universities achieve green-light status this year.

FIRE is a nonpartisan, 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 campus across America can be viewed at


Katie Barrows, Communications Coordinator, FIRE: 215-717-3473;

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