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University of Maryland Earns FIRE’s Highest Rating for Free Speech

COLLEGE PARK, Md., February 12, 2016—The University of Maryland (UMD) has eliminated all of its restrictive speech policies, earning the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) highest, “green light” rating. FIRE worked with UMD to revise its speech codes, and UMD now joins the prestigious group of colleges and universities that have reformed their policies on student and faculty expression to ensure compliance with the First Amendment.

“I am very excited about the addition of UMD to FIRE’s growing list of green light schools,” said Azhar Majeed, director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program. “UMD already had a commendable approach to campus free speech before FIRE reached out. I’m thrilled that UMD has now revised its policies to reflect its practices, and I hope many more colleges and universities follow UMD’s lead this semester.”

FIRE wrote to UMD following the university’s appropriate handling of an incident that arose last spring involving a controversial student email. When FIRE began this collaborative effort, UMD maintained two policies earning a “yellow light” rating. Majeed advised UMD administrators about revising a policy concerning student rights and responsibilities as well as a policy on multicultural philosophy.

“The University of Maryland prides itself on our thriving environment of free speech and academic freedom for every member of our campus community,” said UMD Vice President of Student Affairs Linda Clement. “We are extremely proud to earn the highest, ‘green light’ rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.”

UMD becomes the 24th green light institution in FIRE’s Spotlight database of over 400 colleges and universities. Last year, six colleges and universities earned a green light rating, bringing the total to 23. FIRE hopes 2016 will see many more such conversions to green light status.

“With the addition of UMD, nearly 38,000 more students now have their First Amendment rights protected by their school’s policies,” said Majeed. “That’s a testament to the university’s leadership and its positive approach to campus free expression.”

FIRE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit student rights organization 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


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

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