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Western State Colorado University Earns FIRE’s Highest Rating for Free Speech

GUNNISON, Colo., July 21, 2015—Western State Colorado University (Western) has eliminated its speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating for free speech from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). With assistance from FIRE, Western joins a prestigious group of colleges and universities that have reformed their policies on student expression to ensure compliance with the First Amendment.

“FIRE is very pleased to welcome Western State Colorado University to the distinguished list of institutions committed to protecting students’ freedom of speech,” said Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program. “We commend Western’s administration for working with us to improve its policies. Western is the first green light school in Colorado and thus the state’s leader in protecting student speech rights. I hope more colleges and universities in Colorado will follow Western’s example.”

FIRE began working with Western’s administration in December 2014. Majeed collaborated with Laurel Becker, executive assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs at Western, to revise the university’s policies to meet First Amendment standards. Earlier this month, Western revised its last remaining speech code, earning a green light rating from FIRE.

“Colleges and universities are supposed to be testing grounds for exercising First Amendment rights—places of open inquiry about the full range of issues,” said Western Vice President for Student Affairs Gary Pierson. “Western State Colorado University is proud to be part of a select few higher education institutions across the county to be endorsed as a FIRE green light institution, which demonstrates Western’s support for these First Amendment rights, including free speech.” Pierson also thanked Becker for her leadership and commitment to students’ rights.

Western becomes the 22nd green light institution in FIRE’s Spotlight database of over 400 colleges and universities, as well as the second university to achieve green light status this month.

FIRE is a 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 campuses across America can be viewed at


Nico Perrino, Associate Director of Communications, FIRE: 215-717-3473;

Brian Barker, Director of University Communications, Western State Colorado University: 970-943-3038;

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