Worst Colleges for Free Speech

Every year since 2011, FIRE has published a list of the worst colleges for free speech in America. As always, each year’s “worst of the worst” list is presented in no particular order, and they include both public and private institutions. Public colleges and universities are bound by the First Amendment; the private colleges on these lists, though not required by the Constitution to protect student and faculty speech rights, explicitly promise to do so.

Starting in 2018, FIRE also began awarding a Lifetime Censorship Award as part of these annual lists. This “honor” goes to the one college or university that is so frequently discussed as a contender for our annual worst colleges for free speech list that it deserves special recognition. DePaul University was the inaugural recipient in 2018 and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute earned the award in 2020. Lifetime Censorship Awards are not given out every year — only in those years where there is a particularly worthy recipient.

  • University of Tennessee
  • St. John’s University
  • Collin College
  • Haskell Indian Nations University
  • New York University
  • Duquesne University
  • Frostburg State University
  • Northwestern University in Qatar
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Fordham University

Lifetime Censorship Award recipients:

Syracuse Lifetime Censorship Award 2021
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
DePaul University