Amherst College

Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
Type: Private
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Speech Code Rating

Amherst College has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more

Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 154 colleges surveyed Read more

FIRE surveyed roughly 37,000 students at 154 colleges and universities about the climate for free speech at their institutions. In 2021, FIRE released rankings of those schools, based on a number of factors, including openness, tolerance, self-expression, administrative support for free speech, and campus policies, scoring overall speech climate on a scale from 0-100. See the full report on FIRE’s 2021 College Free Speech Rankings for more information.



Overall Ranking 78/154
Ideological Diversity 148/159

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 59.47
Openness 9.72
Tolerance (Liberals) 12.05
Tolerance (Conservatives) 7.45
Administrative Support 5.83
Comfort 14.61
Disruptive Conduct 9.81
Speech Climate
Supported Scholars
Sanctioned Scholars
Successful Disinvitations
Speech Code RED
At present, FIRE has not been publicly involved in any cases at this school.
  • Due Process Legal Update: Part II

    March 29, 2017

    Recently, I wrote an update on two of the most recent decisions in the spate of lawsuits brought by students accused of sexual misconduct who allege they were denied basic fairness in campus proceedings. More than 150 such suits have been filed since 2011, with at least eight filed in the last two months alone…. Read more

  • Amid Campus Protests, University Presidents Push Dialogue and Engagement

    November 18, 2015

    University of Maryland (UMD) President Wallace D. Loh wrote an interesting and thoughtful opinion piece this week for TIME’s Ideas blog. It addressed how a university administrator and the larger campus community can respond to campus protests against racial injustice while upholding free speech protections for unpopular speech. He emphasized that both are important components of… Read more

  • Amherst: We Don’t Need to Consider Exculpatory Evidence Discovered After Appeal Period Closed

    July 22, 2015

    In response to a complaint filed in federal court this past May, Amherst College filed a response on Monday staunchly defending its expulsion of a student for sexual misconduct as well as its subsequent refusal to consider new evidence in the case. The case, Doe v. Amherst College, stems from a sexual encounter between two… Read more

  • Amherst College Settles with Student Who Sued Over Withheld Diploma

    January 26, 2015

    Amherst College has settled a lawsuit brought last June by a student identified only as John Doe. Doe filed the lawsuit after the college withheld his diploma because of a sexual assault allegation from 2009 that had long since been resolved—or so he thought. After the allegations arose initially, Doe was placed on medical leave… Read more

  • Students Return to Campus Censorship, But Fight Back with FIRE

    September 2, 2014

    PHILADELPHIA, September 2, 2014—As millions of college students arrive on campus this fall—many for the first time—few of them realize that nearly 59 percent of our nation’s colleges maintain policies that clearly and substantially restrict speech protected by the First Amendment. Too many students will realize that the rights they took for granted as Americans… Read more

  • Boston’s WGBH Announces Muzzle Award ‘Winners’

    July 9, 2014

    Boston’s WGBH News has just announced the “winners” of its 2014 Muzzle Awards, given to those who have particularly impeded freedom of speech over the past year. Formerly published in the Boston Phoenix, WGBH has adopted the awards and is continuing the tradition of “singl[ing] out the dramatic and the petty, the epic and the absurd.”

  • Amherst Bans Fraternities, Sororities, and Similar Organizations On and Off Campus

    May 9, 2014

    Amherst College’s Board of Trustees sent out an email Tuesday announcing that it was reaffirming its 1984 ban on the college’s recognition of fraternities and sororities—and that it would be taking things a step further this summer in a move that will take a significant bite out of Amherst students’ ability to freely associate.

  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Amherst College

    January 8, 2013

    This winter, FIRE is presenting a blog series on the state of free speech at America’s top 10 liberal arts colleges, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report (a list that actually includes 11 schools, since two—Claremont McKenna College and Vassar College—are tied for the #10 spot). Before the new year, we told you… Read more

  • Misunderstanding ‘Harassment’

    October 16, 2012

    Last week, FIRE kicked off a blog series about how schools can reform problematic speech codes with a discussion of why mandating “civility“ is inconsistent with students’ right to free speech. This week, we are tackling another trouble spot for free speech: the harassment policy. As an initial matter, campus harassment policies can be divided… Read more

  • Jewish Group at Amherst College Receives Funding After AAS Senate Debate, but Concerns Remain about Senate Funding Policies

    February 25, 2011

    According to a column by Romen Borsellino in The Amherst Student, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) Senate at Amherst College, of which Borsellingo is a member, debated during a meeting on February 14 whether a new Jewish student organization, the Jew Crew, should receive funding for an event. Detractors claimed that the Jew Crew was… Read more