Auburn University

Location: Auburn, Alabama
Type: Public
Thank Auburn University for its commitment to free speech.

Speech Code Rating

Auburn University has been given the speech code rating Green. Green light institutions are those colleges and universities whose policies nominally protect free speech. Read more

Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 154 colleges surveyed Read more
  • Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 23, 2021

    “Harassment” as used in this Policy is verbal and/or physical conduct (i) that is severe or pervasive, (ii) that is based on an individual’s Protected Status, and (iii) that unreasonably interferes with the individual’s work or academic activities, or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive University en... Read More
  • Appropriate Use of Information Technology Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: July 23, 2021

    While it is not possible to specify a rule for every possible use or misuse of IT resources, persons to whom this policy applies are expected to act in accordance with the following examples: … Special care to avoid activity that is or could be perceived as intimidating, harassing or threatening. Read More
  • Code of Student Conduct

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 23, 2021

    The following conduct is prohibited: 1. Physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, stalking, coercion, and/or other behavior which threatens or endangers the health and/or safety of any person. Read More
  • BERT – Bias Education and Response Team

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: July 23, 2021

    Auburn University values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas. While openness protects the expression of controversial ideas, there are times when actions or conduct can negatively affect individuals or groups. A bias-related incident involves acts, behaviors, conduct or communications against a pers... Read More
  • Expression and Demonstration Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: July 23, 2021

    To facilitate robust debate and the free exchange of ideas, the university has established a high visibility area on campus as an “Open Air Forum,” which may be used without prior notice or reservation for demonstrations by any individual or group. Visitors may engage in demonstrations only within an Open Air Forum ... 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 20/154
Ideological Diversity 27/159

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 64.55
Openness 8.56
Tolerance (Liberals) 9.2
Tolerance (Conservatives) 8.58
Administrative Support 6.17
Comfort 15.67
Disruptive Conduct 10.37
Speech Code GREEN
  • Auburn University: Administration ‘Considering Options’ Over Lecturer’s Anti-Police Social Media Posts

    August 3, 2020

    In July 2020, Auburn University lecturer Jesse Goldberg tweeted in response to a video of plainclothes police officers detaining a protester using an unmarked van: “This is kidnapping. Fuck every single cop.” Goldberg’s social media commentary regarding the abolition of police drew criticism from Donald Trump, Jr., and calls for Goldberg’s termination by Alabama state… Read more

  • Auburn University: Ban on Ron Paul Window Hanging Exposes Double Standard

    November 2, 2011

    In November 2011, Auburn University student Eric Philips was required to remove a banner supporting Ron Paul’s presidential campaign from the inside of his dormitory window. Despite Auburn’s policy prohibiting all window decorations in its residence halls, Philips documented numerous examples of the policy not being enforced against other students. Following a letter from FIRE… Read more

  • Auburn University says that it will not punish lecturer over anti-police comments

    August 6, 2020

    UPDATE 8/11/20: Goldberg’s position at Auburn has been converted to a research-only fellowship in which he will not teach. Goldberg tells the Chronicle of Higher Education that he agreed to the change in role because he feels “much safer with this option” after receiving threats of violence. For more, check out Keith Whittington’s analysis. Last week, Auburn University said it was… Read more

  • Lecturer’s anti-police tweet leads to legislative pressure on Auburn University, which says it is exploring ‘options’

    August 3, 2020

    At Auburn University, an incoming lecturer’s tweets criticizing police officers has sparked calls for his termination, including from a state legislator. Today, in light of the university’s statements that its “officials” were reviewing “options” for responding to the lecturer’s “[h]ate speech,” FIRE wrote to Auburn University explaining that the First Amendment, Alabama state law, and… Read more

  • Auburn University earns FIRE’s highest rating for free speech

    January 30, 2018

    AUBURN, Ala., Jan. 30, 2018 — Auburn University has earned the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s highest rating for free speech, becoming the first university in Alabama to earn this distinction. In cooperation with FIRE, Auburn revised a number of speech codes to join an elite group of only 38 universities nationwide that have… Read more

  • Speech Code of the Month: Auburn University

    December 15, 2015

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for December 2015: Auburn University. Student protests have been all over the news this fall. While some of the protesters’ demands—such as demands for restrictions on student and faculty speech—have been troubling, the right of students to engage in protest and other expressive activities is critically important,… Read more

  • What Ezra Klein Gets Wrong about the ‘Yes Means Yes’ Law in California

    October 17, 2014

    On Monday, Vox co-founder Ezra Klein penned an op-ed about how he firmly supported the affirmative consent bill recently passed in California despite his candid acknowledgment that the bill was in fact “terrible.” The general tenor of his column, which I discussed in The Daily Caller yesterday, was that you can’t make an omelet without… Read more

  • Over 1,000 Newspapers Stolen at Auburn University

    September 2, 2014

    The Student Press Law Center reports that on August 28, more than 1,000 copies of The Auburn Plainsman were stolen, costing Auburn University’s student newspaper nearly $800. The newspapers disappeared from seven locations throughout Auburn’s campus. So far no one has claimed responsibility for the theft, but the paper’s editors believe that one of its stories may have been the cause.

  • Due Process in the News: ‘Washington Post’ Highlights Accused Students’ Concerns

    August 21, 2014

    Yesterday’s issue of The Washington Post included a comprehensive and even-handed article about the due process concerns being raised by an increasing number of students accused of sexual assault within university judicial systems.

  • ‘Wall Street Journal’ Highlights Inadequate Due Process Protections at Auburn University

    December 9, 2013

    Over the weekend, Wall Street Journal editorial board member James Taranto penned a piece about one Auburn University student’s treatment by the campus judiciary following another student’s allegation that he committed sexual assault. Joshua Strange faced two separate systems. In the criminal court system, a grand jury failed even to find probable cause to prosecute him, despite the fact… Read more

  • Greg Lukianoff in ‘Daily Caller’: Students Have Gotten Used to Censorship

    September 21, 2012

    When Auburn University student Eric Philips hung a Ron Paul poster in his dormitory window, he was ordered to take it down just three hours later. The university cited a school-wide ban on window hangings as the reason for the censorship, saying that it was instituted for "safety" reasons. Auburn must not care very much… Read more

  • On Graduation Day, Remedial Lessons on Free Speech Needed at Auburn

    May 7, 2012

    Auburn University senior Eric Philips is one of the more than 3,300 Auburn students being awarded their degrees today at the university’s commencement ceremonies. He has also been working with FIRE for months now to reform Auburn’s restrictive policy banning window decorations—which seems to include the Ron Paul banner he was told to remove from… Read more

  • Greg’s Appearance on ‘Stossel’ Now Online

    April 24, 2012

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff’s appearance on Stossel last week is now available online. The episode highlights two current FIRE cases: Auburn University’s selective banning of student window hangings and the University of Cincinnati’s threats to arrest students who wanted to gather signatures outside of the school’s free speech zone. Greg also told the Florida State University audience that FSU’s speech… Read more

  • ‘Safety’ Defense Only Makes Auburn Look Foolish

    April 23, 2012

    For months now, as shown last week on Stossel, FIRE has been fighting alongside Auburn University student Eric Philips for the reform of an unnecessarily restrictive policy on window decorations at Auburn. As we’ve argued, the policy needlessly curtails a traditional form of student expression. What’s more, as FIRE and Philips have repeatedly shown, the… Read more

  • March Student Spotlight: Allen Mendenhall of Auburn University

    March 16, 2012

    Each month, the CFN Student Spotlight features a student member who is working to promote individual rights on his or her campus. For March, I am pleased to announce that our featured student is Allen Mendenhall of Auburn University. As a Ph.D. candidate and teacher at Auburn, Allen has helped establish an environment open to… Read more

  • Censored Auburn Student Shares Story with ‘Plainsman’

    January 24, 2012

    For weeks now, FIRE has been fighting for free speech at Auburn University, which continues to maintain an unwise and illiberal ban on window hangings in its dorms despite ample evidence pointing to its uneven enforcement of the policy. Now student Eric Philips—who came to FIRE after being forced to remove a banner supporting Ron Paul’s presidential… Read more

  • Double Standard at Auburn: Ron Paul Banner Banned from Dorm Room Window While ‘Total Ban’ Goes Unenforced

    January 16, 2012

    Auburn University has discriminated against a student by ordering him to remove a Ron Paul banner from his dormitory window. Although the university has nominally instituted a "total ban" on window decorations, a dozen or more other window decorations have been permitted. Moreover, the university has failed to provide any evidence that such a total… Read more

  • Auburn Student Blasts University’s Window Policy

    January 13, 2012

    Auburn University doctoral student Allen Mendenhall has written an op-ed for today’s Montgomery Advertiser criticizing Auburn’s decision to censor a Ron Paul banner in the dormitory window of student Eric Philips. Allen, a FIRE Campus Freedom Network member, explains that Philips’ case is of particular concern to him because of his extensive family connections to Auburn and his love of the school—he describes… Read more

  • Still Looking for Answers from Phi Beta Kappa

    December 14, 2005

    FIRE recently wrote a letter to John Churchill, secretary of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, in which we ask the organization to stand behind its stated commitment to freedom of expression by addressing the issue of repressive speech codes at its member institutions. In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required),… Read more

  • Practical Advice for Fraternities Caught in the Battle for Free Speech on Campus

    September 16, 2004

    I. Introduction While there is no shortage of free speech battles on college campuses, fraternities have the dubious honor of being at the center of many of the least sympathetic controversies. From Halloween parties where brothers show up dressed as Ku Klux Klan members to fraternity newsletters that graphically relate a brother’s sexual exploits with… Read more