George Mason University

Location: Fairfax, Virginia
Type: Public
Thank George Mason University for its commitment to free speech.

Speech Code Rating

George Mason 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

This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech.

Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 154 colleges surveyed Read more
  • University Policy Number 1202: Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2021

    University Policy Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome conduct based on sex that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education, employment, or participation in a University program or activity, thereby creating an environment that a reasonable person in similar circums... Read More
  • Residential Student Handbook: Intimidation/Bullying

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2021

    Housing and Residence Life will not tolerate a hostile environment created by conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to educational opportunity or benefit. Read More
  • Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education: Bias Incident Report Form

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: July 20, 2021

    The university defines bias incidents as follows: Bias Incidents: A bias incident is an act of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, violence or criminal offense committed against any person, group or property that appears to be intentional and motivated by prejudice or bias. Such are usually associated with neg... Read More
  • Free Speech at Mason

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: July 20, 2021

    All members of the George Mason University community enjoy the right to freedom of speech and expression. Individuals are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge, and demonstrate as a natural platform for intellectual engagement. This is the true spirit of Freedom and Learning. Read More
  • Code of Student Conduct: Acts of Misconduct

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2021

    Any hostile, threatening, or intimidating behavior that by its very nature would be interpreted by a reasonable person to threaten or endanger the health, safety or well-being of another. Examples of such behavior may include, but are not limited to: a) Act(s) that alarms or seriously disrupts another person’s abili... Read More
  • University Policy Number 1202: Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Interpersonal Violence- Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment as Defined in Title IX Regulation

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2021

    d. Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment as Defined in Title IX Regulation (“Title IX Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment”): Unwelcome conduct based on sex that would be determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the U... Read More
  • University Policy Number 1109: Poster Posting

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2021

    Postings shall be allowed on Mason’s property, without regard to their content (except in the case of content that is unlawful or otherwise prohibited by law), subject to the time, place, and manner restrictions set forth in the Posting Procedures or any specific posting procedures for a Special Campus Area, as appl... Read More
  • Residential Student Handbook: Posting and Distribution

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: July 20, 2021

    The sign may not include content so severe and pervasive and objectionably offensive that it effectively creates a hostile environment. 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 12/154
Ideological Diversity 19/159

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 65.42
Openness 9.63
Tolerance (Liberals) 10.33
Tolerance (Conservatives) 7.56
Administrative Support 6.06
Comfort 15.75
Disruptive Conduct 10.09
Speech Climate
Supported Scholars
Sanctioned Scholars
Successful Disinvitations
Speech Code GREEN
  • Phi Beta Kappa: Member Institutions’ Speech Codes

    November 29, 2005

    When George Mason University cancelled a speech by filmmaker Michael Moore, the Phi Beta Kappa Society denied George Mason University’s application for a campus chapter of the honor society, citing academic freedom concerns. Given the Society’s professed commitment to freedom of speech, FIRE wrote to Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill to point out the speech codes that abound… Read more

  • George Mason University: Unconstitutional Policies and Suppression of Dissent

    October 27, 2005

    GMU student and Air Force veteran Tariq Khan protested military recruiters on campus by silently standing near their table with a “Recruiters Lie” sign taped to his chest while passing out handbills. According to witnesses, a student assaulted Khan and took his sign within less than 30 minutes. Yet the police arrested Khan, not the… Read more

  • ‘Green light’ institution George Mason University adopts free speech statement

    January 15, 2019

    In the late fall of 2018, a sixth “green light” institution in FIRE’s Spotlight database adopted a version of the “Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression” at the University of Chicago (better known as the “Chicago Statement”). George Mason University, a green light institution since 2015, is the 55th institution or faculty body… Read more

  • Open records request reveals donor influence at George Mason University

    May 1, 2018

    Documents produced pursuant to an open records request demonstrate that George Mason University entered into agreements with the Charles Koch Foundation and other donors between 2003 and 2011 that granted those donors broad input into faculty employment. As the The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed report, these arrangements reveal… Read more

  • More Campus Leaders Address Free Speech; Some Do It Better Than Others

    October 27, 2016

    We’ve been keeping our eye on the recent uptick in campus leaders addressing free speech. In our latest roundup of public commitments to freedom of speech by college and university administrators, we’re focusing only on “The Good”—bringing you a few of our recent favorites. We’ve even included one statement that almost made our “Bad” list…. Read more

  • Due Process Legal Update: Students’ Title IX and Due Process Claims Move Forward, But Challenges Remain

    March 1, 2016

    As I’ve written about on many previous occasions, there are a large number of ongoing lawsuits by students alleging that through unfair campus sexual misconduct proceedings, their institutions violated their constitutional due process rights, breached contracts, and discriminated against them on the basis of sex. In the past eight days alone, there have been four… Read more

  • FIRE’s Majeed: 2015 Already a Good Year for Speech Code Reform

    July 30, 2015

    Over at The Huffington Post today, my colleague Azhar Majeed takes an encouraging survey of the solid progress FIRE has already made in 2015 in reforming restrictive speech codes. Azhar reviews the four schools that have already earned FIRE’s best, most speech-friendly “green light” rating thus far in 2015—George Mason University, Purdue University, the University… Read more

  • George Mason University Earns FIRE’s Highest Rating for Free Speech

    April 21, 2015

    WASHINGTON, April 21, 2015—George Mason University (GMU) has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). After working with FIRE to ensure its policies comply with the First Amendment, the Virginia university has joined a select group of colleges and universities nationwide… Read more

  • Law Prof: Bureaucracy Hinders Freedom of Speech

    February 6, 2015

    George Mason University (GMU) School of Law professor Todd Zywicki knows from personal experience that persuading an institution to revise its unconstitutional speech codes is not always an easy task. Zywicki shared some of what he’s learned from his advocacy over the years in a post on The John William Pope Center for Higher Education… Read more

  • George Mason University President: Unfettered Dialogue Empowers Students

    December 19, 2013

    There is another controversy related to Middle East politics on a college campus, this time at the George Mason University (GMU) main campus. (Disclosure: I am an adjunct legal writing instructor at the GMU law school.) But in this case, the participants appear committed to a constructive debate over whether the university should honor Israeli… Read more

  • Getting It Right: Dean of George Mason Law Sets Excellent Example

    October 4, 2011

    All too often here at FIRE, we find ourselves up to our necks in campus censorship. For example, in just the last few weeks, we’ve seen a professor threatened by campus police for posting a sci-fi quote and a coalition of student groups silenced by a professor who didn’t like their free speech wall. Of… Read more

  • Virginia Newspaper Touts Growing Number of ‘Green Light’ Schools

    February 8, 2011

    With only 14 “green light” colleges and universities in the entire country, the state of Virginia should be proud to be home to two of them. Writing in the Daily Press (Hampton Roads, Va.), Michael F. Cochrane commends the University of Virginia (UVa) and The College of William & Mary for preserving free speech on… Read more

  • ‘Volokh Conspiracy’ and Local Media Decry Virginia Speech Codes

    November 3, 2010

    Ever since the University of Virginia (UVa) eliminated all four of its speech codes to earn FIRE’s coveted “green light” rating, local and national media have put the spotlight on the speech codes remaining at other public universities in Virginia. When FIRE announced the news, we noted that UVa joins The College of William & Mary… Read more

  • What Would the Founders Think of the Modern University?

    July 9, 2008

    (Maggie Rackl is a senior at the College of Charleston, where she majors in History with a minor in Asian Studies, and a 2008 FIRE Summer Intern.) In my experience, a favorite question of college and university admissions applications is the classic, "If you could go to dinner with any one person, living or dead,… Read more

  • At George Mason, Student Editors Decry School’s Speech Code

    September 26, 2007

    The editors of The Broadside, George Mason University’s student newspaper, have sharp words for their school’s unconstitutional speech code in an editorial published in yesterday’s edition. The Broadside editors write: Mason is a public university; it has no business enforcing rules that restrict first amendment speech. Its only defense is that these policies, in some… Read more

  • Offensive Halloween Costumes and Censorship

    October 31, 2006

    Halloween is upon us and college students all across the country will be celebrating this day by dressing up in a wide array of costumes. While some students will probably stick to classic costumes such as ghosts and vampires, some others may be thinking about slipping into scarier, more politically incorrect costumes this Halloween. For instance,… Read more

  • There Is No Such Thing as ‘Hate Speech’

    February 24, 2006

    Yes, that is correct. “Hate speech” is not a category of speech recognized under current constitutional law. It is merely a convenient way to pigeonhole speech that some people find offensive. But what is very troubling is when people begin to treat “hate speech” as unprotected speech. For example, a student leader at Penn State,… Read more

  • Clarification on PBK’s Double Standard

    February 3, 2006

    In a blog last week, I explained that the honor society Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) does not support schools like evangelical Wheaton College, which recently fired a professor for converting to Catholicism. I made the assertion that if PBK claims to support academic freedom, it should stand up to its many member institutions that have… Read more

  • Censorship is Everybody’s Problem

    December 29, 2005

    FIRE’s press release from yesterday details some of the cases that made 2005 FIRE’s busiest year ever. If 2005 made anything clear, it is that no student, regardless of his or her views, is safe from censorship on today’s college and university campuses. This year, we intervened on behalf of students censored for expressing viewpoints… Read more

  • FIRE’s Work Lauded in Newspapers Nationwide

    December 12, 2005

    It’s been a good couple of days for Justice Brandeis’ maxim that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Thanks to articles in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, news of FIRE’s efforts to disinfect the swamps of repression currently passing for American universities is reaching an ever-increasing number of… Read more

  • Phi Beta Kappa Can Do Better

    December 2, 2005

    Earlier this week, FIRE wrote Phi Beta Kappa a letter encouraging the organization to join the fight against censorship and repression at some of America’s most prestigious colleges and universities. Although FIRE has received no formal response from Phi Beta Kappa, the organization has made several comments to the press indicating that it is not… Read more

  • FIRE Challenges Phi Beta Kappa to Stand Up for Free Speech

    November 30, 2005

    Most people will tell you that they support free speech. When people ask me what I do and I tell them I work for a free speech organization, the reaction is almost uniformly positive. Everyone seems to like the Bill of Rights, at least in theory. Dig a little deeper, however, and the waters become… Read more

  • Policies Actually Matter; Don’t Be Deceived

    November 17, 2005

    Why, you may ask, does the fine staff at FIRE spend its days hunting down unconstitutional speech codes and disputing unjust university policies? Unjust university policies, as it turns out, lead to actual violations of students’ constitutional and human rights. As today’s press release shows, such policies at George Mason University (GMU) led to the… Read more

  • FIRE Challenges Unconstitutional Policies at George Mason University

    November 17, 2005

    FAIRFAX, Va., November 17, 2005—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is challenging unconstitutional policies at George Mason University (GMU). Earlier this fall, such policies led to the arrest of a GMU student who was protesting military recruiters on its Northern Virginia campus. “GMU’s unconstitutional policies make it no surprise that a peaceful student… Read more

  • McMasters on the Free Speech Controversy at George Mason University

    October 24, 2005

    Paul K. McMasters, renowned First Amendment expert and member of the Board of Editors for FIRE’s Guides to Student Rights on Campus series, has published an important piece (with an equally great title, “Fear of Dissent Is a Fear of Freedom”) on the recent controversy over student protests of military recruiters. The most notable case… 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