Oberlin College

Location: Oberlin, Ohio
Type: Private
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Speech Code Rating

Oberlin College has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more

Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 154 colleges surveyed Read more
  • Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy, Prohibited Relationships Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 15, 2021

    For the purposes of determining whether a particular course of conduct constitutes discrimination or harassment under this policy, the following definition will be used: Conduct that is based upon an individual’s race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, military or veteran s... Read More
  • Student Conduct: Information Technology Policies

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: October 15, 2021

    Account holders should not abuse any electronic mail, bulletin board, or communications system, either local or remote, by sending rude, obscene, or harassing messages (including chain letters) or by using these systems for non-essential purposes during the times when the computers are in heavy demand. Account holde... Read More
  • Student Conduct: Student Bill of Rights

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes
    Last updated: October 15, 2021

    Members of the college are expected to take responsibility for their expressions; anonymous expressions are inimical to the free and open exchange of ideas. Read More
  • Student Conduct: Oberlin College Student Conduct System

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 15, 2021

    HARASSMENT Any verbal, physical, or written act, directed at an individual, which might reasonably be construed to intimidate, coerce, or create a hostile environment for him or her and, in turn, prevent him or her from fully enjoying the benefits and conditions of association with the college. At the same time, pro... Read More
  • Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 15, 2021

    Hostile Environment Sex-Based Harassment: unwelcome sex based conduct that is determined by a reasonable person standard to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to College benefits, services, programs, or activities. Read More
  • Student Conduct: Guidelines for Meetings Involving Speakers, Films, and Other Forms of Artistic Expression

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: October 15, 2021

    Oberlin College is committed to maintaining an environment where open, vigorous debate and speech can occur. Read More
  • Student Conduct: Guidelines for Meetings Involving Speakers, Films, and Other Forms of Artistic Expression

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: October 15, 2021

    Displaying a sign (signs may not be mounted on poles when displayed indoors), wearing expressive clothing, gesturing, standing, or otherwise protesting noiselessly is acceptable and must not be interfered with, unless the protest interferes with the audience’s view or prevents the audience from paying attention to t... 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 37/154
Ideological Diversity 144/159

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 61.13
Openness 11.44
Tolerance (Liberals) 12.66
Tolerance (Conservatives) 6.65
Administrative Support 6.07
Comfort 15.32
Disruptive Conduct 8.99
Speech Climate
Supported Scholars
Sanctioned Scholars
Successful Disinvitations
Speech Code YELLOW
At present, FIRE has not been publicly involved in any cases at this school.
  • Sixth Circuit: Hearing panel’s decision may itself be evidence of sex bias in campus Title IX case

    July 1, 2020

    Generally speaking, you know a court opinion about due process on campus is going to be good when it starts off with a lofty paean to the core values undergirding our justice system. So it was with a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which earlier this week reversed a… Read more

  • On Free Speech, Double Standards, and Professor Mike Adams

    December 2, 2016

    Mike Adams, a professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), is no stranger to controversy. In 2014, Adams won a First Amendment lawsuit alleging that UNCW retaliated against him for his public expression of conservative views. Now, Adams once again finds himself at the center of a debate over the boundaries of free… Read more

  • Oberlin President Discusses Dissent and Censorship Trends on Campus

    November 28, 2014

    In a letter to the campus community last week, President Marvin Krislov praised the role of open discourse on campus and warned students that the academic environment at Oberlin College suffers when freedom of speech is stifled. Krislov noted that Oberlin has, unfortunately, played a role in the growing trend of censorship on campus: [A]t… Read more

  • The Shibleys Explain the Harms Caused by Campus ‘Trigger Warnings’

    May 27, 2014

    With the recent controversies at Oberlin College and Wellesley College, it’s no surprise that trigger warnings have been the subject of a lot of media attention. Today, FIRE’s Robert Shibley and his wife Araz (who is also a lawyer) joined the chorus of those concerned about this practice in a column on Reason.com. In the piece, the Shibleys set forth the many harms caused by trigger warnings on campus:

  • ReasonTV Explores College Classroom ‘Trigger Warnings’ in New Video

    May 8, 2014

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff makes an appearance in a new ReasonTV video that discusses proposals at Oberlin College and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to require “trigger warnings” on course syllabi.

  • ‘USA Today’ Gets It Right on Trigger Warnings in Higher Education

    April 25, 2014

    Earlier this week, the editorial board of ‘USA Today’ penned an excellent piece describing the free speech and academic freedom problems presented by the spread of “trigger warnings” into higher education.

  • Revisions Promised After Oberlin Faculty Object to ‘Trigger Warning’ Policy

    April 11, 2014

    Last month, ‘The New Republic’ published an article by Jenny Jarvie on the growing trend of “trigger warnings,” disclaimers to audiences that the material they are about to view or read might “trigger” the remembrance of past traumas like sexual assault or other violence. The warnings have proliferated on websites—particularly Tumblr posts, blogs, and message boards—in recent years, but now they’re being adopted in other contexts, like syllabi for college courses.

  • Hate Crime Hoaxes and How Colleges Handle Them

    August 27, 2013

    My latest article in The Daily Caller talks about this past spring’s rash of incidents of hateful expression at Oberlin College in Ohio—at least some of which turned out to be hoaxes committed by students who wanted to “troll” the campus. Such hoaxes have been a recurring problem on campuses. In my article, I explain… Read more