Princeton University

Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Type: Private
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Speech Code Rating

Princeton University 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

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.

Due Process Rating

Non-Sexual Misconduct

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Sexual Misconduct

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Title IX

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Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 203 colleges ranked Read more
  • Guidelines for Compliance with the Acceptable Use Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Red
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 18, 2021

    University IT and digital resources may not be used to transmit malicious, harassing, or defamatory content. You must be sensitive to the public nature of shared facilities, and take care not to display on workstations in such locations inappropriate images, sounds, or messages which could create an atmosphere of ho... Read More
  • Rights, Rules, Responsibilities: University-Wide Regulations- 1.2.1 Respect for Others

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: September 18, 2021

    Actions which make the atmosphere intimidating, threatening, or hostile to individuals are therefore regarded as serious offenses. Abusive or harassing behavior, verbal or physical, which demeans, intimidates, threatens, or injures another because of personal characteristics or beliefs or their expression, is subjec... Read More
  • Rights, Rules, Responsibilities: University-Wide Regulations- 1.2.3 Peaceful Dissent, Protests, and Demonstrations

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: September 18, 2021

    In view of Princeton’s obligation to promote the free expression of all views, the campus is open to any speaker whom students or members of the faculty have invited and for whom official arrangements to speak have been made with the University. The right of free speech in a university also includes the right ... Read More
  • University Sexual Misconduct Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 18, 2021

    University Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome verbal or physical behavior which is directed at an individual based on sex, when these behaviors are sufficiently severe or pervasive to have the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s educational experience, working conditions, or living conditions by creati... Read More
  • Rights, Rules, Responsibilities: University-wide Regulations- 1.2.2 Discrimination or Harassment (Based on a Protected Characteristic)

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 18, 2021

    Harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical behavior which is directed at a person based on a protected characteristic, when these behaviors are sufficiently severe and/or pervasive to have the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s educational experience, working conditions or living conditio... Read More
  • Rights, Rules, Responsibilities: University-Wide Regulations- 1.2.4 Distribution of Written Materials by Members of the University Community

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: September 18, 2021

    Free inquiry, free expression, and civility within this academic community are indispensable to the University’s objectives. Inclusion of the name, telephone number, and/or email address of the University sponsoring organization or individual member of the University community on material resembling petitions,... Read More
  • Rights, Rules, Responsibilities: University-wide Regulations – 1.1.3 Statement on Freedom of Expression

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 18, 2021

    [T]he University’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University com... Read More
  • Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 18, 2021

    Title IX Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome sexual conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies an individual equal access to the University’s education program or activity; … Read More
  • Rights, Rules, Responsibilities: University-Wide Regulations- 1.2.3 Peaceful Dissent, Protests and Demonstrations

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 18, 2021

    Free speech and peaceable assembly are basic requirements of the University as a center for free inquiry and the search for knowledge and insight. Read More
  • Rights, Rules, Responsibilities: University-Wide Regulations- 1.1.1 Introduction

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 18, 2021

    The central purposes of a university are the pursuit of truth, the discovery of new knowledge through scholarship and research, the teaching and general development of students, and the transmission of knowledge and learning to society at large. Free inquiry and free expression within the academic community are indi... Read More

Policies are rated on their inclusion of 10 due process safeguards. Each policy may receive 2 points for fully including that safeguard, 1 point for partial inclusion, and 0 points for no meaningful inclusion. Most, but not all, institutions have separate policies for sexual misconduct and all other misconduct. See FIRE’s Spotlight on Due Process report for more information.


Non-Sexual Misconduct

  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence

Sexual Misconduct

  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence

Title IX

  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence

FIRE surveyed roughly 44,000 students at 203 colleges and universities about the climate for free speech at their institutions. See the full report on FIRE’s 2022 College Free Speech Rankings for more information.


Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 35.32

Rankings / out of 203 colleges ranked

Overall Ranking 169
Openness 52
Tolerance (Liberals) 15
Tolerance (Conservatives) 54
Administrative Support 2
Comfort 69
Disruptive Conduct 192

Administrative Behavior

Supported Scholars 0
Sanctioned Scholars 3
Successful Disinvitations 0


Speech Climate BELOW AVERAGE
Speech Code RED
  • Wilson Report: FIRE Writes to 15 Top Schools to Express Concern About Their Press Policies

    November 12, 2020

    On November 10, 2020, FIRE sent letters to 15 top colleges and universities across the country to express concern regarding their restrictive press policies. These letters followed a report published by John K. Wilson of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement (the “Wilson Report”), which gave each of these… Read more

  • Princeton University: Refusal to Recognize Religious Group

    April 19, 2005

    Princeton Faith and Action, a student organization at Princeton University, was given recognition after being arbitrarily denied such. PFA is associated with the Christian Union, an off-campus ministry serving Ivy League universities whose own request to apply to have a full-time chaplain on campus was rejected by Dean of Religious Life Thomas Breidenthal. After being… Read more

  • A tale of two pretexts: Sham investigations silence professors at Central Florida and Princeton 

    May 31, 2022

    As universities go, Princeton and the University of Central Florida may not have much in common, but they do share a mechanism for getting rid of inconvenient professors: finding a reason to investigate and fire them over something unrelated, after they’ve said something controversial.  So far, it’s working better for Princeton than for UCF. On… Read more

  • Alumni Spotlight: Princetonians for Free Speech

    March 11, 2022

    One of America’s oldest universities, Princeton was established before the Union itself. It is nationally recognized as a bastion of academic excellence, due in part to its 11 National Humanities Medal recipients, 215 Rhodes Scholars, and 137 Marshall Scholars. Princeton graduates are proud of their alma mater’s history and its involvement during a pivotal battle… Read more

  • Princeton’s president on free speech, the pursuit of truth, and consequences

    March 3, 2021

    In his State of the University letter last month, Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber devoted a significant portion of his dispatch to freedom of speech and its place alongside truth-seeking among Princeton’s fundamental institutional values. It’s an interesting and worthwhile letter, and I recommend reading it in full. Its affirmations of free expression are by… Read more

  • FIRE urges 15 top colleges and universities to improve restrictive press policies

    November 12, 2020

    Over the summer, a report from the University of California’s National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement revealed that a majority of top colleges and universities maintain policies unfriendly to the press, including the student press. As FIRE reported at the time, UC Center fellow John K. Wilson found that these policies include requirements… Read more

  • Amidst FIRE’s record-breaking summer, demands to terminate faculty went mainstream

    October 13, 2020

    20 minutes in Saratoga Springs It’s worth getting to know the case of Skidmore College professor David Peterson, if you haven’t read about it.  Peterson, an art professor at Skidmore in Saratoga Springs, New York for more than 30 years, unwittingly came into notoriety when he and his wife checked out a pro-police rally near… Read more

  • We waited with bated breath for Princeton to affirm faculty free expression. What took so long?

    July 21, 2020

    In a Daily Princetonian op-ed Monday, President Christopher Eisgruber finally admitted that faculty members can have opinions — because it’s 2020 and apparently amidst protests and a pandemic, some have forgotten that foundational tenet of higher education. The long-awaited defense comes after a professor faced a not-so-veiled threat of investigation for his political statements at… Read more

  • Princeton must clarify it won’t investigate Joshua Katz for opinion piece

    July 17, 2020

    Princeton classics professor Joshua Katz faces not just criticism for a controversial op-ed he wrote — but formal calls for the Ivy League university to punish him for it. Troublingly, while Princeton makes strong promises of free speech and academic freedom, the university’s public statements on the matter have suggested it may indeed be investigating… Read more

  • Princeton faculty petition threatens free speech, academic freedom

    July 8, 2020

    At my alma mater, Princeton University, hundreds of faculty, staff, and graduate students have signed a petition demanding the university “take immediate concrete and material steps to openly and publicly acknowledge the way that anti-Black racism, and racism of any stripe, continue to thrive on its campus.”  The petition includes a long list of “demands,”… Read more

  • Princeton’s president reiterates support for free expression, peaceful protest

    June 21, 2017

    The June 7 issue of Princeton Alumni Weekly included an article from the president of Princeton University, Christopher L. Eisgruber, titled “Free Speech at Princeton.” The article articulates and reiterates Princeton’s commitment to the values of free speech and free inquiry, a commitment that led the institution to adopt the University of Chicago’s “Report of… Read more

  • Princeton Open Campus Coalition Seeks to Revive ‘Interpersonal and Intellectual Health’ at Old Nassau

    October 26, 2016

    I have written on numerous occasions over the years about the state of free speech at my alma mater, Princeton University. During my own years at Princeton (I graduated in 1999, which suddenly sounds a lot longer ago than it used to!), I found the climate for free speech to be generally supportive. Over those… Read more

  • Harvard Law’s Randall Kennedy Praises Chicago Statement in Princeton Commencement Address

    June 1, 2016

    Addressing Princeton University’s Class of 2016 on Sunday, Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy singled out Princeton’s adoption of the University of Chicago’s statement on campus free expression as one of the reasons Princeton students are especially well-suited to become “ambassadors of higher education” when they graduate. Kennedy said, “Being an ambassador for higher education… Read more

  • Free Speech at Princeton: A Report From the Front Lines

    December 17, 2015

    Yesterday afternoon, I visited Princeton University (my alma mater) to participate in a panel entitled “Free Speech, Media and Social Justice.” The panel, sponsored by the student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, began typically enough, with each of my co-panelists and I giving a brief introduction to our perspective. I spoke about FIRE’s support for (and… Read more

  • First to Adopt Chicago Statement, Princeton’s Free Speech Promises More Than Just Talk

    September 29, 2015

    Earlier this year, Princeton University became the first university to follow the University of Chicago’s lead by adopting Chicago’s statement on free expression, promising broad protection for speech on campus. The principles, adopted at Princeton in April by way of a faculty resolution, came after some professors grew increasingly concerned about creeping campus censorship. Sergiu… Read more

  • ‘NY Daily News’ to NY Colleges: Adopt U. of Chicago Statement on Free Speech

    August 24, 2015

    Back in January, FIRE proudly endorsed the excellent free speech policy statement issued by the Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago. In the months since, we’ve been pleased to see Purdue University and Princeton University follow suit by adopting the statement as institutional policy—and this fall, FIRE will mount a national… Read more

  • Fighting for Free Speech at Private Universities

    July 27, 2015

    It’s your first day as a student on the campus of your private university. You’re excited to discover what college has to offer. And you’re already about to make a big mistake. During orientation, a number of topics are discussed: choosing the right courses, joining student organizations, and complying with community standards. At some point,… Read more

  • Princeton Students Debate Limits of Free Expression

    April 16, 2015

    In the week and a half since the Princeton faculty approved a new statement on free expression, students have been vigorously debating the statement and the question of free speech on campus more generally. While some remarks have reflected the regrettable “I have the right not to be offended” attitude too prevalent among college students… Read more

  • Student Journalists Commit to Rigorous Reporting

    February 4, 2015

    Torch readers know that FIRE has been less than impressed with reckless or one-sided reporting, particularly on the issue of campus sexual assault. As I wrote yesterday, biased media coverage often serves as a catalyst for policy changes and legislation that threaten to deprive accused students of a fair hearing. It’s refreshing, therefore, to see… 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

  • Princeton Adopts ‘Preponderance’ Standard, Reaches Agreement with Department of Education

    November 10, 2014

    The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced last week that it has entered into a resolution agreement with Princeton University after finding that the institution was in violation of Title IX. OCR’s demands include the use of the “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof in adjudicating sexual misconduct cases—meaning that students… Read more

  • Reversing Course, Princeton’s Proposed Sexual Assault Policy Chips Away at Due Process

    September 23, 2014

    Next week, the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) will decide whether to adopt a proposed sexual assault policy already approved by Princeton faculty members that would, among other things, change the standard of proof in sexual misconduct cases, weakening due process protections for accused students. Currently, a student charged with sexual misconduct at… Read more

  • Princeton Admins Force Censorship of Interactive Art Installation

    April 22, 2014

    From April 13 through May 3, a group of students at Princeton University are asking, “What will you bring to The Surface?”

    “The Surface” is an interactive art installation consisting of approximately 224 square feet of white wooden boards set up on the lawn on which anyone can draw or paint—or even censor— the work of visitors before them. Veterans of free speech walls would not be surprised by what the students have brought to the installation thus far: a range of thought-provoking questions, angry rants, cute drawings, some profanity—and the inevitable penis drawing. But the last of these was apparently a step too far for Princeton administrators. A panel containing such an illustration was removed, and was returned to the project’s creators only when the offending material was painted over.

  • Princeton Students Form Much-Needed Free Speech Advocacy Group

    December 10, 2012

    Students at Princeton University have formed a new group "to encourage campus-wide conversation and protect student speech," The Daily Princetonian reported yesterday. The group, called Princetonians for Individual Rights in Education (PIRE for short; no affiliation with FIRE, although we are flattered that we were reportedly part of the inspiration for the group), was started… Read more

  • AP: Sexual Assault Claims on Campus a ‘Legal Minefield’

    April 23, 2012

    This weekend, Justin Pope of the Associated Press came out with a pair of thorough and insightful articles about the “legal minefield” in which universities currently find themselves when it comes to addressing claims of sexual assault on campus. As Pope explains, Typically, colleges enjoy wide leeway in responding to student misconduct, whether that means… Read more

  • Harvey Silverglate and Samantha Harris on Free Speech in ‘Princeton Alumni Weekly’

    October 26, 2011

    Check out FIRE Chairman Harvey Silverglate and Director of Speech Code Research Samantha Harris’ essay on free speech at their mutual alma mater in this week’s Princeton Alumni Weekly. Harvey and Samantha point out to Princeton alumni how their college’s policies leave today’s Princeton students subject to punishment for speaking their minds on controversial issues, or even for sending emails… Read more

  • More Unsavory Disinvitations: This Time, Nonie Darwish at Princeton and Columbia

    December 10, 2009

    More points were scored recently for the angry "heckler’s veto" when protesters (including at least one Princeton administrator) successfully pressured Nonie Darwish’s student hosts to cancel her speaking events at Princeton and Columbia universities. Darwish is Founder and Director of Former Muslims United. Darwish’s November 18, 2009, speech at Princeton was canceled the evening before… Read more

  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Princeton University

    June 22, 2009

    Throughout the spring semester and into the early summer, FIRE is drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). We have now come to our final two universities: Princeton and Harvard. Today we review policies at my alma mater, Princeton… Read more

  • Upon Return to Princeton, FIRE Intern Advocates for Reform

    September 11, 2008

    2008 FIRE summer intern Michael Davidson alerts us this morning to his op-ed in today’s edition of The Daily Princetonian, Princeton University‘s student newspaper. Mike’s opinion piece, entitled "The hidden scandal of Princeton’s speech code," alerts the Princeton community to its designation by FIRE as a red-light school. (To earn a red-light rating, a school… Read more

  • FIRE’s Samantha Harris Profiled in the ‘Daily Princetonian’

    February 20, 2007

    Yesterday’s Daily Princetonian, Princeton University’s student newspaper, carried an article well worth reading—a profile of FIRE’s own Samantha Harris, Director of Legal and Public Advocacy. Sam well deserves the honor with the outstanding work she does for FIRE. Click on the link above to read more about the person Professor Robert George calls “one of… Read more

  • At Princeton, a (Mostly) Satisfactory Resolution to the Satire Controversy

    January 24, 2007

    In a refreshing development, The Daily Princetonian joke op-ed controversy will resolve itself through campus discussion, not through administrative intervention. Even though the op-ed garnered a good amount of media attention—enough to be featured in The New York Times—administrators at Princeton have limited their involvement to a strongly worded letter to the editor. While Janet… Read more

  • Here We Go Again: A Satire Uproar at Princeton

    January 19, 2007

    A mock op-ed published in the joke issue of The Daily Princetonian has ignited one of the first major free speech controversies of the new semester. The column, written by the paper’s managing board, “ran with the byline ‘Lian Ji,’ referring to Yale freshman Jian Li, who filed a bias complaint against the university last year,… Read more

  • FIRE Letter to the Editor in ‘The Daily Princetonian’

    October 4, 2006

    In response to boos from the audience during a portion of Princeton’s “Sex on a Saturday Night” play when two males kissed, Andy Brown, the play’s co-director, wrote an editorial in The Daily Princetonian condemning those who jeered. He wrote that:  The LGBT Center notes [Princeton’s] definition [of sexual harassment] to the realm of sexual… Read more

  • Are Pictures of Abortion ‘Hate Speech?’

    May 11, 2006

    Last week, Phi Beta Cons noted a story in the Bellingham (Wash.) Herald describing yet another instance of vandalism of a pro-life display. According to the Herald, Western Washington University student David Janus Zhang was so enraged by a “display showing pictures of aborted fetuses next to images of genocide” that he jumped over a… Read more

  • Wendy McElroy Lauds FIRE

    December 21, 2005

    Friend of FIRE Wendy McElroy has an excellent article on about FIRE’s new Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus. McElroy writes: The Guide is yet another indication that political correctness is faltering on campuses across North America. To those who value the right of individuals to a conscience—that is, to judge… Read more

  • Christian Student Group at Princeton Wins Religious Freedom Victory

    May 17, 2005

    Princeton University has decided it will no longer deny official recognition to an evangelical Christian student group. The school’s Dean of Religious Life, Thomas Breidenthal, had withheld recognized status from Princeton Faith and Action, but the university administration reversed course after an advocacy group intervened. Princeton Faith and Action (PFA) is associated with the Christian… Read more

  • Princeton Changes Policy on Religious Groups

    May 16, 2005

    Following the victory FIRE announced last week, the Daily Princetonian reported on Friday that Princeton has moved quickly to fulfill its promise to FIRE that it would make any changes necessary for its student organization recognition procedures to be consistent with student’s freedom of expression and legal equality. The article reports: Under the new policy,… Read more

  • Princeton Victory Covered by AP

    May 12, 2005

    Check out the short and sweet article by Associated Press writer Chris Newmarker about the Princeton religious liberty victory we announced yesterday. I was quoted: “We found Princeton’s quick and fair response very encouraging. We’ve found other colleges who haven’t been particularly fair to religious groups, sometimes in an unconstitutional way,” which captures what I… Read more

  • Princeton Does the Right Thing

    May 11, 2005

    If there is one constant in modern academic censorship it is that conservative or orthodox religious groups consistently face high hurdles to recognition and campus existence. Whether administrative objections are rooted in concerns about “homophobia” or “religious discrimination” or simple distaste for “controversy”, Christian and now Muslim student organizations are facing an epidemic of attacks… Read more

  • Victory for Freedom of Association and Religious Liberty at Princeton University

    May 11, 2005

    PRINCETON, N.J., May 11, 2005—In an important victory for religious liberty and freedom of association, Princeton University has decided to recognize a Christian student group that had been arbitrarily denied official recognition. After the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) wrote to Princeton on behalf of the Princeton Faith and Action (PFA) student group… Read more

  • For the Sake of Student and Faculty ‘Diversity’

    April 20, 2005

    The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article today (account required to access) that discusses the importance of racial and ethnic diversity in higher education. While I personally agree that such diversity, along with other forms of diversity, is important and plays a significant role in shaping the educational experience of all members of the… Read more

  • FIRE Letter to Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman, April 19, 2005

    April 19, 2005

    April 19, 2005 President Shirley M. Tilghman Office of the President 1 Nassau Hall Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey 08544 URGENT   Sent by U.S. Mail and Facsimile (609-258-1615) Dear President Tilghman: As you can see from our Directors (including FIRE co-founders and Princeton University alumni Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate) and Board of… Read more

  • The Un-Freedom of Association

    April 13, 2005

    A reader just wrote in to inform us of a recent student government proposal at Princeton University to add a “nondiscrimination” statement to its constitution that may infringe on students’ rights to freedom of association. The Daily Princetonian reports: The amendment as it stands would add a non-discrimination clause to the [University Student Government] constitution… Read more