San Diego State University

Location: San Diego, California
Type: Public

Speech Code Rating

San Diego State University 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

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.


Rankings / out of 154 colleges surveyed

Overall Ranking 122
Ideological Diversity 106

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 57.26
Openness 9.76
Tolerance (Liberals) 9.99
Tolerance (Conservatives) 6.82
Administrative Support 5.73
Comfort 15.11
Disruptive Conduct 9.84
Speech Code YELLOW
  • San Diego State University rightly defends professor under fire for providing an example of racism during lecture on racism

    April 14, 2021

    In order to teach students about the portrayal of racist ideology in film and television, San Diego State University professor Robert Jordan did what many professors do — he used an example to illustrate his point.  As seen in a video clip of a lecture he gave about the history of discrimination onscreen, Jordan gave… Read more

  • Supreme Court Declines Cert in ‘Alpha Delta,’ Allowing Ninth Circuit’s Unfortunate Ruling to Stand

    March 21, 2012

    This week, the Supreme Court of the United States decided not to grant certiorari in the case of Alpha Delta v. Reed, declining the appeal request of two religious student organizations at San Diego State University (SDSU). The Supreme Court’s decision lets stand a 2011 ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the… Read more

  • A Roundup of 2011’s Free Speech Case Law

    December 28, 2011

    While FIRE has won numerous victories this year in working to protect individual rights on college campuses, 2011 was a mixed year for the defense of students’ rights by the courts. Importantly, this year highlighted divergent theories of the First Amendment rights of students off campus. While some courts have held that schools are limited… Read more

  • SDSU Speech Codes Highlighted in ‘The Daily Aztec’

    October 28, 2011

    In an insightful piece this week, San Diego State University (SDSU) student and The Daily Aztec managing editor Beth Elderkin investigates two of SDSU’s several “yellow light” speech codes. Elderkin interviewed our own Will Creeley, as well as UCLA law professor and constitutional law expert Eugene Volokh, who agree that the two policies in question are… Read more

  • Christian Legal Society Chapter Settles Freedom of Association Lawsuit with University of Montana School of Law

    August 18, 2011

    Less than two weeks ago, we reported on a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that held that San Diego State University did not violate the First Amendment right to freedom of association of two student groups, a fraternity and a sorority, by denying those groups official recognition (and… Read more

  • San Diego State University Upgraded From ‘Red Light’ Status

    August 17, 2011

    San Diego State University (SDSU) has been upgraded by FIRE from a “red light” to a “yellow light” school, reports the student newspaper The Daily Aztec. The change comes as the result of the complete removal of a policy that heavily restricted the content of emails sent via SDSU’s network or computers. The former policy banned… Read more

  • ‘California Watch’: No Free Speech at California Colleges

    January 7, 2011

    Free speech is not safe at California colleges—not by a long shot. That’s what investigative reporter Erica Perez found in FIRE’s 2011 speech code report, as she wrote yesterday for California Watch: A new report from a national free speech advocacy organization found most of the four-year universities it surveyed had speech codes that substantially limit students’… Read more

  • What 9/11 Taught Us About Academia

    September 11, 2006

    Today, FIRE joins the rest of the nation in remembering the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Five years ago, the events of 9/11 highlighted—in a very ugly way—just how out of touch many universities are with the American public. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when much of America was still in mourning, a… Read more