The Ohio State University

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

The Ohio 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 203 colleges ranked Read more
  • Policy 1.15: Sexual Misconduct- Sexual harassment (non-Title IX)

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 9, 2022

    In the education context, harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on a protected class that interferes with, denies, or limits an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational programs and activities. … Hostile environment in the education context includes... Read More
  • University Housing: Flyers and Posters in Residence Halls

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: August 9, 2022

    All postings will be from student organizations or other affiliated offices of the University and must have the name of the organization and affiliated office on the flyer.  Posting from outside groups unaffiliated with the University shall not be posted except where such postings are offering employment opportuniti... Read More
  • Code of Student Conduct: Introduction and Purpose

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: August 9, 2022

    The core missions of the university are research, teaching and learning, and service. Preservation of academic freedom and free and open exchange of ideas and opinions for all members of the university are central to these missions. Read More
  • Policy 1.15: Sexual Misconduct- Sexual harassment (Title IX)

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 9, 2022

    Sexual harassment (Title IX) Conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following: … Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the education program or activity; … Read More

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 55.96

Rankings / out of 203 colleges ranked

Overall Ranking 38
Openness 130
Tolerance (Liberals) 139
Tolerance (Conservatives) 14
Administrative Support 78
Comfort 53
Disruptive Conduct 87

Administrative Behavior

Supported Scholars 0
Sanctioned Scholars 0
Successful Disinvitations 0


Speech Code YELLOW
  • Ohio State revises coercive belief pledge following FIRE letter

    August 10, 2020

    FIRE asked the Ohio State University last week to walk back its unconstitutional “Together As Buckeyes Pledge,” which had required students and faculty returning to campus to sign a statement about their personal beliefs. On Friday, after a conversation with FIRE, OSU announced that the pledge would be revised “to clarify that while the pledge… Read more

  • FIRE objects to Ohio State belief pledge students and faculty must sign

    August 4, 2020

    FIRE has asked the Ohio State University to walk back a COVID-19 related mandate requiring students and faculty to sign and agree to a statement about their personal beliefs if they want to return to campus. At a public university like OSU, such a requirement plainly violates the First Amendment. OSU is reportedly requiring all… Read more

  • FIRE condemns police attack caught on video targeting Ohio State reporters

    June 2, 2020

    FIRE, joined by the Student Press Law Center and the College Media Association, wrote today to the Ohio State University and the Columbus Division of Police after three OSU student reporters were pepper-sprayed by police last night while lawfully covering a protest near campus.  The reporters were exercising their rights under the First Amendment’s guarantees… Read more

  • Ohio universities involve FBI in investigation of ‘It’s okay to be white’ and white nationalist group’s postings on campus

    November 14, 2019

    Earlier this month, two universities in central Ohio removed flyers and stickers proclaiming “It’s okay to be white,” as well as those purportedly promoting the white nationalist organization Patriot Front, from their campuses. And once again, the FBI is reportedly investigating the postings, adding more data points to an apparent trend towards involving the FBI… 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

  • More Campus Leaders Address Free Speech Following Election

    November 21, 2016

    For the past few months, we’ve been covering the statements campus leaders make about free speech at their colleges or universities. In the weeks following this month’s presidential election, campus leaders have addressed their students’ reactions to the results in various ways—some “good,” and others “bad” for freedom of expression. The Good Central Washington University… Read more

  • Administrators Defend Bias Response Teams, But Shy Away From Transparency

    September 15, 2016

    On Monday, Inside Higher Ed published a lengthy defense of “bias response teams”—teams largely composed of administrators and law enforcement who direct a university’s response to reports of offensive language or conduct, usually (but not always) under the guise of educating the offending speakers about the impact of their speech. But the same administrators are… 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

  • Public Universities Threaten Students Over Controversial Off-Campus Banners

    August 25, 2015

    Public universities must tolerate students’ off-campus speech even when it offends some, or most, of the student body. Recent incidents at Old Dominion University (ODU) and The Ohio State University (OSU) serve as reminders that this is not always what happens. At both universities, students adorned their off-campus residences with signs offering a less than… Read more

  • Due Process Advocates Take Critical Look at How Colleges Are Dealing with Sexual Assault Allegations

    September 15, 2014

    With colleges and universities revising their sexual assault policies for the new academic year and legislation on the horizon that could have serious repercussions for campus due process, it is critically important for policymakers to stay committed to protecting the rights of all students. Advocates for due process are stepping up to ensure that as… Read more

  • The Ohio State University Gets The Law Wrong on FERPA

    November 28, 2012

    The Student Press Law Center’s (SPLC’s) “FERPA Fact” Tumblr is at once humorous and disturbing. It awards a number of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan heads corresponding to the silliness of a university’s misuse of the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to deny a request for information. FERPA is routinely abused by colleges… Read more

  • Student Newspaper Criticizes University Abuses of FERPA

    June 1, 2009

    An opinion piece published today in The Lantern, a student newspaper at The Ohio State University, decries the tendency on the part of colleges and universities to misuse and abuse the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). The editorial draws upon a recent report in The Columbus Dispatch, which has also been… Read more

  • Rights in the News: FIRE’s Letter to Obama Hopes to Inaugurate New Era for Speech on Campus

    January 23, 2009

    This past Tuesday, which saw the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, FIRE sent President Obama a letter detailing the violations pervading America’s higher education system, and requesting that the President and his administration join the fight against unconstitutional speech policies that threaten the liberties of millions of students…. Read more

  • At The Ohio State University, Student Newspaper Highlights “Red Light” Status, FIRE’s Work

    January 22, 2009

    An independent student newspaper at The Ohio State University (OSU) has published an article today highlighting the fact that FIRE has classified OSU as a “red light” school and discussing FIRE’s work on campus. In this month’s edition of The Sentinel, OSU student and Campus Freedom Network Member Debbie Bitzan writes: As the largest university… Read more

  • Unconstitutional ‘Bias Reporting’ Programs: A Nationwide Problem

    November 29, 2007

    This fall, The College of William & Mary launched a Bias Incident Reporting System “to assist members of the William and Mary community—students, staff, and faculty—in bringing bias incidents to the College’s attention.” In its initial incarnation, the system was fraught with constitutional problems, from both free speech and due process standpoints. The system initially… Read more

  • Speech Code of the Month: The Ohio State University

    September 6, 2007

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for September 2007: The Ohio State University. The Office of University Housing at Ohio State, a public university, maintains a Diversity Statement that severely restricts what students in Ohio State’s residence halls can and cannot say. Students are instructed: “Do not joke about differences related to race,… Read more

  • Phi Beta Kappa Should Prove Its Commitment to Free Speech: Part 1

    January 23, 2006

    In November, FIRE wrote a nine-page letter to Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) to urge the prestigious honor society to hold its member institutions to higher standards of free speech and expression. A PBK spokesperson has claimed that “for 225 years we have endeavored to place our chapters only at those American institutions of higher education… Read more

  • Religious Liberty and Free Association at LSU: Not a ‘Conservative’ Concern

    March 17, 2005

    Today, FIRE announces a victory for freedom of religion and association at Louisiana State University, where the Muslim Students Association (MSA) recently attained official recognition. The group, which had already been recognized for 30 some years on campus, was unable to re-register for more than a year because it didn’t want to include additional “nondiscrimination”… Read more

  • Victory for Religious Freedom at Ohio State

    October 4, 2004

    COLUMBUS, Ohio, October 4, 2004—The Ohio State University has agreed to change a “nondiscrimination” policy that prohibited religious student organizations from making critical decisions based on religious criteria. The decision came a few weeks after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) wrote to Ohio State on behalf of a broad interfaith coalition of… Read more