University of Alabama

Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

University of Alabama 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

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
  • UAct: Information & Questions- Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 1, 2020

    What is harassment? Harassment is abusive or hostile conduct which is directed toward or inflicted upon another person because of his or her race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or veteran status and which, because of its severity or pervasiveness, unreasonably... Read More
  • Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 14, 2021

    Definition of Harassment That is Not of a Sexual Nature Harassment is abusive or hostile conduct that is directed toward or inflicted upon another person because of their race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, or veteran’s status and which, because of its severity and/or pervasiveness... Read More
  • Sexual Misconduct Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 14, 2021

    Sexual Harassment includes conduct on the basis of sex, which may include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, when the conditions outlined in (1) and/or (2), below, are present. Gender-based ... Read More
  • Facility and Grounds Use Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: February 4, 2021

    Spontaneous activities of expression, which are generally prompted by news or affairs coming into public knowledge less than forty-eight (48) hours prior to the Event, may be held by a University affiliate in the following defined areas, without advance approval, provided that the activity does not interfere with an... Read More
  • Code of Student Conduct: Preamble

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: October 14, 2021

    The University of Alabama aspires to transmit knowledge, to develop its students, and to promote the quality of society.  In seeking these goals, the University recognizes the significance of student rights.  These rights include freedom of expression, autonomy, procedural protection, and the integrity of people and... 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 39
Ideological Diversity 2

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 51.3
Openness 59.2
Tolerance (Liberals)
Tolerance (Conservatives)
Administrative Support 60.6
Disruptive Conduct
Speech Code YELLOW
  • University of Alabama: Pro-Choice Group Ordered to Get Permit for Non-Disruptive Expression or Face Arrest

    May 22, 2013

    UA police approached students handing out pro-choice flyers and ordered them to stop, warning them that without a grounds use permit they were subject to arrest for their activity.

  • University of Alabama: Faculty Senate ‘Hate Speech’ Resolution

    November 11, 2004

    The University of Alabama (UA) Student Senate passed a “free speech” resolution that directly opposes a “hate speech” resolution previously passed by UA’s Faculty Senate. The students’ move comes after close consultation with the FIRE, and the resolution follows an open letter FIRE sent to the UA community to protest the faculty’s proposed regulations. After… Read more

  • University of Alabama: Disparate Treatment of Conservative Organizations

    June 16, 2004

    The University of Alabama (UA) ordered a faculty group that is critical of the university’s grading policies to pay a rate eight times higher than that paid by other faculty organizations for use of the university’s mail system. In an edition of its newsletter, The Alabama Observer, the Alabama Scholars Association (ASA) presented evidence of… Read more

  • University of Alabama: Ban on Window Displays

    July 15, 2003

    The administration of the University of Alabama (UA) has “indefinitely” tabled a policy outlawing all window displays in student dormitories. This instance of UA’s censorship of student expression began when administrators ordered a student to remove a Confederate flag from his window, citing a draft of a university policy that forbade putting up any displays… Read more

  • University of Alabama: Attempt to Limit Freedom of Speech and Right to Petition

    April 4, 2002

    The Faculty Senate of the University of Alabama (UA) has threatened the First Amendment rights both of free speech and of petitioning the government for the redress of grievances by initiating an investigation into the Alabama Association of Scholars’ communication with faculty members and legislators over proposed mandatory diversity training seminars in UA’s College of… Read more

  • Could the University of Alabama student government ban ‘disruptive’ speech at this weekend’s game? Probably not.

    November 6, 2019

    Earlier this afternoon, a representative of the student government at the University of Alabama caused a stir by writing, in a letter to student organizations, that “disruptive behavior” during this Saturday’s football game — which President Donald Trump will attend — will result in the student group’s removal from block seating “instantly for the remainder… Read more

  • Beware the rolling tide of constitutional violations on campus

    January 18, 2018

    The University of Alabama was rocked on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year when Instagram videos surfaced of UA student Harley Barber unleashing a torrent of racial slurs. Predictably, the internet erupted with shock (or lack thereof) and calls for Barber’s expulsion. UA quickly denounced the videos and announced that the incident had been… Read more

  • University of Alabama Drops $7,000 Security Fee for Milo Yiannopoulos Event

    October 12, 2016

    The University of Alabama (UA) has relented after imposing a $7,000 security fee on the College Republicans for hosting conservative provocateur and journalist Milo Yiannopoulos. Like some other schools hosting Yiannopoulos on his “Dangerous Faggot Tour,” UA imposed exorbitant security fees on the group hosting the event. At first, UA told the College Republicans that… Read more

  • It’s Already Been a Remarkably Bad Year for Student Press

    October 21, 2015

    Many student journalists are being taught an unfortunate lesson by college administrators and their fellow students lately: Don’t publish anything that might offend anyone. That this advice is antithetical to a free press on campus, and that journalists cannot be held responsible for how their readers react to opinions they publish, doesn’t seem to matter… Read more

  • U. of Iowa VP Dismissive of University’s Place on ‘10 Worst’ List

    March 13, 2015

    Earlier this month, FIRE released our annual list of the top 10 threats to free speech on campus. Sometimes when universities are thrust into the spotlight (pun intended), they choose to take a closer look at their policies and institutional approaches toward campus expression and make changes to better protect students’ and professors’ rights. Other… Read more

  • Student Journalists Call on U. of Alabama to Restore Free Speech to Campus

    February 25, 2015

    In a number of recent articles, the University of Alabama’s (UA’s) student newspaper, The Crimson White, has covered the university’s shortcomings in upholding students’ freedom of speech. Examining recent campus history as well as UA’s current written policies on student expression, the writers of The Crimson White have, together, put forth a strong argument that… Read more

  • FIRE’s Catherine Sevcenko Warns About U. of Alabama’s Vague, Overbroad Speech Codes

    February 24, 2015

    The University of Alabama (UA) earns a “red light” rating in FIRE’s Spotlight database for prohibiting, among other things, “all forms of … discriminatory or inflammatory language, including, but not limited to, online/electronic, telephone, verbal, non‐verbal, or written communications with the intent to harm or incite.” FIRE Associate Director of Litigation Catherine Sevcenko argues in… Read more

  • Cal Poly Student Government Changes Rules to Allow Some Early Candidate Speech, But Not Enough

    March 17, 2014

    Following widespread criticism, the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) at California Polytechnic State University has revised its election policies to allow students running for ASI positions to be quoted in the media outside of the “active campaigning period,” which begins just 10 days before elections. Previously, students were prohibited from being identified as candidates in written materials prior to the beginning of the active campaigning period, which began on April 13 this year.

  • Cal Poly and U. of Alabama Students Limited by Election Policies

    March 12, 2014

    Add this to the ever-growing list of sneaky tactics employed to suppress student speech: At California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and the University of Alabama (UA), student speech about upcoming student government elections may violate election codes at their respective schools.

  • Student Papers at U of Alabama, U of Vermont Demonstrate the Value of a Free Press

    February 27, 2014

    In case Torch readers wanted more examples of the value of a free student press on college and university campuses, recent columns in student newspapers at the University of Alabama (UA) and the University of Vermont (UVM) fit the bill.

  • U. of Alabama Apologizes to Student Group But Must Take Additional Steps to Protect Free Speech

    February 18, 2014

    Last week I reported on the University of Alabama’s (UA’s) removal of a pro-life poster from a hallway display case that the student group Bama Students for Life (BSFL) had reserved in advance. A school administrator told BSFL President Claire Chretien that the display had been removed because the school received complaints that some of the pictures included were too graphic.

  • U. of Alabama Removes Pro-Life Display, Citing ‘Complaints’

    February 12, 2014

    In January, University of Alabama (UA) student group Bama Students for Life reserved a hallway display case and set a pro-life poster inside it in accordance with the school’s written policies. But when group president Claire Chretien checked the case last week, the poster had been removed. Chretien smartly turned on her camera to record… Read more

  • Media Continues to Report on FIRE’s ’10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ List

    January 17, 2014

    In early January we reported on the coverage that FIRE’s list of 2013’s worst colleges for free speech received from various local media outlets. Over the past few weeks, the press has continued to draw attention to the nefarious reputation that these schools have developed for violating students’ and professors’ free speech rights. In North Carolina, which holds the… Read more

  • The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2013

    December 27, 2013

    College is where inquisitive minds go to be exposed to new ways of thinking. But on some campuses, the quest for knowledge is frustrated when administrators censor speech they would prefer be kept out of the marketplace of ideas. To close out the year, we at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) want to highlight… Read more

  • ‘Tuscaloosa News’ Dings U of Alabama for Censorship of Pro-Choice Speech

    July 15, 2013

    Administrators at the University of Alabama (UA) are doing the seemingly impossible: bringing pro-choice and pro-life forces together to agree with one another. Unfortunately for the university, what both sides agree upon is that UA administrators are completely in the wrong when it comes to free speech.  UA’s decision to order the pro-choice Alabama Alliance… Read more

  • U of Alabama Expresses Concern over Safety During … Leafleting?

    July 12, 2013

    The University of Alabama (UA) has yet to yield to the strong and justified pressure from students and free speech advocates to revise its grounds use policies, which require 10 days’ notice for even quiet and peaceful speech by student groups on campus. With the UA administration seemingly alone in defending the policies, it’s useful… Read more

  • FIRE’s Peter Bonilla on U of Alabama and Restrictions on Spontaneous Expression

    July 10, 2013

    In an article for PolicyMic today, director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program Peter Bonilla wrote to discuss the compelling reasons why free speech advocates are putting pressure on the University of Alabama to revise its grounds use policies, which require 10 days’ notice for protests—even quiet, peaceful ones—on campus. In his article, Peter explains… Read more

  • Please Explain Why Putting University Administrators in Charge of Judging Speech Is a Good Idea

    July 9, 2013

    My colleagues have done a thorough job of explaining why defenders of the Department of Education’s “blueprint” for preventing campus sexual harassment are on very shaky legal and logical ground. They have pointed out that some of ED’s allies have misquoted the findings letter and mocked Senator John McCain’s serious questions about the threat to… Read more

  • U of Alabama Fails to Respond to Letter on Speech Code; Students Consider New Strategies

    July 8, 2013

    Flyer graphic background – ShutterstockMore than six weeks after FIRE sent University of Alabama (UA) President Judy Bonner a letter explaining how UA’s grounds use policies unconstitutionally restrict students’ free speech rights, UA has still not responded, and students are expressing doubt that the university will revise the policies without legal pressure. To recap: Members… Read more

  • U of Alabama Policy Draws Criticism from Students, Free Speech Advocates

    July 2, 2013

    Melissa Brown wrote for (the online presence of several Alabama newspapers) yesterday to bring local attention to FIRE’s letter to the University of Alabama (UA) about its requirement that students obtain a permit several days in advance of distributing flyers and leaflets. As we reported yesterday, UA has not responded to our letter. Brown… Read more

  • University of Alabama Tells Pro-Choice Group to Get Permit for Pamphlets or Face Arrest

    July 1, 2013

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala., July 1, 2013—University of Alabama police have ordered a pro-choice student group to cease distributing informational flyers on campus in response to another group’s pro-life event, and threatened members with arrest for failing to comply with its orders. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has intervened at UA following this blatant… Read more

  • Why the University of Alabama Was Right Not to ‘Protect’ Students From Westboro Baptist Church Demonstrations

    June 21, 2013

    Yesterday, University of Alabama junior Noah Cannon wrote to UA’s student newspaper, The Crimson White, to ask why the university had not spoken out on behalf of LGBTQ students against the Westboro Baptist Church’s (WBC’s) recent demonstration on campus. Student groups and local churches swiftly organized a counter-protest and successfully countered the WBC’s picket line. Still,… Read more

  • University of Alabama’s Grounds Use Policy Strikes Again

    April 30, 2013

    Quad at University of Alabama – Wikimedia Commons The Crimson White, the student newspaper at the University of Alabama, reports this week on the latest controversy surrounding the university’s grounds use policy. As Torch readers may remember, the policy was enforced against students attempting to organize a school-wide performance of the Harlem Shake in February. Now… Read more

  • U. of Alabama Paper: ‘Harlem Shake’ Incident Demonstrates Need to Review Restrictive Speech Policy

    February 20, 2013

    We reported yesterday on the University of Alabama’s (UA’s) decision to crack down on a student-led attempt to organize a “Harlem Shake” video on UA’s campus quad. The attempted dance video was shut down by campus police because the students organizing the event had not obtained a permit before assembling their crowd—a requirement at UA… Read more

  • U. of Alabama Shakes Up Harlem Shake Attempt

    February 19, 2013

    The wildly popular “Harlem Shake” dance videos can range from the small and minimal to the extensive and elaborate. No matter what the flavor, though, this latest Internet craze is something everyone seems to be jumping into. Yesterday, however, the University of Alabama (UA) took issue with some students attempting to make a Harlem Shake… Read more

  • University of Alabama Protects Rights of Religious Student Groups

    July 31, 2012

    Following receipt of a letter from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the University of Alabama has made an important change to university policy in order to protect the freedom of association of religious student organizations on campus. ADF explains:  The University of Alabama’s policy on membership in student organizations states that leadership and voting membership… Read more

  • FERPA Author: Universities Play Games with Law

    October 11, 2011

    The University of Alabama has blocked the release of Student Government Association records involving investigations into irregularities in the selection process for a first-year honors program. The university claims that under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), these are "educational" records shielded from public disclosure. Not so, says the law’s author, former U.S…. Read more

  • The Right Response

    April 5, 2006

    Patrick Samples, a graduate student at the University of Alabama, has a great article in today’s edition of UA’s student newspaper, The Crimson White. In it, he responds to an attempt by UA’s student government to assert control over the paper in response to its alleged liberal bias. As Samples, who acknowledges that he disagrees… Read more

  • American Hypocrites’ Association

    January 10, 2006

    Two weeks ago, Greg blogged on a pair of dueling resolutions that were introduced at the meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA) here in Philadelphia. One condemned only David Horowitz’s proposed Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR), while another condemned both the ABOR and “the use of speech codes to restrict academic freedom, and all… Read more

  • Friday in ’Bama

    October 11, 2005

    This Friday, I’ll be speaking at the Bankhead Conference at the University of Alabama. The topic is “Censorship, Free Speech, and Free Press in the University,” and I’ll be appearing with Donald Downs, a great defender of liberty and author of Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus and with John K. Wilson, author of… Read more

  • ‘The New York Times’ on Bias in Legal Academia

    August 29, 2005

    An article in Sunday’s New York Times (registration required) by Adam Liptak discusses a new survey that reveals that law school faculties are dominated by those with liberal political beliefs: The study, to be published this fall in The Georgetown Law Journal, analyzes 11 years of records reflecting federal campaign contributions by professors at the… Read more

  • ‘Who’s Undermining Free Speech on Campus Now?’

    April 20, 2005

    Check out David Beito, KC Johnson and Ralph E. Luker’s important article “Who’s Undermining Free Speech on Campus Now?” at Inside Higher Ed. KC and David are well known to FIRE for their tireless defense of freedom of speech and basic rights at their respective institutions, Brooklyn College and the University of Alabama (and anyone looking at the… Read more

  • An illiberal left

    March 15, 2005

    IT ISN’T often that a group of college professors is soundly and thoroughly embarrassed by a collection of mere students in an intellectual arena. But that’s exactly what happened at the end of February, when the University of Alabama’s Student Senate passed a sharp resolution directly opposing a heavy-handed, short-sighted and illiberal “hate speech” resolution… Read more

  • Insults and the Constitution

    March 7, 2005

    There is a nice piece by Suzanne Fields today in the Washington Times. In her column she discusses the recent controversies at Harvard and the University of Alabama. She also quotes from FIRE’s letter on the Ward Churchill case: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (, which revels in its acronym FIRE because it… Read more

  • Students Frown on UA Faculty’s Free-Speech Shutdown Attempt

    March 3, 2005

    University of Alabama students are reacting to a perceived attack on their First Amendment rights. Last fall the Faculty Senate at the University of Alabama passed a resolution banning school-sponsored speech that could be considered homophobic, sexist, or racist. In response, the Student Senate passed a free-speech resolution that directly counters the so-called “hate speech”… Read more

  • Alabama and the American Flag

    March 1, 2005

    Reader Fletcher Moore writes in regard to my post from Monday in which I stated that the University of Alabama was, “after all, the school that banned the American flag from dorm windows.” Mr. Moore responds: If you follow your own link, you’ll note that the policy applied to “all window displays in student dormitories,”… Read more

  • Roll Tide: Free Speech at Alabama

    February 28, 2005

    There’s some welcome news on the free speech front from the University of Alabama today. Those who follow FIRE know that the University of Alabama is one of the worst schools in the country when it comes to respecting free speech. Administrators and faculty members there often seem completely dismissive of their public university’s moral… Read more

  • Students Fight Back: Free Speech Resolution Targets Faculty Push for Speech Code

    February 28, 2005

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala., February 28, 2005—In a remarkable display of intellectual independence and moral courage, the University of Alabama (UA) Student Senate last week passed a “free speech” resolution that directly opposes a “hate speech” resolution passed by UA’s Faculty Senate last fall. Recognizing that the faculty’s “hate speech” resolution was a thinly veiled call for… Read more

  • New Speech Code—Same as the Old

    February 9, 2005

    The new speech code calls on the government to “develop clear policies restricting any behavior which demeans or reduces an individual based on group affiliation or personal characteristics.” The old speech code calls on the government to prohibit “oral or printed” words “which tend to expose a person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, to degrade… Read more

  • FIRE Protests So-Called “Hate Speech” Resolution at University of Alabama

    November 11, 2004

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala., November 11, 2004—Freedom of expression is once again under assault at the University of Alabama (UA).  In September, the UA Faculty Senate responded to public controversy about a UA comedy event by passing a resolution that threatens to severely restrict free expression on this public campus.  The Senate’s proposed policy would regulate speech… Read more

  • FIRE’s Open Letter to the University of Alabama Community

    November 11, 2004

    Dear Faculty Senate, Student Leaders, and Administrators of the University of Alabama:   The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is deeply concerned that freedom of expression is once again under assault at the University of Alabama. Last September, in response to a controversial incident at a comedy event sponsored by University Programs, the… Read more

  • University of Alabama Continues Campaign Against Free Speech

    May 13, 2004

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala., May 13, 2004—Last year, the University of Alabama (UA) gained notoriety when it banned students from displaying the American flag (and all other flags) in their dorm windows. Now it has ordered a faculty group that is critical of the university’s grading policies to pay a rate eight times higher than that paid… Read more

  • FIRE Coalition Shatters Window Display Censorship Policy at University of Alabama

    October 3, 2003

    TUSCALOOSA, AL—After months of experimenting with different methods of restricting speech, the administration of the University of Alabama (UA) has “indefinitely” tabled a policy outlawing all window displays in student dormitories. The policy was issued after a student was ordered to remove a confederate flag from the door of his dorm room. Other students, aware… Read more

  • FIRE spokesman clarifies organization’s position

    August 18, 2003

    To give some background, in July the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent a letter to UA President Robert Witt protesting the University’s draft policy that would have banned window displays that were “inconsistent with accepted standards.” We also said this policy was apparently in response to an attempt by students to hang a… Read more

  • FIRE’s Letter to the University of Alabama; July 15, 2003

    July 15, 2003

    July 15, 2003 President Robert E. Witt University of Alabama Box 870100 Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0100 Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (205-348-8377) Dear President Witt, As you can see from our Directors and Board of Advisors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) unites leaders in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties,… Read more