University of Oklahoma

Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

University of Oklahoma 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
  • Community Living Guide: Room Decorations

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: August 16, 2022

    Decorating windows for university–sponsored activities or national holidays will be allowed, provided the display is hung by means that will not damage the window or surrounding walls (no decals) and the display is removed one week after the activity/date. Residential College staff have the authority to ask a studen... Read More
  • Interim Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination and Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 16, 2022

    Sex Discrimination: Conduct directed at a specific individual or a group of identifiable individuals that subjects the individual or group to treatment that adversely affects their employment or education, or institutional benefits, on account of sex or gender (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gend... Read More
  • Facility Use and Solicitation Policy for Registered Student Organizations and Individual OU Students

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes
    Last updated: August 16, 2022

    The need for police/security support in conjunction with any use of OU facilities shall be determined by the Facility Coordinators and Campus Police. The University of Oklahoma Chief of Police, or their designee, shall have the final decision-making capability and will decide how many police officers will be present... Read More
  • Student Conduct: Campus Climate and Incident Response Team

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: September 30, 2021

    The Campus Climate Incident Response Team is here to assist you in the event that you experience an incident of bias on campus… Resolution through this body may align with other offices or entities on campus as part of the process, and participation in this is entirely voluntary. … A bias in... Read More
  • Facility Use and Solicitation Policy for Registered Student Organizations and Individual OU Students

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: August 16, 2022

    There are several areas located on the University campus that are ideal to a Reserving Party for free speech, protests, leafleting, etc. and require no reservation or notice (unless such use also includes the placement of tables, booths, structures, large displays, vehicles, sound, audio or PA systems, or when assis... Read More
  • Student Rights and Responsibilities Code

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 16, 2022

    Abusive conduct: Unwelcome conduct that is sufficiently severe and pervasive that it alters the conditions of education or employment and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, harassing, or humiliating. The frequency of the conduct, its severity, and whether it is threatening or hu... Read More
  • Interim Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination and Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 16, 2022

    Title IX Sexual Harassment includes the following types of Prohibited Conduct when they occur in the context of the University’s educational programs or activities, and within the United States. … Hostile Environment Harassment, which is unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe... 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 110/154
Ideological Diversity 36/159

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 58.33
Openness 8.59
Tolerance (Liberals) 10.13
Tolerance (Conservatives) 8.49
Administrative Support 5.68
Comfort 14.97
Disruptive Conduct 10.47
Speech Climate
Supported Scholars
Sanctioned Scholars
Successful Disinvitations
Speech Code YELLOW
  • University of Oklahoma: Mandatory Diversity Training Requires Compelled Speech

    April 8, 2021

    The University of Oklahoma’s mandatory diversity training requires faculty and staff to affirm university-approved viewpoints to complete the training. On November 16, 2020, FIRE wrote to OU to explain that requiring students and faculty to state that they agree with ideas that they may oppose amounts to compelled speech, which is unconstitutional. FIRE also submitted… Read more

  • University of Oklahoma: State Legislature Investigates University for Hosting Controversial Speaker

    May 15, 2009

    Noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins waived his speaker fee and came to the University of Oklahoma to speak for the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The Oklahoma state legislature, which considered passing legislation deeming Darwin’s theory “unproven and unpopular,” launched an investigation into Dawkins’ speech. The legislature requested all e-mails pertaining to… Read more

  • University of Oklahoma: Ban on E-mailing Political Humor or Commentary

    January 26, 2008

    Weeks prior to the 2008 presidential election, the University of Oklahoma (OU) notified students and faculty that “the forwarding of political humor/commentary” using their university email accounts was prohibited. After FIRE wrote OU President David L. Boren, explaining that the policy violated the right to freedom of speech, Boren replied that the policy was intended to be… Read more

  • University of Oklahoma: Plot to Punish Professor for Political Beliefs, Whistleblowing

    December 28, 2004

    At the University of Oklahoma, the School of Geology and Geophysics attempted to silence Professor David Deming, a frequent critic of administrative policy and a politically outspoken faculty member. OU removed him from his department, stripped him of most of his classes, and moved his office to a converted basement lab. After controversial remarks in… Read more

  • University of Oklahoma: Use of Sexual Harassment Allegations to Suppress Protected Speech

    March 23, 2000

    At the University of Oklahoma David Deming, an associate professor of Geology and Geophysics, criticized an opinion column that stated: “Easy access to a handgun allows everyone in this country . . . to quickly and easily kill as many random people as they want.” A citizen who holds protected beliefs about the Second Amendment,… Read more

  • University of Oklahoma instructor gets it wrong — again

    July 21, 2021

    Last month, my colleague Daniel Burnett and I reported on an “Anti-Racist Rhetoric & Pedagogies” workshop at the University of Oklahoma, which taught instructors how to shut down disfavored topics and conversations in the classroom. Since then, FIRE has seen statements from some at OU disagreeing with our analysis.  Tellingly, however, none have seen fit… Read more

  • What exactly is the problem with the University of Oklahoma’s “Anti-Racist Rhetoric & Pedagogies” workshop?

    July 15, 2021

    The University of Oklahoma chapter of the American Association of University Professors released a statement responding to our reporting on the university’s “Anti-Racist Rhetoric & Pedagogies” workshop for First-Year Composition instructors. The statement — and subsequent commentary from chapter members — attacks FIRE and criticizes our analysis of the workshop. Revealingly, the critics have not… Read more

  • Confusion, caution over new Oklahoma law continue to impact college teaching

    July 8, 2021

    As my colleague Graham Piro wrote last week, Oklahoma’s new education law targeting the teaching of certain concepts has officially taken effect. FIRE has criticized similar legislative efforts in numerous states, noting their potential to create a chilling effect on academic discourse (and, in several cases, flatly unconstitutional restrictions on expression). With Oklahoma’s bill now… Read more

  • Oklahoma responds (sort of) to FIRE investigation into troubling faculty workshop

    June 24, 2021

    On Tuesday, FIRE publicized the University of Oklahoma’s “Anti-Racist Rhetoric and Pedagogies” workshop, in which instructors for English composition courses were taught how to shut down student arguments and speech that the instructors considered problematic. Yesterday, OU defended itself in a response to FIRE, saying that “participation in any given workshop is voluntary.” This response… Read more

  • ‘Stop talking right now’: University of Oklahoma training shows instructors how to censor, indoctrinate students

    June 22, 2021

    Update (June 23, 2021): The University of Oklahoma responded to FIRE on June 23, highlighting the school’s commitment to free expression. Their full response has been added to this report. Do you question whether refusing to use preferred pronouns is hate speech? You can’t — writing on that topic is “not acceptable.” Think Black Lives… Read more

  • University of Oklahoma refuses to end compelled speech in diversity training program

    May 5, 2021

    Last fall, FIRE discovered that the University of Oklahoma was running an online mandatory diversity training program for faculty and staff members — including some graduate students — that required trainees to acknowledge their agreements with the university’s approved political viewpoints in order to complete the requirement. FIRE pointed out that this was compelled political… Read more

  • University of Oklahoma defends diversity training requiring agreement with university-approved viewpoints but signals willingness to reconsider

    April 12, 2021

    On Thursday, FIRE wrote about the University of Oklahoma’s mandatory online diversity training programs for students, faculty, and staff, focusing on how the faculty and staff module required participants not simply to learn about OU’s preferred viewpoints but to actually express agreement with them. FIRE wrote to OU about this on Nov. 16 of last… Read more

  • [UPDATED] University of Oklahoma diversity training requires students, faculty to agree with university-approved viewpoints

    April 8, 2021

    UPDATE 4/12/21: OU has since responded to our request. See more here. Colleges and universities often mandate that students and faculty complete diversity training as a requirement for enrollment or employment. These trainings also typically include questions that test participants’ understanding of the material. Colleges may, in general, require members of their community to participate… Read more

  • 450 OU Daily papers featuring sexual harassment allegations stolen

    September 24, 2018

    On Sept. 17, stacks of the University of Oklahoma’s student newspaper OU Daily went missing across nine different locations on the school’s Norman campus. The 450 missing newspapers are valued at about $113. The stolen issues featured a front page article detailing multiple sexual harassment allegations against tenured drama professor Tom Orr. In comments to… Read more

  • University of Oklahoma censors fracking research at the request of oil company CEO

    November 28, 2017

    A former University of Oklahoma researcher claims that OU administrators and an oil magnate pressured him to suppress scientific researching regarding the harmful effects of wastewater injection. The researcher’s testimony describes a callous disregard for academic freedom at OU. According to the Oklahoma Daily, OU’s student newspaper, the trouble began for Austin Holland after he… 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

  • FIRE Announces 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2016

    February 17, 2016

    PHILADELPHIA, February 17, 2016—Nearly half of America’s top colleges maintain speech codes that blatantly violate First Amendment standards. But every year the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) takes a closer look at the past year’s incidents of college censorship to determine the nation’s 10 worst abusers of student and faculty free speech rights…. Read more

  • Professor to Colleges: Summon the Courage to Defend the Constitution

    April 16, 2015

    This week, Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of history and education at New York University, authored an essay for Inside Higher Ed in which he criticizes colleges that have punished students for racist comments. As FIRE has reported, the University of Oklahoma (OU) summarily expelled two members of the now-disbanded chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon… Read more

  • Colleges Rush to Violate Free Speech, Due Process in Response to Speech Controversies

    April 9, 2015

    PHILADELPHIA, April 9, 2015—In the wake of the University of Oklahoma’s unconstitutional decision to summarily expel students involved in a racist fraternity chant, colleges and universities across the country are in a “race to the bottom” to violate the rights of students at the center of campus controversies involving speech deemed offensive, heedless of either… Read more

  • ‘Huffington Post’ Interview Suggests President Obama Needs to Remember Con Law

    March 23, 2015

    Before President Barack Obama entered politics, he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, home of one of the nation’s top law schools. When he took the oath of office as President, he appeared to have theoretical knowledge that would help him to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” So… Read more

  • Robert Shibley and Oklahoma State Prof Joey Senat Take on Arguments for Punishing Racist Chant

    March 12, 2015

    FIRE’s Robert Shibley appeared on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon last night to talk about whether the racist chant performed by University of Oklahoma (OU) students (members of the university’s now-disbanded chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity), viewed millions of times on YouTube, is constitutionally protected speech. He was joined by Oklahoma State University… Read more

  • After Quick Expulsions, U. of Oklahoma Taking Heat on Free Speech and Due Process

    March 11, 2015

    FIRE has serious concerns about the University of Oklahoma’s (OU’s) disregard for the free speech and due process rights of two students who were told yesterday they would be expelled from the university for their participation in a “racist and exclusionary chant” that was caught on video. As I wrote on The Torch yesterday, the… Read more

  • University of Oklahoma Expels Students for Constitutionally Protected Speech

    March 10, 2015

    University of Oklahoma (OU) President David Boren has decided to expel two students, who were members of the university’s now-shuttered chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity, for their alleged “leadership role in leading a racist and exclusionary chant,” as shown in a video posted online recently. As FIRE wrote on The Torch yesterday,… Read more

  • Statement on the Recent Fraternity Controversy at the University of Oklahoma

    March 9, 2015

    Recently uncovered video reportedly featuring members and guests of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chapter at the University of Oklahoma singing a racist song on a bus has raised the question of whether the song constitutes protected expression under the First Amendment. Unless there are more factors of which we are not yet aware, the… Read more

  • U. of Oklahoma President Defends Speech Rights of Marching Band Members

    October 21, 2014

    University of Oklahoma (OU) President David Boren took a stand for students’ free speech rights after learning that members of the university’s marching band, The Pride of Oklahoma, were forced to agree in writing not to make negative remarks about the group’s leadership. A group of band members wrote an open letter to Boren (PDF)… Read more

  • Engaging the Oklahoma legislature on its decision to investigate Richard Dawkins’ free speech

    May 20, 2009

    Back in March, I uncovered that members of the Oklahoma state legislature had launched an investigation of a March 6 speech at the University of Oklahoma by noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. The investigation was preceded by an attempt by another Oklahoma legislator to pass two bills condemning Dawkins and proclaiming the theory of evolution… Read more

  • Rights in the News: FIRE Enters the Fray Over Dawkins Investigation in Oklahoma

    March 20, 2009

    In his column posted last weekend on, Greg helped bring attention to what is potentially a deeply troubling breach of free expression: the rumored investigation of the University of Oklahoma’s funding of a speech by evolutionary biologist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins by the state’s legislature. As Claire noted on Monday, Greg’s post has… Read more

  • Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on the Oklahoma Legislature’s Investigation of Dawkins

    March 20, 2009

    In an article for The Huffington Post this afternoon, Greg confirms that the Oklahoma Legislature did in fact investigate the University of Oklahoma for hosting Richard Dawkins in early March. This post, a follow up to his article last weekend, cites a letter received by FIRE today verifying that Oklahoma State Representative Rebecca Hamilton requested… Read more

  • Oklahoma legislature investigates Richard Dawkins’ free speech

    March 20, 2009

    Well, it’s official: Oklahoma’s state legislature is investigating the University of Oklahoma for hosting a speech by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. As I noted in a post over the weekend at Dawkins’ website, the legislature first considered two resolutions condemning both Dawkins and the theory of evolution as “an unproven and unpopular theory.” (I highly… Read more

  • Greg Discusses Oklahoma Legislature’s Rumored Investigation of Richard Dawkins’ Speech

    March 16, 2009

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff has weighed in on the controversy surrounding noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’ speech at the University of Oklahoma last week in an article entitled "Is Oklahoma Investigating Richard Dawkins’ Free Speech?" For those who have not been following the situation, Dawkins delivered a speech at a campus event celebrating the 150th… Read more

  • Is Oklahoma investigating Richard Dawkins free speech?

    March 14, 2009

    In a case that harkens back to the old-timey censorship of yesteryear, it appears that the Oklahoma legislature is pulling out the stops to oppose the University of Oklahoma’s decision to host the Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins on its campus. Dawkins was invited to speak at an event celebrating the 150th anniversary of Charles… Read more

  • Repression of Political Speech and Activity Abounds on College Campuses in 2008

    December 24, 2008

    In an election year when the presidential race between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain dominated much of the country’s attention and media headlines, college and university campuses were certainly not immune to election fever. University students and faculty across the nation joined in the multitude of voices advocating for, criticizing, protesting, and otherwise commenting… Read more

  • Weekly Media Round-up: Victory at Temple College Highlights FIRE’s Week

    November 7, 2008

    FIRE scored another victory for free speech and academic freedom this week with its successful intervention on behalf of Kerry Laird, an instructor at Temple College (TX) who was ordered to remove a religiously themed cartoon and a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche translating to "God is dead" from his office door. Within half an hour… Read more

  • Weekly Media Round-up: National Media Takes Quinnipiac to School, With FIRE’s Help

    October 31, 2008

    The national media has officially descended on Quinnipiac University (QU), with FIRE’s early efforts to end the injustices visited on the Quad News and the QU chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ) helping to pave the way. FIRE’s press release issued Wednesday helped to bring a new wave of attention to QU’s shoddy… Read more

  • Greg in ‘The Huffington Post’ on ‘A Tale of Two Universities’

    October 31, 2008

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff has a new post at The Huffington Post comparing FIRE’s recent cases at the University of Oklahoma and Quinnipiac University. Greg begins his comparison by mentioning our recent victory at the University of Oklahoma, where the college president recently rescinded a campus-wide ban on political emails. Greg explains that "it is… Read more

  • Victory for Free Speech at University of Oklahoma: Ban on Political E-mails Rescinded

    October 28, 2008

    In a resounding victory for free speech, the University of Oklahoma (OU) has rescinded a September statement that banned the use of university e-mail accounts to engage in protected political expression. The reversal is a welcome confirmation of the First Amendment right of OU students, faculty, and staff to engage in protected political expression during… Read more

  • As election nears, censorship fever hits college campuses

    October 17, 2008

    If you’re a student at the University of Oklahoma and you enjoy The Huffington Post, beware: Your school has forbidden you from forwarding any of the fabulous political content you may find on this site. Sounds crazy, but sadly it’s true. Students at the University of Oklahoma have been warned not to use their university… Read more

  • With Election Weeks Away, Political Speech Under Attack on America’s Campuses

    October 15, 2008

    PHILADELPHIA, October 15, 2008—With the presidential race between John McCain and Barack Obama the focus of national attention, political speech on our nation’s campuses has come under sharp attack. In recent weeks, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has investigated open and blatant attacks on political expression at colleges and universities across the… Read more

  • National Attention Continues for FIRE’s Work at Illinois

    October 8, 2008

    We blogged last week about the Chicago Tribune‘s coverage of FIRE’s letter in defense of political expression at the three University of Illinois (UI) campuses, where a memo circulated by UI’s ethics office banned a wide variety of political expression on campuses—down to the bumper stickers on the cars of UI faculty and staff. Instead… Read more

  • Weekly Media Round-up: FIRE’s Expertise Widely Cited, and Pressure Grows on Brandeis and Third Circuit Schools

    October 3, 2008

    Today’s Chicago Tribune featured an article examining the widening controversy over restrictions on political speech and activity at the University of Illinois, which go so far as to suggest that displaying a candidate’s bumper sticker on one’s car is out of bounds. FIRE is closely monitoring this case, as well as a similar situation at… Read more

  • ‘Chicago Tribune’ Highlights FIRE’s Work Defending Political Speech

    October 3, 2008

    An article in today’s edition of the Chicago Tribune further investigates the outrage among many at the University of Illinois over the September 2008 edition of Ethics Matter, a “newsletter from the University of Illinois Ethics Office.” The memo, which has caused widespread outrage among faculty, suggests that a whole host of political activity is… Read more

  • The Chill Is Nothing New

    September 9, 2005

    There is a chill on campus, but that’s nothing new. For decades, campus speech has been chilled by speech codes and other attempts to prevent expression that might offend. Some would like to imagine that the excesses of “political correctness” are ancient history, but repression in the name of tolerance hasn’t gone anywhere. Oppressive speech… Read more

  • The ‘N-Word,’ the P.C. Police, and Honest Dialogue About Race

    May 19, 2005

    Earlier this month, University of Oklahoma baseball coach Larry Cochell resigned because of his use of the word “nigger” in comments he made regarding a black student athlete that were picked up by the media. An article, “Let’s Talk About Race,” by Lovell Estell III posted on AlterNet today provides a critical analysis of the… 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

  • ‘The Oklahoman’ Runs FIRE’s Column on Bias at OU

    February 23, 2005

    The Oklahoma City Oklahoman today published my column on the most recent case at the University of Oklahoma (OU) involving geology professor David Deming. FIRE has been defending Professor Deming for years against OU administrators who seem willing to go to nearly any lengths to get this gadfly out of their hair. Back in 2000,… Read more

  • University of Oklahoma Administration Plots to Punish Professor for Political Beliefs, Whistleblowing

    December 8, 2004

    NORMAN, Okla., December 7, 2004—The University of Oklahoma (OU) School of Geology and Geophysics has taken academic infighting to a new low in its efforts to silence Professor David Deming, a frequent critic of administrative policy and a politically outspoken faculty member.   Professor Deming has filed a federal lawsuit after OU removed him from his… Read more

  • Oklahoma Professor’s First Amendment Rights Still Under Threat

    March 23, 2000

    PHILADELPHIA, PA– In a case that illustrates the threat to liberty posed by political correctness, a professor at the University of Oklahoma was the target of more than twenty sexual harassment complaints filed with the University of Oklahoma’s affirmative action office as a result of a letter that he wrote to the student newspaper. The… Read more