FIRE publishes an annual report that condenses the considerable research in our Spotlight database into an accessible picture of the state of free speech, free expression, and freedom of conscience on our nation’s campuses. The report surveys speech codes at more than 400 of the largest and most prestigious American colleges and universities, providing readers with key data on individual schools, national trends, and regional ratings.
FIRE’s newest speech code report, Spotlight on Speech Codes 2016: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation’s Campuses, reveals that 49.3 percent of the 440 colleges and universities analyzed maintain policies that seriously infringe upon the free speech rights of students. For the eighth consecutive year, however, this percentage has dropped, and this is the first time that it is below 50 percent. In another encouraging development, six schools eliminated all of their restrictive speech codes in 2015, earning FIRE’s highest, “green light,” rating. However, under pressure from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, a number of universities have newly adopted unconstitutional speech codes under the guise of harassment policies.