COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Jan. 10, 2019 — When it comes to protecting free speech on campus, no one in Texas beats the Aggies. Texas A&M University has earned the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s highest rating for maintaining policies that protect student and faculty free speech.
“Today, Texas A&M is the lone institution in the Lone Star State that earns FIRE’s highest rating for respecting constitutionally protected speech rights,” said Azhar Majeed, FIRE vice president of policy reform. “We encourage colleges across the state to follow Texas A&M’s lead and put the First Amendment first.”
Texas A&M began working with FIRE in 2018 to revise “yellow light” policies on demonstrations, bias incidents, residence halls, and internet usage on campus. University policies earn a yellow light rating when they are vague enough that they could restrict constitutionally protected expression.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that goes for green light schools. With almost 70,000 students, Texas A&M is the largest campus in the nation to earn FIRE’s green light rating. Of the 19 rated institutions in Texas, five earn FIRE’s worst, “red light” rating, including the University of Texas and University of Houston.
“As one of the nation’s premier institutions of higher learning, it is critical that Texas A&M affirms our commitment to free speech,” said Michael Young, Texas A&M president. “A free exchange of ideas is not only a cornerstone of our democracy, it is the surest path to truth, discovery and scholarly advancement. I would especially like to thank our vice president for student affairs, Dr. Daniel Pugh, for his leadership in this effort.”
Said Pugh: “Texans are known for their commitment to the U.S. Constitution, specifically the First Amendment, and there is no place in Texas more committed to the First Amendment than Texas A&M University. Colleges and universities have long been viewed as a marketplace of ideas, and receiving FIRE’s first Texas ‘green light’ designation affirms the Aggies’ commitment to free speech and assembly.”
Public universities like Texas A&M are legally bound by the First Amendment, while private institutions are bound by promises of free speech found in their official policies.
To learn more about the state of free speech on college campuses, see FIRE’s Spotlight database.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of liberty.
Daniel Burnett, Communications Manager, FIRE: 215-717-3473; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sondra White, Marketing Director, Division of Student Affairs, Texas A&M University: 979-458-3296; email@example.com