GAINESVILLE, Fla., August 13, 2014—The University of Florida (UF) has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). After working with FIRE to ensure its policies comply with the First Amendment, UF has joined a select group of colleges and universities nationwide to earn FIRE’s most favorable rating for free speech on campus.
“FIRE is very pleased to recognize the University of Florida as a national leader with regard to freedom of speech,” said FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley. “The university and its administration are to be commended for ensuring that UF students and faculty can freely exercise their First Amendment rights.”
“The University of Florida has a long tradition of upholding the First Amendment rights of our students,” said UF Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Jen Day Shaw. “We are pleased to earn FIRE’s highest rating for our student speech-related policies.”
FIRE began working on speech code reform with UF administrators in May. Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program, and Associate Vice President Shaw led the effort.
UF becomes the 19th green light institution in FIRE’s Spotlight database, as well as the 10th institution to improve to an overall green light rating in the past five years. This positive trend reflects growing awareness of free speech issues on campus, as well as increased cooperation between students, administrators, and FIRE.
“The University of Florida’s policy change demonstrates just how easy and productive it is for colleges and universities to work with FIRE on their speech codes,” said Majeed. “Particularly in light of the number of First Amendment lawsuits filed by students and faculty members against their institutions in the past year, we hope that more universities will choose to work with us proactively.”
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at thefire.org.
Azhar Majeed, Director, Individual Rights Education Program, FIRE: 215-717-3473; firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Day Shaw, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, University of Florida: 352-392-1261; email@example.com