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University of North Florida Earns FIRE’s Highest Rating for Free Speech

September 10, 2015

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., September 10, 2015—The University of North Florida (UNF) has eliminated all of its unconstitutional speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating for free speech from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). With assistance from FIRE, UNF has joined a prestigious group of colleges and universities that have reformed their policies on student and faculty expression to ensure compliance with First Amendment principles.

“As a new academic year begins, I’m very excited to see another university join the growing list of green light institutions,” said Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program. “UNF’s students, professors, and administrators should be proud that the university’s policies now fully protect First Amendment rights on campus.”

FIRE began working with UNF in October 2014, when UNF had three speech codes earning FIRE’s worst, “red light” rating and an additional three policies earning a “yellow light” rating. Majeed collaborated with Marcus L. Snow, Jr., Senior Associate General Counsel at UNF, to revise all six policies to make them compliant with the First Amendment. Working together, Majeed and Snow revised regulations governing sexual harassment, residence life, and bullying/cyberbullying.

“The University of North Florida values freedom of speech and works diligently to comply with the First Amendment,” said Snow. “We appreciate the efforts of FIRE to ensure freedom of expression protection, as it is important to us as a community.”

UNF becomes the 23rd green light institution in FIRE’s Spotlight database of over 400 colleges and universities. It is also the second university in Florida, along with the University of Florida, to earn a green light rating, as well as the fifth institution to earn a green light this year by working with FIRE on its policies.

“FIRE has made great progress this summer in getting colleges and universities to adopt policies that respect campus expression, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Western State Colorado University, and now UNF becoming green light institutions,” said Majeed. “That’s nearly 50,000 more students who now have their First Amendment rights protected by their school.”

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.

CONTACT:

Katie Barrows, Communications Coordinator, FIRE: 215-717-3473; katie@thefire.org

Schools: University of North Florida