With only 14 "green light" colleges and universities in the entire country, the state of Virginia should be proud to be home to two of them. Writing in the Daily Press (Hampton Roads, Va.), Michael F. Cochrane commends the University of Virginia (UVa) and The College of William & Mary for preserving free speech on campus:
As Virginians we can be justly proud that our state has some of the top colleges and universities in the nation. We have colleges that are ranked nationally in sports and academic achievement.
But now we have a new reason for pride: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has identified the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary as two of only 13 colleges and universities in the country (in a total of 439 institutions) with "speech codes" that do not violate the provisions of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
(Cochrane can be forgiven for not realizing that Arizona State University very recently went green, pushing the count of "green light" schools from 13 to 14.)
While Cochrane and FIRE praise UVa and William & Mary for protecting basic student rights, unfortunately, six Virginia schools in our Spotlight database still maintain policies that ban or excessively regulate protected speech. FIRE especially wishes to help the three remaining Virginia public universities in Spotlight—George Mason, James Madison, and Virginia Tech—reform their speech codes and earn our coveted green-light rating. As Jordan said in his blog post about Marshall University’s inclusion in Greg’s "12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech:"
Although we often criticize institutions for their speech codes, we greatly prefer to praise schools for doing away with repressive policies.
Hopefully, the remaining institutions in Virginia will take actions to bolster a free marketplace of ideas, fostering an environment that allows students and faculty to engage in open debate and discussion. Then, they too will warrant our praise and join the good company of UVa and William & Mary.