The non-profit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released a list of the 10 worst colleges for freedom of speech. This list is revised annually, and some entrants might surprise you.
The top ten universities that encroach upon students’ First Amendment rights for 2018 include the following locations:
10. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
This Troy, NY school had several incidents in 2018 that violated free speech rights. Security officers forced students to stop passing out materials that were critical of the schools policies, using an eminent domain claim to halt the sharing of buttons and flyers. The school has also prohibited peaceful demonstration, claiming their campus has the right to a “controlled environment”
9. Syracuse University
This well-known New York college has a history of tampering with student rights. In 2018, the school sanctioned a fraternity for a private skit performed on private property, and many students were suspended. The school has also threatened to censor Halloween costumes and has some of the most severe speech codes in the nation.
8. Georgetown University Qatar
This extension campus cancelled debate team topics that surround religious topics; the school adheres to the nation’s blasphemy laws, which directly oppose free speech.
7. University of Wisconsin System
Inviting a sex educator to Free Speech Week triggered a punishment for a school chancellor; she received a formal letter of reprimand from the school.
6. Liberty University
Jerry Falwell Jr’s school made the list for censoring its own student newspaper.
5. Alabama A&M University
Despite declaring itself a bastion of free speech, Alabama A&M made the list for harassment policies that were more broad than those used by the Supreme Court. Insulting comments and gestures are enough for student sanctions at A&M.
4. University of Kansas
Art is protected under free speech law — except at the University of Kansas, where an outdoor display of flag art was removed after a political protest.
3. University of North Alabama
Another University attempting to censor its own student newspaper. The student editors and writers were critical of the school’s policies and performance.
2. Plymouth State University (Plymouth, N.H.)
Not only students are censored by colleges. A pair of Plymouth State University professors were disciplined, and one was ultimately fired after supporting a student in a criminal hearing. One testified as an expert witness, the other testified to the accused’s progress in therapy; the defendant was a convicted child predator.
1. Dixie State University (St. George, Utah)
From banning their on-campus student press from meetings to firing professors for political reasons, this Utah college heads the list of free speech violators.
Each of the schools on the list has violated free speech laws to advance their own agendas, to push forward specific political leanings or to prevent students from speaking out about unfair policies. The schools come from around the nation and align with a variety of beliefs, political leanings and even areas of study. Their sole similarity is their refusal to comply with the First Amendment and willingness to stomp on student and faculty free speech rights.