FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has named the ten worst American campuses for free speech over the last year. In addition, they’ve given a “Lifetime Censorship” award to a school with a persistent history of censorship over time. Click on the screenshot below if you want to see the distressing details.
First, FIRE notes that this list includes both public and private colleges. The former are bound by law to observe the First Amendment, while the private colleges on the list “explicitly promise to do so.” They add that “90 percent of schools still maintain codes that either clearly restrict or could too easily be used to restrict free speech.” That’s appalling!
Here are the bad schools, and you can read about what they did to make the list on FIRE’s site. I am further appalled that Harvard, my Ph.D. alma mater, is on the list, but I’ve documented their suppression of dissent several times on this site (see some of those posts here). The list is in no special order, so the ones at the top or bottom aren’t necessarily the worst offenders.
On to the Hall of Shame:
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY).
- Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
- Harvard University (Cambridge, MA). I’ve written before (here, here, and here) about how Harvard punishes students who belong to single-sex off-campus groups (including women’s groups); this violates freedom of association. There are two other incidents of bad behavior as well. I’m not saddened to see the resignation of President Drew Faust, who pushed through the “no freedom of association” policy; her replacement will be the former President of Tufts University, Lawrence Bacow.
- Los Angeles Community College District. Every campus is off limits to free speech except in restricted zones: one the size of three parking spaces!
- Fordham University (New York, NY). Fordham has denied recognition to Students for Justice in Palestine, and even sanctioned students who protested that decision. While I think SJP is largely anti-Semitic, it still deserved to be recognized and allowed to promote on-campus activities.
- Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA). If you’ve read here, you’ll know all about this odious and censorious school. Nobody should be sending their kids there.
- Albion College (Albion, MI)
- Northwestern University (Evanston IL). If you’ve read Laura Kipnis’s Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia on Campus, as I have, you’ll know how hamhanded Northwestern is when adjudicating sexual harassment cases and censoring those who write about them (or about sex in general). Kipnis herself was subject to a Title IX investigation for simply writing a book about Title IX investigations!
- The University of California at Berkeley. Milo Yiannopoulos, David Horowitz’s and Ben Shapiro’s proposed appearances caused threats that led to their talks’ cancellations. Berkeley promises to do better, but we’ll see
- Texas State University (San Marcos, TX). I’ve written before about a racist editorial in the school paper (an anti-white piece written by a Hispanic) that was not only withdrawn, but was followed by students calling for the editor’s resignation and all kinds of anti-free speech insanity. While the editorial was “hate speech” by most people’s definition, I defended the paper’s right to publish it.
Finally, the “Lifetime Censorship Award” went to Chicago’s own DePaul University, which FIRE indicts for “its decade-long rap sheet of censorship spanning the ideological spectrum.” (See some of my posts here.) The rap sheet is long and shameful.
As lagniappe, I invite you to inspect FIRE’s “Disinvitation Database“, which gives all reported cases of invited speakers being disinvited or de-platformed. It goes from 2000 to the present, and if you read through it you’ll see that early on cases of censorship by the Right and Left were pretty much equally numerous, but in the last five years most cases of censorship have been by Leftists. The campus political climate can’t have changed that much over 18 years, and only the last year can be attributed to Trump. We on the Left can do better than this.