For a long time the University of Chicago has been #1 among all rated American colleges and university’s in the free-speech ranking of FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education).
I’ve been beefing for over a year about my school’s unwillingness to enforce its own speech rules, though, by allowing departments to make official pronouncements on politics, morality, and ideology—an explicit violation of the Kalven Report. This is one of our foundational principles along with our Principles of Free Expression, which have been adopted by more than fifty enlightened schools. (See my reports on U of C’s violations and about Kalven here.)
Now, and very sadly, the University of Chicago has fallen to second place in Freedom of Speech, behind Claremont-McKenna College in California. Mind you, we still get the approved “green light” overall, and we’re not that far behind Claremont-McKenna (they get 72.7 out of 100 points; we get 70.43), and this is out of 154 ranked schools.
I’m also sure that my beefing had nothing to do with this change, though they may have taken into account Chicago’s violations of Kalven. But it’s always been a selling point for our school to proclaim itself #1 in free speech, as there’s a group of parents and students who—mirabile dictu—like that! Perhaps our new President, Paul Alivisatos, a chemist who was executive vice chancellor and provost at UC Berkeley, and who began his term September 1, can pull us back to the top spot.
For your interest, here are the top ten schools for free speech, as well as the bottom ten, who deserve raspberries. (You can see the data by clicking on the school at the link I just gave.)
- Claremont-McKenna University
- The University of Chicago
- University of New Hampshire (Main Campus)
- Emory University
- Florida State University
- Purdue University (Main Campus)
- University of Maryland, College Park
- University of California, Los Angeles
- University of Arizona
- The College of William and Mary.
I’m chuffed that I taught at two of these (#2 and #7) and got my undergraduate degree from #10.
Here are the big losers:
WARNING RATING (no number but a bad sign. Pepperdine University
148. Bates College
149. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
WARNING RATING: St Louis University
150. Boston College
151. Wake Forest University
152. Louisiana State University
153. Marquette University
WARNING RATING: Baylor University
154. DePauw University (score: 50.8/100)
Each college’s evaluation also has some student comments; here’s one from the University of Chicago, but it wasn’t my comment as I didn’t teach that year.
“I am religious and in a few science courses Professors have made direct statements claiming that religion is equivalent to fairytales those who believe it are stupid and that science disproves religion. I did not feel as though I could argue with them on this despite my disagreement with their opinion.”– Class of 2022