New survey reveals college campuses rank highest and lowest for student free speech

According to a recent to learn Conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a nonprofit civil liberties group, Columbia University was ranked as the worst school for student freedom of expression.

The annual FIRE study was the “largest student free speech survey ever conducted,” and included responses from more than 45,000 students from January through May of this year. Students had to be enrolled as full-time undergraduate students in a four-year program to qualify for the survey.

The Comprehensive list contains the free speech rankings of 203 universities in the United States.

The poll, released Wednesday, categorized each school from “extraordinary” to “miserable.”

Columbia University was the only campus to receive a “miserable” rating. It was followed by the University of Pennsylvania, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Georgetown University, Skidmore College and Yale University, all classified as “very poor” or “poor”.

The colleges with the highest scores included the University of Chicago, Kansas State University, Purdue University, Mississippi State University, and Oklahoma State University.

No institution on the list received a grade of “very good” or “excellent”.

The results were based primarily on student responses and whether the institute had policies against speaking. FIRE stated that schools with language restrictions automatically landed lower on the list. The nonprofit also considered whether the school had uninvited speakers to give lectures on campus.

Surveyed students were asked how comfortable they felt about expressing political views, their tolerance for liberal and conservative speakers, their tolerance for protesting speakers, their support for free speech by administrative staff, and their acceptance of open debate on campus.

“Self-censorship is pervasive in both the best and the lowest schools; 63% of respondents fear damaging their reputation because someone misunderstood something they said or did. An equal percentage said it was to some extent acceptable for students to shout down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus,” the poll reported.

“That so many students are silencing themselves and silencing each other is an indictment of campus culture,” said FIRE Senior Research Fellow Sean Stevens. “How can students develop their own voices and ideas in college when they’re too afraid to engage with each other?”

The study found that 42% of conservative students “often” feel unable to speak freely. Only 13% of liberal students said the same.

Students indicated that the three most difficult issues to discuss on campus were abortion, racial inequality, and COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Many college students stated that certain speakers should not be allowed on campus. For example, 60-74% of students said they do not support the school allowing speakers on campus who believe: transgender people have a mental disorder, BLM is a hate group, the 2020 election was stolen, or abortion should be illegal .

“The situation for freedom of expression and academic freedom was troubled on campus even before FIRE was formed in 1999,” said Greg Lukianoff, CEO of FIRE. “This situation has deteriorated significantly in recent years. Our new and improved rankings are designed to reward universities that protect and defend freedom of expression, while empowering students and parents who care about freedom of expression not to attend or support universities that don’t.”

Columbia University and the University of Chicago did not respond to requests for comment from the college fix. New survey reveals college campuses rank highest and lowest for student free speech

Laura Coffey

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