Arizona Public Universities Earn Praise for Free Speech Protections

Demand Democracy free speech protest
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Northern Arizona University, a massive public university in Flagstaff, Arizona, recently adopted a broad policy that will protect expression rights for students, joining all of the public universities in the state in taking a strong stand on free expression.

According to a release from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), all of the public universities in the state of Arizona have now defined their policies on free expression. Northern Arizona University is the latest school to join the fight to protect free speech. It earned the praise of FIRE for its decision to remove a policy that would punish students who were found with “lewd” material on their computers.

As a reward for their effort, FIRE upgraded its “green light” rating, the highest rating for free speech protections at colleges and universities. Now, all of the public universities in the state of Arizona have a “green light” rating.

In a statement, the university’s president offered a passionate defense of free expression principles.

“Our university is a place of free thought, free speech, and freedom of expression. We uphold these values through our policies, and our practices,” Northern Arizona University President Rita Hartung Cheng said in a statement. “Welcoming a diversity of opinions is a fundamental aspect of the learning experience. Expressing and testing our ideas in conversation, discussing both the issues of our time and the issues of all time, being open to intellectual challenge and response, and learning from each other are the hallmarks of our university community. I am thankful for FIRE’s review of our policies and their collaboration to ensure we continue to foster freedom of speech.”

In a statement, a representative from FIRE said that the organization is pleased with the example that Arizona’s public universities have set for other universities around the country.

“Arizona’s green light schools are setting a standard for free expression that colleges across the country should aspire to follow,” FIRE’s Laura Beltz said in a comment. “We’re pleased to see NAU join an elite group of colleges that have committed to protecting students’ free speech rights.”

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