FIRE: The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2020

Demand Democracy free speech protest
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The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education released its list of the “worst colleges” for free speech. The annual list ranks the colleges that are the most willing to restrict the speech rights of its students and faculty.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released its annual list of the worst American colleges for free speech this week. The list includes 10 colleges and universities that have displayed little hesitance in silencing their students or faculty.

Since 2011, FIRE has named and shamed 65 individual colleges and universities as America’s worst for free speech. Some — we’re looking at you Harvard, DePaul, and Syracuse — are regulars and have appeared four or five times. Others have slunk away in embarrassment after being listed. But all have one thing in common: They had the chance to do the right thing when it came to free speech, but chose otherwise.

This year’s list includes Babson College, Jones College, Harvard University, the University of Scranton, Middlebury College, Long Island University (Brookville, N.Y.), the University of Connecticut, Syracuse University, Doane University, and Portland State University.

Each of the institutions on the list made the news last year over its policies and behavior that involved restricting or censoring speech. For example, Breitbart News reported that Middlebury College canceled a lecture from Polish scholar and politician Ryszard Legutko just hours before it was scheduled to begin. The college claimed that hosting the event posed “safety risks” to students.

FIRE awarded Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute the “Lifetime Censorship Award” for its consistent efforts to shut down expression. The award is given each year to a university or college that has cultivated at censorious atmosphere.  Officials at the school have hired police officers to surveil students with video cameras, torn down student posters, and silenced student criticism of administrators.

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