Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has PublishedIts annual college free speech rankings. This survey covers 37,000 college students and corresponds to the national top 159 universities. It assesses the school’s speech environment across seven dimensions: self-censorship reported, perceived comfort speaking publically, acceptable speech code, level of tolerance for liberal and conservative speakers, acceptance of disruptive speech on campus, as well as the ability to talk about difficult subjects.
Claremont McKenna College is the top-ranked college in 2021. It has been praised for its gracefulness. handlingA controversial speech given by Heather Mac Donald, a conservative journalist and to launch an initiative Open Academy InitiativeDesigned to encourage viewpoint diversity. 54% of respondents to the survey said that their administrators make it very clear or very clear that they support free speech.
Sean Stevens (FIRE’s senior research associate of polling, analytics and data analysis), says, “At higher rank schools, students felt that the administration made its stance on freedom-of-expression issues clear.” This is a testimony to the importance of strong leadership by administrators. The University of Chicago and Emory University rounded out the top five.
Marquette University is on the opposite side. This university drew fury. Try toTo revoke the tenure of Prof. John McAdams and to end his employment. McAdams won in court and was ultimately reinstated. Marquette has less than five percent of students who feel that their school supports free speech. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is also among the bottom five, as are Boston College and Louisiana State University.
Robert Shibley, FIRE Executive Director “Prospective students may use these rankings to determine which schools are open to debate and free expression. Meanwhile, polling offers a current snapshot of freedom of expression at campuses across the country.
A major trend in campus is the increasing hostility to controversial speakers. Two-thirds of college students believe shouting down speakers is okay at most, an increase of 4% from last year. 23 percent also think that violence is permissible to prevent certain speech, up from just 18% in 2020. Barnard College and Wellesley College were ranked as the schools where violence was most tolerated. These elite women’s colleges are also rated at 43 and 45 percent respectively. The survey found that conservative speakers are more likely to face backlash.
The majority of students are hesitant to discuss controversial issues in class. Only 48 percent reported feeling at ease expressing their views during these discussions. Students were the most anxious to talk about racial inequalities, guns control, transgender issues, or George Floyd protests in 2021.
Higher education is about gaining a deeper understanding of the world and challenging the status quo. “Adam Goldstein is FIRE’s senior researcher counsel. A college that doesn’t explicitly protect your rights to ask these questions is bad, regardless of whether it has small classes or fancy stadiums.
One in three college students say that the administration has made it extremely or very clear to them that speech rights are protected at campus. Over 80 percent of college students admit to using self-censorship, and 21 percent admitted that they use it frequently.
These levels of illiberalism in higher education are unacceptable. Students are not taught to bite their lips, but the university campus should be a space for ideas to collide.