Harvard, UC-Berkeley Among FIRE’s ’10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech 2018’

That's some expensive censorship.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has released its 2018 list of the ten worst colleges for free speech. Both Harvard University and the University of California-Berkeley, where the free speech movement was born, made the cut.

“Each year, colleges across the country find dubious ways to silence student and faculty expression,” FIRE’s study explains. “In the last year, administrators became embroiled in litigation for telling a student he couldn’t hand out Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution outside a free speech zone, continued a years-long effort to ban a group from campus due to its political viewpoint, and even investigated a professor for a satirical tweet — eventually driving him to resign.”

FIRE has recorded other infractions from so-called institutes of higher learning where the funding and editorial process of an independent student newspaper was threatened, where fences were erected to hold peaceful student protesters away from donors, and where a months-long investigation all over a student telling a joke has kept him unsure of his future.

FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley said:

“College administrators, and sometimes even students, are going to greater and greater lengths to justify muzzling expression on campus. This type of censorship makes for a sterile environment where lively debate and discussion can’t thrive. The public deserves to know which colleges will defend free expression — and which ones will go to seemingly any length to silence it.”

Their list in no particular order:

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.)
  • Drexel University (Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Los Angeles Community College District (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  • Fordham University (New York, N.Y.)
  • Evergreen State College (Olympia, Wash.)
  • Albion College (Albion, Mich.)
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.)
  • University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.)
  • Texas State University (San Marcos, Texas)

Each institution is detailed on FIRE’s website as to why they’re on the list. As for Harvard, this is the prestigious university’s fourth time to be featured. Besides blacklisting single-gender groups and clubs on campus, Harvard administrators “rescinded offers of admission from 10 students for sharing joke images in a private group chat on Facebook,” according to the report. A new president will take over Harvard in the next academic year. Time will tell if free speech is allowed back on campus.

The reasons for UC-Berkeley’s inclusion on the list are as follows: the riots in response to a Milo Yiannopoulos speech a year ago that was successfully canceled thanks to the violence and destruction of Antifa. Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter returned to the school later in the year for another attempt at free speech which wound up costing Berkeley $800,000 in security. TruthRevolt founder David Horowitz also had a speech canceled at Berkeley in April 2017 due to security concerns over tyrannical students who want to shut down opposing ideas. 

FIRE also awarded DePaul University a special Lifetime Censorship Award “in recognition of its decade-long rap sheet of suppressing speech at every turn.”

“From denying recognition to a student organization criticizing marijuana laws, to forcing the DePaul Socialists, Young Americans for Freedom, and College Republicans to pay for security in order to host speakers at their meetings and events, to forbidding a group from using the slogan ‘Gay Lives Matter,’ DePaul has staked out a leadership position in stifling campus expression,” the report adds.

FIRE notes that though public institutes are bound by the First Amendment, private universities aren’t. However, they “explicitly promise” to uphold their students’ constitutional rights. But for those on the above list, they obviously don’t. 

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