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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Here are the 10 worst US colleges for free speech: report

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education — or FIRE — compiled its annual list of the 10 worst U.S. colleges for free speech, and some of them might shock you.

FIRE has rated the following colleges the worst for free speech and features heavy hitters like Syracuse University, Liberty University, and more.

10. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — Troy, New York

The organization chose Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — a private school — to be featured on the list for attempts to utilize eminent domain in order to censor students.
The organization reported that "students passing out buttons and flyers critical of RPI's administration were told by campus security officers to 'vacate' the sidewalk because of 'eminent domain.'"

The organization listed various other offenses, which can be read here.


9. Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York

The organization chose Syracuse University to be on the list for its practice of suspending students who performed in a satire roast of their fellow fraternity brothers.

According to FIRE, the school found the students responsible "for violating its many speech codes over the words used in the skit."


8. Georgetown University Qatar in Doha, Qatar

The organization chose Georgetown University Qatar to be featured on the list for canceling a student debate on "God as a woman."

According to FIRE, the event was cancelled after the school "failed to follow the appropriate approval processes and created a risk to safety and security of our community."


7. University of Wisconsin System in Madison, Wisconsin

The organization chose the University of Wisconsin System to be featured on the list after one of its chancellors invited a porn star to Free Speech Week.

The school opted to lower the salary of the chancellor after the chancellor reportedly paid $5,000 for the porn star's speaking services.


6. Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia

The organization chose Liberty University to be featured on the list after the school reportedly censored the student newspaper — on numerous occasions.

5. Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama

The organization chose Alabama A&M University to be featured on the list after the school reportedly implemented five policies that "clearly and substantially" restrict protected speech.

According to FIRE, those five policies were related to what is considered harrasment — like sending "offensive" or "annoying" messages on the campus' network and "[i]nsulting ... gestures."


4. University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas

The organization chose the University of Kansas to be featured on the list after the school reportedly "[signaled] ... would-be censors" by taking an outdoor art installment featuring a desecrated flag to an indoor museum.

According to FIRE, "Kansas politicians demanded that the University of Kansas censor an art display."


3. University of North Alabama in Florence, Alabama

The organization chose the University of North Alabama to be featured on the list after the school reportedly placed a gag order on faculty speaking with the press without proper permission.

According to FIRE, "The university's public relations administrators also imposed an unwritten, vague policy directing staff and faculty to have their interactions with the media 'vetted' by the administration."


2. Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire

The organization chose Plymouth State University to be featured on the list after the school reportedly punished two educators for "speaking out and performing a civic duty."

According to FIRE, the professors served as an expert witness in a criminal court case and offered up a letter of support for a former student who'd pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old.


1. Dixie State University in St. George, Utah

The organization chose Dixie State University to be featured on the list after the school fired a professor for discussing a colleague's tenure bid.

According to FIRE, when the fired professor disputed the firing and the Utah System of Higher Education ruled that the teacher should be reinstated, the school offered the teacher a "wildly unreasonable 'Last Chance Contract,'" which "would have stripped him of practically all his speech and academic freedom rights."

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