12 Colleges that Suck When it Comes to Free Speech. Does Your Alma Mater Make the Grade?

Over at Huffington Post, the head of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) Greg Lukianoff dishes on the "12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2012." Among the dismal dozen: Harvard, Yale, Michigan State, St. Augustine's, and eight more politically correct institutions. From Lukianoff's write-up:

Many of the 12 are repeat offenders for refusing to undo serious punishments of what should be clearly protected speech on campus, while others are new additions that have shown particular hostility to student criticism and, in one case, limiting free speech to a tiny zone on campus. Also bound to raise a buzz, Yale and Harvard, two of the most iconic colleges in the country, top the list for disappointing but ongoing retrenchment against the principles that are supposed to animate higher education. Also, check out our short video below about the list.

 

Read the whole piece here.

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  • anarch||

    iconic

    The overuse of that term might justify censorship.

  • db||

    Can I get the iconic in cornflower blue?

  • List-Makers USA™||

    Gentlemen, drop your names!

  • anarch||

    iconic

    The overuse of that term might justify censorship.

  • anarch||

    And the overpost of that comment.

    What law is that?

  • Bobarian||

    I like how the squirrels are now attacking everyone...even the Jacket.

  • AlmightyJB||

    beat me to it:p

  • Charlotte Corday||

    It is amazing how so many far right wing libertarian colleges like Harvard, Yale, Brandais and Tufts made the list. Those damned libertarians that run big time academia are going to be the death of us all.

  • ||

    I'm pleased that UF isn't on the list.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    Surprisingly few state colleges on the list. And other than St. Augustine, whatever that place is, no schools south of the Mason Dixon line. But I thought all the mouth breathing rednecks were the ones who hated freedom and free speech?

  • ||

    You can do whatever you want on your high and mighty ivory tower campus, just don't let the townies catch you doin' it after dark off campus.

  • ||

    Not a single of the FL bigs. Apparently our universities are too poor to effectively oppress our students.

  • ||

    We did have crazy people speaking all kind of crazy at the Plaza of the Americas. And I heard some pretty controversial invited speakers when I attended that fine institution of higher learning and drinking.

  • ||

    I just knew Hopkins was going to be on that list. It really wan't bad when I was there, but I figured it was going to get there.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    Let me guess, the place was infested with Libertarians?

  • Ska||

    It was infested with Michael Bloomberg at one point in time...

  • ||

    Fuck, I hadn't known that. Thanks a lot, Ska, you asshole.

  • Ska||

    My ex-gf is an alum. So you might have fucked her, she was pretty slutty. Take solace in that nugget.

    Of course Mayor Douchebag has a huge ass building named after him, so he still infests their campus.

  • ||

    I probably did. I was pretty slutty too.

    I haven't been back to Homewood for a long, long time. It'll probably stay that way.

  • Doctor Whom||

    When I did my undergrad at The Johns*, it had a pretty laissez-faire attitude toward speech.

    *Insert obligatory joke about dinosaur-drawn campus shuttles here.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Also, the other universities from which I have degrees didn't make the list, thank Semiramis.

  • ||

    When were you there, Doc?

  • Doctor Whom||

    1980-83.

  • ||

    Ah, dinosaurs indeed. Well before me.

  • Old Man With Candy||

    I was there about that time. Memorable course with John Money. I suppose you couldn't do that these days...

  • Number 2||

    I was at Hopkins 1976-80, and the attitude back then was 180 degrees different. They left undergrads alone, on the theory that we had to learn to live as adults at some point. Living arrangements, course selection, and everything else was left to the students alone.

    Now, like every other university, it has gone the Nanny route. I suspect that what lies beneath it all is fear of being deemed in violation of Title IX and having all the federal research money pulled.

    Hell, if they discipined us for uttering speech that was "not sufficiently serious," none of us would have graduated.

  • Loki||

    Also bound to raise a buzz, Yale and Harvard ... top the list for disappointing but ongoing retrenchment against the principles that are supposed to animate higher education.

    Is it any coincidence that most of the asshats in our government come from either Harvard or Yale?

  • Charlotte Corday||

    No.

  • ||

    Universities that violate free speech are the tip of an American iceberg. Americans hate freedom. Our country is no good because the American people are no good. My wife and I were kicked out of a municipal meeting- before the meeting began- for talking to our neighbors "without having the floor". Don't expect a remedy from courts or cowardly neighbors.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Harvard AND Tufts? They've literally got me surrounded!

  • MNG||

    Sorry, I call BS on that title. Iirc from past threads, FIRE does not criticize colleges that restrict free speech on their campuses if they are open and explicit about it. So BYU kicking that kid off the newspaper for printing something positive about gays gets no criticism from them. That's not championing free speech, at best it is criticizing hypocrisy.

  • JT||

    You are right about that to some extent. But to my knowledge, Fire doesn't generally sue any private schools for First Amendment violations, rather criticizes them, in which case, yes they are criticizing hypocrisy. They only can really defend free speech in a legal sense at public schools.

  • MNG||

    Iirc they don't even criticize the school as long as the school was up front that it did not give a damn about the free speech of its students and faculty. For example, they would exempt a place like Pat Robertson's university (Liberty?) from criticism even though a student can be summarily dismissed or faculty let go just for saying x or y contrary to the orthodoxy.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    Why should they? If Liberty wants to have crazy rules and everyone knows about those rules, then the students have meaningfully consented to the rules. But if they are going to claim to be in favor of free speech but then arbitrarily crack down on some speech but not other speech, then they deserve criticism for it.

    If Harvard wants to come out tomorrow and honestly admit that different students have different free speech rights depending on their race, gender and political point of view, then more power too them. At least everyone who went there would know where they stood.

  • MNG||

    It is fine of course, my point is you're not championing "free speech and expression" though. You're saying "as long as you're honest about restricting speech and expression, then more power to ya!"

    You could say they are targeting broken promises about speech, but they are not targeting institutions restrictive of speech.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    Free speech doesn't mean speaking on someone else' dime. Free speech also means that groups should have the ability to build their own institutions and set their own rules. So the FIRE position is actually pro free speech.

  • MNG||

    You're not speaking on someone else's dime when you are paying them to go to school and you decide to write a letter in the school newspaper that your fees pay for saying x and then they punish you for that.

    "Free speech also means that groups should have the ability to build their own institutions and set their own rules."

    Here's the confusion: you have the FREEDOM to set up a place that promotes voluntary restriction of speech; but when you do so you are not engaging in free speech, you'r crapping on it actually.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    You're not speaking on someone else's dime when you are paying them to go to school and you decide to write a letter in the school newspaper that your fees pay for saying x and then they punish you for that.

    Yes you are. You are coming to their school. You are a part of their institution. The reason they created that institution was to promote their point of view. When you go there and undermine that point of view, you are effectively peeing on their carpet and depriving them of their free speech rights.

  • MNG||

    You're depriving them of their free speech rights by...speaking?

    Again, this is truly Orwellian.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    They don't criticize private institutions that have express contracts with their students regarding restrictions on speech.

    I see FIRE as honoring private parties and the contracts drawn between them. No big deal.

  • MNG||

    Exactly.

    If they want to say they are champions of contracts about free speech, more power to 'em.

    But they are not champions of their being less restrictions and more promotion of free speech and expression in the world. If every institution in the world was private and decided to voluntarily restrict the hell out of speech they admit they would be fine with that. That's my point.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    But demanding that every institution promote your view of the University at the expense of the stated mission of the University is anti-free speech.

    The Mormons have a right to create colleges that promote Mormonism. If they allow their students to speak out against Mormonism on campus, they can't fulfill that mission. Therefore, the Mormans free speech rights demand that they have the ability to discriminate on their own campus.

  • MNG||

    "But demanding that every institution promote your view of the University"

    Now you really have crossed into Orwellian waters, because my "view of the university" is one that puts no restrictions on speech at the university. So you're saying that "advocating (since I'm not 'demanding' in any coercive way, look how many times I've said these places have a right to restrict speech on their own private campuses) campuses allow more speech is anti-speech."

  • Charlotte Corday||

    There is nothing Orwellian about it.

    You assume that "free speech" mean only a single person. It means much more than that. Free speech means the ability to form institutions that promote your point of view.

    Suppose you started a Boston Red Sox fan club. And one of the rules was you had to be a Red Sox fan and you couldn't speak ill of the Red Sox or root for the Yankees. That is restricting speech. I can't join the Red Sox fan club and wax poetic about Derick Jeter.

    Well it is in a very literal way. But it is not when you look at the bigger picture. Part of having free speech is not just having the ability to speak. It is having the ability to form organizations. You have a right to form a Boston Red Sox fan club. And you can't really have a Red Sox fan club if I am showing up at every meeting yelling "1918".

  • Charlotte Corday||

    So allowing you to discriminate and kick me out, actually improves free speech because you are now free not just to speak but have your own institution to promote your point of view.

    I don't know how to put it any more plain than that.

  • MNG||

    "Part of having free speech is not just having the ability to speak. It is having the ability to form organizations."

    You're confusing free speech and association.

    Using the latter you are totally free to form associations that don't care, allow, or promote free speech. And you should be.

    But don't call it "free speech."

  • Charlotte Corday||

    No I am not confusing anything. The ability to associate is essential to free speech. If you can't join together with others to promote your views, your free speech rights are greatly diminished. For this reason the right of association is intimately connected to and essential to the right of free speech.

  • MNG||

    "The ability to associate is essential to free speech."

    But they are not the same thing. And so, you can be free to associate in ways that restrict free speech.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    OK. I get your point. You would like to see a FIRE that championed free speech issues on public campuses, and challenged rights to free speech on private campuses.

  • MNG||

    IF Fire wanted to hold itself out as a champion of speech, then here is what they would do: they would do what they do now in regards to public colleges and private ones that promise speech, but they would criticize/chide/persuade private colleges that made no promises of free speech to change and make such promises.

  • MNG||

    Note: they wouldn't sue or coerce these colleges, they should only do that to enfroce contractual promises for speech they would try to persuade.

    If you're a champion of free speech then you, well, champion it.

  • MNG||

    If my view is not right, then it is wrong or nonsensical for anyone to criticize any private organization that reacts punitively to speech as long as they were up front they might do that.

    So if a company fired a guy for attending a Romney rally, it would not even make sense to say "hey company, while you have every right to do that, you shouldn't do that."

  • yonemoto||

    So if a company fired a guy for attending a Romney rally, it would not even make sense to say "hey company, while you have every right to do that, you shouldn't do that."

    You have every right to lie to your boyfriend about crashing at an ex's place on that business trip (he was married, and nothing happened). But you shouldn't do that.

  • ||

    I think this is fine as long as it is done when admission/employment is offered. I've had all sorts of strange rules put on my employment in the last decade. Some I said yes to, some I passed on a job because of. If I had found out about them after I became employed, and not during the phase where they sent me a contract, I'd be pissed.

  • MNG||

    If you applied for a job and they said "as a condition of employment, you're going to punished if you ever say anything we disagree with later" then you could say, sure, you went in knowing, and you can't complain if they punish you.

    But would you say "my employer is a bastion of free speech!"?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    But would you say "my employer is a bastion of free speech!"?

    No. But I would say that is a contractual matter between me (a private individual) and my employer (a private company). As long as every one is in agreement, there is no problem.

  • MNG||

    "No."

    Then we totally agree I think.

    I don't have a beef with what FIRE does, people should live up to their promises.

    But that's their mission, not promoting more speech and less restrictions on expression overall.

  • MNG||

    Yup, I was right. Here they are talking about Liberty specifically, which is quite restrictive on the speech of their students. Their position is basically that if a private schol wants to restrict free speech in numerous ways they are cool with that as long as the place never promised otherwise. Now that's an intellectually consistent view, but what it's not is a view championing free speech and expression.

    "I know that some don't trust this system to work. They ask: "Is FIRE saying that all private universities in the country could one day wake up and decide that they don't promise free speech anymore?" Actually, yes, that is what FIRE is saying."

    http://thefire.org/article/10689.html

  • Charlotte Corday||

    Now that's an intellectually consistent view, but what it's not is a view championing free speech and expression.

    Yes it is. It is championing Liberty's right to run a college however they want. Isn't that free speech? If members of some group want to start a college and make sure that college adheres to their principals, whatever they are, isn't the ability to do so part of their free speech rights? It is not like you have to go there. Your free speech rights do not trump Pat Robertson's free speech rights.

  • MNG||

    So a bunch of people agreeing to have their speech restricted, and then people doing that, firing people and punishing people for, er, speaking, is exlempary of free speech?

    Usually we think of the celebration of free speech and expression as involving...well, promoting free speech and expression...

  • Charlotte Corday||

    Of course it is. If you say they can't do that, then you are saying "no one can run a college unless it adheres to complete free speech by everyone". That is of course another way of saying, "no one can run a college that promotes and only tolerates a particular point of view". The act of creating the college and everyone who goes there agreeing to the rules is the act of free speech.

  • MNG||

    Ah, now you might actually see your confusion. You admit that no restrictions would be promoting free speech the best (""no one can run a college unless it adheres to complete free speech by everyone") you just think that people and orgs should be free to restrict speech. Sure they should be, but don't call it free speech when you do it.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    When restricting that free speech is voluntary and done to promote a particular point of view, it is absolutely free speech.

    One of the ways, and indeed the most important ways, you express yourself in a free society is by creating civic institutions such as universities that promote your point of view. Protecting that right is protecting free speech.

  • MNG||

    So punishing people for speaking is just an example of free speech in action.

    Orwellian.

    What you are really getting at is that people should be free to get together and crap on free speech. I actually agree, but I don't call that free speech...Free speech is, well, allowing and promoting people to...speak.

  • MNG||

    Let's take two private colleges. One says "everyone here will say only good things about President Obama, or you will be shown the door."

    The second says "say whatever you want about Obama or anything else, it is all totally good."

    According to your logic both institutions are equally bastions of free speech.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    Yes. Because both institutions were created to advance a particular point of view. Part of having free speech rights is being able not just say something yourself, but join with others into organizations that promote your view.

  • MNG||

    One institution allows all speech, one allows almost none, and both are bastions of free speech in your view...

    Wow.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I don't call a private college restricting speech, "free speech". Again, that is a contractual agreement between a private person and a private college. Charlotte is saying that the First Amendment also protects the private college's right to establish those rules, and draft those contracts.

    See the diff?

  • MNG||

    Again, the First Amendment, or something, does and should protect their right to set up organizations that restrict speech.

    My beef is calling that "free speech." People can waive all kinds of rights, that doesn't make those examples of those rights in use.

  • MNG||

    Again, take this example. At Harvard there might be, let's just say, 10 views you could express that would get you fired or dismissed. At Liberty let's say there are 200 views that would get the same result.

    According to your logic one could not with any sense say that the latter is "a more restrictive campus when it comes to speech" than the former.

    And that certainly seems wrong, right?

  • Charlotte Corday||

    Allowing both institutions to exist is essential to having a free society and true free speech.

  • MNG||

    You were right up until that "and"

    In a free society people are free to associate in ways that restrict free speech, just like a free society that believes in trial by jury as a right has to allow people to waive that right if they so choose. But how odd to call that waiving an expression of the right to trial by jury!

  • Charlotte Corday||

    There is nothing odd about it at all. Once the purpose of the association is expressing a point of view, it becomes a form of free speech.

  • Fluffy||

    In a free society people are free to associate in ways that restrict free speech, just like a free society that believes in trial by jury as a right has to allow people to waive that right if they so choose. But how odd to call that waiving an expression of the right to trial by jury!

    It's a lot - a LOT - more like the freedom of religion than it is like the right to trial by jury.

    In order for people to have any freedom of religion at all, they have to be free to associate in groups that make up restrictive rules about what their religion is about.

    If the Catholic Church says, "You have to believe in the Nicaean Creed to be a Catholic" and someone comes in and says, "I don't believe any of the stuff in the Nicaean Creed, but I still want to join!" it doesn't violate that guy's freedom of religion if the Church says, "Sorry, no."

  • Fluffy||

    And it's not odd at all to say that the Catholic Church telling me I can't join is an expression of the freedom of religion. Not even a little.

  • MNG||

    Let me ask you one question that I think illuminates your confusion: let's say you have a college like BYU which explicitly restricts speech and lets everyone know about it before they associate it; now let's say someone like me urges them to allow more speech. These places do sometimes change and decide that btw. Now, according to your view, that guy urging them to allow more speech is actually being nonsensical: they are already a perfect example of free speech.

    Now does that make any sense?

    Your confusion seems to be of the political right to free speech and free speech in the sense of "allowing and promoting people to speak without taking any action to restrict them", as well as freedom to contract and associate with freedom of speech.

  • ||

    Well, there's a serious distinction between government institutions restricting freedom of speech and private institutions doing so. And, of course, it's only actionable in the former case. Unless a private school has arguably created a contractual right to free speech.

    We can tut-tut instances of private schools inhibiting speech or academic freedom, but there is a difference.

  • MNG||

    "We can tut-tut instances of private schools inhibiting speech or academic freedom"

    That's my point, they don't even tut-tut...

    "but there is a difference."

    Sure, I'm, not arguing there isn't. You can say "Liberty is totally free to promote restricted speech on their campus" and "it would be more conducive to valuing freedom of expression for them not to exercise their right to do that."

  • ||

    I thought they did take action against private schools that included free speech in their charters or otherwise make it a quasi-contractual right of the students?

  • MNG||

    They do, because they are an organization about holding people to promises about free speech. But that's not the same as one that defends speech in general, or fights restrictions on speech in general.

    Hence my beef with the title of the post. There are lots of colleges that have much, much more restrictive policies on speech and expression than these 12. It's just that as long as they are upfront about it FIRE ignores them. That's fine, but don't say these 12 are the worst for free speech; you're much free-er to speak your mind on Harvard Campus than Liberty's.

  • yonemoto||

    clearly Reason has a different definition of "suck" than you. Get over it.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I don't understand this view that public universities automatically have to let assholes like Mario Savio take over the grounds of Berkeley. Do the students own the university or something? Can you just go sit down in Gov. Rick Scott's chair and pontificate in the interests of free speech?

  • yonemoto||

    MNG: It depends on your definition of suck.

    Would you feel better if we changed the title to "blow", and asterisked it and qualified the verb to mean "make promises and renege on them"?

  • Joe M||

    Harvard and Yale? Say it ain't so!

    Those are bastions of free thinking in America, right?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Unrestricted speech is bad for business.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Why should you have free speech on campuses? How is this a libertarian issue?

  • robc||

    Depends if its a private or state school.

  • robc||

    Also, technically, you have free speech everywhere, but a private school might boot you out for it.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Depends if its a private or state school.

    Not to me it doesn't. Take the University of Cincinnati in the article - it has a designated zone for protests and rallies. That's no different than permitting.

    The taxpayers own the universities, and they delegate that ownership to the Board of Regents. The Board of Regents oversees the administration of the University of Cincinnati, which says that you can have rallies at a designated place when you have the proper permission.

  • MNG||

    Look, I'm no friend of Rev. Moon, but this is clearly a pussy spoofing him. WTF is wrong with some people who would sit around and do this kind of thing is beyond me...

  • Ex nihilo||

    Rev., are you saying UC is ok or not on free speech?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I am saying that it is fine for UC to have those rules. And where I once thought FIRE was a pretty awesome organization, I now really don't understand them at all. Are they mad that public institutions have permitting rules, much in the same way we do with protests in public roadways?

  • yonemoto||

    I'm pretty sure FIRE is angry at the absurdity of the smallness of the particular area where the UC has "full free speech". It's not like FIRE takes doctrinaire black-and-white positions.

  • yonemoto||

    i.e. if a school made a restriction, say, prohibiting demonstrations in front of the campus fire station's driveway, do you think that FIRE would be taking that case on?

  • Ex nihilo||

    Rev. Blue Moon,

    I have an issue with the permitting rules, as the First Amendment doesn't say that you can only assemble if you have a permit or you can only demonstrate in a designated area. That defeats the whole purpose of the first. As long as you are peaceful, you should be able to assemble and air your grievances.

  • Fluffy||

    Actually, yes.

    AFAIAC, public property should only be closed to free speech while it's being explicitly used for another contradictory purpose.

    So you can't hold a protest inside a courthouse, or inside a campus classroom.

    Holding a protest on empty space in the quad of a university doesn't meet that standard.

    Having a conversation with another student in a dorm room most definitely doesn't.

    This might make it difficult to have exactly the type of public universities some people might want, but so what? If our public institutions can't be run in accordance with the constitution, the easy answer is to abolish the public institution. Problem solved.

  • ||

    Libertarians don't want the State to create or run schools, so yes, it should be a non-issue. However, since we've already paid taxes that have been redistributed to state schools, some would say we should make the most of our situation and at least hold the state accountable in how it uses the money that it stole from us.

  • ||

    It sucks pretty hard when a college restricts speech. It's even worse when a nation applauds a 56 day jail sentence for the stupid things a person said on twitter.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    The UK is now the world capital of ninnyery.

  • ||

    They've been wearing that crown for at least a century and a half.

  • AuH20||

    Yeah, Colorado College! P Brooks- our alma mater made it!

  • MattyP||

    I'm surprised that schools like Liberty University, that explicitly ban political groups now, don't make it on the list.

  • shrike||

    Are you thinking what we're thinking?

  • Crickets||

    ^

  • Barack the Jaunty Future King||

    Just wait until I win in November... that paltry list will seem like a period at the end of one of My speeches.

    Of course, I will only quash speech critical of Me and My minions...

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