Extreme Anti-Free Speech Codes Rule American Universities, A New Report Reveals

From Newsweek:

You can’t make this stuff up: Stockton University investigated a college student for the crime of making Donald Trump his Zoom background. American University launched a harassment investigation against pro-choice students who criticized the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling. Syracuse University investigated another student for a slightly risqué scavenger hunt. And these colorful incidents of campus hostility toward free express from recent years aren’t outliers, if a new analysis from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is anything to go by; they are sadly representative of the repressive, fun-killing and anti-free speech atmosphere that has infected our system of higher education.

FIRE’s annual free speech report, which dropped today, evaluated 489 of America’s colleges and universities and found that an alarming 85 percent maintain “speech codes” that imperil free expression. It rated each university with either a red, yellow, or green light based on how restrictive their policies are on students’ free speech. In an unsurprising twist, some of the country’s most elite universities like Princeton and Northwestern were awarded “red light” ratings, while other top-tier institutions such as Harvard and Yale were flagged as “yellow light” schools for their less-egregious but still restrictive policies.

While the percentage of schools receiving a “green light” rating for their free-speech-friendly policies did increase in the last year, so did the proportion of “red light” schools—for the second year in a row.

Let’s face it: Illiberal policies that suppress free speech, which is a basic human right and the foundation of this country, are still rampant on American college campuses.

. . . .

This is a serious issue that should concern everyone, not just college students or their parents.


Well, because the censorious attitudes that start on campus don’t stay there. People used to dismiss what was happening on college campuses as just isolated pockets of extremism and reassure us that people would “grow out of it” after they enter the real world. Instead, we’ve seen many graduates take the hostility toward free speech that they’re immersed in during college with them out into their jobs in business, technology, and government.

Progressive Spotify employees now openly try to censor Joe Rogan, one of the platform’s most popular voices, because he dares air opinions and information they disagree with or believe is inaccurate. Netflix staffers dramatically walk out in protest against their employer for daring to air Dave Chappelle’s hit specials which include jokes about transgender people. Random tech and support staffers at the New York Times somehow feel entitled to dictate what opinions are off-limits for the opinion page to publish.

You get the picture.

It’s sad that so many people in positions of relative power and influence have internalized such overt hostility toward free expression, but it’s ultimately not surprising. College is where we send our young people to become adults and prepare for the workforce; for many, it’s some of the most formative years of their lives. If the campus cultures they’re immersed in are hostile to the traditional American principle of free speech, is it any wonder they come out having internalized this message?

Regrettably, it’s a tough sell to convince people who matured into adults while drinking this Kool-aid that their worldview is wrong. So, while some may be swayed, there’s really no fixing this problem unless we root it out at the source. And deeply ideological college administrators are not going to magically wake up one day and see the light.

We must force public colleges and universities to respect free expression and adopt policies that protect free speech.

The first step is transparency, which institutions like FIRE are doing a great job of providing. Yet transparency alone won’t change things unless we back it up with action.

Americans should vote with their wallets, and pointedly refuse to send their children to any college that receives a “red light” on FIRE’s index. Money talks, and even the wokest of administrators will be forced to course correct if their schools see a large decline in interest and start to slip down the rankings.

Moreover, public universities are taxpayer-funded, and as taxpayers, we are fully entitled to attach strings to that money. Whether it’s at the state or federal level, lawmakers can and should attach requirements that public schools enact policies that respect students’ First Amendment rights and embrace a culture of free expression—or else see their funding slashed.

Link to the rest at Newsweek and thanks to F. for the tip.

PG hopes that a large percentage of college students can recognize propaganda when they see or hear it. He has read that alumni donations have been dropping for a great many institutions of higher education across the country and hopes that this sort of protest continues and grows to increase the pressure to clamp down on the speech police wherever they are found.

Additionally, he sees no problem for state and federal legislators to object loudly to this sort of forced indoctrination in public colleges and universities and take further steps in funding to demonstrate the seriousness in their objections.

Unless things have changed a great deal since PG was in college, government-guaranteed student loans is a big contributor to tuition at private universities in addition to numerous government research grants, work-study programs, veterans benefits, etc., etc., so even private institutions with large endowments would feel a pinch.