The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)
has released a list of the year's worst colleges and universities when it comes to free speech.
Public institutions of higher learning are generally bound by the First Amendment, and many private institutions pledge to hold uphold it, however both often fall short.
"Although those of us who have worked for years on the frontlines defending freedom of speech on campus think the media was a little late to the story, we can all agree that last year was an especially contentious one," Greg Lukianoff, the president and CEO of FIRE, wrote for The Huffington Post.
"While some students filed lawsuits to fight campus 'free speech zones,' others demanded new, restrictive campus speech codes. Some campuses renewed their commitments to freedom of speech, while others backpedaled."
Gathered below are the 10 worst colleges for freedom of speech, according to FIRE, plus five others Newsmax identified as dishonorable mentions.
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1. Mount St. Mary’s University
— This month, a tenured professor and the student newspaper's faculty advisor were both fired during a scandal involving first-year university President Simon P. Newman. Newman was quoted in the school newspaper discussing a controversial student retention strategy. "This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can't. You just have to drown the bunnies . . . put a Glock to their heads," he reportedly said
. Those who denounced Newman soon found themselves out of a job.
2. Northwestern University
— Professor Laura Kipnis recently found herself the subject of a Title IX investigation for an essay critical of its over-enforcement. The investigation lasted 70 days, and Kipnis wasn't given full due process, as she wasn't allowed to review evidence submitted against her.
3. Louisiana State University
— Tenured Louisiana State University
Professor Teresa Buchanan was fired for allegedly using occasional profanity. The university construed the language as "sexual harassment," however no student ever accused her of such. A faculty panel unanimously declined to fire her, however top administrators overruled them. Buchanan filed suit against the university on Jan. 20 for a violation of her First Amendment rights.
4. University of California, San Diego
— In November, the university's student government voted to cut funding for all student media in an effort to censor The Koala, a satire publication that mocked so-called "safe spaces." After weeks of controversy, the government voted to restore funding.
5. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
— Classics adjunct professor Dave Hillman was fired after translating and staging Seneca's "Medea" play with the drama department, wherein cast members pointed phallus-shaped objects called "fascina" at the audience, as was done in ancient times. The official reason for Hillman's firing was unclear, as the university has repeatedly refused to explain it, even after the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) called for a fair hearing.
6. University of Oklahoma
— After two Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members were seen in a video leading a racist chant, President David Boren unilaterally expelled them, a violation of their free speech rights. The Supreme Court has made it clear that unsavory speech, including racist speech, is protected by the First Amendment.
7. Marquette University
— Professor John McAdams was fired after sticking up for the free speech rights of a student who expressed opinion's against same-sex marriage during a class discussion. He was not given any due process, and was labeled a threat to campus safety.
8. Colorado College
— After admitting to making a racial joke on the anonymous social media app Yik Yak, administrators suspended student Thaddeus Pryor for 21 months. The suspension was reduced, but not nixed altogether, after a plea from FIRE.
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9. University of Tulsa
— Student George "Trey" Barnett was suspended after his future husband criticized another student and two faculty members on Facebook. His husband submitted a sworn affidavit saying he was the sole author of the posts, but Barnett received the punishment. Barnett filed a lawsuit against the university in January.
10. Wesleyan University
— After campus newspaper The Wesleyan Argus published a student column critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, the student government voted to for a measure that could revoke more half of its budget.
Newsmax's Dishonorable Mentions
— In December, professors Erika and Nicholas Christakis announced they will not be teaching
after students rallied against their questioning of the university's role in dictating what sort of Halloween costumes are appropriate for students. The university administration did not violate their free speech rights, but a student mob literally surrounded and shouted down Nicholas during one on-campus confrontation.
University of Missouri
— After students successfully petitioned for university President Timothy Wolfe's resignation, student and faculty rally-goers physically intimidated and blocked student journalists from covering the event.
— President Adam Falk unilaterally canceled John Derbyshire from a student-created "Uncomfortable Learning" speaker series in Feb. 2016. The students had brought the highly controversial speaker to campus with the intention of refuting his arguments, which have been called racist and sexist.
— The university's Law Center recently prevented a group of students from handing out campaign materials for a major presidential candidate. Administrators claimed, incorrectly, that the activity would jeopardize the school's tax-exempt status.
University of California
— A proposed "Statement of Principles Against Intolerance" from the university Board of Regents could suggest penalties for speech.
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