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Columbia is the nation’s worst college for free speech: report

If you like free speech, don’t go to Columbia.

A leading free speech organization ranked the best and worst free speech college campuses, and New York’s best school, Columbia University, came in last.

On Wednesday, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) released its third annual College Free Speech Ranking for the 2022-2023 school year. In partnership with College Pulse, they surveyed nearly 45,000 students from more than 200 colleges – making it the largest on-campus expression survey to date.

The University of Chicago ranked first for free speech on campus with a score of 77.92 out of 100. Four public universities rounded out the top five: Kansas State University, Purdue University, Mississippi State University, and Oklahoma State University.

The University of Chicago has been widely hailed as a champion of free speech since the 2014 publication of the Chicago Principles, which state: “The University has a solemn responsibility not only to foster a vibrant and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others try to restrict it.” The principles have since been adopted by dozens of other institutions, including Princeton and Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, Columbia University came last, being the only school to be slammed with a language climate rating of
Columbia took last place – and was the only school to be slammed with a language climate rating of “lousy.”
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

Meanwhile, Columbia University came last, being the only school to be slammed with a language climate rating of “lousy.” Scored just 9.91 out of 100, New York City’s Ivy was dragged down by the sheer number of scientists sanctioned for speaking out. Between 2019 and 2020, seven academics faced investigations or disciplinary action for tweets or comments deemed unacceptable. Columbia did not immediately respond to The Post for comment.

The University of Pennsylvania was second to bottom with a score of 14.32 out of 100. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Georgetown University and Skidmore College also ranked in the bottom five.

The University of Chicago topped FIRE's College Free Speech Ranking in 2022, scoring 77.92 out of 100.
The University of Chicago topped FIRE’s College Free Speech Ranking in 2022, scoring 77.92 out of 100.
Universal Images Group via Getty Images

“The situation for freedom of speech and academic freedom was troubled on campus even before FIRE was formed in 1999,” said Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s President and CEO, in a press release. “This situation has deteriorated significantly in recent years.”

College students across the country have made headlines in recent years for shouting down speakers or having them kicked off campus over controversial beliefs. In the report, 62 percent of students said it was “at least sometimes acceptable” to shout down a speaker, and one in five students said it was “sometimes acceptable” to use force to interrupt a speech on campus.

A staggering 63 percent of students said they fear speaking their minds would damage their reputation, and nearly a quarter report they often self-censor. And while just 13 percent of Liberal students say they are “often” unable to freely express their opinions, almost half of Conservative students say the same. Among the issues students find most troubling are abortion, racial inequality, and vaccination regulations, followed by transgender issues, gun control, mask regulations, and police misconduct.

After University of Chicago professor Dorian Abbot (pictured) was banned from speaking at MIT for his opinion on affirmative action, his college stood by him. The Chicago institution is known for defending freedom of speech.
After University of Chicago professor Dorian Abbot was banned from speaking at MIT for his opinion on affirmative action, his school stood behind him.
Matthew Gilson

“That so many students are silencing themselves and silencing each other is an indictment of campus culture,” said FIRE Senior Researcher Sean Stevens, one of the report’s authors. “How can students develop their own voices and ideas in college when they’re too afraid to engage with each other?”

Since the rankings were introduced three years ago, Stevens said, administrators from several schools have turned to FIRE for advice on improving their rankings and the state of free speech on their campuses. He said he hopes his research and involvement with FIRE will continue to lead to meaningful change.

“We hope that schools will recognize these trends themselves — or feel some pressure from current students, faculty and alumni — and make changes as they move down the rankings,” he told the Post. “We hope this report will be used to encourage schools to change their policies to encourage more open expression on campus.

“We want to provide information to parents and prospective students who are making decisions about where to go to college,” Stevens added. “If expression and free speech on campus are important to you, these rankings will help you understand which campuses are better for you.”

https://nypost.com/2022/09/07/columbia-is-worst-college-in-nation-for-free-speech-report/ Columbia is the nation’s worst college for free speech: report

JACLYN DIAZ

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