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It’s that time of year. September is when college rankings start to get real.
No, I’m not referring to the return of University of Alabama football (though that’s certainly up there).
I’m talking about the 2022 College Free Speech rankings by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (a.k.a FIRE, formerly known as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) in partnership with College Pulse.
FIRE’s “College Free Speech Rankings” are the largest survey on student free expression — including nearly 45,000 college students to get a comprehensive look at the climate on America’s campuses.
Meet the top five colleges for free speech, according to FIRE’s and @CollegeInsights’ third annual College Free Speech Rankings: pic.twitter.com/aehy5qt6VB
— FIRE (@TheFIREorg) September 7, 2022
A few weeks ago, I urged parents and students to look into colleges’ speech policies and culture before choosing a school.
FIRE’s rankings make it easier to do so than ever before.
FIRE has long reviewed university speech policies, but these rankings go much further, evaluating the actual culture for speech on campus and how universities handle free speech controversies in addition to their written policies. FIRE makes it possible for parents, students, faculty members, lawmakers and others to actually compare universities on free speech.
That makes these rankings an excellent tool to understand what higher education is getting wrong about free speech — and hopefully which universities might be the best model to get it right.
Some of the findings include the following:
Universities should — even must — be the place where students engage with, and learn from, different perspectives. But FIRE Senior Research Fellow Sean Stevens raises a critical point: “How can students develop their distinct voices and ideas in college if they’re too afraid to engage with each other?”
Indeed. And with the rising cost of college, more students and parents should be asking just what they are getting for the cost of that education — and whether they can really get it in an educational environment where speech isn’t free.
RT if your alma mater is in the top 25 campuses for free speech.*
*But UVA still has plenty of work to do.
**But VT is #150, so… https://t.co/w1f6NGEEC8
— Casey Mattox (@CaseyMattox_) September 7, 2022
Also, while I’m on the subject of FIRE: What does it have in common with Law and Order: SVU? Actor and rapper Ice-T! Ice-T, who plays Sergeant Fin Tutuola on SVU, released a video with FIRE last week on the importance of protecting free speech and his experience with music censorship. Check it out!
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