These Are The Top 5 Best And Worst Colleges For Free Speech According To Free Speech Experts

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Chrissy Clark Contributor
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Five colleges earned the title “Worst Colleges for Free Speech” for the 2022-2023 school year, according to a survey conducted by free speech experts.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) released its third annual College Free Speech rankings, which surveyed 45,000 students nationwide to help rank 203 of America’s most influential and prestigious universities. Free speech experts used a combination of student opinions and university policies to rank the schools from best to worst for free speech.

The colleges ranked as having the best free speech environments include the University of Chicago, Kansas State University, Purdue University, Mississippi State University and Oklahoma State University.

At the bottom of the rankings were Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Georgetown University and Skidmore College.

Georgetown University stands in Washington, U.S., September 1, 2016. Georgetown University President John DeGioia announced moves aimed at acknowledging and encouraging dialogue about the Jesuit-run university's ties to slavery. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

FIRE said schools dropped in the rankings compared to 2019 because they either sanctioned faculty for their speech or disinvited speakers from campus. The organization lists schools that sanctioned scholars on its “Scholars Under Fire” database and tracks which schools disinvited speakers on its “Disinvitation” database. (RELATED: Ivy League Institution Created Racial, Sexual Orientation Tool For Vendors)

FIRE Senior Research Fellow Sean Stevens said in a press statement that one of the top findings from FIRE’s survey is that students are self-censoring out of fear that their comments may be misinterpreted by peers, with some 40 percent fearful of disagreeing with a professor.

“That so many students are self-silencing and silencing each other is an indictment of campus culture,” Stevens said. “How can students develop their distinct voices and ideas in college if they’re too afraid to engage with each other?”

The survey also found that conservative students are the most likely to feel they can’t express their opinions freely.

On Tuesday, FIRE announced a lawsuit challenging Florida’s Stop WOKE Act, which would withhold state funding from universities teaching “race or sex scapegoating” and other “divisive concepts.” FIRE wrote on Twitter that “you can’t censor your way to free speech.”