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  • Writer's pictureCorey Lee Wilson

2021 college free speech rankings: The good, bad & ugly!

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eings have noticed a growing intolerance for the exchange of ideas at American colleges and universities during the 21st century. During Trump’s first two years in office, battles over free speech on campuses descended into violence across the nation. In the escalating battle over college free speech, don’t let anyone tell you it’s NO big problem. It’s a serious problem and when any organization, journalist, or website tries to downplay it, simply inform them of the unbiased truth concerning free speech issues from a free pdf copy of Free Speech Madness to be published on December 28, 2021. "There are serious implications for what is going on here; universities are becoming havens of the closed minded," said Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), which says it promotes academic standards and accountability. One wonders if the students were familiar with “doublespeak” and “Thought Police” and other concepts described in the works of George Orwell. They certainly haven’t read Voltaire, the Enlightenment thinker who once said, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Most professors and campus administrators want an open environment where all members of the academic community can express their ideas honestly. But, in recent years, reports that students and faculty have been self-censoring their views in the classroom and on campus in general, have increased and are concerning. If this is going on in your classroom, or at your university, then it is vital to know: WHICH students are feeling intimidated, about WHICH topics, and WHY? Are students primarily afraid of the professors, or of other students? Is it happening in all departments, or only in a few? The Heterodox Academy’s Campus Expression Survey is an easy to administer tool for professors and administrators that can help answer these questions and provides a diagnosis, or X-ray, of what is going on in your classroom or on your campus. Illiberalism’s On-Going War Against Freedom of Speech on American Campuses The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), in partnership with RealClearEducation, commissioned College Pulse to conduct a survey of students at 159 colleges about students’ experiences with free speech on their campuses. That report was released in September 2021, titled 2021 College Free Speech Rankings. Fielded from February 15 to May 30, 2021, via the College Pulse mobile app and web portal, the survey (and later report) included over 37,000 student respondents who were currently enrolled in four-year degree programs. This was the largest survey of college students about free speech on their campuses ever conducted. Key 2021 College Free Speech Rankings highlights include:

  • Claremont McKenna has the highest ranked score on the 2021 Free Speech Rankings.

  • The University of Chicago, the University of New Hampshire, Emory University, and Florida State University also rank highly.

  • DePauw University has the lowest overall score on the Free Speech Rankings for the second year in a row, confirming its place at the bottom.

  • Marquette University, Louisiana State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Boston College are near the bottom of the rankings.

  • More than 80% of students report censoring their viewpoints at their colleges at least some of the time, with 21% saying they censor themselves often.

  • More than 50% of students identify racial inequality as a difficult topic to discuss on their campus.

  • Two thirds of students (66%) say it is acceptable to shout down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus, and almost one in four (23%) say it is acceptable to use violence to stop a campus speech.

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