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ERIC Number: ED537000
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 40
Abstractor: ERIC
Spotlight on Speech Codes 2012: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation's Campuses
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (NJ1)
The U.S. Supreme Court has called America's colleges and universities "vital centers for the Nation's intellectual life," but the reality today is that many of these institutions severely restrict free speech and open debate. Speech codes--policies prohibiting student and faculty speech that would, outside the bounds of campus, be protected by the First Amendment--have repeatedly been struck down by federal and state courts. Yet they persist, even in the very jurisdictions where they have been ruled unconstitutional; the majority of American colleges and universities have speech codes. FIRE surveyed 392 schools for this report and found that 65% maintain severely restrictive speech codes--policies that clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech. That this figure is so large is deeply troubling, but there is a small silver lining: It represents a decline in the percentage of schools maintaining such policies for the fourth year in a row. In another encouraging trend, several schools eliminated all of their restrictive speech codes this year, earning FIRE's highest, "green light" rating. Despite the clear trend towards fewer speech codes on campus over the past several years, there is reason to be profoundly concerned about new waves of campus censorship potentially facilitated by federal agencies and state and federal legislators. Appended are: (1) Schools by Rating; (2) Rating Changes, 2010-2011 Academic Year; (3) State-by-State Information (Minimum Five Institutions Ranked); and (4) Percentage of Red Light Institutions of Total Institutions Ranked. (Contains 4 figures and 45 footnotes.) [For the 2011 edition of this report, see ED536999.]
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. 601 Walnut Street Suite 510, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 215-717-3473; Fax: 215-717-3440; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Davis v Monroe County Board of Education; First Amendment