Some colleges attack the right of students to freely associate with each other. Some functionally punish faculty when they are targets of “outrage” campaigns. Some will hassle you if you try to educate people about their constitutional rights.
Not all of them are required to abide by the First Amendment, but most of them promise to voluntarily protect your right to free speech. Few of them deliver.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education released its annual “10 worst colleges for free speech” list this week, highlighting mostly private institutions and giving out its first “Lifetime Censorship Award” for perennial violations of its commitments (congratulations, DePaul).
Harvard made its fourth appearance on the annual list for its continued war on single-sex student clubs, as well as withdrawing admissions offers to students for privately sharing crude jokes and yanking a visiting fellowship from Chelsea Manning, the pardoned traitor, after U.S. intelligence officials criticized it.
Albion College made its first appearance for its dragged-out investigation of a conservative student for joking about “ISIS hunting permits.”
Nationally reviled for threatening the Title IX iconoclast professor Laura Kipnis a few years ago, Northwestern reappeared this year for again investigating Kipnis for her writing – the book version of her polarizing essay on “sexual paranoia” on campus.
Drexel University drew flak for investigating the professor behind the infamous “white genocide” joke tweet, and then barring him from campus on the pretext that his safety was in peril, though it refused to provide “basic information” on that decision. The professor eventually left, saying every academic is “a single outrage campaign away from having no rights at all.”
Rensselaer Polytechnic has perhaps the longest track record of punishing speech on the list, from censoring “criticism of the Iraq War to critics of that criticism.” Administrators refused to let students protest a perceived administrative takeover of their union, tore down their signs and investigated “leaders” who criticized them on TV.
Fordham University, the only Catholic school on the main list, cemented its spot for the second straight year by continually refusing to recognize a campus Palestinian-rights organization because it promotes “polarization rather than dialogue.” It’s now claiming in response to a lawsuit that its only objection to the organization is its name – “Students for Justice in Palestine.”
On the public school list, Evergreen State made its first appearance for threats against professors for protesting the “Day of Absence” request that whites leave campus; Los Angeles Community College District for stopping a student from handing out Spanish-language Constitutions; University of California-Berkeley for the “culture” that threatened planned events featuring conservatives Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Shapiro and David Horowitz; and Texas State for threatening the funding of the student newspaper for publishing a column that said whites “shouldn’t exist.”