(PatriotWise.com) — Harvard University was ranked as the most restrictive in terms of free speech for 2023, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). The results were published this Wednesday, highlighting significant concerns about free speech in the prestigious Ivy League institution.
Sean Stevens from FIRE commented, “This ranking doesn’t completely shock us. Harvard has frequently been low on our list.” Despite its stellar academic reputation, Harvard scored an unprecedented 0.00 out of 100 on the free speech scale, trailing 11 points behind the subsequent institution.
FIRE stated that this score was somewhat lenient, as Harvard’s actual tally was -10.69. The disciplinary actions against nine faculty members for their expressions significantly influenced this score. Of those, seven faced real consequences.
The criteria for the score consider the institution’s policies regarding free speech, incidents involving faculty, students, and guest speakers facing backlash for their views, and supportive actions by the university’s administrators towards free speech. Student opinions on free speech were also gauged via a survey with the research firm College Pulse.
Interestingly, over 100 Harvard professors formed a Council on Academic Freedom earlier this year, asserting the importance of open dialogue on campus. Janet Halley, a council member and Harvard Law School professor, expressed her concerns, stating that the current climate endangers the fundamental rights of free speech and academic freedom.
Other universities following Harvard in the list included the University of Pennsylvania, the University of South Carolina, Georgetown University, and Fordham University. Notably, Columbia University, previously deemed the worst for free speech, now stands at 214th out of 248.
Conversely, Michigan Technological University achieved the top rank for upholding free speech, scoring 78.01 out of 100. Stevens mentioned, “It’s perhaps less surprising that a tech-focused university might fare better since their discussions often avoid polarizing topics.”
Auburn University, the University of New Hampshire, Oregon State University, and Florida State University also featured in the top five.
The broader findings from FIRE’s survey of 55,000 students from 254 universities revealed concerning trends: over half feared facing backlash for their words, and more than a quarter believed that violent measures could sometimes be justified to suppress speech on campus.
Stevens emphasized the gravity of the situation, indicating a troubling trajectory for free speech in educational institutions. He concluded, “The current state of campus dialogue is, at best, not improving, and perhaps even deteriorating compared to last year.”
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