Since 2011, FIRE has named and shamed 65 individual colleges and universities as America’s worst for free speech. Some — we’re looking at you Harvard, DePaul, and Syracuse — are regulars and have appeared four or five times. Others have slunk away in embarrassment after being listed. But all have one thing in common: They had the chance to do the right thing when it came to free speech, but chose otherwise.
This year’s list of the 10 worst colleges for free speech includes a college that fired a professor over an innocuous joke on social media, another that allowed its student government to flatly reject a student club because of its conservative beliefs, one that unilaterally canceled a faculty-organized lecture, and a college that suspended a librarian for curating a historical display highlighting the university’s own photos of its racist past.
As in previous years, FIRE’s 2020 “worst-of-the-worst” list is presented in no particular order, and both public and private colleges are featured. Public colleges and universities are bound by the First Amendment. Private colleges on this list are not constitutionally required to respect student and faculty speech rights, but explicitly promise to do so.