More Than Half of Wisconsin Colleges Substantially Restrict Free Speech


Broad speech restrictions, bias response teams, and free speech zones impair free expression and open debate

The News: review of speech codes at Wisconsin colleges and universities by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) found that more than half of institutions reviewed substantially restrict freedom of speech. Three quarters of Wisconsin’s technical colleges and one third of the four-year colleges in the University of Wisconsin system have policies that severely restrict free speech. WILL could not identify one college or university that had no policies that restrict or threaten free speech.

Speech Code Review: WILL rated Wisconsin institutions of higher education according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) traffic light system: red means that the school “has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech,” yellow means that the school “is one whose policies restrict a more limited amount of protected expression or, by virtue of their vague wording, could too easily be used to restrict protected expression,” and green means that the school’s “policies do not seriously imperil speech.” Critical findings include: