Harvard University ranks as nation’s worst school for free speech in new report

Harvard University ranks as nation’s worst school for free speech in new report
via Emily Karakis on Unsplash
Michelle De Pacina
September 6, 2023
Harvard University was ranked the worst school in the U.S. for free speech in 2023, according to an annual report by the nonprofit group Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE).
About its ranking: Harvard received an overall score of 0.00, the lowest possible score on FIRE’s 100-point scale. The ranking is attributed to nine professors and researchers at Harvard who have faced calls to be punished or dismissed based on past written and verbal speech, with seven of them being professionally disciplined.
“I’m not totally surprised,” Sean Stevens, director of polling and analytics at FIRE, told The New York Post. “We’ve done these rankings for years now, and Harvard is consistently near the bottom. I thought it would be pretty much impossible for a school to fall below zero, but they’ve had so many scholar sanctions.”
The New York Post noted that Harvard’s “actual score” was -10.69.
Lowest and highest: The second worst school for free speech is the University of Pennsylvania, followed by the University of South Carolina, Georgetown University and Fordham University.
According to the ranking, Michigan Technological University was the top school for free speech with a score of 78.01 out of 100. Auburn University comes in second, followed by the University of New Hampshire, Oregon State University and Florida State University in the top five.
About the report: FIRE, which surveyed 55,000 current students from 254 universities, determined the ranking by factors such as the strength of a school’s free speech policies, instances of speech-related targeting and the school administrators’ support for threatened free speech.
The rankings also revealed that a significant percentage of students (56%) worry about “getting canceled” for their speech, and 27% believe violence can be acceptable to suppress campus speech in certain circumstances. Overall, Stevens said that the state of free speech on campuses is perceived as stagnant or possibly worsening.

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