By Gary Weaver
According to a recent report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Oregon State University is one of only 18 colleges in the United States without restrictive free-speech policies.
FIRE reviewed the written policies of 437 universities and found that more than 55% have severely restrictive “red light” policies that substantially prohibit free speech. Universities with policies that could be restrictive were bestowed a “yellow light,” and institutions without restrictive polices garnered a “green light.”
Out of 333 public colleges and universities, FIRE found that 54.1% received a red light rating, 41.4% received a yellow light rating, and 4.5% received a green light rating.
To earn a green light rating, a university’s free-speech policies must not seriously threaten campus expression. A green light rating does not necessarily indicate that a school actively supports free expression; it simply means that the school’s written policies do not pose a serious threat to free speech.
Restrictions on free speech varied by state. In Oregon, Oregon State was the only one to receive a green light, while the University of Oregon garnered the only red light rating.
According to a press release accompanying FIRE’s report, Oregon State was one of only three universities that “eliminated all of their speech codes” this year.
“The continued decline in speech codes is excellent news,” said Samantha Harris, FIRE’s director of policy research, “but supporters of free speech need to confront the threat from the federal government head-on and work to make sure colleges understand that no government regulation can trump the First Amendment.”
You can view the full report online at www.thefire.org/spotlight-speech-codes-2015/#_ftnref4 and view Oregon State University’s FIRE profile at www.thefire.org/schools/oregon-state-university.