The Foundation for Individual Rights and Education (FIRE) recently awarded Oregon State University a “green light” rating for its policies on free speech, making it one of 27 universities across the county with the classification.
FIRE is a non-profit organization that works to uphold individual rights such as freedom of speech, religion, conscience, and due process on college campuses in the United States. They produce an annual report, Spotlight on Speech Codes, surveying speech policies at 400 public and private universities. Universities receive either a red, yellow, or green light rating based on the level of restriction on constitutional freedoms of speech and expression.
The 2017 report indicates that 449 schools were included in the survey, out of which only 27 were awarded a green light. A red light was given to 39.6% of the schools, which is a 10% drop from the previous year’s number of red light schools.
According to FIRE, “A green light rating does not necessarily indicate that a school actively supports free expression in practice; it simply means that the school’s written policies do not pose a serious threat to free speech.”
A red light means “the threat to free speech…is obvious on the face of the policy and does not depend on how the policy is applied.”
It’s worth noting that OSU was given a red light rating in the 2014 report, making it part of the 58% of schools with the same rating. Universities across the board have improved their policies on free speech and expression over the past few years, which might come as a comfort to some as the presidential inauguration is right around the corner.