The Corner

Politics & Policy

One State that’s Winning the Battle for Free Speech

Amidst the many campus follies, here’s some good news: the battle for free speech (i.e., against speech codes and other impediments that administrators like to impose) is going pretty well. That’s true in North Carolina, at least.

The Martin Center has teamed up with FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) to survey the state of free speech on public and private college campuses in the state — first in 2010 and just again. In today’s article, Chris West writes about the progress in favor of free speech over the last eight years. Turning over the rock so speech restrictions are exposed to sunlight makes a difference.

Back in 2010, not even one UNC institution merited FIRE’s “green light” designation, meaning no policies that negatively affected free speech. Now, most have green light status, and North Carolina now has more green light schools than any other state.

Perhaps surprisingly, Chapel Hill, known as a bastion of progressivism, led the way by abolishing two bad policies in 2015. (Of course, that was done by the generally sensible UNC trustees and administration, not the leftists who dominate the faculty.)

West writes, “North Carolina’s public universities have perhaps the strongest First Amendment protections in the country.”

Among NC’s private schools, it’s a mixed bag. Some have improved their free speech protections (most notably Duke), but others remain in FIRE’s yellow or red light territory.

West links to the new report on free speech and I recommend it if you are concerned about this important issue.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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