University of Arizona Earns Top Free Speech Rating
At a time when many colleges and universities across the nation continue to restrict free speech on their campuses, the University of Arizona has aligned all of its speech polices with the First Amendment of the Constitution.
The policy change earned the university the top free speech “green light” rating by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), joining a league of 45 other institutions around the country that have previously earned the distinction.
In the past, the university was given a “yellow light” rating for restricting a limited amount of protected expression, prompting officials to revise the university’s unclear harassment policy on its website. In August 2018, deputy general counsel Art Lee amended the yellow light speech code, boosting the university’s overall ranking.
“Free speech is essential in sustaining a democratic society, and it is equally important in providing an exceptional university education,” University of Arizona president Robert C. Robbins said. “Fundamental to our mission is ensuring that all of our students and faculty practice and promote principles of freedom of expression.”
In December, the UA Faculty Senate also voted to adopt the free speech Chicago Statement, making it the 56th college to do so.
“The university joins a small but growing group of universities that have committed to respect the speech rights of students and faculty members,” Laura Beltz, FIRE’s policy reform senior program officer, said.
In the Spotlight on Speech Codes 2019 report which was released by FIRE, 89.7 percent of colleges scuttle free speech, while just 10 percent of colleges are able to maintain “free speech zone” policies.