College Free Speech: USF ranked as 12th best, Harvard the worst

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) and College Pulse recently published the 2024 College Free Speech Rankings, and it shows that the University of South Florida (USF) ranks #12 with an “above average” speech climate, student free speech and open inquiry among all students surveyed.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Some of the highlights of the survey as it pertains to USF include:

  • 39% of students say shouting down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus is never acceptable.
  • 45% of students say they have rarely or never self-censored on campus.
  • 46% of students say they are not worried about damaging their reputation because someone misunderstands something they have said or done.
  • For every one conservative student, there are roughly 1.7 liberal students.

Michigan Technological University is the top-ranked school in the 2024 College Free Speech Rankings. Auburn University, the University of New Hampshire, Oregon State University, and Florida State University round out the top five.

▪ Michigan Technological University (78.01)
▪ Auburn University (72.53)
▪ University of New Hampshire (72.17)
▪ Oregon State University (71.56)
▪ Florida State University (69.64)

Harvard University obtained the lowest score possible, 0.00, and is the only school with an “Abysmal” speech climate rating. The University of Pennsylvania, the University of South Carolina, Georgetown University, and Fordham University also ranked in the bottom five.

▪ Harvard University (0.00)
▪ University of Pennsylvania (11.13)
▪ University of South Carolina (12.24)
▪ Georgetown University (17.45)
▪ Fordham University (21.72)

In fact FIRE notes: Harvard’s overall score of 0.00 is generous — its actual score is -10.69, more than six standard deviations below the average and more than two standard deviations below the second-to-last school in the rankings and its Ivy League counterpart, the University of Pennsylvania.

Harvard, which on paper commits to protecting free speech, has a dismal record of responding to deplatforming attempts — attempts to sanction students, student groups, scholars, and speakers for speech protected under First Amendment standards.

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