Eleven national universities to avoid if you value freedom of expression

'Fire' put together a list of the higher education institutions that most interfere with these rights. Georgetown University tops the list.

The think tank Fire published its list of U.S. universities that, in its view, do not respect the First Amendment. The ranking, which the organization first released in 2011, evaluates higher education institutions and reveals the top ten that, according to them, violate freedom of expression by doing things such as dismissing faculty for defending certain ideas or ideologies or confronting students who defend a position that the school does not agree with.

The institution clarifies that the ranking has no particular order (with the exception of the Lifetime Censorship Award which, on this occasion, they decided to grant to Georgetown University and which adds one more school to the usual top 10). The list is made up of the top U.S. educational institutions that, in their opinion, impede workers and students from exercising their First Amendment rights. Fire decided that, in 2023, the American colleges and universities that most infringe on free speech are as follows:

Georgetown University (Washington, DC) ranked number one

Fire states in the article that there isn’t a clear classification when it comes to universities that infringe on freedom of expression. However, it is clear that first place goes to Georgetown University. Fire also awarded the university with the Lifetime Censorship Award. They do so for several reasons, but one is what makes them worthy of this award.

According to the institution, the university suspended law professor Ilya Shapiro for posting a tweet in which he criticized, as reported in The New York Post, President Biden’s choice to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court with Sandra Lynch:

Objectively best pick for Biden is Sri Srinivasan, who is solid [progressive] and [very] smart. Even has identity politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American. But alas doesn’t fit into last intersectionality hierarchy so we’ll get lesser black woman. Thank heaven for small favors?

Shapiro resigned despite being found not guilty

That tweet prompted Georgetown University to open an investigation against Ilya Shapiro. After 122 days, he was found not guilty. However, he decided to leave the university immediately afterwards. According to the op-ed he wrote for the Wall Street Journal, he said it was because he had been acquitted on a "technicality," since he was not yet on the faculty when he posted the tweet:

But after full consideration of the report I received later that afternoon from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action, or IDEAA, and on consultation with counsel and trusted advisers, I concluded that remaining in my job was untenable.

This whole situation, along with the response and the university’s extensive investigation, led Professor Ilya Shapiro to resign from his faculty position at Georgetown University Law School. The university was included in Fire’s list for infringing on freedom of expression in 2015, 2017 and 2019. 

The top 10 includes universities from Texas and Pennsylvania.

Georgetown University, despite being the one that most violates freedom of expression, is not the only one. Fire pointed out ten other universities that, according to them, are worthy of making this list, either for infringing on faculty’s freedom of expression or students’ first amendment rights.

Among the schools that infringe on these rights, specifically, limiting the faculty's freedom of expression are Hamline University (Saint Paul, Minnesota); Collin College (McKinney, Texas); the University of Pennsylvania; Emporia State (Emporia, Kansas), the University of Oregon (Eugene, Oregon) and Loyola University (New Orleans, Louisiana).

Students have also had their First Amendment rights violated. According to Fire, Tennessee Tech canceled campus events after a video of a drag show put on by a student group surfaced online. It was not the only one; Emerson Center (Boston, Massachusetts), Texas A & M (College Station, Texas) and Pennsylvania State University also made the list for not allowing their students to exercise their right to free speech.