The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) releases 2020 College Free Speech Rankings.
By Veronica Gonzalez Hoff, Texas A&M University Division of Student AffairsOCTOBER 9, 2020
Texas A&M University ranked No. 3 in the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE) survey of college students about their experiences with free speech on campus. FIRE collaborated with RealClearEducation and College Pulse to conduct the survey at 55 colleges nationwide.
Nearly 20,000 students enrolled in four-year degree programs responded from April 1 to May 28. According to the survey report, the rankings take into account the varied dimensions of free expression on campus.
“For an academic community to thrive, it is vital to constantly recommit ourselves to free speech and independent inquiry,” said Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young. “This is not a destination, but rather a journey that requires continual effort. The latest FIRE rankings confirm that we continue to take steps in the right direction. They are also tribute to the hard work of Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Daniel Pugh and his staff, as well as so many other members of our university community, whose daily dedication ensures that Texas A&M remains a place where we can have an open exchange of ideas and opinions.”
Five components were considered to create the scale used for ranking:
- Openness to have difficult conversations
- Tolerance for controversial speakers
- Administrative support for free speech
- FIRE’s Speech Code Rating
The rankings are designed to help prospective students and parents choose the college for them.
“All of Texas should be proud of Texas A&M University. We have worked hard to reaffirm and grow our commitment to free speech and the First Amendment,” Pugh said. “There is still much work to be done but we will continue moving forward.”
Texas A&M University is the first and only university in the state to earn the highest rating for free speech from FIRE. Texas A&M’s “green light” rating indicates that its written policies do not imperil student or faculty free speech. FIRE’s Spotlight database rates more than 450 colleges and universities based on the degree to which their policies protect or curtail free speech.
Texas A&M University also published a new First Amendment website this semester as part of the ongoing effort to emphasize the importance of First Amendment rights on campus under the U.S. Constitution. The new website highlights expressive activity on campus and expresses the commitment from the university to promote an environment where all five First Amendment freedoms are valued and recognized.
The website contains various resources and information related to expressive activity and policies on campus, how to file grievances related to the First Amendment on campus, and details about Texas Senate Bill 18, passed in 2019, which addresses the importance of free expression on campus.
FIRE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.