The National Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression published a study this week saying that Harvard University is the worst college in the country for free speech.
In a recent assessment published by FIRE, titled “2024 College Free Speech Rankings: What Is the Current State of Free Speech across America’s College Campuses?” Harvard received the lowest possible rating of 0.00. It was the only college that got an “Abysmal” speech environment ranking.
The college’s 0.00 grade, according to FIRE, was “generous.”
“Its real score,” according to the study, “is -10.69, which is over six standard deviations lower than average and over two standard deviations lower than the University of Pennsylvania, the Ivy League equivalent that comes in second to worst in the rankings.”
Sean Stevens, FIRE’s head of polling and analytics, stated to the New York Post that he wasn’t “completely surprised” by the findings.
Stevens said, “We have been doing these kinds of rankings for years, and Harvard has always been near the bottom. I thought it would have been pretty hard for a school to drop below zero, but they have had an abundance of scholar sanctions.”
In April, 100 Harvard teachers and faculty members came together to create the Council on Academic Freedom. This group’s goal is to keep free speech on the college campus. The group of experts called it a “crisis time” because “confidence in American colleges and universities is sinking.” In addition, the University of South Carolina, Georgetown University, as well as Fordham University were also in the bottom five.
The universities with the greatest speech climate scores were Michigan Tech, Auburn University, Oregon State University, the University of Florida, and the University of New Hampshire.
“Each of the nation’s top four schools received a ‘Good’ speech climate score, and Florida State received a ‘Above Average’ rating,” the report said.
Stevens stated to the Post, “I am not too surprised that a technical school currently has a better speech climate, mainly because they aren’t talking as much about controversial topics. Their job as engineers is to make things run smoothly.”
This past year, Columbia University was rated the worst in the country for free speech. It got a score of 34.60 as well as a “Below Average” speech climate score, whereas the University of Chicago was rated the best with an overall score of 65.95 as well as a “Above Average” speech climate ranking.
The schools in the U.S. were ranked based on the answers to a poll from over 55,000 students completing four-year programs of study at 254 universities and colleges from January to June 2023.