Over the last several years, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has conducted a thorough survey of campus speech codes at over 350 American colleges and universities and compiled the data in one location on FIRE’s website, Spotlight: The Campus Freedom Resource. For each of these schools, FIRE provides a rating based on whether and to what extent its policies violate constitutional speech protections. A green-light rating indicates that a university’s policies do not impinge on free expression, a yellow-light institution has policies that could excessively regulate or ban protected speech, and a red-light rating is given to institutions with at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the vast majority of colleges and universities receive a red-light rating. Spotlight’s speech code ratings have been repeatedly cited in newspapers from the Wall Street Journal and USA Today to local and campus newspapers across the country.
In addition to FIRE’s speech codes research, each school’s Spotlight page has links to all case documents from FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, media coverage of FIRE’s work at that school, and entries from FIRE’s blog, The Torch, related to speech issues at that institution. It’s a one-stop location for all things freedom-related on university campuses.
To help spread awareness of the free speech restrictions in place at many colleges and universities, FIRE has recently introduced the FIRE widget. Each widget is an attractive icon (look at the right side) that bloggers and others can put on their website to link to the Spotlight page of a school of their choice. It’s an excellent way to highlight the violations of constitutional protections at your alma mater. If you send FIRE a link to your site with the widget posted on it, along with your mail address, FIRE will send you a free FIRE t-shirt.
To post a widget, follow these easy steps.
1. Visit thefire.org/spotlight and select your school by state, region, or simply by typing its name into the search box.
2. When your school’s page comes up, look on the right sidebar to view the widget for that particular school. Below it is a box containing some text–select it all and copy it to the clipboard.
3. Go to your blog or website, and paste in the text wherever you want the widget to appear (it’s made for a sidebar, but should work anywhere).
4. Send us a link to your site with the widget posted on it, as well as your mailing address.