Our system of miseducation is getting worse every year. But even as education is degraded more every single day, there are some schools that have reached the pinnacle of degradation, especially where it comes to free speech.
Along with becoming jokes where it comes to academic standards, our colleges are also becoming bastions of fascist leftism where student’s freedoms are quashed on a daily basis. But one organization has done yeoman’s work to expose this fascism. Every year, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) assembles its list of the least free campuses in the nation.
FIRE has put out its annual list of the ten worst colleges.
Along with its list, the group gave a detailed report of the lack of freedom students face at these colleges.
At number ten, for instance is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, New York.
You can’t “eminent domain” away students’ free speech rights. But this college tried.
Eastern New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was an easy choice for our 2018 list of worst colleges for free speech. When we learned that students passing out buttons and flyers critical of RPI’s administration were told by campus security officers to “vacate” the sidewalk because of “eminent domain,” we knew the school was likely to be on this year’s list, too. And here it is.
To be clear, “eminent domain” — the power of the government to take private land for public use — is a legal concept with no bearing on the situation whatsoever.
Worse, the college administration ran with the lie about eminent domain and cited it to back up its claim that it could stifle free speech.
Then there was the sixth worst university, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
“If you promise free speech, you better deliver. Censoring the student newspaper is not delivering,” FIRE noted.
In 2016, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., proclaimed that the university “promotes the free expression of ideas unlike many major universities where political correctness prevents conservative students from speaking out.” What, then, do we make of repeated efforts by the school to censor its student newspaper, the Liberty Champion?
On Aug. 16, WORLD magazine issued a report alleging repeated efforts to silence the Liberty Champion that date back years. WORLD highlighted a 2016 situation when Falwell reportedly cut sports editor Joel Schmieg’s column criticizing President Donald Trump for saying he “grab[s] [women] by the pussy” during a leaked recording from a 2005 filming of “Access Hollywood.”
The worst was Dixie State University in St. George, Utah.
“It pressured a professor to sign away his free speech rights. It barred student press from public meetings. And that’s just this year,” FIRE said.
Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, made headlines this spring for abruptly firing tenured music professor Ken Peterson, who was terminated along with another faculty member for merely discussing a colleague’s tenure bid. Inside Higher Ed reported widespread concerns among Dixie State faculty that the charges were trumped up to oust the professors for political reasons.
In July, the Utah System of Higher Education ruled Peterson should be reinstated. And while Dixie State said it “wholeheartedly supported” USHE’s decision, the university subsequently presented Peterson with a wildly unreasonable “Last Chance Contract” as a condition to reinstatement that would have stripped him of practically all his speech and academic freedom rights. Academe Blog’s John K. Wilson called Dixie State’s move “one of the most extreme violations of academic freedom and free speech that I’ve ever seen.”
Peterson refused to sign, and the Utah State Senate audited the university to determine whether the school violated any of its tenure-related policies.
If that weren’t enough, Dixie State is also in a protracted fight with its student newspaper over access to public meetings and records.
Visit FIRE for the full list.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.