In the midst of a flood of news reports showing us that schools across the country continue to fight a war against freedom of speech, it’s refreshing to see that at least one college is taking steps to change the picture.
According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the University of Alabama’s ratings improved.
Now with a “yellow light” free speech rating, the school appears to be making considerable efforts to move away from its image of being hostile toward free speech. However, a yellow light from FIRE is nothing to celebrate. After all, some of the school’s policies could still be used to restrict students’ free speech rights. Still, FIRE attorney Laura Beltz thinks the changes the university implemented are positive.
“We are currently working with The University of Alabama and are very hopeful that we can collaborate on this and work with them to arrive at policies that meet their concerns but that also protect free speech rights,” she explained.
With most universities in the country holding a yellow light rating, Beltz warned that schools must still do more to follow the Constitution on campus. She’s hopeful, however, as “75 percent of colleges were getting the red light rating” in 2009 when FIRE first put out their report. Now, she said, schools are mostly getting the yellow light rating. While that’s not good in itself, as “these ‘yellow light’ ratings have been struck down by the court as unconstitutional,” she explained, it does show schools are slowly beginning to take the matter seriously.
According to FIRE, some of the policies that make the University of Alabama a “yellow light” institution include its event planning, harassment, sexual misconduct, and advertisement policies. However, the school has a Code of Student Conduct Preamble that was labeled a “green light” policy. Hopefully, the positive response from this change will encourage others to review their own policies.
Freedom Of Speech Is Popular
With public universities such as the University of Alabama making this change, expect to see more institutions joining the movement.
Due to the increasing pressure brought about the many incidents involving left-leaning protestors at events organized by conservative voices in the last years, it’s no wonder FIRE is seeing more schools going from “red light” to “yellow light” ratings. But the move couldn’t come fast enough, as many schools insist on keeping policies easily that are abused, giving students and college staff reason to attack those they don’t agree with politically.