UNC Greensboro, UNC Charlotte, ECU score again in free speech analyses

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(The Center Square) – University policies infringing on free speech are not seriously imperiled on at least 14 North Carolina campuses, according to research by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

Score UNC Greensboro, UNC Charlotte and East Carolina for the podium finish when considering an earlier ranking from FIRE.

The nonprofit civil liberties group, billing itself as “committed to defending and sustaining the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought,” used red, yellow, green and blue lights to represent the 489 schools in its Spotlight on Speech Codes 2024 database. Not all four-year universities in the state are included.

The analysis points out a university’s “as-applied” violations of “student speech rights or other cases of censorship” are not considered in this examination of codes and policies; those are included with the annual College Free Speech Rankings in the fall.

The G, as it’s fondly known, was the state’s best scoring school on the two lists slightly ahead of Charlotte and ECU.

A red light rating means a school maintains “policies that clearly and substantially restrict free speech.” Yellow means vague regulations on expression are imposed. Green is given for maintaining policies that do not seriously imperil free expression. And blue is a “warning” rating because the institutions do not promise students free speech rights at all.

UNC Greensboro was on this list with a green light and in the fall was ninth nationally in the Free Speech Rankings. UNC Charlotte and East Carolina also got green lights, with Charlotte No. 21 and ECU No. 24 in the fall research.

There were no schools from the state on the red list. On the yellow, alphabetically, were Davidson, North Carolina A&T, Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State.

The green light list also had Appalachian State, Duke, Fayetteville State, N.C. Central, N.C. State, UNC Pembroke, UNC Asheville, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC School of the Arts, UNC Wilmington and Western Carolina.

There were no inclusions among the eight on the blue light list. It was made up of Baylor, Brigham Young, Hillsdale in Michigan, Pepperdine in California, Saint Louis, the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy and Yeshiva University in New York City.

The free speech codes database has 376 public and 113 private institutions. Of those analyzed, more were yellow light (69.1% of those public, 53.1% private) and few were green light (15.2% public, 5.3% private). The 98 making the red light list were 15.2% public and 36.3% private.

In the Free Speech Rankings, “above average” was bestowed on UNC Greensboro and UNC Charlotte, with East Carolina and Appalachian State (No. 36) each ranking above average.

Duke (No. 124), Wake Forest (No. 88) and Davidson (No. 64) were average.

UNC Chapel Hill (No. 174) came in slightly below average.

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