For the second year in a row, all undergraduate campuses of the University System of New Hampshire were nationally recognized for their commitment to freedom of speech.
In its just-released “Speech Codes 2020” report, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) gave the University of New Hampshire, Plymouth State University and Keene state College “green light” ratings. A green light signifies “that the institution does not maintain any written policies that imperil free expression.”
By contrast, the state’s lone Ivy League institution, Dartmouth College, received a “red light” for having “at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”
Dartmouth received D grades on due process rights for students accused of misconduct, scoring in the mid-single digits on a 20-point scale.
Students at Dartmouth also are encouraged to report each other to the administration for “bias.” The college’s Office of Judicial Affairs tells students: “If you are the target of, witness to, or even simply hear about any form of bias happening to a Dartmouth student, you should submit a Bias Impact Report immediately.”
New Hampshire’s public colleges and universities have no similarly Orwellian instructions for students to act as secret speech police, nor do they have speech codes that violate students’ First Amendment rights.
As recently as 2017, Keene State College received a red light rating and the University of New Hampshire received yellow light from FIRE for having restrictive speech codes.
But in the spring of 2018, UNH revised all of its codes, and Keene State followed suit in the summer.
“Universities should be the first to embrace the free exchange of ideas and speech,” then-UNH President Mark Huddleston said. “The only UNH policy on speech is that it is free and unfettered on our campuses, and we’re pleased that FIRE has recognized our efforts.”
Upon his inauguration as UNH’s new president in 2018, Jim Dean also signaled his support for freedom of speech.
Granite Staters can be proud that their public university system has made its campuses into forums for the free exchange of ideas. And they can be thankful to FIRE for encouraging good behavior by monitoring campus speech policies and publishing these rankings.
(Note: FIRE’s reports do not include Granite State College, the University System of New Hampshire’s adult education college.)