3 Texas Universities Receive Free Speech Red Light
Three Texas universities received the most severe rating, or “red light,” from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, also known as FIRE. The national inquiry released by the organization was released on Tuesday and examines free speech policies at higher education institutions.
The report included 481 US four-year colleges and universities.
Texas schools classified on red light
University of Texas, Dallas
University of Houston, downtown.
Texas schools classified green light
Texas A&M University
What justifies a red light?
Laura Beltz, author of the FIRE report, said schools rated red have “extremely restrictive” policies that pose a serious threat to protected expression. She said the University of Houston, Downtown maintains an IT policy “that students should not send messages or make any post that could be construed as offensive. This could include anything from a rude sports-themed tweet to an out of color joke. And it is a protected speech.
FIRE said 86% of colleges restrict free speech to some extent.
Middle of the peloton
Beltz said 16 schools in Texas, like Texas State University, got a yellow rating, which is average. She said the state of Texas, for example, prohibits the use of information resources for political purposes because the public school itself cannot legally defend politicians. But she said, students can.
“So we’re flagging this one,” Beltz explained, “because the students might read this and think, oh, I’m not allowed to engage in any political expression about the university’s computing resources, and this is simply not the case. “
The lonely green light
Beltz said that among the Texas colleges assessed, only Texas A&M was given a green light, meaning the school does not maintain any policies that compromise student expression. Only 12% of schools assessed by FIRE, 58 nationwide, have been given a green light.
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