Two Oklahoma universities make list of 10 worst colleges for free speech

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Podium mic, photo via MGN Online

OKLAHOMA – Two universities in Oklahoma recently made the list for the 10 worst colleges for free speech.

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), this year’s list of the 10 worst colleges for free speech includes the University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa.

FIRE put OU on the list after OU President David Boren expelled two students who played a leadership role in the singing of a racist chant in connection with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity event.

However, two First Amendment experts told FIRE that the students’ expulsion was a violation of free speech.

“OU is a public university and cannot punish speech that does not fall into one of the few and narrowly defined categories of speech not protected by the First Amendment, like true threats or incitement to imminent lawless action. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that offensive speech, even racist speech, is protected by the First Amendment.”

The University of Tulsa was put on the list because it “punished a student for what someone else said.”

In Sept. 2014, TU student George “Trey” Barnett was punished because his then-fiance wrote a Facebook post that criticized a TU professor, FIRE reports.

Even though Barnett’s fiance admitted to writing the post, school officials found Barnett guilty of harassment and of retaliation for sharing the information with his fiance.

The TU student was suspended until at least Jan. 2016, FIRE reports.

Other universities that made the list for 10 worst colleges for free speech are:

  • Mount St. Mary’s University
  • Northwestern University
  • Louisiana State University
  • University of California, San Diego
  • Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
  • Marquette University
  • Colorado College
  • Wesleyan University

You can read more on the list here.


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