The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and North Carolina Central University have earned the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s highest, “green light” rating for their commitment to the First Amendment. The universities revised or eliminated all of their speech codes to join an elite group of institutions — including two others in North Carolina — that maintain policies respecting the expressive rights of students and faculty.
“With these two new green light universities, the state of North Carolina is at the forefront of the movement to protect campus First Amendment rights,” said Laura Beltz, FIRE’s policy reform program officer. “FIRE is excited about these institutions’ commitment to free speech and looks forward to working with more colleges around the country to improve student and faculty speech rights.”
The policy changes at UNCG and NCCU affect more than 30,000 students and faculty members.
“We want our policies to reflect the principles that are core to our mission as an institution of higher education,” said UNCG Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategy and Policy Julia Jackson-Newsom.
UNCG and NCCU join 29 other colleges and universities from around the country that earn a green light rating because their written policies do not imperil student and faculty free speech, according to FIRE’s Spotlight database. Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are the other North Carolina institutions to earn a green light rating. Nationally, two other institutions have earned green light status in 2017: The State University of New York at Plattsburgh and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
Beltz started working with UNCG Associate General Counsel Todd Davis in April, when he informed FIRE that the university’s policies on sexual misconduct and sexual harassment had been consolidated into one new policy. After Davis quickly resolved FIRE’s remaining concerns with the new policy, UNCG improved to an overall green light rating.
NCCU, for its part, revised or eliminated eight speech codes — including a residential life policy, a posting policy, two sexual harassment policies, and an information technology responsible use policy — to earn the rating.
To learn more about the state of free speech on college campuses, see FIRE’s “Spotlight on Speech Codes 2017” report.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.