Univ. of North Carolina Earns Highest FIRE Free Speech Rating

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has earned the highest free speech rating possible from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

With assistance from FIRE in revising its policies, UNC joins other U.S. colleges and universities that have reformed their policies on student expression to ensure that they comply with the First Amendment.

FIRE began working with the UNC administration in April 2014, when FIRE determined UNC had two “yellow light” speech codes remaining. UNC revised the first policy, concerning distribution of student flyers in residence halls, in May 2014. The university recently eliminated its lone remaining speech code, which banned speech that “disparages” another person.

FIRE Program Associate David Deerson, an alumnus of UNC, began advocating for UNC to eliminate its speech codes when he was a student at the university. Deerson wrote a number of letters to the editor published in UNC’s student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel, about policies at UNC he believed were unconstitutional.

UNC becomes the 21st green light institution in FIRE’s Spotlight database of over 400 colleges and universities, as well as the only green light school in the state of North Carolina.

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