Free speech gets the ‘green light’ at ECU
East Carolina University has earned the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) highest, “green light” rating after changing four campus policies to meet First Amendment standards. The state of North Carolina now has six institutions with this rating, more than any other state.
“ECU is the latest university to tell students and faculty that free speech and open debate are welcome on campus,” said Laura Beltz, FIRE’s policy reform program officer. “FIRE is thrilled to see so many universities in North Carolina take concrete steps to preserve First Amendment rights on campus, and we are happy to work with any other college or university to protect student and faculty speech rights.”
After ECU’s Craig Malmrose, a professor in the School of Art and Design, asked the university to revise its “yellow light” speech codes, administrators at the 29,000-student university revised four policies in accordance with FIRE’s recommendations.
ECU joins 32 other colleges and universities that earn a green light rating because their written policies do not imperil student and faculty expression, according to FIRE’s Spotlight database. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte earned the same rating last week, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and North Carolina Central University both earned green light status in May. Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill previously earned FIRE’s highest rating for campus free speech.
“At ECU we are committed to free speech and freedom of expression on our campus,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy. “We want our students, faculty, staff and guests to feel comfortable exercising their rights and exploring their ideas. Allowing the opportunity for freedom of expression and civil discourse around differing views has always been, and continues to be, a mainstay of institutions of higher learning.”
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.
-by Jules Norwood