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University Of Tulsa, OU Make List Of Worst Colleges For Free Speech

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Photo of the University of Tulsa sign. Photo of the University of Tulsa sign.
Photo of the University of Oklahoma campus. Photo of the University of Oklahoma campus.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

The University of Tulsa and the University of Oklahoma have made a list of the ten worst colleges for free speech.

The list is compiled every year by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, known as FIRE.

According to a new release, this year’s list of the 10 worst colleges for free speech includes many public colleges or universities bound by the First Amendment. Some of them, it says, like the University of Tulsa, are private colleges that, though not required by the Constitution to respect student and faculty rights, nonetheless promise to do so. This year’s list:

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

FIRE says the University of Tulsa earned its place because it punished a student for what someone else said.

In September 2014, a TU student received word that he was being punished by the university for criticism his then-fiance had posted on Facebook about a TU professor and other members of the community. FIRE says the punishment included suspending the student.

FIRE says it didn't stop there. TU then targeted TU's student newspaper, The Collegian, for covering the student's suspension, according to FIRE. It says the student is now suing the university. 

A spokeswoman for the University of Tulsa told News On 6 it would not comment on its ranking on FIRE's list.

The University of Oklahoma made the list in connection with the video of a racist chant led by members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon that was shared on social media in March of 2015.

2/12/2016: Related Story: SAE Releases Findings In Investigation Into OU Racist Chant

2/9/2015: Related Story: Fallout Continues After OU Racist Video Made Public

OU President David Boren expelled two members of the fraternity, in what FIRE says was a violation of the students' free speech and due process rights.

"The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that offensive speech, even racist speech, is protected by the First Amendment. Therefore, the expulsion of the two OU students without notice of the charges against them or an opportunity to contest those charges was one of the most brazen violations of free speech and due process rights to occur on campus in 2015," FIRE said.

FIRE published the list and an explanation for each school's selection on the Huffington Post.

View the list and descriptions on the Huffington Post.

“This past year, free speech on campus took center stage and became international news,” said FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff. “For those of us who have worked for years on the frontlines, the threat to free speech on campus isn’t a new story. Too often students find their voices silenced, and increasingly their professors are finding themselves in the same boat. If this year’s ‘worst’ list proves anything, it’s that even tenured faculty members aren’t safe from the censor’s muzzle.”

FIRE says it is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, and rights of conscience at U.S. colleges and universities. 

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