In a presentation at UNC’s “First Amendment Day,” Robert Shibley, senior vice president for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), said that UNC is a “yellow light” school with respect to free speech.
While Shibley makes points worthy of consideration, UNC’s culture of free speech is more than words on paper — it’s the actions of students.
The FIRE website states that “a ‘yellow light’ institution has some policies that could ban or excessively regulate protected speech.”
Shibley mentioned in his presentation that UNC could improve its FIRE rating by clarifying its policies that have been classified as “yellow light” policies on the FIRE website.
One policy that received a yellow light concerned posting potentially offensive content in residence halls.
FIRE’s concern is the university is placing too much importance on the right to be free from offensive speech, and not enough on the freedom of expression.