Last month, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education released its list of the 10 worst universities for free speech — and UNC-CH and Appalachian State University both made the list.
FIRE is a nonprofit organization that issues reports on U.S. university policies or actions that affect First Amendment rights. Universities are rated on a scale of “red light” to “green light,” depending on the number of policies that FIRE believes hinder free speech.
UNC-CH currently has a “yellow light” rating, which FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley said is one policy away from a green light. The policy in question requires administrative approval before posting posters in residence halls.
“We’d love to work with Chapel Hill to get rid of this last problematic policy,” Shibley said. “UNC is so close to a green light, it would be great to get ’em there.”
David Ardia, a professor at the UNC School of Law who studies freedom of speech, said UNC-CH has a tradition of supporting freedom of speech, and FIRE plays an important role in keeping university policies in line with First Amendment rights.