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Carolina Journal: Report gives N.C. public universities high marks for protecting free speech

From Carolina Journal’s Kari Travis:

North Carolina universities have drastically improved First Amendment protections since 2010, a new report says.

Public and private institutions across the state were graded poorly on free speech rights less than a decade ago, show data collected by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal — both higher education nonprofits. The report, to be officially released Sept. 24, studied 37 North Carolina universities and found 11 improved free speech protections, 23 remained the same, and three were hit with lower ratings than those awarded in 2010.

Each year, FIRE ranks more than 400 universities on free speech. Some pass with flying colors. Others fail the test.

Red-light universities have at least one policy that clearly restricts speech. Yellow-light institutions limit expression through vague wording that could be used to infringe on rights. Green-light universities hold no policies that threaten the speech rights of students.

In 2010, all 17 schools in the University of North Carolina system were ranked yellow or red. To date, seven have earned green lights. The remaining nine are ranked yellow.

Only one private institution, Duke University, has earned a green light since 2010.

With eight green-light schools to its credit, North Carolina leads the nation in protecting campus free speech, the report says.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — which most recently has attracted national headlines from protests surrounding Silent Sam, a Confederate statue formerly housed on its campus — was the original trendsetter for North Carolina colleges, earning its green light in 2010.

Appalachian State University, UNC Charlotte, East Carolina University, UNC Greensboro, N.C. Central University, and UNC Wilmington earned green-light ratings as of 2017.

Read more here. 

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