Two Catholic universities recently ranked among the worst campus climates for free speech, according to a recent report that analyzed almost 250 U.S. colleges.
Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and Fordham University in New York City, both private Catholic universities, were among the five worst campus climates for free speech.
The report, compiled by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a nonprofit focused on defending free speech and free thought on college and university campuses, uses a scoring system ranging from 0 to 100, and a “speech climate” ranking, to determine how free students feel to express their thoughts on campus. The numerical score combines components from the surveys, including “student perceptions of different aspects of the speech climate on their campus. The other [components] assess behavior by administrators, faculty, and students regarding free expression on campus.”
Georgetown University was ranked #245, with a score of 17.45, and its speech climate deemed “very poor”. The majority viewpoint at Georgetown is “liberal”.
One Georgetown student wrote in the survey, “In class, I was told I could not use the words ‘women’ or ‘mother’ when referring to maternal mortality rates, but instead had to use ‘birthing person.’”
Georgetown’s Free Speech Policy Page reads: “Georgetown’s identification with the Catholic and Jesuit tradition, far from limiting or compromising the ideal of free discourse, requires that we live up to that ideal.”
Fordham University was ranked #244, with a score of 21.72 and a speech climate deemed “poor”.
One Fordham student responded, “I felt that sometimes in a few of my classes the catholic view or perception was ignored or misunderstood which was uncomfortable at a catholic university”.
Georgetown has 7,500 undergraduate students, and Fordham has almost 10,000. About 150 students participated in the survey.
The school ranked #1 in best free speech climate was Michigan Technological University (MTU), and was given an overall score of 78.01 and a “good” speech climate label. The majority viewpoint of MTU is “liberal”.
Harvard University was ranked #248, the worst college speech climate in the U.S. Harvard’s speech climate was labeled “abysmal” with an overall score of 0.00.