The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a national advocacy organization that monitors free speech activities and policies on college campuses, has recognized the University of Arizona with a "green light," the organization's highest rating for support of free expression.
"Free speech is essential in sustaining a democratic society, and it is equally important in providing an exceptional university education. Fundamental to our mission is ensuring that all of our students and faculty practice and promote principles of freedom of expression," said UA President Robert C. Robbins. "I want to thank FIRE for their recognition of the work we do every day to encourage free expression."
The UA began working with FIRE following a suggestion from a faculty member that the university revive discussions on achieving the higher designation. The effort involved removing some outdated policies and emphasizing language that employees and students were protected by the First Amendment.
There is a rich history of protecting free expression at the UA, including deploying trained staff to help with free speech activities across the entire campus of the Tucson university, establishing a student-focused educational initiative on the importance of free expression and holding a national conference on constitutional issues in higher education for the last four years. The UA Faculty Senate also adopted the University of Chicago's principles for freedom of expression in December 2018.
FIRE's green light rating is held by only 45 other institutions around the country.
"We're proud to see faculty members and the administration work together to protect the speech rights of the University of Arizona community," said Laura Beltz, FIRE policy reform senior program officer. "The University of Arizona joins a small but growing group of universities that have committed to respect the speech rights of students and faculty members."