News Story

Michigan Tech is No. 1 for free speech, FIRE reports

Central Michigan U is worst of six universities rated in Michigan

Michigan Technological University is the top-rated institution of higher education in the U.S. when it comes to freedom of speech, according to an advocacy group that placed Harvard in last place.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, in conjunction with the College Pulse market research firm, released an evaluation of 254 colleges and universities that is based on feedback from enrolled students.

The other institutions in the top five were Auburn University, the University of New Hampshire, Oregon State University and Florida State University. The bottom five were made up of the University of Pennsylvania, the University of South Carolina, Georgetown University and Harvard University.

Six public universities in Michigan appeared in the report. Here are their rankings and evaluation:

  • Michigan Technological University: 1 (good)
  • University of Michigan: 47 (above average)
  • Wayne State University: 93 (average)
  • Eastern Michigan University: 95 (average)
  • Michigan State University: 159 (below average)
  • Western Michigan University: 215 (below average)
  • Central Michigan University: 236 (poor)

The rankings are based on 13 factors, roughly divided between student perceptions and items from a FIRE database about on-campus incidents and official policies. The measured incidents include attempts to sanction scholars for their speech and times when protests caused a university to rescind an invitation to a speaker.

Read it for yourself: 2024 College Free Speech Rankings

Nationally, roughly 20% of students admitted to self-censorship. More than one-quarter (27%) said it would be acceptable ito use violence to silence objectionable speech, whether rarely (16%), sometimes (9%) or always (2%).

Approximately half the students in the survey said they were slightly, somewhat, or very liberal, and 19% identified as slightly, somewhat, or very conservative. Almost one in five (18%) said they do not identify as either conservative or liberal, or “haven’t thought much about this.” Self-identified Democrats outnumbered self-identified Republicans by a ratio of 2.3 to 1.

FIRE is a nonprofit that advocates for free speech. College Pulse is a polling firm that specializes in college students.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.