‘Abysmal’: Harvard Named Worst School for Free Speech, Scores Zero Out of 100

Harvard University (Twitter screenshot)
September 7, 2023

Harvard University is the worst college in the country for free speech, according to a report released Wednesday.

"Harvard University came in dead last with the lowest score possible, 0.00, more than four standard deviations below the mean," according to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression's latest College Free Speech Rankings, which rank colleges each year based on their tolerance of free speech. The foundation put the school at the bottom of the 248 schools it surveyed, making Harvard the only school to receive an "abysmal" rating.

The main reason for Harvard's awful score is that it saw nine attempts to deplatform scholars between 2019 and 2023, the foundation said. Seven of the attempts resulted in the administration imposing sanctions, including the revocation of a speaking invitation. Harvard usually scores in the bottom quartile of the foundation's annual rankings.

"Thus, while alarming, Harvard’s dismal performance this year is not an aberration," the report's executive summary reads.

Overall, 63 percent of college students said it would be acceptable to engage in "shouting down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus," the same report found. Even at the top five schools for free speech in the foundation's rankings—Michigan Technological University, Auburn University, the University of New Hampshire, Oregon State University, and Florida State University—only 45 percent of students said shouting down a speaker is "never acceptable."

Harvard has recently made news for sacrificing scholarship in favor of social justice priorities.

After it was at the center of the Supreme Court's ruling in June that declared race-based college admissions unconstitutional, the university hinted that it would still consider race in deciding student admissions. In July, Harvard Law professor Mark Tushnet partnered with San Francisco State professor Aaron Belkin to write an open letter urging President Joe Biden to "restrain MAGA justices" on the Supreme Court.