STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State is joining just 16 other universities nationwide as holder of a green light rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
The national civil rights organization's highest award recognizes free speech protection and a commitment to giving students the best possible education and learning environment.
"The entire Mississippi State community should feel extremely proud today," said Greg Lukianoff, FIRE president. "The university's exemplary commitment to free speech now rings out as loudly and clearly as its famous cowbells."
Based in Philadelphia, Pa., FIRE is a nonprofit educational organization of civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum. Protections of individual rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, and rights of conscience at the nation's colleges and universities are its primary mission.
"This rating brings recognition to something the university has been committed to for the past decade," said Thomas Bourgeois, MSU dean of students. "As an institution of higher learning, it is our job to provide an environment in which the university community can engage in an exchange of ideas grounded with all the protections provided to it by the first amendment."
Bourgeois said MSU worked with FIRE to address its speech codes and no longer maintains any policies restricting student speech protected by the First Amendment.
"We are committed and look forward to providing an atmosphere where our university community can engage in conversations that further the search for educational enlightenment and allow for discussions about all the differences inherent in this global marketplace of ideas," he added.
"Over the past few years, we have been happy to see increasing numbers of schools eliminate their speech codes, but much work remains to be done," said Samantha Harris, FIRE's director of speech code research. "We are thrilled to have MSU join the green light ranks and hope that more universities will follow suit this year."
For more about Mississippi State, visit www.msstate.edu.