FIRE ranks MSU in top 5 nationally for support of student free speech

Contact: Harriet Laird

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A top 5 national ranking for support of free speech on campus places Mississippi State among the most supportive university climates in the U.S. for student expression.

Rated No. 4 in the third annual College Free Speech Rankings released Sept. 7 by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, MSU is the only SEC and Magnolia State school in the list’s top 20. FIRE’s comprehensive survey of student free speech is based on the voices of nearly 45,000 currently enrolled students at over 200 colleges.

MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt said, “Freedom of expression is a fundamental right afforded to all of us. We strive to create a campus environment where students, employees and visitors can share their ideas freely and engage in civil dialogue about important topics, even when there are disagreements about those ideas. I am proud of the types of engagement our students seek out in sharing their viewpoints and appreciate the supportive campus climate that allows them to do so.”

The rankings are based on FIRE’s definitive elements of student free speech: openness to discuss challenging topics; tolerance for expression of opposing views; administrative support; and comfort in communicating ideas. Two additional factors are the measure of disruptive conduct and college policies affecting free speech.

Top 5-ranked MSU has earned FIRE’s “green light” rating for 10 consecutive years as a higher education institution with strong free speech protections in campus policies and procedures. In 2021, the university was one of just 58 colleges nationwide holding this designation.

“We are honored to continue to be acknowledged as a leader in the higher education community, and as a university we continue to recognize how crucial free speech is, not only to Mississippi State but to our state and our nation,” said Interim Associate Vice President for Student Success Thomas Bourgeois, who also is the university’s dean of students. The ability to deliver a quality and well-rounded higher educational experience would not be possible if voices were silenced or topics involving different viewpoints were not explored. MSU has always been a melting pot of ideas, and I am encouraged every day by how our community coexists with a multitude of belief systems, political dichotomy and a diversity of thought and passion.”

The national nonpartisan, nonprofit FIRE organization works to defend and sustain the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought. It also recognizes that colleges and universities play a vital role in preserving free thought within a free society.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2022 - 1:23 pm