Despite Harvard’s reputation for excellent scholarship, the university has consistently failed to meet standards in one area: free speech.
According to FIRE’s 2024 College Free Speech Rankings, Harvard University ranked dead last at 248 out of 248 institutions. Students reported their discomfort expressing ideas, lack of confidence in the administration’s support for speech, and acceptance of students shouting down speakers.
The administration has only contributed to the problem by sanctioning four scholars and one student as well as allowing one speaker to be disinvited from campus and allowing a substantial disruption of a speech by Harvard’s then-President Lawrence Bacow to occur. Is it any wonder that students are intimidated to share their opinions?
Harvard’s spineless stance toward free expression inspires little confidence among students and faculty that their university will stand up for them in their time of need. This has a chilling effect on student and faculty expression which interferes with Harvard’s mission to “advance new ideas and promote enduring knowledge.”
Tell Harvard to cultivate a better climate for free expression by endorsing a principled pro-free speech statement like the “Chicago Statement,” revising its problematic speech codes, and supporting students and faculty as they become embroiled in free speech controversies. Only then will Harvard bounce back from this year’s abysmal ranking.