Despite University of Pennsylvania’s status as an Ivy League institution, the university has consistently failed to meet standards in one area: free speech.
According to FIRE’s 2024 College Free Speech Rankings, Penn ranked second to last at 247 out of 248 institutions. This is the second year in a row that Penn has ranked at the bottom of the rankings — last year they ranked second to last out of 203 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 scholars four separate times and one student group as well as allowing one speaker to be disinvited from campus. Is it any wonder that students are intimidated to share their opinions?
Penn’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 flies in the face of Penn’s own assurance that it “affirms, supports and cherishes the concepts of freedom of thought, inquiry, speech, and lawful assembly.”
Tell Penn 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 Penn bounce back from this year’s very poor ranking.