The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) commissioned College Pulse to conduct a survey of students at 208 colleges about students’ experiences with free speech on their campuses. Fielded from January 13 to May 31, 2022 via the College Pulse mobile app and web portal, the survey included over 44,500 student respondents who were currently enrolled in four-year degree programs. This was the largest survey of college students about free speech on their campuses ever conducted.
The University of Chicago was the top-ranked school in the College Free Speech Rankings for the second time in three years.
Columbia University had, by far, the lowest score in the 2022 College Free Speech Rankings, with a Speech Climate rating of “Abysmal.” The University of Pennsylvania, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Georgetown University, and Skidmore College are also ranked in the bottom five.
More than three in five students (63%) expressed worry about damaging their reputation because of someone misunderstanding what they have said or done, and just over one in five (21%) reported that they feel a lot of pressure to avoid discussing controversial topics in their classes. Twenty-two percent reported that they often self-censor.
Roughly three in five students reported they would feel discomfort publicly disagreeing with a professor about a controversial topic or expressing an unpopular opinion to their peers on a social media account tied to their name.