UNC Charlotte earns FIRE’s highest rating for free speech

Monday, June 26, 2017

UNC Charlotte has earned the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) highest “green light” rating for its commitment to the First Amendment. North Carolina now has five institutions with this rating, more than any other state.

“UNC Charlotte is showing a sincere commitment to free speech — a commitment that only a few dozen colleges and universities nationwide have made,” said Laura Beltz, FIRE’s policy reform program officer. “FIRE is thrilled at the progress in North Carolina and around the country and looks forward to working with more colleges to protect student and faculty speech rights.”

UNC Charlotte student Savannah Soto asked University administrators to revise its speech codes in accordance with FIRE’s recommendations; the University reformed three policies to meet the criteria for the green light rating.

“A key component of UNC Charlotte’s institutional mission is to promote a robust, intellectual environment that values social and cultural diversity, free expression, collegiality, integrity and mutual respect,” said UNC Charlotte Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Jesh Humphrey. “FIRE’s green light rating is a public recognition of our progress toward that goal, and of our commitment to uphold individual rights while cultivating a community in which those rights are exercised thoughtfully, responsibly and constructively.”

UNC Charlotte joined 31 other colleges and universities that earn a green light rating because their written policies do not imperil student and faculty expression, according to FIRE’s Spotlight database. UNC Greensboro and North Carolina Central University earned green light status in May, joining Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill as North Carolina’s five institutions with FIRE’s highest rating for campus free speech.