Thank goodness for Harvard, the only school in the country with a worse record on free speech than the University of Pennsylvania.
Of the 248 colleges and universities evaluated by the free speech organization FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression), the Quakers ranked 247, kept out of the bottom slot solely by the Harvard Crimson.
According to FIRE’s Director of Polling and Analytics, Sean Stevens, the “very poor” ranking for the Ivy League school is a trend. The elite colleges in the Ivy League were all at the lower end of the rankings.
“The Ivies are interesting. Brown has the highest rank at 70. Quite a few do pretty poorly,” Stevens said.
While progressive institutions like UPenn pride themselves on “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the FIRE review found their actions didn’t match their words. As part of FIRE’s review, students were surveyed about free speech on campus and in the classrooms.
Most UPenn students claimed they would be very tolerant of liberal speakers invited to the school, ranking 32 on the matrices. When it came to tolerating conservative speakers, though, UPenn students ranked 220. This is a school with almost eight liberal students for every one conservative student.
“There’s a strong bias in favor of the liberal speakers,” Stevens said.
Not only are non-liberal speakers unwelcome on campus, but many students say they believe it is okay to disrupt conservative speakers by shouting them down, protesting, or even the use of violence. According to FIRE’s data, only 23 percent of UPenn students thought it was unacceptable to shout down speakers.
That is not a bug, it is a feature in the eyes of campus progressives, Stevens said.
“As you get more and more liberal on the spectrum, they are more likely to say those things are… acceptable,” Stevens said.
Drexel University ranked 91 out of 248, earning a Gentleman’s C compared to UPenn’s F. Still, only 32 percent of Drexel’s students said disrupting a speaker is always unacceptable.
Many UPenn students told FIRE they were uncomfortable voicing their opinions on campus and in class, and at least one student said antisemitism is a problem at the school.
“Antisemitism is not considered a valid issue,” the student wrote anonymously.
Another wrote, “In my writing seminar, I disagreed with the notion that private property is a burden on humanity that makes people slaves to capitalism.”