Free Speech at Columbia
It hasn’t exactly been Columbia University’s shining moment this year. A couple of months ago, the Ivy League institution, which was previously ranked second in a tie with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the annual US News & World Report college rankings, was removed from the list altogether for misreporting data to the publication. The school will also not participate in next year’s ranking due to their misconduct. But it seems Columbia just can’t steer clear of college rankings these days — even less significant ones. In an annual “College Free Speech Rankings” by the conservative-skewing Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, Columbia has ranked dead last.
As Emma Colton reports for Fox News in a piece entitled “Columbia University ranks dead last in nation for college free speech: Study,” “New York City’s Columbia University came in dead last on the rankings and was the only school to receive an ‘abysmal’ rating. The school received a 9.1 score out of 100, and researchers determined that only 27% of students see shouting down a speaker to silence them as ‘never acceptable,’ and that there are roughly 6.8 liberal students for every conservative student. Following Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania came in at the second-worst spot for free speech, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at the third, followed by Georgetown, Skidmore and Yale.”
It may come as a bit of a surprise to our readers that Columbia would rank last in a free speech ranking — particularly after the school made such headlines 15 years ago when President Lee Bollinger invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust-denying dictator, to speak on the Morningside Heights campus. If that’s not the exercise of free speech, we ask, what is? Yet it’s not particularly surprising that so many of our nation’s most prestigious schools would top the charts on this particular conservative-leaning ranking. America’s colleges tend to be liberal and our nation’s top colleges tend to be even more liberal. So it doesn’t raise our eyebrows that the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a non-profit civil liberties group, would publish a ranking that essentially supports this truth.
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