Texas A&M First And Only In Texas To Earn Highest Rating For Free Speech On Campus
Texas A&M University is the first and only university in the state to earn the highest rating for free speech from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). In cooperation with FIRE, Texas A&M revised a number of speech codes to join an elite group of only 45 universities nationwide that have brought written policies fully in line with the First Amendment.
“As one of the nation’s premier institutions of higher learning, it is critical that Texas A&M affirms our commitment to free speech,” said Michael Young, Texas A&M University president. “A free exchange of ideas is not only a cornerstone of our democracy, it is the surest path to truth, discovery and scholarly advancement. I would especially like to thank our vice president for student affairs, Dr. Daniel Pugh, for his leadership in this effort.”
In January 2018, Texas A&M representatives participated in a discussion about campus speech in San Marcos, Texas, with the Senate Committee on State Affairs. They left that meeting resolved to fine-tune campus policies on free speech and assembly with the intention of better reflecting Texas A&M’s commitment to the First Amendment.
During the next several months, they compared the university’s policies and practices to other campuses that had more clearly articulated commitments to free expression. Pugh worked closely with FIRE to review Texas A&M’s policies. While some of the changes were simply administrative adjustments, others required a more formal effort to build consensus and adopt policy changes. The revised campus policies address demonstrations, bias incident protocols, internet usage, residence halls, and soliciting.
“By revising its policies to attain green light status, Texas A&M University is showing that its administration is serious about the university’s commitment to free speech and its obligations to students and faculty,” said FIRE Vice President of Policy Reform Azhar Majeed. “We hope that other colleges and universities in Texas will follow its lead and improve their own policies.
Texas A&M’s “green light” rating indicates that its written policies do not imperil student or faculty free speech. FIRE’s Spotlight database rates more than 450 colleges and universities based on the degree to which their policies protect or curtail free speech. With its revised policies, Texas A&M will ensure that its 69,000-plus students are protected by clearly written and constitutionally sound policies.
Visit FIRE’s Spotlight Database and Activism Portal to see where universities across the United States stand on free speech.
“Texans are known for their commitment to the U.S. Constitution, specifically the First Amendment, and there is no place in Texas more committed to the First Amendment than Texas A&M University,” said Pugh. “Colleges and universities have long been viewed as a marketplace of ideas, and receiving FIRE’s first Texas ‘green light’ designation affirms the Aggies’ commitment to free speech and assembly.
“FIRE is the only group that comprehensively ranks campus speech codes in the United States, and we are grateful to FIRE professionals for their open and honest approach in working with Texas A&M to more effectively communicate our commitment via policies and procedures,” Pugh said. “Texas A&M has long been committed to free speech and expression. This green light rating bolsters our commitment to the First Amendment.”
This spring, Texas A&M will continue to pilot its Activity Resource and Response Team, which is charged with educating and assisting with activities related to expressive activity on campus.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.
The Division of Student Affairs supports Texas A&M University by providing exceptional services, facilities, and programs that promote student success, embody the Aggie spirit, and foster a diverse and inclusive campus community to deepen the understanding and individual application of the Aggie Core Values – Excellence, Integrity, Leadership, Loyalty, Respect, and Selfless Service.