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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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FIRE names A&M on list of ‘worst-of-the-worst’ colleges for free speech

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Photo by Ishika Samant

The Battalion is one of three A&M student organizations with active cases for free speech advocacy with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, or FIRE. 

On Thursday, Feb. 2, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, or FIRE, published its annual “10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech,” highlighting “the worst-of-the-worst in campus censorship.” Among this year’s selections was Texas A&M. 

In the article, the FIRE staff references three active cases at A&M, related to Draggieland, The Battalion and Fish Camp. Anne Marie Tamburro, a FIRE program officer for student press and campus rights advocacy, staff chose A&M to appear on the list because of a pattern within the three cases.

“The reason why we ended up having A&M on this list is pretty clear, ” Tamburro said. “There was a pattern over the past year of the school turning a blind eye to student’s rights, particularly the rights of student organizations. All three of these cases reflected a pattern of behavior that showed a serious disregard for the expressive and associational rights of student groups on A&M’s campus… It was disappointing to see three cases from the same school so close to each other, but that’s how it earned its spot on this list.”

When asked about the new ranking, A&M gave the following statement to The Battalion:

“In FIRE’s overall 2023 rankings for free speech, Texas A&M was given a green light rating, which is the best a university can earn (other designations are yellow and red). The university ranked second out of all public universities in Texas and 40th across the country among other public universities. While we are grateful for the recognition of our commitment to promote free speech on our campus, we are perplexed by a different list released by the organization this week. FIRE backs up its overall rankings with data and methodology explained on its website. Its more recent list does not appear to rely on its own data. Rather, it appears to be based on a sliver of information that lacks context for all this university does to ensure free speech.”

To determine which schools make the list, Tamburro said FIRE staff works collaboratively. 

“The [10 Worst Colleges] is an annual project, a retrospective on some of the most egregious schools over the past year,” Tamburro said. “We take a collaborative approach, in terms of meeting as a team and discussing all the different schools and cases that we’ve handled and decide which ones stand out to us, whether that’s individual schools or individual cases, or in Texas A&M’s case, several cases at one school.”

It is not yet clear if A&M’s appearance on the list will affect its overall green-light free speech rating by FIRE.

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