Watchdog Group Ranks Harvard University as the Lowest for Free Speech, Report Reveals

Title: Harvard University Ranks Dead Last in Free Speech on Campus, According to Annual Report


Harvard University, renowned for its academic excellence and global reputation, has recently been ranked as the worst university in the United States when it comes to free speech on campus. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), an organization that closely monitors issues related to free speech, has released its annual rankings, and Harvard has consistently fared poorly in recent years. This article delves into the report’s findings, explores the potential reasons behind Harvard’s declining free speech climate, and discusses the implications for freedom of expression in education.

Harvard’s Spiraling Performance:

According to the FIRE College Free Speech Rankings, Harvard’s performance has experienced a downward spiral in recent years. In 2021, the university ranked 130 out of 154 schools, a significant drop from 46 out of 55 schools in 2020. Furthermore, last year, Harvard ranked 170 out of 203 schools, revealing a consistent decline in its commitment to fostering a healthy environment for free speech.

Harvard’s “Abysmal” Speech Climate:

This year, Harvard’s downward trajectory reached an alarming point, as the university secured the dubious distinction of being the only school ranked with an “Abysmal” speech climate. With a score of 0.00 out of a possible 100.00, Harvard not only ranked last but also had the worst score in the history of these rankings. Notably, the university’s score of -10.69 is more than six standard deviations below the average, showcasing the magnitude of its failure to promote free speech on campus.

Criticism and Reactions:

Unsurprisingly, Harvard’s abysmal ranking has prompted criticism from various quarters. Social media platforms were abuzz with reactions, such as a tweet referring to Harvard as “#1!! (for being the worst school for free speech).” Prominent figures, including Senator Ted Cruz, expressed their disappointment, stating, “Really sad & embarrassing for my alma mater. Free speech matters.” The criticism highlights the perception that Harvard should have learned from its previous experiences, such as a Supreme Court ruling against the university last year, and should prioritize upholding the First Amendment principles that underpin free speech.

Possible Reasons for Harvard’s Decline:

Several factors may contribute to Harvard’s decline in promoting free speech. One plausible explanation is the university’s progressive tilt, which often correlates with a decreased emphasis on free speech rights. As institutions become more politically aligned, there is a risk of suppressing dissenting opinions and stifling intellectual diversity. Harvard, known for its left-leaning reputation, may be grappling with balancing its progressive ideology with the principles of free expression.

The Influence of Political Correctness:

Another factor that may be impacting Harvard’s free speech rankings is the influence of political correctness on campus. In recent years, higher education has witnessed an increasing push for limiting speech that may be deemed offensive or controversial. This focus on creating safe spaces and protecting individuals from perceived harm can potentially hinder open dialogue and the free exchange of ideas. Harvard’s strict adherence to political correctness might be hampering its ability to foster a robust environment for free speech.

Implications for Freedom of Expression:

Harvard’s poor performance in the field of free speech raises concerns about the state of freedom of expression in education. Universities, as centers of intellectual exploration, should encourage debate, critical thinking, and the exploration of diverse perspectives. When an institution of Harvard’s stature fails in this regard, it sends a troubling message to other educational institutions that prioritizing ideological conformity over freedom of expression is acceptable. This can have wide-ranging consequences for the development of well-rounded individuals capable of engaging in meaningful discourse.


The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s recent rankings showcase Harvard University’s abysmal performance in fostering a healthy environment for free speech on campus. With consistently declining scores and the ignominious title of “worst school for free speech,” Harvard faces criticism and scrutiny from various corners. The potential causes for this decline, including the university’s progressive tilt and the influence of political correctness, raise concerns about the state of freedom of expression in education. As Harvard grapples with its ranking, it must reflect on the importance of free speech and work towards creating an inclusive environment that values the expression of diverse perspectives.