Berkeley universities

Emerson is on FIRE’s 2022 ‘Ten Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ list

Photo: Courtesy/Izzy Desmarais

FIRE’s “Truck of Shame” announces its 2022 list of “Ten Worst Colleges for Free Speech” around the Emerson campus.

An education advocacy group has named Emerson one of the “worst colleges for free speech,” rooted in its accusation that the college “censored” members of its Turning Point USA chapter.

The college was included in a list of ten colleges and universities released by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on February 3. FIRE also launched an advertising campaign last month—headlined by the self-nicknamed “Truck of Shame”— targeting Emerson for his treatment of TPUSA. The chapter was temporarily suspended last semester following allegations that its promotional material included anti-China rhetoric.

The list also includes institutions like Stanford University, the University of Florida, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, all of which have been embroiled in controversies surrounding “free speech.” Yale University won the “Lifetime Censorship Award”.

Emerson’s placement on the list stems from disciplinary action taken against TPUSA, which experienced a brief suspension from on-campus activities in October.

“When higher education institutions make free speech promises to their students, they must deliver on those promises,” Graham Piro, spokesperson for the organization, wrote in an email response to The Beacon. “Emerson didn’t.”

TPUSA eventually received a warning from Emerson’s Office for Student Engagement and Leadership. According to Piro, these actions mean the chapter is now obligated to “effectively walking on eggshells for an indefinite period of time.

Piro also claimed that the college had “hidden” the Winnie the Pooh tweets…a symbol used by Chinese dissidents to satirize their leader, Xi Jinping— following a surge in advertising after FIRE launched its advertising campaign.

Acting President Bill Gilligan declined to comment on the charges.

FIRE attempted to contact the college for several months, Piro said, with no response.

He added that FIRE’s goal is for the college to “finally deliver on its promise of free speech” and expunge the TPUSA case.

As soon as Emerson erases the record of the student group, we will have nothing more to criticize, provided they have not censored the voices of other Emerson students by then,” he said. -he writes. “All students should be alarmed when unpopular viewpoints are silenced, even if they vehemently disagree with those views.”

Emerson’s TPUSA chapter did not respond to requests for comment from The Beacon.