Jackson State becomes 6th Mississippi college to earn FIRE’s top rating for free speech

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Jackson State University becomes the sixth institution in Mississippi to earn the highest, “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. 

Mississippi is the second state to have all of its top universities earn a green light rating from FIRE. 

Mississippi is home to more green light schools than any other state except North Carolina. 

Only 51 other colleges and universities around the country earn an overall green light rating in FIRE’s Spotlight database.

FIRE rates more than 470 institutions nationwide to determine whether their policies restrict speech that is protected by the Constitution. Almost 90% of colleges maintain policies that restrict and chill protected expression.

“Jackson State has been a tremendous partner in our shared vision that universities should be places where free speech is not only permitted, but actively encouraged,” said FIRE Vice President of Policy Reform Azhar Majeed. “The desire among institutions in Mississippi to promote free speech is a win for students in the Magnolia State and an example for college leaders around the country.”

In 2016, Jackson State started working with FIRE to revise its policies. Eliminating bans on profanity, updating a student decorum policy prohibiting certain language on clothing, and removing a ban on showing R-rated movies are some of those changes. 

“The university embraces the rights of our students and faculty to express their thoughts and ideas freely,” said Jackson State President Dr. William B. Bynum, Jr. “Our free speech policies are, now, in alignment to show how much we value this right.”

Jackson State is the fourth historically black college to earn the rating. The other HBCU’s to have earned the rating, include Alcorn State University, North Carolina Central University, and Fayetteville State University.

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