'Big win' for Furman

'Big win' for Furman

'Big win' for Furman

The left-leaning private university in South Carolina has adopted a new policy protecting students' free speech rights.

Jessica Wills of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) says the Furman University Board of Trustees recently voted unanimously to become one of 107 colleges to codify the expressive rights of their campus communities into official school policy.

Wills, Jessica (FIRE) Wills

"They were concerned about free expression issues at Furman," she relays. "They were worried that policies weren't guaranteeing freedoms for students and that the students weren't capable of having conversations.

The new Statement on Freedom of Inquiry and Expression declares that the university "unequivocally affirms its commitment to free inquiry and free expression" and states, "These core values uphold the foundational belief that diverse views and perspectives deserve to be articulated and heard, free from interference."

Though she applauds this significant step forward, Wills says there is still room for improvement.

"Furman currently has what we call a 'red light' speech code rating, which means they're maintaining at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech," the FIRE spokesperson notes. "That's something that is incompatible with the statement that they just released."

Like many of the other schools that have adopted free expression policies, Furman's statement is modeled after the "Chicago Statement," which is considered the gold standard for free expression on campus.