BLOGWhat If March Madness Was Decided by Which Schools Have the Worst Speech Policies?

By Sarah Kramer Posted on: | March 16, 2017

There are a number of different ways to fill out your March Madness brackets. In the past, I have filled them out based on the best team colors, best team mascots, and places I’d most like to visit.

But this year, the Director of ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom Casey Mattox filled out his bracket based on which schools have the worst speech policies on campus.

We’re calling it the “Bracket of Shame.”

Of course, not all of the schools with terrible speech policies made it to the NCAA tournament. Teams like North Carolina State University and even non-Division I schools such as California State University – Los Angeles, Queens College, Georgia Gwinnett College, and Michigan’s Grand Valley State University and Kellogg Community College, would have certainly made the bracket if it were based solely on bad speech policies.

But not to worry, there are plenty of troublesome speech violations still represented in the bracket. In fact, ADF has filed 20 lawsuits against the universities and university systems represented in this year’s NCAA tournament and assisted students at many more schools.

In fact, we’ve sued the University of Wisconsin System seven times. And a recent visit to its Madison campus revealed that its students are a bit confused as to who should have the freedom to live and work according to their beliefs.

Other schools with problematic policies include Iowa State University, who we sued just last fall for a policy that states even “First Amendment protected speech activities” may qualify as harassment “depending on the circumstances.” The University of California, Los Angeles dropped a speech code in response to an ADF letter in 2012. Yet, it seems university officials are bent on discouraging free speech at every turn.

It’s not all public universities, either, who have outrageously limited speech for students on campus. ADF submitted a complaint on behalf of a Vanderbilt nursing student because the program tried to require nursing school students to submit to abortion training regardless of their moral and religious objections.

As you can see, it will be a tight race to the finish in the Bracket of Shame.

And while this might be a silly way to fill out a March Madness bracket, the state of free speech on college campuses across this country is no laughing matter. College campuses are meant to be a “marketplace of ideas” where students can be exposed to different ideas and learn to understand people who disagree with them.

As Casey Mattox sums it up: “Teaching this civic understanding to the next generation should be a fundamental purpose of higher education. That many universities are failing to do so is a shame for all of us.”


Which school do you think should win the Bracket of Shame?

To see Casey’s picks and submit the school whose policies and climate for student free speech you think is most deserving of the Bracket of Shame championship title, visit the link below.


Submit My Pick

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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