#1: Georgetown University
#2: University of Washington
#3: University of Illinois-Chicago
#4: Syracuse University
#5: University of Central Florida
#6: University of Southern California
#7: Vanderbilt University
#8: University of California-Los Angeles
#9: Duke University
#10: University of New Mexico
In the last few decades since the conservative world began to sound the alarm about the disappearance of academic freedom and free speech on college campuses, the situation has grown increasingly dire. The already unforgiving one-party political climate on college and university campuses has grown exponentially worse. The few professors who have dared to challenge the precepts of Critical Race Theory or other unquestionable tenets of the leftist narrative have found themselves facing immediate disciplinary action and calls for their termination from the cancel culture mob.
Even tenured professors are not fully protected from the puritan zeal of the Ivory Tower fascists who seek to scrub every last hint of dissent from their domains. Candidates for every position from the liberal arts to the hard sciences are now expected to craft Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) statements pledging their fealty to racial preferences and promoting “marginalized identities.” The mere suggestion that racial differences in performance are not solely due to structural racism and white supremacy is cause for immediate dismissal.
Students on campus fare even worse than faculty in this totalitarian environment. Encumbered by often-unconstitutional speech codes, Students can be suspended, expelled, or forced to submit to re-education for the merest stray remark or attempt at humor. Many universities maintain elaborate “bias reporting systems” to enable students to snitch on their classmates. A University of Arizona student became the subject of such a report when she attempted to draw the word “cotton” for an online Pictionary game. Observers claimed that her depiction of a possibly dark-skinned individual picking cotton was racist and demeaning. The U Conn Stamford College Republicans were reported for a photo which pictured a student making the “OK” sign; the reporter questioned whether it was a “White Power” symbol.
Our nation’s colleges and universities were constructed to be bastions of free and open debate by scholars engaged in the search for truth; instead they have become ideological prisons where the merest stray remark can be cause for expulsion and colleagues and classmates function as Stasi informers to hold the party line.
The following report exposes the worst offenders of this collegiate climate of censorship as the “Top Ten Fascist Colleges and Universities.” In particular, we are targeting those campuses who have instigated disciplinary proceedings or investigations of faculty or students who have dared to challenge leftist narratives and causes, those that censor conservative and libertarian speech on campus, and those campuses that maintain and enforce unconstitutional speech codes that restrict free expression, which should be a foundational principle of higher education.
We call on the universities catalogued in this report and all institutions of higher learning to immediately rewrite all campus policies and procedures that obstruct constitutional speech and provide redress for all students and faculty who have been illegally silenced or disciplined for their expression. If they should fail to do so, we urge Congress to withhold all federal funding until they are willing to bring their policies and actions in line with the Constitution and live up to their promises to protect academic freedom for all.
#1: Georgetown University
Georgetown University is a prestigious institution in Washington, DC and also one of the most totalitarian campuses in the nation when it comes to censoring free speech and viewpoints that don’t meet strict standards of progressive wokeness and critical race theory. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a nonpartisan non-profit organization that defends free speech and free thought in American society with a particular emphasis on college campuses, has given Georgetown its most severe rating of “Red” which is given only to universities that have “at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”
In particular, FIRE cites Georgetown’s policy on “Incivility” which is defined as “Engaging in behavior, either through language or actions, which disrespects another individual, including but not limited to: a fellow Georgetown student, visitor and/or vendor; a University Official or law enforcement officer.”
FIRE also registers major concerns with the university’s policy on “Harassment” which defines such behavior as “verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion to an individual because of a Protected Category as specified above, when such conduct has the purpose or effect of: unreasonably interfering with an individual or third party’s academic or work performance; creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or work environment; or otherwise adversely affecting an individual or third party’s academic or employment opportunities.” The policy applies to numerous forms of Constitutionally protected speech including “verbal abuse or ridicule, including slurs, epithets, and stereotyping; offensive jokes and comments; threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts, and displaying or distributing offensive materials, writings, graffiti, or pictures” and may include speech that is “carried out through the internet, email, social media, or other electronic means.”
These policies are not merely verbiage meant to placate progressives on campus; they are rigidly and punishingly enforced against faculty and students who dare to deviate from the leftist orthodoxy required by the university.
In January 2022, law professor Ilya Shapiro, who had just been hired as a senior lecturer and to head Georgetown’s Center for the Constitution, was placed on administrative leave after he tweeted his opposition to Biden’s pledge to select an African-American woman to serve as the next justice on the Supreme Court. Shapiro believed that Sri Srinivasan would be Biden’s “best pick” for the Court but noted that “alas [Srinivasan] doesn’t fit into latest intersectionality hierarchy so we’ll get [a] lesser black woman.”
Instead of defending Shapiro’s academic freedom, Georgetown Law Dean William Treanor called Shapiro’s tweet “appalling” and “at odds with everything we stand for at Georgetown Law” and placed the new hire on administrative leave before he was able to teach a single class. The university initiated a four month investigation to determine whether Shapiro had violated Georgetown’s diversity and inclusion policies, during which time the professor was entirely sidelined at his new job,
Georgetown reluctantly reinstated Shapiro after the end of the school year and acknowledged that he did not violate Georgtown’s absurdly restrictive free speech policies—not because his comments about Biden’s Supreme Court nominee constituted legitimate political discourse, but only because he was not yet an official employee of Georgetown at the time of his tweets. The university used the exoneration as an excuse to scold Shapiro for “your comments” which “had a significant negative impact on the Georgetown Law community, including current and prospective students, alumni, staff, and faculty” and “could have the effect of limiting Black women students’ access to courses taught by [you] and undermine Georgetown Law’s commitment to maintain inclusive learning and working environments.”
Unsurprisingly, following this Kafkaesque charade, Shapiro promptly resigned. His strongly worded resignation letter eviscerates the university’s response, noting that “You cleared me on a jurisdictional technicality, but the IDEAA Report—and your own statements to the Law Center community—implicitly repealed Georgetown’s vaunted Speech and Expression Policy and set me up for discipline the next time I transgress progressive orthodoxy.” He also lambasted Georgetown’s anti-harassment policy which, as the university’s disciplinary report on Shapiro states, “Does not require that a respondent intend to denigrate or show hostility or aversion to individuals based on a protected status” and “Instead… requires consideration of the ‘purpose or effect’ of a respondent’s conduct.” Thus, Shapiro explains, “According to this theory, the mere fact that many people were offended, or claimed to be, is enough for me to have violated the policies under which I was being investigated.”
Nor was Shapiro’s persecution the only instance of Georgetown’s brutal repression of free expression. In March of 2021, Georgetown Law School fired one professor and placed a second on administrative leave for comments expressing “angst” that African-American students tend to earn grades near the bottom of the grading scale.
Footage captured two colleagues, Georgetown Law professors Sandra Sellers and David Batson, commiserating on a Zoom call over their experiences grading students.
“You know what? I hate to say this, I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks,” Sellers commented to Batson. “Happens almost every semester and it’s like ‘oh come on.’”
Sellers added, “I get some really good ones but there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom, it drives me crazy… so I feel bad.”
The video shows Batson nodding his head, possibly indicating agreement, but remaining silent while listening to his colleague.
When the video sparked a public uproar, Georgetown Law School Dean Bill Treanor immediately acquiesced to the mob and fired Sellers. For the apparent thought crime of possibly agreeing with Sellers, Professor Batson was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, and later resigned.
The irony of this case lies in the fact that Sellers’ comments were the exact opposite of racist. She expressed her dismay that when assigning grades meritocratically, her African-American students, on average, earned lower grades than those of other races. This is a statement of fact, not evidence of discrimination. Instead of considering the professor’s legitimate concerns, Georgetown summarily fired her.
Nor have Georgetown’s students escaped the madness that is university cancel culture. In September 2019, the Georgetown University College Republicans held an event intended to combat climate alarmism and prove that the global situation is not so dire as many on the left have claimed. A mob of student protestors crashed the event and ignored over 40 requests from the police to leave, resulting in the evacuation of the room and the temporary suspension of the event.
Joking about the incident in a conservative group chat, student Jack Wagner suggested “Can we call ICE on [the protestors].” Another student responded in kind, jesting “nah, it’s melting … climate change bro.”
This innocent exchange became the fodder for a campus mob to demand that Wagner be punished for his private joke. The campus group, Hoyas for Immigrant Rights, put out a statement claiming that Wagner’s “words are embedded in racism and white supremacy” and “ultimately created an unsafe environment for students at Georgetown University,” and asserting that Georgetown “must hold Jack Wagner accountable for his words.” Hundreds of students, dozens of faculty members, and 20 campus organizations signed on to this statement asking the university to take disciplinary action against a student for a private and inoffensive joke.
The irony, of course, is that Wagner’s joke was itself triggered by the actions of leftist students who executed a heckler’s veto and shut down the College Republicans’ event on climate alarmism, and yet faced zero repercussions from the university administration. Georgetown’s outright hostility towards free speech merits its place at the top of the list of fascist universities.
#2: University of Washington
The University of Washington, located in Seattle, is one of the nation’s flagship institutions of public learning. Popularly known as U-Dub, the campus boasts a 703-acre campus with over 500 buildings and 26 libraries—and also some of the most fascistic policies to be seen in higher education.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a non-profit organization that defends free speech and free thought in American society with a particular emphasis on college campuses, has given the University of Washington its most severe rating of “Red” which is given only to universities that have “at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”
While several of the university’s conduct policies are problematic, FIRE flags “Executive Order No. 31: Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action” as being particularly flagrant in violating the right to free speech. That policy claims as its goal the promotion of “an environment that is free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation” and states that “To facilitate that goal, the University retains the authority to discipline or take appropriate corrective action for any conduct that is deemed unacceptable or inappropriate, regardless of whether the conduct rises to the level of unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.”
Thus, according to the language of the university’s own policy, UW freely admits to policing and prohibiting lawful, constitutionally protected speech, a clear violation of the First Amendment from the publicly-funded institution.
The disciplinary charges associated with violating U-Dub’s policies are far from theoretical. Computer Science Professor Stuart Reges found this out firsthand when he challenged one the university’s “best practices” developed by the campus diversity office which urged faculty to include an assertion in each course syllabus “to acknowledge that our campus sits on occupied land.”
Reges openly stated his disagreement with land acknowledgement statements in an email to faculty last December. When he prepared the syllabus for his upcoming course beginning in January 2022, he included a modified version of UW’s suggested statement, reading “I acknowledge that by the labor theory of property the Coast Salish people can claim historical ownership of almost none of the land currently occupied by the University of Washington.” As FIRE notes on their website, “Reges’s statement was a nod to John Locke’s philosophical theory that property rights are established by labor.”
But university officials were not amused. Just one day after releasing the syllabus, the director of the computer science department, Magdalena Balazinska, ordered Reges to immediately remove the modified land use statement from his syllabus, claiming it was “inappropriate” and “offensive” and created “a toxic environment.” When Reges refused to remove the statement, U-Dub launched an official investigation to determine whether the professor’s conduct violated its harassment policy—that same policy that earned them a “red light” rating from FIRE. The Computer Science Department head, Balinska, also created a new course to compete with the one Reges was already teaching, featuring pre-recorded lectures from another professor.
At the time of this writing, Reges remains a subject of U-Dub’s investigation, which has continued for more than five months. In July, backed by FIRE, he filed a lawsuit against the university for violating his academic freedom and free speech rights.
Other faculty at the university may soon have even more cause to fear for their livelihoods if they dare to dissent from progressive orthodoxy. Last March, UW’s Faculty Council on Race, Equity, and Justice submitted a proposed amendment to the faculty senate, which would have mandated that faculty up for tenure or promotion submit a statement in which they “reflect on past and planned contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the self-assessment of their qualifications for tenure or promotion.” The new requirement would essentially force faculty to pledge their allegiance to the leftwing “anti-racism” narrative if they hold any hope of future employment.
The faculty senate voted to pass the amendment, but the full faculty voted it down. The amendment’s failure to pass is a victory for academic freedom, but it is unlikely to satisfy the U-Dub radicals who have been pushing for such a policy for the past ten years. Nor will it help “new faculty applicants” who have been required since 2021 to “submit a statement on contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” essentially creating a leftwing litmus test for all new faculty hires.
Cancel culture at U-Dub does not only affect the faculty—recent incidents have shown it extends to students as well. This past May, the Black Student Union on campus held a rally to remove a statue of George Washington—our nation’s first president and the university’s namesake—from campus, on the grounds that he was “an enslaver of men.” The inconvenient fact that Washington freed his slaves upon his death—a remarkable act for the times he lived in—was not part of the dialogue. The student activists also called for the abolition of the police.
For maintaining clearly unconstitutional speech codes and using them to punish free speech and dissent, the University of Washington belongs on the list of most fascist universities.
#3: University of Illinois-Chicago
As a public educational institution, the University of Illinois-Chicago has a constitutional duty to preserve and promote freedom of speech on campus. Yet in several recent incidents, the university has done exactly the opposite—blatantly denying free expression to both students and faculty when that expression is at odds with the radical leftist paradigm.
UIC law professor Jason Kilborn found this out the hard way when he included a question on a December 2020 law exam that included redacted references to racist and sexist slurs. Ironically, the question concerned employment discrimination. Students were asked to consider a hypothetical example in which an employee was called “a ‘n____’ and ‘b____’ (profane expressions for African Americans and women)” as evidence of discrimination in a lawsuit. Kilborn notably did NOT actually spell out the slurs—which would have also been within his rights—but instead used the first letter and dashes as quoted above. But even this minimal reference to the existence of these slurs was enough to set off the campus speech police.
The Black Law Students Association put out a statement on social media claiming that Kilborn’s reference to these redacted slurs “shocked students and created a huge distraction from taking the exam.” The Association also created a petition demanding that Kilborn be removed as chair of the academic affairs committee and also from his other committee appointments.
In conversations with the university administration, Kilborn offered to send a letter of apology to his students, but even that was not sufficient debasement in the eyes of the university. Showing zero spine, UIC promptly yielded to the mob and suspended Kilborn, requiring him to undergo diversity trainings in order to return to the classroom. In a twist so ironic it almost defies belief, the readings that Kilborn was assigned to complete for this diversity training used a censored form of the same ethnic slur which had prompted his suspension in the first place.
“They assign me to do this online sort of diversity course… But they also, of course, wanted to make it more burdensome and painful for me, and so they assign me a series of these supplemental readings,” Kilborn told CampusReform.org. “[UIC has] subjected me to a year-long relentless campaign of torment because I wrote “N” space on my exam, and now, the very first reading that you give me says “N (space) in it,” he said.
Kilborn has filed a lawsuit against UIC alleging violations of his academic freedom, UIC policy, and several constitutional amendments.
“I don’t think that the University could give me a settlement offer that I would accept,” he said in an interview. “I’m not interested in settling… I want them to be told in no uncertain terms: There’s this thing called the First Amendment… [UIC] obviously [is] not familiar with it… Well, I’ve got news for you, UIC: This lawyer is not going to be pushed around.”
If a law professor at UIC can be suspended for using a redacted slur, students at the university have even fewer rights. Members of the conservative student group, TPUSA, were threatened with arrest when they set up a table to distribute leaflets on campus without first reserving a space.
Video of the incident shows that the TPUSA students were approached by Ruby Lepe, assistant director of building management, who ordered them to leave.
“You have to make a reservation,” Lepe declared. “All this space here, this space inside the building, and the grassy areas, are reserved for meetings and conferences.”
When a TPUSA member objected that, “You shouldn’t have to reserve a space on a public property,” Lepe responded, “This isn’t public property, it’s university property,” ignoring the fact that as a public university, UIC is bound by the First Amendment.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a nonpartisan non-profit organization that defends free speech and free thought in American society with a particular emphasis on college campuses, gave UIC a “yellow light” rating for enacting policies which restrict a “limited amount” of protected expression, or “by virtue of vague wording, can too easily be used to restrict protected expression.”
According to FIRE, “At public institutions” such as UIC, “yellow light policies are unconstitutional.”
#4: Syracuse University:
Located in central New York, Syracuse University bills itself as “a student-focused, global research university renowned for academic rigor, richly diverse learning experiences, and a spirit of discovery.” But this laudable spirit of openness is contradicted by recent events. Instead of welcoming intellectual diversity, Syracuse has attempted to thwart it at every turn, denying recognition to a conservative student group, penalizing all campus fraternities for an allegedly racist incident committed by a non-fraternity member, and maintaining restrictive policies that allow administrators to arbitrarily punish speech that deviates from leftist norms.
In 2019, Syracuse administrators refused to recognize a campus chapter of the national student group, Young Americans for Freedom. At issue was the group’s requirement that members support conservative principles including the United States Constitution and also the national organization’s alleged history of “supporting discourse via printed materials and/or other means that are deemed inflammatory.” The group was only recognized after months of conflict and the intervention of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) which pointed out the absurdity—and legal pitfalls—of the university’s position.
Syracuse also has a history of attempting to stamp out racism—and stamping on the rights of its students in the process. In November 2019, a black female student alleged that a group of students had yelled a racial slur at her. The woman’s claims were contradicted by eyewitnesses, including members of her own family. The student who allegedly yelled the slur was not even a student at Syracuse, but instead attended Rutgers University. However, the mere fact that the alleged perpetrator of this hate crime was in the company of members of Syracuse’s Alpha Chi Rho fraternity meant that the university felt entitled to take drastic action. Syracuse suspended the activities of ALL campus fraternities—including minority ones—for the rest of the semester.
In a similar incident which also targeted Greek life at the university, Syracuse suspended 15 members of the Theta Tau engineering fraternity chapter because they held a private event during which they “roasted” other members with off-color humor. After videos of the private event were leaked without authorization, Syracuse brought the participants up on disciplinary charges for their allegedly “sexist” and “racist” conduct which they claimed caused “an immediate breach of the peace” and strayed “beyond the bounds of protected speech”—statements that FIRE, which took on the students’ case, deems flat out lies.
More recently, in September 2020, Syracuse launched an investigation into a chemistry professor who had taught at the university for 30 years and banned him from all contact with students. His crime? The professor, Jon Zubieta, used the terms “Wuhan Flu or Chinese Communist Party Virus” to head a section of his course syllabus on COVID-19 precaution. Syracuse administrators failed to see the humor—or the factual truth—in the professor’s label and instead issued a statement claiming that the description was “damaging to the learning environment for our students” and launched a disciplinary investigation. Zubieta was eventually reinstated by the university, but only after a five-month witch-hunt damaged his reputation and interrupted his academic career and that of his students.
“My intention was to mock the euphemistic conventions of PC culture rather than the Chinese people or their great heritage and traditions,” Zubieta responded. “The actions of the university in placing me under suspension and in practice seemingly supporting the accusations of racism and Sinophobia are deeply disturbing.”
Syracuse’s rampant disregard for the academic freedom and free speech of both students and faculty merit its placement near the top of the list of most fascist universities.
#5: University of Central Florida
‘Cancel Culture’ has reached a new apotheosis at the University of Central Florida where a tenured professor of psychology was ignominiously fired in February 2020 for daring to question the existence of “systemic racism” and mocking the concept of “white privilege.”
That professor, Charles Negy, tweeted: “Black privilege is real: Besides affirm. action, special scholarships and other set asides, being shielded from legitimate criticism is a privilege.”
He also tweeted: “Sincere question: If Afr. Americans as a group, had the same behavioral profile as Asian Americans (on average, performing the best academically, having the highest income, committing the lowest crime, etc.), would we still be proclaiming ‘systematic racism’ exists?”
Negy, who is gay and part-Hispanic, should rate high on the Left’s scale of victimhood, but neither of those characteristics were enough to protect him from the wrath of university radicals. The professor’s commentary on “black privilege” so incensed and infuriated UCF students and faculty that they sparked a Change.org petition signed by 30,000 individuals calling for his firing as well as a full-out witch-hunt to dig up dirt on the professor by any means necessary.
Because academic freedom still exists—on paper, at least—UCF could not officially fire Negy for his comments on twitter. Instead, the university launched a 7-month investigation and compiled a 244-page report which alleges that Negy “failed to report and appropriately respond to a student’s disclosure of having been sexually assaulted by one of his teaching assistants,” and that he tried to stop “students from filing complaints related to his classroom conduct.” It also claims that he “mocked students, repeatedly used profanity, and made inappropriate comments related to sexual assault during class such as telling students that there were many false rape accusations that plagued college campuses.”
Negy called the report and subsequent firing a “complete assault on free speech, the free exchange of ideas, and the principle of tenure,” stating that “UCF terminated me based on their bogus, 244-page investigative report that lists highly dubious charges that none, alone, would warrant termination, but they believe together justifies de-tenuring me and firing me.”
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), an organization which defends the First Amendment, also came to Negy’s defense.
“Nobody interviews 300 people over seven months about incidents covering 15 years unless they’re desperate to find something, anything, to use against their target,” stated FIRE’s Adam Goldstein. “…UCF implemented a process calculated to find reasons to fire an employee who had offended people with this speech.”
Negy has recently been vindicated. After challenging UCF’s decision to fire him and revoke his tenure through a union grievance process, an arbitrator ruled that the university failed to show “just cause” for their decision, especially given that he had previously received three awards for his teaching excellence and was “rated as overall outstanding” in his prior five annual evaluations by the university. UCF was ordered to reinstate Negy with his full salary, tenure, and benefits. The professor is currently teaching again at UCF (initially with a police presence to ensure his safety) but is still planning to file a lawsuit against UCF for violating his First Amendment rights.
UCF has received a “yellow light” ranking from FIRE for enacting policies which restrict a “limited amount” of protected expression, or “by virtue of vague wording, can too easily be used to restrict protected expression.”
For its unconstitutional and ideological decision to fire a professor who contradicted the left’s narrative on critical race theory, the University of Central Florida belongs on the list of America’s most fascist universities.
#6: University of Southern California
The website of the University of Southern California proudly lists a multitude of “Student Equity and Inclusion Programs” which are designed to create “a sense of belonging” for the diverse array of students at USC. But when a Professor of Communications at the university attempted to educate his students about Chinese linguistic patterns, explaining the meaning of a Chinese word that—to the uneducated ear of American students—sounded similar to the N-word, he was reported as a racist and suspended from teaching the class.
Greg Patton is a professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business and an “expert in communication, interpersonal and leadership effectiveness.” During the fall 2020 semester, Patton taught an online class during which he spoke about the use of “filler words” in the speech of various languages.
“If you have a lot of ‘ums and errs,’ this is culturally specific, so based on your native language,” the professor explained. “Like in China, the common word is ‘that, that, that.’ So in China it might be ‘nèi ge, nèi ge, nèi ge.’”
To a native Chinese speaker, the word sounds nothing like the American racial slur. Patton himself has worked in China although is not a fluent speaker of Chinese. Despite the crystal-clear context of Patton’s example, and his status as an expert in communications, a number of African-American students were so offended that they sent a letter to the Marshall School of Business Dean Geoffrey Garrett accusing Patton of racial insensitivity and stating that he was unfit to teach the class.
“The way we heard it in class was indicative of a much more hurtful word with tremendous implications for the Black community,” stated the students’ letter. “There are over 10,000 characters in the Chinese written language and to use this phrase, a clear synonym with this derogatory N-Word term, is hurtful and unacceptable to our USC Marshall community. The negligence and disregard displayed by our professor was very clear in today’s class.” The letter was signed “Black M.B.A. Candidates c/o 2022.”
Incredibly, instead of explaining to the complaining students that they were displaying cultural insensitivity towards the Chinese people and language, USC chose to uphold their absurd and racist complaint towards the professor for exposing them to an example of Chinese speech. Dean Garrett wrote back to the complaining students and explained that Professor Patton would be removed as the instructor of the course, effective immediately.
“It is simply unacceptable for faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,” Garrett wrote. He claimed that Patton had “repeated several times a Chinese word that sounds very similar to a vile racial slur in English. Understandably, this caused great pain and upset among students, and for that I am deeply sorry.”
Following an investigation, USC’s Office of Equity, Equal Opportunity and Title IX eventually found that Professor Patton’s Chinese language example “did not violate the university’s policy,” but student organizations on campus continued to press for repercussions and the chilling ramifications on academic freedom were evident both inside and beyond the university walls.
Professor Patton is not alone among USC faculty for being targeted for legitimate and constitutional expression. Dr. James Moore, a professor of engineering at USC, hung a “Thin Blue Line” flag (a version of the American flag with a blue stripe to show support for police officers) on the door of his office at the start of the 2021 academic year. As word of the flag spread, students demanded that it be taken down, calling it “an inappropriate and unnecessary symbol” and urging the university to “do something about Professor Moore because this is not the first controversial thing he’s done.”
Then a dean from the School of Engineering called him to ask that he move the flag to inside his office—a request that Moore discovered came from the central campus administration
Moore politely refused to remove the flag, stating in an interview that he “wanted to communicate to conservative students on campus that their point of view was recognized, because you wouldn’t know it from the messaging they receive in this organization.” He also wanted to counter the myth that “black lives are at risk from the police” because it “is not borne out in the data.”
Unlike with Professor Patton, the USC administration did not go so far as to suspend Moore, but it isn’t hard to imagine that a less established professor might have been cowed by the administration’s request to censor his views.
It is not only faculty who are subject to the fascist whims of the USC administration. In 2018, USC made headlines when it banned student journalists from covering a public forum to solicit feedback on the search for a new college president. The school had claimed that participants in the forum would not “feel comfortable” if they were “recorded or reported on.” While student journalists were allowed to attend the forum, they were barred from taking notes, quoting speakers, or recording the event.
Only after public outrage and the intervention of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a non-profit organization that defends free speech and free thought in American society, did USC admit their failure. “Student media reporters were mistakenly told by a University Communications staff person that they were not permitted to report from inside the session,” Rick Caruso, chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, wrote in a campus-wide email.
FIRE has awarded USC a “yellow light” ranking for having “at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application.”
#7: Vanderbilt University
A private university located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt is known for its top-notch medical school and research facilities. But its prestigious reputation has been overshadowed recently by its medical center’s focus on radical gender ideology and “gender affirming” surgeries and hormones marketed to minors and their parents.
In September 2022, multiple videos from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center were uncovered by conservative blogger Matt Walsh. The videos clarified the clear profit motive for university doctors to promote gender “transition” surgeries—including performing permanent procedures on children. Even worse, the videos showcased the university’s explicit shaming of doctors and medical students who object to these procedures, making clear that they are not welcome on campus and face termination if they refuse to perform them.
One video featured Dr. Shane Taylor explaining that “Starting January 1, 2017, according to the Affordable Care Act, insurance carriers are mandated to cover medical expenses for trans folks,” before concluding that such surgeries could be highly profitable for the university. “It’s a lot of money,” Taylor reiterated. “These surgeries make a lot of money.”
In another video, Dr. Ellen Clayton warned of dire consequences for anyone not on board with the “gender affirming” surgeries. “If you are going to assert conscientious objection, you have to realize that that is problematic,” she said. “What I want you to take home is that saying you are not going to do something because of your religious beliefs is not without consequences. And it should not be without consequence. If you don’t want to do this kind of work, don’t work at Vanderbilt.”
So much for, “First, do no harm.”
Following the exposure of these materials, Vanderbilt promptly stripped its website of nearly all materials and information about its “pediatric transgender clinic”—a sure sign that the university feared ramifications from its exposure as a profit-seeking mutilator of children’s bodies.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has since called for an investigation into the university’s Transgender Health Clinic and has directed the state’s attorney general to proceed. “The ‘pediatric transgender clinic’ at Vanderbilt University Medical Center raises serious moral, ethical and legal concerns,” Lee said in a statement. “We should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children or policies that suppress religious liberties, all for the purpose of financial gain.”
Vanderbilt has also taken additional steps recently to deliberately restrict speech on campus and institute kangaroo courts to handle potential violations. In November 2021, the university updated its Student Handbook to state that students may face disciplinary action for speech that is judged to be “inconsistent with the University’s values”—whatever that means. Even worse, students do not have the ability to appeal such rulings.
Calling the update a “chilling new policy,” the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a non-profit group that protects free expression, detailed how Vanderbilt’s punitive approach to student speech will hinder free debate on campus.
“This means that if a student is reported for harassment over their subjectively offensive speech and an administrator determines that their speech doesn’t actually constitute harassment, the student can still be subjected to whatever ‘action to mitigate the effects of the conduct’ the school wishes to take, without the chance to appeal the decision,” FIRE explained.
Vanderbilt’s promotion of child-mutilation, its threats against doctors who refuse to comply with such procedures, and its increasingly punitive speech codes, all combine to make it one of the most fascist American universities.
#8: University of California-Los Angeles
In the mission statement presented on its official website, the University of California-Los Angeles claims to be “committed to academic freedom in its fullest terms” and to “value open access to information, free and lively debate conducted with mutual respect for individuals, and freedom from intolerance.” Yet a closer examination of the campus culture and speech regulations reveal that these platitudes are far from the truth. UCLA has persistently shown itself to be an institution that is hostile to free speech and diverse viewpoints, both within its classrooms and without.
Take the testimony of tenured UCLA anthropology profession Joseph Manson, who announced his retirement in a viral blog post last summer. Manson cited “the Woke takeover of higher education” as well as “thinly disguised Jew-hatred” and public pressure on educators and scientists to promote radical gender theory that denies the existence of “the human sex binary,” among the reasons for his departure.
In his resignation post, Manson recounted the story of his colleague, P. Jeffrey Brantingham, a “standard-issue liberal Democrat,” who was essentially cast out of the academic life of his department for creating software to predict urban crime. Apparently, Brantigham’s academic work did not fit the woke narrative that claims that systemic racism is responsible for our nation’s growing crime epidemic.
“Not only was Jeff ostracized, he was unpersoned,” Manson wrote. “None of the faculty talked about him, if they could possibly avoid it. Meanwhile, our department chair opened most faculty meetings by solemnly intoning that our department was a community, a family, and that ‘we’re here for each other.’ In private conversations, I was able to elicit from some of my colleagues an embarrassed acknowledgment that the Woke faction had treated Jeff abominably, and that we strongly resembled a dysfunctional family in denial.”
The anthropology department’s horrific mistreatment of his colleague was only one of many fascistic actions taken by the university. Manson also noted that “Statements recounting one’s activities on behalf of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion are mandatory in faculty job applications and in promotion dossiers” meaning that faculty that disagree with the far-left view on these issues are barred from even applying for academic positions or are forced to lie about their views. A university task force is also working on updates to its “Gender Recognition” policy recommendations which would compel university instructors to include “non-binary and intersex identities in biology courses for health care practitioners”—forcing scientists to teach pseudoscientific woke pablum as fact.
“UCLA as a whole is showing all signs of Woke capture that typify the contemporary U.S. university,” Manson concluded.
Other faculty members at UCLA have experienced this punitory environment firsthand. In the summer of 2020, UCLA accounting lecturer Gordon Klein ran afoul of the campus censors when he refused a request from a non-black students to offer leniency in grading African-American students due to their potential distress in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Klein responded with a somewhat satirical email, asking how he was supposed to identify black students in his online-only class, whether white students from Minneapolis also deserved leniency, and how mixed-race students might fit into the equation. He also questioned the student on how Martin Luther King Jr.’s entreaty not to evaluate people on “the color of their skin” might fit into his handling of the request.
In the rarified environs of UCLA, Klein’s eminently reasonable response was treated as a hate crime. A screenshot of his email response quickly went viral, leading UCLA Anderson School of Management Dean Antonio Bernardo to issue a memo accusing Klein of “troubling conduct” and stating Klein was suspended from teaching and that his courses had been reassigned. Only after an investigation and the intervention of an independent advocacy group was Klein cleared of any wrongdoing. In the meantime, student activists and others conducted an online war to promote his permanent termination from the university resulting in physical threats against his person. Klein is currently suing UCLA for breach of contract and labor violations, among other issues.
UCLA’s fascistic tendencies can also be seen in the lack of reaction to an abominable tweet from Johnathan Perkins, the director for race and equity at UCLA, who expressed his hope that black conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas would die. At the time, Thomas was in the hospital.
In a tweet published on March 24, 2022, Perkins wrote, “No one wants to openly admit [we all] hope Clarence Thomas dies.”
“This whole rule we’re not to wish ill on people is silly,” he continued. He also referred to Justice Thomas as “Uncle Thomas,” a reference to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” where the titular figure is a black man who is considered weak and spineless. Twitter ultimately removed the tweet as not complying with their policies, although they left up other tweets from Perkins including one stating “Clarence Thomas can choke as far as I’m concerned.” While other faculty members have been investigated and put on leave for much less, Perkins’ death wish to a sitting Supreme Court justice didn’t even merit a disciplinary hearing from UCLA.
UCLA’s horrific and prejudicial treatment of faculty who refuse to parrot leftist narratives merits its inclusion on the list of the most fascist universities.
#9: Duke University
Duke University is known as a standout in both academics and athletics, but it should be better known as a campus that censors dissent from the prevailing leftist orthodoxy and attempts to punish both professors and students who fail to fall in line.
Former Duke Professor Dr. Evan Charney found this out the hard way. Until recently, Charney was an associate professor at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. After a two-decade career at the august institution, during which he won awards and was highly regarded by both students and faculty, Charney was informed that his contract would not be renewed. The issue? According to a report from the Faculty Hearing Committee, a group of faculty from various departments at Duke, Charney’s firing was “largely” a result of his teaching style which some faculty believed had “a tendency to provoke negative reactions, and perhaps harm, among some students in the classroom.”
Charney himself called the accusation “extraordinary,” and others have noted that his student evaluations confirm his excellent teaching skills. During the period from Fall 2014 to Spring 2018, Charney received a score of 4.48 out of 5 for “fostering a positive class dynamic and atmosphere conducive to learning.” The departmental faculty average was only 4.34.
In a piece titled, “The End of Being a Duke Professor and What It Means for the Future of Higher Education,” Charney explained his understanding of the true reasons behind his dismissal.
“The answer, I believe, is twofold,” he wrote. “First, the complaint of a handful of students concerning the events of a single class in which we discussed racism at Duke; second, an administration willing to give this complaint absolute credence and greater weight than a record of 20 years as an outstanding teacher, and to distort that record to ensure a negative vote of the faculty.”
Professor Charney is far from the only casualty of Duke’s fervor for political correctness; students have suffered as well. In November of 2021, the president of Duke University’s student government took the extraordinary step of vetoing approval for a chapter of the pro-Israel campus group Students Supporting Israel (SSI). According to the campus newspaper, the student government president had not issued a veto in over five years prior to the debate about SSI’s recognition.
Student Government President Christina Wang claimed that she was vetoing SSI because the organization “singled out an individual student on their organization’s social media account in a way that was unacceptable for any student group.”
So what comment was so egregious that it should stand in the way of SSI’s recognition? After a student tweeted a link about SSI’s pending approval with the comment “My school promotes settler colonialism,” SSI responded to her by name stating, “please allow us to educate you on what ‘settler colonialism’ actually is and why Israel does not fall under this category whatsoever. These types of narratives are what we strive to combat and condemn, which is why Duke’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel has been officially established & is here to stay.” Apparently, calling out an individual by name for their mendacious and anti-Semitic public tweet is “unacceptable” at Duke.
Also in 2021, Duke police were asked to investigate alleged “homophobic” and “anti-Black” graffiti that was scrawled on the East Campus Bridge. The only problem—the bridge is officially designated by the university as a free speech zone where “Individuals and student groups may express opinions within this area that are not restricted by content, except by legal standards.” Despite this explicit promise of free speech, Duke administrators stated that the perpetrators could face disciplinary consequences under the school’s “hate and bias policy.”
Duke’s persecution of faculty and students who refuse to submit to the administration’s radical outlook merits its inclusion on the list of the most fascist universities.
#10: University of New Mexico
Right at the top of its official website, the University of New Mexico describes itself as “a community of unique perspectives embracing divergence,” but recent events have demonstrated that not all perspectives are considered equally valid. When conservative Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren arrived on campus to speak at an event, she was met by a violent mob of progressive protesters who attempted to shut down the speech before it could even begin.
A group calling itself “Political Fireball” began organizing to disrupt Lahren’s speech long before she arrived on campus, circulating a banner on social media which read “FUCK WHITE SUPREMACY — Rally Against Tomi Lahren’s Speech at UNM — We Won’t Allow Racist Rhetoric to be Spread on Our Campus Unopposed.”
Then, as the event began, protesters broke into the auditorium screaming “F**k Tomi Lahren” and were beating on the door which had to be barricaded. They also pulled the fire alarm in an effort to end the speech. Lahren, along with her father and a representative from Turning Point USA, the conservative student group which had arranged Lahren’s visit, were then forced to shelter in a back room until local police could arrive.
Describing the incident, Lahren was highly critical of UNM’s failure to ensure that her speech could proceed safely.
“The university knew there was going to be a planned protest,” Lahren explained in an interview. “There was a banner going around social media for days, especially yesterday, leading up to the event. They knew that it was going to be bad. They knew that Antifa was involved. They knew that it was going to be an organized protest against my speech. They did nothing.”
“We had a couple of campus PD officers. That was it. They did not call Albuquerque police. They didn’t call the New Mexico police. They were completely unprepared and quite frankly, didn’t care,” Lahren described. “Even after we were in the room, and these protesters that were let into the student union and were banging on the door trying to bust in the door to attack me and the speech goers — the university still did nothing.”
Some of the protesters proudly took to social media to showcase their success in shutting down Lahren’s speech. “We kicked @TomiLahren out of @UNM campus and it took less than an hour of disruption. It’s our duty to shut down white supremacist organizing every chance we get. Fuck Tomi Lauren. Fuck White Supremacy,” one individual tweeted.
An article covering the controversy in the Daily Lobo, the official student newspaper of UNM, focused not on the premature cancellation of the event, but on students’ objections to the fact that their heckler’s veto was criticized by the administration.
“I think UNM’s actions are unnecessary as the protest was not violent,” asserted one student who was quoted in the coverage. “I think it is unfortunate that university property was damaged, but I think it is more unfortunate that UNM allows a hateful group such as Turning Point to gather on campus and utilize university facilities to host an individual such as Tomi Lahren. Property can be fixed and replaced, the safety of students cannot, and UNM is letting their minority students know that their safety on campus is not valued.” Other students complained to the campus paper that the police presence necessitated by their protest led them to feel “unsafe.”
UNM did release a statement asserting its commitment “to the principles of free speech” and claimed to be “deeply disappointed in the actions of those individuals who intentionally chose to disrupt a scheduled speaker.” The university also promised to conduct an investigation and “hold anyone who violated the law or University policies accountable.” Despite this promise, a search of the Daily Lobo did not reveal any disciplinary charges against the protesters who disrupted Lahren’s speech.
Allowing the disruption of Lahren’s speech is not UNM’s only misstep in protecting the rights of faculty and students. The university has repeatedly been sued by both students and faculty for allowing disciplinary hearings without adequate due process. In one recent instance, Joseph Caldwell, a student basketball player, was abruptly thrown off the team, prevented from registering for classes, and evicted from campus housing after he was accused—not convicted—of battery against another individual who was not even associated with UNM. In his lawsuit against the university, Caldwell alleges that he was denied a hearing where he could listen and challenge witnesses and evidence presented against him, in addition to the chance to appeal the campus’s verdict.
In another deeply concerning incident, UNM Professor Nick Flor was suspended for a year without pay after a 35-year-old graduate student made a false harassment report after he ended their relationship. Notably, Flor did not supervise the graduate student and was not her instructor. Nevertheless, UNM suspended the professor and after an independent investigator found consideration favorable to Flor, they replaced the initial investigator with an in-house Title IX official.
For its failure to protect free expression on campus and its repeated violation of the due process rights of students and faculty, UNM deserves to be labeled one of the nation’s most fascist universities.