The University of New Hampshire is ranked third in the nation for free speech according to a new national report from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) and College Pulse. It is the second time in three years that UNH has finished No. 3 in the rankings.
The report ranked the free speech climate of 248 of America’s most prestigious colleges and universities, weighing the voices of more than 55,000 currently enrolled students throughout the country in the process.
“Free speech is one of the most fundamental American constitutional rights,” said UNH President James W. Dean Jr. “As a public university, UNH protects and promotes this value by ensuring our students can be exposed to new and different ideas that will hopefully inspire growth and intellectual curiosity. This new report from FIRE validates the work we have done and will continue to do to foster an environment where free speech can flourish.”
UNH finished with an overall score 72.17 under the FIRE scoring system, good for No. 3 overall and just .36 behind second place Auburn University. The No. 3 ranking represented a notable rise for UNH following a No. 16 ranking a year ago and returned the university to the No. 3 spot it held in 2021.
UNH is one of only 12 schools to have been ranked in the top 25 in each of the last three years, with an average ranking of No. 7, second among all institutions to the University of Chicago among schools with consistently high rankings over time.
The FIRE overall score is based on a combination of categories that includes comfort expressing ideas, tolerance for liberal or conservative speakers, disruptive conduct, admin support and openness.
UNH ranked the highest among schools in the top five overall in both openness and comfort expressing ideas, earning the No. 1 spot among the top five by a comfortable margin in both metrics (by 98 and 79 positions, respectively).
Additionally, UNH is rated as a “green light” school by FIRE, which rates policies that regulate student expression based upon the extent to which they restrict free speech. FIRE has evaluated more than 600 colleges and universities, with only 60 receiving “green light” ratings – including all three USNH institutions.