Elite universities get low rankings for viewpoint diversity

Sandor Farkas
Collegiate Network Fellow

  • According to the latest rankings from Heterodox Academy, some of the highest-ranked schools on the US News and World Reports list are actually among the worst when it comes to viewpoint diversity.
  • The University of Chicago topped the list with a score of 98, while the University of Oregon came in last with a score of just 10.
  • Heterodox Academy has released its annual rankings of American colleges, finding that many of the country’s most prestigious institutions actually score fairly low for viewpoint diversity.

    The “Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges” reviewed US News and World Reports’ list of the top 150 universities and top 50 liberal arts colleges, assigning a number ranging from zero to 100 based on a variety of institutional ratings and statistics.

    "We tried to put ourselves in the place of a high school senior who...wants to avoid the ‘walking on eggshells’ culture of fear that many students are now reporting."   

    [RELATED: REPORT: Mizzou among worst schools for viewpoint diversity]

    Points were awarded for endorsing the “Chicago Statement” on free expression, earning positive ratings from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), and holding on-campus events that promote free expression. Points were then deducted for events that restricted free expression, as well as for each instance of violence directed against any form of free speech.

    Higher scores indicate schools that welcome “intellectual diversity and dissent,” while lower scores represent those that have a history of suppressing divergent viewpoints.

    The University of Chicago—which originated the “Chicago Statement”—topped the list with a rating of 98, while the University of Oregon came in at the bottom with a score of just 10.

    [RELATED: UChicago held up as national model for free speech]

    Ivy League scores ranged from a high of 59, earned by both the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, to a low of 25 posted by both Cornell University and Harvard University. Between those extremes, Dartmouth College scored 41 points, Brown University 28, and Yale University 26.

    Among the top 150 schools, 111 had sufficient data for a ranking, of which 32 posted scores above 50, while 55 came in below that mark. Just 20 public universities scored more than 50 points, while 41 posted scores below the median point.

    Liberal arts colleges fared significantly worse, with a top score of 65 for Claremont McKenna College, which was one of just five schools to score above 50. None of the 37 liberal arts institutions included in the rankings received a “green light” rating from FIRE, while 22 had a “red light” rating indicating substantial restrictions on free speech.

    “In developing the scoring method and weights, we tried to put ourselves in the place of a high school senior who is applying to colleges and who wants to avoid the ‘walking on eggshells’ culture of fear that many students are now reporting,” Heterodox explains in a page outlining its methodology.

    [RELATED: STUDY: Majority of college students hostile to free speech]

    Indeed, the results of a recent Heterodox Academy “Campus Expression Survey” seem to support the need for the rankings, revealing that 32 percent of conservative students report having been “treated badly on campus because of their political views” at least once a month, compared to just eight percent of liberal students.

    The survey also found that 53 percent of all students “reported that they do not think their college or university frequently encourages students to consider a wide variety of viewpoints and perspectives.”

    Heterodox Academy is an association of scholars that seek to promote “diverse viewpoints and perspectives” in academia and encourage open debate.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @SFarkas48





    Sandor Farkas

    Sandor Farkas

    Collegiate Network Fellow
    Sandor Farkas is a Collegiate Network Fellow at Campus Reform. Prior to starting this fellowship, he was a Tikvah Fellow. Farkas earned a degree in history from Dartmouth College, where he was editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth Review. Farkas also serves as an officer in the Virginia Army National Guard.
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