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  • Charlie Hatcher

Claremont McKenna Plummets to 73rd in Free Speech Rankings

Heather Ferguson and Jon Shields run Claremont McKenna's Open Academy initiative.


On Wednesday, Claremont McKenna College fell from 6th to 73rd place in the College Free Speech Rankings from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). Just two years ago, CMC was ranked first in the country.

According to data collected by FIRE and College Pulse, only five percent of the 176 CMC students surveyed said they never self-censored during classroom discussions, and only three percent said they never self-censored in conversations with other students. The survey also found that for each conservative student, there are roughly five liberal students.

Of the 254 colleges and universities surveyed, CMC placed 100th in comfort expressing ideas, 54th in acceptance of disruptive conduct related to campus speakers, and 194th in openness to difficult conversations. CMC ranked 16th in students’ perception of the administration’s support for free expression, down from 6th place last year.

For acceptance of campus speakers, CMC ranked 6th overall, 11th in tolerance for liberal speakers, and 38th in tolerance for conservative speakers. FIRE also reported a “tolerance difference,” or the gulf between acceptance of liberal and conservative speakers, where CMC placed 173rd.

In addition to student survey data, the rankings also incorporate FIRE’s evaluation of campus speech policies and administrative responses to recent speech controversies. CMC’s speech policies hold FIRE’s highest “green light” rating, but CMC was penalized for its three entries in FIRE’s Scholars Under Fire database, which tracks infringements on academic freedom. Professors Christopher Nadon, Eva Revesz, and Robert Faggen all appeared in the database for the CMC administration’s responses to separate incidents involving the use of the n-word in their classrooms.

FIRE had previously written to CMC last year expressing concern about the incidents, and CMC President Hiram Chodosh contested the claims. The story went on to receive national coverage.

As for the other Claremont Colleges, Pitzer College ranked 108th, Scripps College ranked 127th, Pomona College ranked 177th, and Harvey Mudd College ranked 179th.

Disclosure: The author was a 2023 summer intern at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, but was not involved in the collection of survey data for the College Free Speech Rankings.


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