Two Wisconsin colleges rank low on issue of free speech and expression on campus

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Free speech in the classroom has been a hot topic lately.

Many conservatives feel that Universities are placing political correctness and liberal ideology above first amendment rights.

Many liberals are concerned about attempts to limit what educators can talk about as lawmakers around the nation consider bans on the issue of free speech.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) recently ranked colleges and universities across the country on the issue of free speech.

Out of 159 schools ranked, Marquette University came in near the bottom at 157.

In response to the ranking, a statement from Marquette University said: The 500-year-old tradition of Catholic, Jesuit education is grounded in the discovery of knowledge and the sharing of diverse viewpoints – political or otherwise. Marquette University takes this responsibility very seriously, and prides ourselves on teaching our students how to think, not what to think.

It went on to say, "Through university-sponsored events and student organizations, Marquette University regularly hosts speakers presenting diverse viewpoints from across the political spectrum."

It listed some speakers who have come to Marquette in recent years such as Republican U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro and former FOX News Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt and David Brooks as commencement speaker in 2019.

FIRE also ranked UW Madison, the school came in at 104 out of 159. 

UW Madison responded to the rankings in a statement saying, "The best measures of a university’s commitment to freedom of expression are its policies and its track record of enforcing them. UW–Madison has strong policies in place protecting First Amendment rights and our enforcement is also consistently strong." 

Those policies it listed included bringing speakers across the political spectrum visit campus "One student group recently welcomed conservative activist Gabriel Nadales while another hosted Democratic state Rep. Francesca Hong."

Sean Stevens, a senior research fellow at FIRE joined CBS 58 on Tuesday morning, Oct. 12 to talk about the rankings and the current state of free speech.

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