Emerson College lands on ’10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ list after suspending Turning Point USA chapter

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Emerson College lands on ’10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ list after suspending Turning Point USA chapter
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Emerson College, the Boston campus known for producing journalists and teaching the importance of the First Amendment, has landed on the “10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech” list.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on Wednesday released its annual list of “the worst campus censors over the last year,” the nonprofit said.

Emerson was in the top 10 after college officials suspended the conservative student group, Turning Point USA, for passing out stickers that were critical of China, FIRE said. The students from the chapter had distributed stickers that depicted the phrase “China Kinda Sus” — slang for suspicious. The sticker also featured an image of a hammer and sickle.

Emerson officials responded by condemning the stickers, saying the stickers “included anti-Chinese messaging.” Reports of anti-Asian hate crimes have skyrocketed throughout the pandemic. The college launched an investigation into the student group, and suspended the chapter.

“As China’s government cracked down on institutions of higher education such as Hong Kong University, Emerson bravely stepped into the breach to shield the government from criticism,” FIRE wrote in its top 10 list, adding, “If anything is ‘kinda sus’ at Emerson, it’s the administration bending over backwards to protect China’s government.”

Emerson College representatives did not immediately respond to comment on Wednesday.

The other colleges to make FIRE’s list were: Stanford University; Georgetown University; University of Florida; University of North Carolina; University of Illinois Chicago; Boise State University; Collin College in Texas; Tarleton State University in Texas; and Linfield University in Oregon.

“Each of these colleges had the opportunity to restore the student and faculty voices they censored — but leaders deliberately chose not to do so,” said Greg Lukianoff, FIRE president and CEO. “We don’t back down. If college leadership is willing to muzzle, censor, and punish their own students and faculty members, the public should know.”

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