Alumni Free Speech Alliance


The Alumni Free Speech Alliance brings together alumni groups that have a focus on supporting free speech, academic freedom, and viewpoint diversity at their colleges and universities.

Members of the Alliance believe that free speech, academic freedom, and viewpoint diversity are critical to the advancement of knowledge and to the very concept of a university. Yet surveys show most students at the colleges and universities have little understanding of these principles.

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Alumni Free Speech Alliance Members

Boston University
Boston University Free Speech Alliance
Bucknell University
Open Discourse Coalition
Columbia University
Columbia Free Speech Alliance
Cornell University
Cornell Free Speech Alliance
Dartmouth College
Dartmouth Free Speech Alliance
Davidsonians for Freedom of Thought & Discourse
Furman University
Furman Free Speech Alliance
James Madison University
Madison Cabinet for Free Speech
Alumni/Alumnae Coalition for Lafayette

Highlights in Free Speech

MIT Encampment Ends: AFSA Offers Kornbluth Measured Praise

(May 8, 2024) — Alumni Free Speech Alliance President Chuck Davis today offered measured praise for MIT President’s Sally Kornbluth’s decision to dismantle a “protest encampment” on campus and take disciplinary action against student rulebreakers.

Davis noted that MIT had held off “as long as” it could before taking action. AFSA encourages open as respectful debate, but notes that reasonable Time, Place and Manner restrictions are necessary to protect the rights of others, and disruptive conduct is not protected speech.

Davis suggested that MIT (and all universities) implement ongoing education, starting with incoming Freshmen, on what free speech is, and is not. The Stanford President’s recent letter to incoming Freshmen is a good starting point. This training should include statements that disrupting or blocking classrooms, labs, lobbies and other spaces is not protected speech, these activities are prohibited and will result in discipline.

AFSA also believes that it is important for universities to develop “a track record of even-handed and consistent enforcement” of these Time, Place and Manner restrictions.  “This clear, and consistent approach seems the path to minimizing future disruptions,” Davis told Kornbluth.

AFSA notes that at many universities, it appears that initial violations were permitted, perhaps out of a misguided desire to avoid “escalation.” In hindsight, this seems to have encouraged repeat violations, and should not be repeated. AFSA’s view is that legal protests, within existing and appropriate Time, Place and Manner restrictions, need to be protected.  However, when reasonable restrictions are violated, this deprives other students of their rights.  In these cases, it is the university’s obligation to promptly intervene as needed to stop the violation.

A Study on Free Speech Risks in American Colleges

Student Free Speech Study Buckley InstituteMcLaughlin & Associates, an internationally recognized research and strategic consulting firm, recently conducted a comprehensive survey to understand the challenges of free speech on college campuses.

Alumni – Get Involved!

This study, the eighth iteration commissioned by the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale, scrutinized 803 full-time undergraduate students’ attitudes and perceptions across the United States.

Some of the highlights of the study include:


  • Slightly less than half (49%) say the U.S. Constitution is a very important document for our country compared to 36% who say it is outdated. This is the lowest “Important” response over four years and the first time it has dropped below 50%.
  • Despite a decline in the perceived importance of the Constitution, students continue to believe by a significant margin of 80% to 12% that the First Amendment is an important amendment that still needs to be followed and respected rather than it being outdated and can no longer be applied in today’s society.
  • Nearly six in ten (58%) say they have often felt intimidated in sharing their ideas, opinions or beliefs in class because they were different than those of their professors, while 38% have not often felt intimidated. This is a noteworthy shift from past years and the highest ever recorded response of perceived intimidation.
  • A higher 63% have often felt intimidated in sharing their ideas, opinions or beliefs because they were different than their classmates or peers, while 34% have not often felt intimidated. Again, this is this highest ever recorded response of perceived intimidation.
  • When given a list of hot-button issues, students are again most likely to cite politics (48%) as a topic they are uncomfortable speaking about or are off limits for discussion. This response is 10-points higher than last year. Only one in five (19%) say no topic is off limits for discussion in the classroom, down nine-points from last year.
  • For the first time, a plurality now disagrees that hate speech, no matter how racist or bigoted it is, is still technically protected under the First Amendment as free speech. Forty-four percent (44%) agree, which is the lowest response to date.
  • Forty-four percent (44%) agree that it is sometimes appropriate to shout down or disrupt a speaker on campus, while 47% disagree. This is the highest “agree” response to date.

The research took place from August 29th to September 5th, 2022, with respondents all aged under 25 and enrolled full-time in private or public four-year colleges or universities. To ensure the data’s integrity and relevance, students attending two-year schools, technical schools, junior colleges, trade schools, part-time students, or those over 24 were excluded from the survey.

The survey was conducted online, with participants selected and screened from a broad, representative platform of individuals willing to participate in online surveys. To ensure the study’s results accurately reflected the demographics of the American four-year, full-time undergraduate population, the data was stratified by age, race/ethnicity, gender, and geography. This stratification was carried out using the National Center for Education Statistics Report (2018) as a reference, which approximates the target undergraduate population at around 8,156,367 individuals.

As the issue of free speech continues to dominate discussions in higher education, research such as this, backed by a highly respected organization like the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale, offers invaluable insight into the experiences and perceptions of those at the heart of the matter – our students. It remains crucial for academia, policymakers, and society to listen to and consider these voices as we continue to debate and shape the future of free speech in higher education.

This national survey has provided an essential snapshot into the current state of free speech on college campuses. Its findings will undoubtedly inform and guide ongoing dialogue and policy-making as we navigate the challenges of ensuring that colleges and universities remain beacons of open discussion, intellectual curiosity, and mutual respect.

Alumni – Get Involved!

Poll: Should College Campuses Use AI to Monitor & Regulate Speech?

Welcome to our first poll on the effects of AI on free speech on college campuses.

Click here to Vote Now!

Student protesting using AI to control free speech


As technology advances, there is an ongoing debate about the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in regulating speech on campuses.

On the one hand, proponents argue that AI-powered systems can help create a safe and inclusive environment by monitoring and controlling speech that may promote hate speech or discrimination.

On the other hand, critics express concerns about the potential limitations on free expression and the possibility of censorship and bias.

We invite you to participate in this poll to voice your opinion on whether college campuses should use AI to monitor and regulate speech, even if it potentially limits free expression. Let’s delve into the discussion and explore the different perspectives surrounding this complex issue. Remember to engage in respectful and thoughtful dialogue as we navigate this controversial topic.

Vote Now!

Should college campuses use AI-powered systems to monitor and regulate speech to ensure a safe and inclusive environment, even if it potentially limits free expression?

  • No, AI regulation infringes upon free speech rights and can lead to censorship and bias. (79%, 34 Votes)
  • Maybe, there should be a balanced approach that considers both free speech and the need for a safe environment. (16%, 7 Votes)
  • Yes, AI can help prevent hate speech and discrimination, creating a safer campus environment. (2%, 1 Votes)
  • I'm not sure, it's a complex issue that requires careful consideration and further discussion. (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 43

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Alumni Withhold Donations, Demand Colleges Enforce Free Speech

Alumni Free Speech Group for Macalester College Announced

We are pleased to announce that an alumni free speech group for Macalester College, Macalester Alumni of Moderation, has joined the Alliance. Just last week, we announced that a Stanford University group, Stanford Alumni for Free Speech and Critical Thinking, had joined. This Macalester group is the tenth alumni free speech group to join the original five since the Alliance was announced on October 17, 2021. We anticipate that many more such groups will join the Alliance in coming months.