‘California Watch’: No Free Speech at California Colleges

By January 7, 2011

Free speech is not safe at California collegesnot by a long shot. That’s what investigative reporter Erica Perez found in FIRE’s 2011 speech code report, as she wrote yesterday for California Watch:

A new report from a national free speech advocacy organization found most of the four-year universities it surveyed had speech codes that substantially limit students’ freedom of speech, including dozens of colleges in California.

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Of the 33 California universities the organization rated, 64 percent got a red light, including San Diego State UniversityUC Santa Cruz and Claremont McKenna College. About 36 percent got a yellow light, including UC BerkeleyOccidental College and San Jose State University. No California college received a green light.

As defined by the report, a red light means the university’s policy clearly and substantially limits freedom of speech or bars public access to speech policies on the web. Three colleges got the red light label for requiring a password to view speech-related policies – including Stanford University.

UC Santa Cruz got a red light in part for its harassment policy, which includes "sexual jokes, comments or innuendos" and "remarks about a person’s body" as examples of prohibited sexual harassment.

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Cal Tech prohibits students from using electronic information resources to offend someone. Claremont McKenna College prohibits the electronic transmission of any derogatory or offensive material, including "anything that might be construed as harassment or disparagement based on race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or religious or political beliefs."

Perez organizes the California institutions by FIRE rating in her article. You can find them grouped into public and private schools, along with ratings and explanations, in FIRE’s database here.

To find out which colleges in your own state are in our database as having unconstitutional speech codes that restrict free speech, use FIRE’s clickable national map or go straight to FIRE’s 2011 speech code report.

Schools: Stanford University University of California, Santa Cruz San Jose State University San Diego State University University of California, Berkeley Occidental College Claremont McKenna College California Institute of Technology