Troy University: Speech Code Litigation

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Troy University

FIRE targeted the fifth university in its highly successful Speech Code Litigation project. FIRE’s continued effort to systematically demolish unconstitutional campus speech restrictions has already tasted victory at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, Texas Tech University, the State University of New York at Brockport, and California’s Citrus College. Despite its obligation as a public university to uphold the First Amendment, and its explicit assurance to students that it will respect the rights of students to “[f]ree inquiry, expression, and assembly,” Troy’s speech code is extraordinarily overbroad and vague. Troy’s handbook states, for instance, that a student can face punishment up to and including expulsion for “indecent… expression”; “[a]ny activity that creates a mentally abusive, oppressive, or harmful situation for another;” and for “[u]se of the mail, telephone, computer and electronic messages, or any other means of communication to insult…or demean another.” The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, also charges Troy with breach of contract, unlawful conditions placed on the receipt of state benefits, and denial of due process and of equal protection of the law.

  • Departments of Education and Justice, ‘arguably the biggest free-speech-on-campus story of the year.’

    December 27, 2013

    by Timothy Dionisopoulos The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has released a list of the worst colleges in the United States for free speech. In an article on the Huffington Post, FIRE listed the top ten most egregious free speech abuses on campus since March of 2012. DePaul University made the list after the school charged conservative student activist Kristopher Del Campo with multiple violations after he published the names of students who admitted to vandalizing the Young Americans for Freedom’s pro-life display. Troy University was profiled for their restrictive “harassment” policy, which FIRE claimed “prohibits an astonishing amount of protected speech, including almost […]

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  • FIRE Lawsuit Charges Alabama School With Stifling Free Speech

    November 7, 2005

    By Jim Brown at Agape Press Troy University in Alabama is being sued over policies that allegedly stifle free speech on campus. The lawsuit being coordinated by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) targets a speech code at the university — a policy banning age- or religion-related jokes, “derogatory” comments about gender, gossip, and “insulting” or “suggestive” remarks. The lawsuit against Troy University is the fifth in FIRE’s campaign to overturn restrictive university speech codes in every federal circuit in the U.S. The group’s legal director, Greg Lukianoff, believes the school’s speech code is wildly “unconstitutional” as well […]

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  • Troy art student sues after nude photos banned

    November 1, 2005

    An art student sued Troy University on Monday, saying the school violated his free speech rights by censoring his artwork and implementing a campus speech code that unconstitutionally restricts speech. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Montgomery, contends Troy officials removed portions of Blake Dews’ artwork because it featured female nudity. The university issued a statement defending its decision on Dews’ art. ”The photographs in question displayed male full frontal nudity and the university did not consider the photographs to be consistent with our community ‘s standards,” the statement said. ”This is a matter now under litigation and […]

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  • Student sues after university censors nude photographs

    November 1, 2005

    ALABAMA — The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education filed a federal lawsuit yesterday against Troy University in Alabama for a speech code FIRE’s President David French called “incompatible with a free society.” The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Blake Dews, a senior art major at Troy’s main campus. In the fall of 2003, he designed a photographic display for an assignment about birth, photographing nude models. The artwork did not meet the definition of obscenity under federal or state law, but several photos were taken off display anyway, FIRE’s press release said. “The photographs in question displayed male […]

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  • Troy University sued for alleged First Amendment violation

    November 1, 2005

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) filed a federal lawsuit against Troy University on Monday accusing the school of First Amendment violations by maintaining a restrictive speech code and censoring student artwork two years ago. The lawsuit was filed by attorneys Jim Parkman and William White of Parkman Law Firm in Dothan, and FIRE Legal Network attorneys Gabriel Sterling of Troutman Sanders LLP in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Troy University undergraduate Blake Dews, a senior art major attending Troy’s main campus. In the fall semester of 2003, Dews, an art student, was assigned to create an original […]

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  • Troy U. Sued Over Speech Code and Art Censorship

    November 1, 2005

    By Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed Be careful what you joke about — or photograph — at Troy University. That’s the word from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which sued the university in federal court Monday, charging that the Alabama institution’s anti-harassment rules amount to unconstitutional speech codes. FIRE, a civil liberties group, is strongly critical of speech codes in higher education and has been suing or threatening to sue public colleges with codes that the group considers particularly offensive. To date, four colleges and universities have changed their policies following such suits. In the Troy case, […]

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  • Student sues Troy University over removal of nude photographs

    October 31, 2005

    A Troy University student sued the school Monday claiming his rights of free speech and expression were violated when three photographs of male nudity were removed from a campus exhibit that opened in fall 2003. The suit filed on behalf of Blake Dews, a fine arts and photography senior, challenges the removal of the three photos from a collage of 16 that was part of a class assignment. “The photographs in question displayed male full frontal nudity and the university did not consider the photographs to be consistent with our community ‘s standards,” said university spokesman Tom Davis in a […]

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  • Alabama’s Troy University Faces Lawsuit for Unconstitutional Speech Code, Censorship

    October 31, 2005

    MONTGOMERY, Ala., October 31, 2005—Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) targeted the fifth university in its highly successful Speech Code Litigation project. Attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against Troy University in Alabama for violating the First Amendment by maintaining a restrictive speech code and censoring student artwork. FIRE’s continued effort to systematically demolish unconstitutional campus speech restrictions has already tasted victory at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, Texas Tech University, the State University of New York at Brockport, and California’s Citrus College. FIRE Legal Network attorneys Jim Parkman and William White of Parkman, Adams, and White in Dothan, […]

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