University of California System: Recommendations for “Hate Speech” Policy

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of California

In July 2012, the University of California’s (UC’s) Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion issued formal recommendations to UC System President Mark Yudof for making UC’s 10 campuses “more inclusive and welcoming for Jewish students as well as all community members.” In pursuit of this goal, the report recommended that UC “push its current harassment and nondiscrimination provisions further” and “seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus.” The report also recommended that UC “accept the challenge” of First Amendment litigation resulting from the adoption of such policies. FIRE wrote to President Yudof on August 8, 2012, warning him that any campus ban on “hate speech” would restrict a wide swath of student speech protected under the First Amendment. In response, and in the face of public pressure, Yudof wrote to FIRE on August 17, stating that First Amendment principles would be fully considered in UC’s review of the report. FIRE will continue to monitor this situation at the UC System.

  • Study of anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim bias on UC campuses stirs debate

    September 18, 2012

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is again extending its reach onto University of California campuses, raising questions about the limits of free speech and how welcome Jewish and Muslim students feel at their schools. But this time, the controversy does not spring from the kind of direct confrontation that occurred two years ago when Muslim protesters tried to shout down the Israeli ambassador during a speech at UC Irvine and then faced criminal prosecution. Instead, the current debate is being stirred by studies UC commissioned about how to cool tempers and whether anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim bias are serious problems on the system’s 10 campuses. The […]

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  • Free Speech Fight: Campus Anti-Zionism May Result in Hate Speech Ban

    August 24, 2012

    No part of American society is supposed to value free speech more than our colleges and universities, but the University of California is now rethinking that idea. University of California President Mark Yudof assembled a team earlier this summer to assess “campus climate” in response to a series of Anti-Zionist protests and demonstrations. Yudof’s fact-finding team made a series of recommendations after visiting campuses, including banning hate speech. “When you ban speech, it has a funny habit of boomeranging back at you,” says Will Creeley, Director of Legal and Public Advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “Instead of pulling these […]

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  • Campus speech codes don’t fix hate speech, they stifle true debate

    August 13, 2012

    A task force appointed by the president of the University of California has recommended that the school adopt a code banning hate speech on campus as part of an effort to combat what it sees as an anti-Semitic atmosphere. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has rightly suggested that this is the wrong approach. Campus speech codes have been struck down by courts time and again. Public universities have almost no constitutional leg to stand on when it comes to speech codes. That being said, the climate on campus toward Jewish students and Jewish groups has certainly gotten […]

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  • Will UC ban “hate speech”?

    August 3, 2012

    Does the University of California forbid the expression of some disfavored political views on its campuses? Not yet. But if the UC’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion has its way, it might start. Last month, that council issued its “Jewish Student Campus Climate Fact-Finding Team Report & Recommendations.” Through that report, the council recommends that the UC system adopt ill-defined hate speech codes and prohibit “hate organizations” from speaking on UC campuses. Those policies would inevitably trigger litigation against the cash-strapped UC, but the council is full of the sort of you-can-take-that-guy bravado-by-proxy that inebriated friends display in late-night […]

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  • Will Creeley on Hate Speech Rules in UC-San Diego Student Newspaper

    October 2, 2012

    FIRE’s Will Creeley has been interviewed for an article in the University of California, San Diego student newspaper, The Guardian. The article addresses the recent call for the University of California (UC) system to prohibit so-called “hate speech,” an effort that FIRE opposed as clearly unconstitutional. Thankfully, the story has a happy ending: UC President Mark Yudof rejected the idea. Enterprising student reporter Mina Nilchian asked Will for his take on prohibiting hate speech. Here’s a taste: “I think life in a modern liberal democracy can be very challenging for many. At times our most deeply held beliefs are challenged […]

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  • ‘LA Times’ Quotes FIRE’s Will Creeley on UC ‘Hate Speech’ Issue

    September 19, 2012

    The Los Angeles Times published an interesting article yesterday on the issue of “anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim bias” on University of California (UC) campuses. Among other developments, the article covers that UC’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion issued formal recommendations this past summer to UC System President Mark Yudof that UC “push its current harassment and nondiscrimination provisions further” and “seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus.” Much of the content of the UC reports is outside the scope of FIRE’s mission, and we take no position on those particular issues. We are alarmed, however, that an […]

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  • The Best Campus Climates are Those That Make People Think

    September 6, 2012

    In a piece published on The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s website last week, Boston College professor Alan Wolfe reminds readers that “[t]he best campus climates are those that make people think.” We agree. However, as Wolfe points out, on two separate occasions in California this summer, administrative bodies forgot this truth when they called for censorship in response to various instances of heated debate surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first occasion occurred when the California assembly unanimously passed a nonbinding resolution late last month calling for a ban on public funding to any activity that could be considered anti-Semitic at […]

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  • California Higher Education’s Hollow Core

    August 29, 2012

    by Peter Berkowitz RealClearPolitics   “I look to the diffusion of light and education,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1822, “as the resource to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue, and advancing the happiness of man.” Thus the 79-year-old Founding Father — principal author of the Declaration of Independence, first secretary of state, third president of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia — reaffirmed his life-long conviction that the American experiment in self-government depended on the quality of citizens’ education. The people of California might seem to agree. Echoing Jefferson’s wise words, their […]

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  • FIRE’s Creeley on ReasonTV: Why Banning ‘Hate Speech’ Doesn’t Work

    August 27, 2012

    Earlier this month, we brought news that University of California (UC) System President Mark Yudof had received a recommendation to implement a “hate speech” policy from a working group comprised of members of UC’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion. The recommendation asks Yudof to implement policies that fundamentally violate students’ expressive rights—including an outright ban on “hate speech.” The advisory council even states that UC should “accept the challenge” of First Amendment litigation. FIRE has asked President Yudof to reject that recommendation, and we’re cautiously optimistic about his response. To make our point even clearer, FIRE Director […]

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  • Volokh on the University of California’s Proposed ‘Hate Speech’ Code

    August 14, 2012

    First Amendment guru, blog don, and law professor Eugene Volokh of UCLA School of Law has a post noting FIRE’s involvement in pushing back against a report from the University of California (UC) Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion that recommends to UC System President Mark Yudof that UC adopt a “hate speech” policy.  We at FIRE have outlined our objections to the Advisory Council‘s vague and unconstitutional proposal. Prof. Volokh goes beyond these legal questions to note some prudential considerations as well. Here’s a taste:  [A] university campus is a place where counterspeech is especially likely to […]

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  • UC President Yudof’s Office Responds to FIRE’s Letter

    August 9, 2012

    Yesterday evening, FIRE was contacted by Steve Montiel, Media Relations Director for the University of California (UC) Office of the President, in response to yesterday’s FIRE letter to UC President Mark Yudof and the accompanying press release.   Montiel sent us a copy of a letter President Yudof sent yesterday to “Concerned Members of the UC Jewish Community.” While Yudof’s letter does not respond specifically to FIRE, and includes discussion of concerns that are beyond FIRE’s mission, it does contain hopeful indications that President Yudof recognizes FIRE’s concerns about the threat to First Amendment rights presented by the fact-finding team’s […]

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  • FIRE Warns U. of California President: Reject Recommendation, Don’t Pick Fight with First Amendment

    August 8, 2012

    OAKLAND, Calif., August 8, 2012—In a letter sent today, FIRE warns University of California System (UC) President Mark Yudof against enacting unconstitutional “hate speech” policies on UC’s campuses. FIRE’s letter responds to a recent recommendation from members of an official advisory body that, in response to alleged anti-Semitism on campus, UC “accept the challenge” of First Amendment litigation. FIRE urges President Yudof to reject the recommendation, reminding him that decades of legal precedent make clear that broad, content-based bans on student speech violate the First Amendment.    “Many people on campus see speech codes as a noble solution that will eradicate ideas and thoughts we disdain. But […]

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  • FIRE Warns U. of California President: Reject Recommendation, Don’t Pick Fight with First Amendment

    August 8, 2012

    OAKLAND, Calif., August 8, 2012—In a letter sent today, FIRE warns University of California System (UC) President Mark Yudof against enacting unconstitutional “hate speech” policies on UC’s campuses. FIRE’s letter responds to a recent recommendation from members of an official advisory body that, in response to alleged anti-Semitism on campus, UC “accept the challenge” of First Amendment litigation. FIRE urges President Yudof to reject the recommendation, reminding him that decades of legal precedent make clear that broad, content-based bans on student speech violate the First Amendment. “Many people on campus see speech codes as a noble solution that will eradicate ideas and thoughts we disdain. But […]

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  • University of California Advisory Panel to First Amendment: Bring It On

    August 3, 2012

    The Jewish Daily Forward is reporting a backward proposal in the University of California (UC) system. Motivated by concern for the environment for Jewish students on campus, UC President Mark G. Yudof’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion released a July 9th report recommending the adoption of a hate speech code that would prohibit much speech protected by the First Amendment.  FIRE will be commenting on this illiberal proposal further over the next few days, but two quotes are worth reviewing at the outset. First, Harvard Law professor and member of the FIRE Board of Editors Alan Dershowitz, […]

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