University of Oregon: Student’s Four-Word Joke Results in Five Unconstitutional Disciplinary Charges

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Oregon

On June 13, 2014, the University of Oregon charged a female student with five conduct violations on the basis of a four-word joke shouted out a dormitory window at two individuals standing outside. The offending student, who yelled “I hit it first,” immediately apologized to the insulted students, whom she did not know, after they reported her to the Resident Assistant. Despite the student’s apology, UO charged the student with “harassment,” “disruption,” and “disorderly conduct,” in addition to violations of the dormitory’s noise and guest policy. In an August 1, 2014, letter to UO, FIRE demanded that the school immediately rescind the charges against the student and revise its unconstitutional speech codes. Within 24 hours of FIRE publicizing the student’s case on August 26, UO dropped the charges against the student, despite claiming that her behavior may have violated school policies.

  • EDITORIAL: Speech Overreach

    September 3, 2014

    At Las Vegas Review Journal The calendar has turned to September, so college students across the country are heading back to their campuses, which are supposed to serve as bastions of free speech and thought. Which is to say they don’t. At schools big and small, far and wide, all around the nation and right here in Nevada, the purveyors of tolerance are remarkably intolerant of anything they disagree with or disapprove of. The University of Oregon provided the latest example of hostility to the First Amendment, though the Ducks are far from alone in this quackery. As the Foundation for […]

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  • College Cracking Down on Jokes

    August 28, 2014

    By Mary Lou Byrd at The Washington Beacon Students at the University of Oregon began their fall semester on Monday amid controversy over conduct charges filed against a female student for making a joke. The university is under fire for filing five charges against the student after she yelled “I hit it first” to a couple passing under her window during the summer semester. The student, who requested anonymity, said she did not know the couple and called out the phrase in jest, according to her account to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE is now calling on the university […]

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  • The Four-Word Joke That Had a College Student Facing Five Conduct Charges: ‘Absurd Overreaction’ (UPDATE)

    August 28, 2014

    By Jason Howerton at The Blaze UPDATE: FIRE announced on Thursday that the University of Oregon has “dropped the unconstitutional conduct charges it filed against a student based on a four-word joke wholly protected by the First Amendment.” Read our original story below. A University of Oregon student is facing five “conduct charges” for shouting an immature four-word joke at a couple passing under her dormitory window. “I hit it first,” the girl yelled at the couple, according the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The student claims she didn’t even know the couple and was only making a joke. The […]

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  • Harassment Charges for Student Who… Told Joke [Gasp!]

    August 26, 2014

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online No joke: A University of Oregon student was charged with five separate code-of-conduct violations for shouting a kind of funny, vaguely inappropriate four-word phrase out the window of a campus dormitory. The female student was at a friend’s room inside UO’s Carson Hall when she decided to stick her head out the window and shout, “I hit it first,” at a random couple on the street. The couple yelled back at her and then later reported the incident to the floor’s residential advisor. The RA then made the student apologize. The student contacted the Foundation for […]

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  • ‘Las Vegas Review-Journal’ Tells UNLV to Commit to Free Speech

    September 4, 2014

    Yesterday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published an editorial lamenting that students are returning to college campuses where free speech too often falls victim to speech codes. As the editorial notes, opposition to the First Amendment is all too common on campus. Using FIRE’s recent case at the University of Oregon as an example, where a student was hit with five conduct charges for a four-word joke (“I hit it first”), the Review-Journal points out that many universities enforce broad harassment policies against their students in an attempt to create an environment of tolerance. FIRE rightly and specifically noted that the […]

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  • Students Return to Campus Censorship, But Fight Back with FIRE

    September 2, 2014

    PHILADELPHIA, September 2, 2014—As millions of college students arrive on campus this fall—many for the first time—few of them realize that nearly 59 percent of our nation’s colleges maintain policies that clearly and substantially restrict speech protected by the First Amendment. Too many students will realize that the rights they took for granted as Americans have been denied to them only after they face charges and disciplinary action for speaking their minds. But this year, campus censorship faces a new deterrent: FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, which aims to finally bring an end to unconstitutional and illiberal speech […]

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  • Victory: University of Oregon Drops Charges Against Student for Joke

    August 28, 2014

    EUGENE, Oregon, August 28, 2014—In a victory for free speech, the University of Oregon (UO) dropped the unconstitutional conduct charges it filed against a student based on a four-word joke wholly protected by the First Amendment. UO’s reversal comes barely 24 hours after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) press release drew national attention to the university’s embarrassing treatment of the student. “We’re pleased that the student is no longer weighed down by these chilling disciplinary charges and can focus on her education,” said Peter Bonilla, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program. “UO’s quick action here illustrates […]

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  • Four-Word Joke Results in Five Conduct Charges for University of Oregon Student

    August 26, 2014

    EUGENE, Oregon, August 26, 2014—The University of Oregon (UO) has filed multiple, blatantly unconstitutional conduct charges against a female student who jokingly yelled “I hit it first” from a dormitory window. The student, who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. FIRE is calling on UO to immediately dismiss all charges against the student and reform its unconstitutional speech policies. “The University of Oregon’s absurd overreaction is the real joke here, and it’s not very funny,” said FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley. “Using an unconstitutional speech code to punish a student […]

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