Bowdoin College

Location: Brunswick, Maine
Website: http://www.bowdoin.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Bowdoin College has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more here.

  • Bowdoin College: Professor Investigated Because Article Embarrasses the College

    February 26, 2009

    Economics professor Jonathan Goldstein was investigated after he distributed copies of a research paper that embarrassed the college in front of prospective students. Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd instigated an investigation “in the realm of harassment and hostile work environment, as well as for possible violation of other College policies.” Judd also suggested that “issues” with Goldstein’s “research methods … may need to be considered by the appropriate faculty committee and my office.” Judd also added further charges questioning whether Goldstein failed to follow “the protocols outlined by the Research Oversight Committee” and whether he had revealed confidential […]

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: College Policies- The Academic Honor Code and Social Code 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    The following activities, occurring on or off College premises, constitute breaches of the Social Code:
    Conduct which is unbecoming of a Bowdoin student. Examples include, but are not limited to, lewd or indecent behavior (or sponsorship thereof); physical or verbal abuse or assault; threats; intimidation; harassment; coercion; hazing; and other conduct that threatens, instills fear, or infringes upon the rights, dignity, and integrity of any person.

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Green Light Policies
  • Faculty Handbook: Freedom of Speech and Political Activity 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    Free speech is a constitutional right in a democratic society and a cornerstone of intellectual life at Bowdoin. Members of the college community are encouraged to express their views on all matters including controversial, political issues in the public domain. Preservation of freedom of speech is a primary task of the College; the right to express both popular and unpopular views is to be protected.

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  • Student Handbook: College Policies- Student Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    “Sexual Harassment” means unwelcome conduct, based on sex or gender stereotypes, which is sufficiently serious that it unreasonably or substantially interferes with a student’s College employment, academic performance or participation in College programs or activities or creates a living, learning or working environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive. Sexual Harassment, if severe, pervasive, or objectively offensive, may include, for example, unwelcome physical contact, sexually explicit comments in person or via phone, letter, note, gift, text message, email or other electronic medium, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, unwelcome invitations to engage in sexual activity, unwelcome commentary about an individual’s body or sexual activities, threatening to engage in an unwelcome sexual act with another person, engaging in indecent exposure, and stalking or cyber-stalking. Title IX and this Policy prohibit gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature. In evaluating any Complaint of Sexual Harassment, the perceived offensiveness of a particular expression, standing alone, is not sufficient by itself to constitute Sexual Harassment. The conduct in question must be objectively intimidating, hostile or offensive and interfere with a person’s right to equally participate in programs and activities of the College.

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  • Student Handbook: College Policies- The Academic Honor Code and Social Code 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    Uncompromised intellectual inquiry lies at the heart of a liberal education.

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  • Intolerance on Campus in the Name of Tolerance

    June 17, 2014

    By Monica Perez at Washington Examiner Bowdoin College officials insist that “religious freedom and spirituality are alive and thriving” at the liberal arts school in Maine but members of a campus Christian club there heartily disagree. For the first time in 40 years, Bowdoin Christian Fellowship’s club charter was rejected because it requires that the organization’s student leaders be, well, Christians. BCF welcomes members of all religious backgrounds, but expects that its leaders, who are in charge of Bible studies, prayer and worship meetings, affirm the central beliefs and morals of traditional Christianity. This year, that requirement has been dubbed “discrimination” by Bowdoin College’s administration. […]

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  • Bowdoin punishes professor who provoked

    April 24, 2009

    The president of Bowdoin College has endorsed a faculty committee’s finding that an economist engaged in misconduct in research — research that he continues to maintain the college examined only because it made Bowdoin look bad.The complicated and contested history of Jonathan P. Goldstein’s dispute with Bowdoin was examined in an article on Inside Higher Ed two weeks ago. The gist of it is that Goldstein wrote a scholarly article that, he said, showed that Bowdoin overemphasized athletics; ran afoul of the college’s dean and other administrators when he sought to distribute it to parents and prospective students (interrupting college […]

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  • Trumping Moses and Matthew

    November 7, 2005

    By Suzanne Fields at Townhall.com What do the Bible and the “The Vagina Monologues” have in common? Not much. But surely we can all agree that both are covered by the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Well, that’s not so at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. At UWEC you can live in a dorm and watch a performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” but you can’t join a Bible studies group. Any resident assistant, or RA, as the live-in student counselors are called, can put on a performance of the play, and one has, but leading […]

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  • ‘NY Times’ on Lasting Impact of ‘CLS v. Martinez’

    June 10, 2014

    The New York Times’ Michael Paulson reviews the tension between student religious groups and college nondiscrimination policies in an article published today. I’m pleased to see front-page attention being paid to the fact that since the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, student religious groups are increasingly being forced off campus simply for requiring that group leaders actually share the group’s faith. As Paulson writes, student groups from Maine to California are being forced to either open their leadership ranks to students who don’t believe in the group’s tenets, or leave campus.

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  • Rights in the News: FIRE on a Roll with Numerous Victories and Successful Videos

    April 24, 2009

    The past week at FIRE has been filled with victories for free speech on campus, and the media has responded. After FIRE’s victory for freedom of conscience at Virginia Tech, the St. Petersburg Times published a column by Bill Maxwell entitled “A diversity step too far.” In it, Maxwell agrees with FIRE’s efforts to protect freedom of conscience at VT, writing: Although diversity is a worthy goal, suggesting that evidence of it is required as one of the activities in professors’ annual report for advancement and tenure is wrong. As a former professor, I would not want to be forced […]

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  • Bowdoin Censures Professor Who Dared to Report Negatively on College

    April 23, 2009

    Earlier this month I reported on FIRE’s case at Bowdoin College, whose dean threw the book at an economics professor who dared to distribute a research paper that had conclusions that embarrassed the college. Had he not done so, his paper would not have been investigated at all, and the dean wouldn’t have gone through every footnote looking for possible academic misconduct. All of the original charges, which included harassment and hostile work environment, failed to stick except for one “failure to cite” finding. This charge—that he failed to fully cite in one instance (in a document he self-published online […]

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  • Rights in the News: At Maryland, Virginia Tech, UMass and Elsewhere, FIRE Cases Grabbing Headlines

    April 10, 2009

    Another week, another crush of FIRE cases from around the country battling for headlines. I’ll start with Greg’s Huffington Post blog on the controversy swirling around the University of Maryland campus in the wake of a legislator’s threat to pull funding from the university if it allowed students to screen an adult film on campus—which, after a hiccup or two, they went ahead and did anyway. Elsewhere, Robert addressed a brewing controversy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst via a column in The Boston Globe, while Adam took to the editorial pages of Virginia Tech’s student newspaper The Collegiate […]

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  • Bowdoin College Throws the Book at Professor over Embarrassing Research Results

    April 10, 2009

    Doug Lederman at Inside Higher Ed reports today on FIRE’s case at Bowdoin College, where a professor and his research have been investigated after he distributed copies of a research paper that embarrassed the college in front of prospective students. Economics professor Jonathan Goldstein, who has been at Bowdoin for 29 years, was interested in the amount that a college’s academics appear to suffer as a result of emphasis on athletics. His research showed that among 36 colleges, Bowdoin came in last, with the greatest amount of lost academic potential. Goldstein was interested in what prospective students and their families […]

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