Location: Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit
Bridgewater State University has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.
Red Light Policies
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Violations also include conduct less than a physical attack or interference that is intended to, or by inference can be construed as intended to, interfere with a person in the conduct of his or her customary or usual affairs, such as the sending of threatening letters, the posting of threatening letters explicitly or by inference directed to the person, the use of threatening language directed at another or the vandalism or misappropriation of a person’s property or vandalism of a person’s home (e.g. by graffiti).
Harassment includes but is not limited to verbal, physical or written abuse directed towards an individual or group on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, political belief or affiliation, marital status, gender identity or genetic information. Some examples, such as physical and verbal assaults, are easily identified. More difficult to label is the harassment hidden behind graffiti or insensitive words or statements, such as epithets or “jokes.” Both the blatant abuse and the more subtle harassment can be equally damaging.
Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
As defined below, public forum areas are generally available for speeches and demonstrations between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Except as further provided below, the use of these areas for speaking, demonstrating, and other forms of expression must be approved at least 24 hours in advance by the university’s chief of police or his or her designee.
Other areas of the campus and other times are occasionally used for speeches and demonstrations. Such activities in these limited forum areas must be approved by the chief of police or designee at least 48 hours in advance.
Traditional public forums include the university’s lawns, sidewalks, malls, and similar common areas such as the Boyden Quadrangle and the Maxwell Library Mall. These facilities shall be available to any person, but members of the university community and their organizations shall have preference in the use of the facilities. Prior restraint and most content-based restrictions are prohibited, but reasonable time, place, and manner regulations may be applied. Courts have determined that the establishment of exclusive “free speech zones”—where all free speech activity must occur—is usually insufficient to protect expressional rights, especially where a different location may be symbolic to the protest, or is a place where people habitually gather, or which is significant in some other way. Therefore, the university will refrain from establishing exclusive free speech zones, and it will define public forum areas as broadly as possible.
With the approval of the vice president for student affairs or designee at least 24 hours in advance, non-commercial pamphlets, handbills, circulars, newspapers, magazines, and other written materials may be distributed on a person-to-person basis in open areas on campus that are at least 10 feet from the entrances or exits of college buildings. …Distributed materials must clearly identify the author or sponsor of the materials.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome verbal, nonverbal and/or physical behavior of a sexual nature that has the effect of interfering with student or employment status. It creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- It’s made clear that a person’s employment, promotion, grade or other condition of employment or education is dependent upon agreeing to the sexual suggestion.
- As a direct result of turning down the suggestion, academic or employment decisions are made that affect the victim in a negative manner.
- The conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work or academic working/academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive employment, educational or living environment.
Examples of sexual harassment may include but are not limited to: verbal conduct of a sexual nature; subtle pressure for sexual activity; sexual remarks about an individual’s or group’s body or sexual activities; unnecessary touching, patting or pinching; demands for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats or offers concerning one’s job, grades, letter of recommendation, etc.; physical sexual assault.
Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
“Bullying” means the severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another individual that has the effect of: causing physical or emotional harm to the other student or damage to the other student’s property; placing the other student in reasonable fear of harm to him/herself or damage to his/her property; creating a hostile environment at school for the other student; infringing on the rights of other students on campus; materially and substantially altering the education process or the orderly operation of the University.
“Gender-Based Harassment” means acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or hostility based on gender or gender-based harassment. Gender-based harassment can occur if students are harassed either for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic of their sex, or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity. In order to constitute harassment, the conduct must be such that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, demeaning or offensive living or learning environment.
“Harassment” means the severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another individual that has the effect of: causing physical or emotional harm to the other student or damage to the other student’s property; placing the other student in reasonable fear of harm to him/herself or damage to his/her property; creating a hostile environment at school for the other student; infringing on the rights of other students on campus; materially and substantially altering the education process or the orderly operation of the University.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
Use only computer accounts and communication facilities which you are duly authorized to use and use them for the purposes for which they were intended; for example, you should not use University information technology to run a private business for financial gain or to solicit others for commercial ventures, religious or political causes or outside organizations.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
Exposure to a wide array of ideas, viewpoints, opinions, and creative expression is an integral part of a college education, preparing students for life in a diverse global society. The rights of freedom of speech, expression, petition, religion, and public assembly are basic and essential to an individual’s intellectual and social development.
Bridgewater State University recognizes the right of individuals to exercise all forms of constitutionally protected expression and free speech without prior restraint or censorship. The university acknowledges that public discourse may include the discussion of controversial ideas, and the university will not limit public discourse based solely on its communicative content.
April 28, 2012
By Peter Schworm at The Boston Globe BRIDGEWATER – A college newspaper that printed the name of a rape victim who spoke at a recent rally against sexual violence has caused an angry backlash on campus here and touched off controversy over the administration’s response. On Friday, the editor of the Bridgewater State University student newspaper remained adamant that she will resist growing calls to remove the online version of the article, while the paper’s faculty adviser contested his apparent ouster. The imbroglio features conflicting accounts from college officials and the newspaper, underscoring the often tense relationship between campus administrators […]» Read More
April 28, 2012
By Amy Carboneau at The Enterprise The editors of the Bridgewater State University newspaper, The Comment, arestanding firm on their decision to name a rape victim in the face of threats by the university president to shut down the paper. Meanwhile, the woman at the center of the story, who gave an account of how she was once raped to about 200 people at an early April event, told The Enterprise Friday the student paper went too far. “I hoped to share my story and the empowering message that you can overcome it,” she said. “I was aware it was […]» Read More
May 4, 2012
Recently, we’ve highlighted the threats to freedom of the press regarding The Comment, a student newspaper at Bridgewater State University (BSU) in Massachusetts, after it published the name and some other identifying information of a BSU student who had spoken publicly about her experiences as a victim of sexual assault at a BSU “Take Back the Night” rally. The controversy has drawn critics as well as defenders of the journalistic choices of The Comment, and The Boston Globe is one of the latest defenders. Despite the fact that the student volunteered her story in front of a crowd of roughly […]» Read More