California Polytechnic State University

Location: San Luis Obispo, California
Website: http://www.calpoly.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

California Polytechnic State University 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.

  • California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly): Bias Reporting System Targets “Politically Incorrect” Professors

    May 15, 2009

    California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), which has already once been on the losing side of a free speech lawsuit, suspended an unconstitutional program targeting professors and students whose speech is “biased” or not “politically correct.” The program even planned to let students report complaints anonymously, meaning that those deemed “politically incorrect” might never have known whom they had offended or why. Under pressure from FIRE, Cal Poly has promised that any future CARE-Net program (short for Community Advocating REspect) “will not function to suppress controversial, offensive, or any other kind of protected speech.”

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  • California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly): Use of Disruption Claim to Suppress Free Speech

    September 25, 2003

    In a major victory for free speech on campus, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) has abandoned its attempt to punish a student for posting a flier on a public bulletin board. The flier merely announced a campus speech, but some students at the campus Multicultural Center found the flier "offensive." Cal Poly has agreed to expunge student Steve Hinkle’s disciplinary record relating to the incident, to cease interfering with his right to post fliers, and to pay significant attorney’s fees. The settlement of the lawsuit ends a victorious year-long campaign organized by FIRE and the Center for Individual Rights […]

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Housing & Dining License Agreement: Standards of Community 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Physical or verbal abuse or harassment against any member of the University Housing community is prohibited.

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  • Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Standards for Student Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility

    Students are expected to be good citizens and to engage in responsible behaviors that reflect well upon their university, to be civil to one another and to others in the campus community, and contribute positively to student and university life.

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  • Free Expression, Sponsorship, Commercialism and Use of Buildings and Grounds 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility

    The University recognizes that causing discomfort and even causing offense is not, of itself, a basis for limiting free speech. At the same time, all members of the University community should recognize that freedom of expression includes a responsibility to respect the dignity of others, to acknowledge the right of others to express differing opinions and to maintain civility at all times.

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  • IT Responsible Use Policy: Specific Examples of Responsible and Irresponsible Uses 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Harassment: * Displaying an intimate, suggestive or disturbing image which a reasonable person would consider objectionable as the “wallpaper” or screen saver on a computer that is routinely visible to other students, staff and faculty. * Repeatedly sending threatening or harassing e-mail or voice mail to another individual.

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  • Executive Order 1072: Implementation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Related Sexual Harassment/Violence Legislation for CSU Students 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    “Sexual Harassment” is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that includes, but is not limited to: sexual violence; sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; indecent exposure; and other verbal, nonverbal or physical unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, where such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that its effect, whether or not intended, could be considered by a reasonable person in the shoes of the individual, and is in fact considered by the individual, as limiting the individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or opportunities offered by the university. Sexual harassment also includes gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, non-verbal or physical aggression, intimidation or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

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Green Light Policies
  • Free Expression, Sponsorship, Commercialism and Use of Buildings and Grounds 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of a democratic society and is essential to the educational process. Universities have a special obligation not only to tolerate but also to encourage and support the free expression of ideas, values and opinions, even where they may be unpopular or controversial. Cal Poly accepts and embraces this obligation, recognizing that such expression may take a variety of forms, such as speeches, signs, written materials, public assemblies, parades, demonstrations and artistic representation.

    Acknowledging the central role the unfettered exchange of information and ideas plays in learning and in a free society, the University shall ensure that individuals and groups are afforded wide latitude in exercising the right of free expression and that their constitutionally protected right to free expression is not abridged.

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  • Sexual Harassment Prevention 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when: … such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a person’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work, learning, or social environment.

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  • Executive Order 1074: Systemwide Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Against Students 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual Harassment, as defined in California Education Code 212.5, consists of both non-sexual conduct based on sex or sex-stereotyping and conduct that is sexual in nature, and includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature where: … The conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that its effect, whether or not intended, could be considered by a reasonable person in the shoes of the Student, and is in fact considered by the Student, as limiting the Student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or opportunities offered by the University.

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  • Student government candidates at California university fined $100 for talking to reporters

    March 10, 2014

    By Joshua Rhett Miller at Fox News Politicians have always loved to see their names in the newspapers, but at California Polytechnic State University, candidates for student government face fines of $100 just for talking to reporters. J.J. Jenkins, editor-in-chief of the Mustang News, the school’s student newspaper, told FoxNews.com that two of four candidates for president at the public university in San Luis Obispo have been fined $100 after they or their campaign staff spoke to the student-run publication. The students were notified they violated code banning active campaigning including “non-verbal public display” until 10 days before the April 23 […]

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  • Conservative author at Poly urges students to start deciding

    November 9, 2011

    The conservative author and entrepreneur whose visit nearly 10 years ago to Cal Poly sparked a free speech lawsuit does not describe himself as a controversial figure. Loving? Yes. Dedicated to his wife and family? Check. “I am not, despite what everyone may say, controversial,” Mason Weaver told a crowd of nearly 100 people gathered on campus Tuesday evening. “But the nicest person here will rise up in anger if someone attacks what you love.” And attacks on personal freedoms are one thing Weaver clearly does not tolerate. In an hourlong speech hosted by the Cal Poly College Republicans, Weaver […]

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  • New CARE-Net program will allow students to report biased incidents

    May 3, 2009

    Mustang Daily Cal Poly is developing an outlet for  students to report grievances in order to foster a safer and healthier learning environment.  CARE-Net is a university-wide initiative. It is essentially a forum for students to report discriminatory incidents. CARE-Net will likely be launched later in May as a pilot program. “The university is interested in hearing about students’ experiences at Cal Poly and the university is committed to an inclusive community,” CARE-Net organizer Patricia Ponce said. The CARE-Net team defines a biased incident as “any speech, act, or harassing incident or action taken by a person or group that […]

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  • When Speech Becomes a Crime

    June 28, 2006

    Roman Catholic Robert Smith is fired from an appointment on the Washington Metro transit authority board by Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich for the crime of saying that he doesn’t approve of homosexuality. Journalist and author Oriana Fallaci cannot visit her native country of Italy for fear of being thrown in prison because of a lawsuit brought against her by the Italian Muslim Union for the crime of “defaming Islam.” British neo-Nazi David Irving is sentenced to three years in prison in Austria for a 1989 speech in which he committed the crime of Holocaust denial. College Republican Steve Hinkle is […]

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  • The AHA’s Double Standard on Academic Freedom

    March 1, 2006

    by David Beito, Ralph Luker, and Robert “K. C.” Johnson Perspectives (American Historical Association) Has the AHA turned its back on academic freedom? In January, members present at its business meeting rejected a resolution to condemn attacks on academic freedom, whether from the right or from the left. Instead, they passed a weaker resolution that selectively condemned only threats coming from the right.We weighed into this controversy as part of a three person “left/right” coalition for academic freedom. Our chances were slim and we knew it. Only in December did we learn that the AHA business meeting would consider a […]

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  • Consulting All Sides on “Speech Codes”

    May 1, 2005

    By David T. Beito, Ralph E. Luker, and Robert David Johnson, Organization of American Historians Newsletter Few controversies have polarized higher education more than that of Ward Churchill at the University of Colorado (CU). Many conservatives, including Governor Bill Owens of Colorado and Newt Gingrich, have demanded that Churchill be dismissed for characterizing the victims of 9/11 as “Little Eichmanns.” Professors and students at CU and elsewhere have responded with rallies and petitions to defend Churchill’s academic freedom. They emphasize that the health of the academy rests on the toleration of controversial, even repellant, ideas. Joining in, the faculty of […]

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  • President of FIRE speaks about assault on free speech at universities across the country

    March 10, 2005

    This past Tuesday, David French, HLS ’94, President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), spoke to a gathering of HLS students about how restrictive speech codes at universities are undermining the educational values upon which these universities are founded. French observed that even though he came to HLS from a religious college, not much changed in terms of the educational atmosphere. “I was going from one religious school to another religious school…it was just a different kind of religion.” This was a time according to French when Harvard was referred to as “Beirut on the Charles”.Upon arriving […]

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  • Liberal Bias against Campus Conservatives Confronted

    October 22, 2004

    By John T. Plecnik at Front Page Magazine The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy hosted its annual policy conference at North Carolina State University last Saturday on October 16, 2004. The topic: “Freedom and the American Campus.” All-star panels articulated the reality of liberal bias on college campuses, and debated possible solutions. Notables included David Horowitz of FrontPageMag.com, former U.S. House Historian Dr. Christina Jeffrey, and David French of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). During the conference, it was reported that a memo was circulating among the faculty and administration of N.C. State warning […]

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  • Campus censors in retreat

    February 16, 2004

    By John Leo at USNews.com

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  • Speech Codes: Alive and Well at Colleges…

    August 1, 2003

    By Greg Lukianoff at The Chronicle of Higher Education

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  • Cal Poly Student Government Changes Rules to Allow Some Early Candidate Speech, But Not Enough

    March 17, 2014

    Following widespread criticism, the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) at California Polytechnic State University has revised its election policies to allow students running for ASI positions to be quoted in the media outside of the “active campaigning period,” which begins just 10 days before elections. Previously, students were prohibited from being identified as candidates in written materials prior to the beginning of the active campaigning period, which began on April 13 this year.

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  • Cal Poly and U. of Alabama Students Limited by Election Policies

    March 12, 2014

    Add this to the ever-growing list of sneaky tactics employed to suppress student speech: At California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and the University of Alabama (UA), student speech about upcoming student government elections may violate election codes at their respective schools.

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  • Student Spotlight: Nate Honeycutt, Going for Green at Cal Poly

    February 25, 2014

    The FIRE Student Network’s Student Spotlight recognizes students who are paving the way for free speech on their campuses. This month, FIRE is proud to recognize Nate Honeycutt, the president of the Cal Poly College Republicans at California Polytechnic State University.

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  • Speech Code of the Month: University of Richmond

    February 5, 2014

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for February 2014: the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond’s Standards of Student Conduct prohibit any “inappropriate behavior or expression,” giving the administration complete discretion to punish virtually any expression it finds inconvenient or unwelcome.

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  • Cal Poly Administration Concludes Party Violated No Campus Policies

    December 20, 2013

    Last month, I visited California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) to speak to students and faculty about student rights. When I arrived, I learned of a brewing controversy over a party thrown by a Cal Poly fraternity. The party’s theme, “Colonial Bros and Nava-hos,” and the costumes apparently worn by some of the party-goers garnered criticism from community members who were offended. This sparked anunconstitutional investigation. Now comes word that the results of the investigation are finally in, and, thankfully for free expression, the party planners were cleared of any accusations of wrongdoing. As reported in The Mustang News, Cal Poly President Jeffrey […]

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  • Cal Poly’s ‘Mustang News’ Criticizes Party and School Response

    November 27, 2013

    The editorial board of the Mustang News, California Polytechnic State University’s (Cal Poly) student newspaper, wrote earlier this week to criticize both the students responsible for organizing the recent “Colonial Bros and Nava-hos” themed party and those calling for the school to punish the party hosts. The board emphasizes that it does not condone offensive party themes like this one, and that students—especially student organization leaders—should encourage their peers not to degrade women and perpetuate stereotypes. But there’s a critically important line to be drawn: [J]ust as these leaders can express their own personal opinions, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong can do the […]

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  • Randolph-Macon Forgets Its Promises of Free Expression in Responding to Party Theme

    November 22, 2013

    Last weekend, a fraternity at Randolph-Macon College (Va.) hosted a “USA vs. Mexico” theme party. Critics branded it as racist, and the college is now taking action, stating that it is “in the process of holding the individuals and groups involved responsible through our judicial process.” Any forthcoming punishment, though, would run contrary to Randolph-Macon’s broad promises of students’ free expression. Photos show partygoers dressed in sombreros and fake moustaches, and The Huffington Post reports that party attendees played drinking games, including one in which “Americans” attempted to catch “illegal immigrants.” But as my colleague Ari Cohn pointed out in discussing a similar “game” yesterday here on The Torch, expressive […]

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  • Cal Poly College Republicans Fight Against the Impact of ‘CLS v. Martinez’

    November 6, 2013

    According to the Mustang Daily, California Polytechnic State University’s (Cal Poly’s) student newspaper, the Cal Poly College Republicans are petitioning against a policy in effect across the California State University (CSU) system that requires student organizations to open membership to all enrolled students. (Fraternities and sororities may remain open only to one sex.) Members of the College Republicans point out that, because they are forced to admit non-Republican students as members, their group’s message will be diluted and their activities interrupted by those who disagree with their core beliefs. Along with circulating the petition and constructing a “free speech wall” this week, the […]

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  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Pomona College

    February 25, 2013

    Today, FIRE brings you the next installment in our blog series on the state of free speech at America’s top 10 liberal arts colleges, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Up today: Pomona College, one of the five undergraduate colleges that are part of the Claremont Colleges consortium in California. Overall, Pomona College’s speech codes are not as restrictive as some of the other schools in this blog series. Further, it’s important to note that some of the more restrictive policies are not specific to Pomona but rather are applicable to all of the Claremont Colleges, meaning that it […]

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  • FIRE Cases in Cal Poly’s ‘Mustang Daily’

    November 4, 2011

    Student journalist Brendan Pringle wrote about several FIRE cases in Tuesday’s Daily Mustang, the student newspaper of California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). Pringle wrote about our cases at Bucknell University, Northern Arizona University, Lone Star College-Tomball, and Cal Poly itself, which attempted to punish a student for posting a flyer on a public bulletin board. Pringle explains the Cal Poly case this way:  The poster was advertising a speech given by African-American speaker (and former Black Panther) Mason Weaver called “It’s Okay to Leave the Plantation.” The administration claimed that [student Steve] Hinkle disrupted a meeting by posting the flyer […]

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  • Greg’s Speech at Cal Poly a Success

    February 9, 2011

    Greg spoke at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) on Monday about the nonpartisan nature of the First Amendment, the ridiculousness of speech codes, and the importance of combating offensive speech with more speech. An article by Amanda Sedo in the Mustang Daily, Cal Poly’s student newspaper, demonstrates that students really took Greg’s message to heart. For example, business student Lindsay Carr said: I think many students would be surprised to know how many times peoples’ rights have been violated, and I think it’s important to understand that our rights still exist when enrolled at a university. Michael Dewitt, a […]

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  • Student in San Luis Obispo ‘Tribune’ Hopeful for Cal Poly’s Future with Next President

    August 10, 2010

    The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, California, recently published a guest column by Brendan Pringle, a California Polytechnic State University junior and columnist for the Mustang Daily student newspaper. The article remarks on the retirement of long-serving Cal Poly president Warren Baker and looks forward to Cal Poly’s future. Baker’s record on free speech is marred by his mishandling of a 2002 incident in which student Steve Hinkle was punished for posting a flier on a public bulletin board to advertise a campus speaker. FIRE defended Hinkle, who won a settlement from Cal Poly. Pringle recounts the Hinkle case and its […]

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  • Free Speech Questions for the Next Cal Poly President

    May 27, 2010

    After thirty-plus years as President of California Polytechnic State University, Warren J. Baker is retiring. This means that for the first time in a generation, Cal Poly is contemplating who it will trust to take up its mission. Three candidates for the top job reportedly are visiting Cal Poly this week, and columnist Brendan Pringle of the Mustang Daily student newspaper has some questions for them. Free speech is first on the list, which is appropriate given Cal Poly’s history of troubles on the issue. Pringle writes: Recently, Cal Poly has had a spotty record of First Amendment protection. From […]

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  • Cal Poly Establishes Neutral Ombuds as Successor to CARE-Net, Resolving Yearlong Controversy

    March 22, 2010

    Last spring, FIRE announced a victory for freedom of speech at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo when Cal Poly suspended an unconstitutional program targeting professors and students whose speech was “biased” or not “politically correct.” The program even planned to let students report complaints anonymously, meaning that those deemed “politically incorrect” might never have known whom they had offended or why. Under pressure from FIRE, Cal Poly promised that any future CARE-Net program (short for Community Advocating REspect) “will not function to suppress controversial, offensive, or any other kind of protected speech.” The successor to CARE-Net is […]

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  • Cal Poly Student Blogger on Adam Kissel and FIRE

    March 19, 2010

    Cal Poly student Will Taylor has a great blog entry on the site of the Mustang Daily, Cal Poly’s main student newspaper, about FIRE and the director of our Individual Rights Defense Program, Adam Kissel. Taylor writes: What was so impressive about FIRE was that they truly are non-partisan. Kissel said that some of the cases he helped defend were completely against his personal belief system and were even shocking to him. But FIRE pushes ahead anyway. As he said at the beginning of his talk, “This is the beginning of your adult life; we want you to be able […]

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  • ‘Mustang Daily’ Reports on FIRE Speech at Cal Poly

    February 24, 2010

    The Mustang Daily, a student newspaper at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), has an excellent article about Adam’s speech there last Wednesday. As I related here before Adam’s speech, Cal Poly has a long and sordid history regarding free speech on campus. Adam discussed Cal Poly’s yellow light speech code rating, making the school better than most in terms of policies, according to FIRE’s latest report—while Cal Poly’s many free speech controversies and violations in practice make Cal Poly far below average. Even a “yellow light” is not suitable, however, especially at a state institution. The Mustang summarizes Adam’s comments: [Y]ellow […]

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  • Cal Poly Suspends Reporting on ‘Politically Incorrect’ Faculty and Students

    June 2, 2009

    FIRE’s June 1 press release announced a victory for individual rights at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), which has suspended an unconstitutional program targeting professors and students whose speech is “biased” or not “politically correct.” The program even planned to let individuals report complaints anonymously, meaning that those deemed “politically incorrect” might never have known whom they had offended or why. Cal Poly, which has already once been on the losing side of a free speech lawsuit, has promised that any future CARE-Net program (short for Community Advocating REspect) “will not function to suppress controversial, offensive, or any other […]

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  • Cal Poly Suspends Reporting on ‘Politically Incorrect’ Faculty and Students

    June 1, 2009

    SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif., June 1, 2009—California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), which has already once been on the losing side of a free speech lawsuit, has suspended an unconstitutional program targeting professors and students whose speech is “biased” or not “politically correct.” The program even planned to let students report complaints anonymously, meaning that those deemed “politically incorrect” might never have known whom they had offended or why. Under pressure from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Cal Poly has promised that any future CARE-Net program (short for Community Advocating REspect) “will not function to suppress controversial, […]

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  • Progress at Cal Poly, but Concerns Remain

    May 22, 2009

    Last week, we reported that California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) removed a disturbing bias incident policy from its website shortly after FIRE sent the university a letter criticizing the policy’s infringement on faculty rights to free speech, academic freedom, and due process. The “CARE-Net” initiative encouraged students to report any speech “that is perceived to be malicious or discriminatory toward another person or group based on bias or prejudice relating to [certain enumerated personal characteristics].” The website also promised that a mechanism for anonymous online reporting was forthcoming, a development that posed a serious threat to due process rights. […]

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  • Rights in the News: A FIRE-Fight Over Facebook

    May 15, 2009

    Before heading home for a weekend of sitting out in the sun, standing in line for Star Trek or, in my case, seeing how much Lost it is possible to cram into a single weekend of house-sitting, here are a couple of worthy articles to chew on. Both, incidentally, involve the social networking site Facebook—and by association practically every college student in the fifty states.   Robert’s article at Pajamas Media takes a hard look at the NCAA’s questionable practice of sending cease-and-desist letters to students unconnected with athletic departments who wish to “recruit” (in the NCAA’s eyes) sought-after college […]

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  • Blogger Rips Cal Poly’s “CARE-Net”

    May 13, 2009

    Today, Roger Freberg, blogger and husband of Cal Poly professor Laura Freberg, has a post about the situation at Cal Poly, where, as FIRE reported yesterday, the university apparently removed information from its website about a bias incident reporting program called “CARE-Net” after FIRE sent the university a letter objecting to the program’s unconstitutional aspects. Under the proposed program, students were instructed to report to the university any speech, act, or harassing incident or action taken by a person or group that is perceived to be malicious or discriminatory toward another person or group based on bias or prejudice relating […]

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  • After Letter from FIRE, Troubling Bias Incident Policy Disappears from Cal Poly Website

    May 12, 2009

    Last week, FIRE sent a letter to California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) President Warren Baker about a new bias incident reporting pilot program approved by the university. Several members of Cal Poly’s faculty had contacted FIRE to express their concerns about the initiative, set to become effective this month, which encouraged students to report any speech, act, or harassing incident or action taken by a person or group that is perceived to be malicious or discriminatory toward another person or group based on bias or prejudice relating to such characteristics as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national […]

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  • FIRE Letter to California Polytechnic State University President Warren J. Baker

    May 6, 2009

    May 6, 2009 President Warren J. Baker California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, California 93407 Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (805-756-1129) Re: CARE-Net Bias Incident Reporting Program Dear President Baker: While I am glad that several years have passed since we last wrote you, FIRE is gravely concerned about the threats to free speech and due process posed by the university’s new CARE-Net bias incident reporting program. The following is our understanding of the facts. Please inform us if you believe we are in error. According to California Polytechnic State University’s website, CARE-Net is an initiative that will […]

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  • Rights in the News: FIRE Issues Get the Lou Dobbs Treatment

    March 13, 2009

    As Will wrote earlier in the week, FIRE has seen far too many instances of students’ First Amendment rights being thrown out the window when used to support Second Amendment rights. FIRE has been all over the news concerning the most recent instance of this, in which a student at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) was reported to the police by his professor and subjected to an interrogation on the basis of a class presentation he had given in favor of concealed carry rights on campus. Building on a FoxNews.com front-page story (tipped this week in an editorial on the […]

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  • Cal Poly Censors Posters Again

    November 28, 2007

    FIRE supporters may remember the egregious 2002 case of Steve Hinkle, a student at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) who posted a flyer that was considered to be “of an offensive racial nature” and was then charged with “disrupting” a “campus function” after students confronted him about the poster. The poster simply advertised a speech by Mason Weaver, author of the book It’s OK to Leave the Plantation, by displaying the title of the book, the time and place of the event, and a picture of the author. Hinkle ultimately sued the university with FIRE’s help. After Cal Poly […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Victory at Cal Poly

    May 26, 2006

    This month, back in 2004, California Polytechnic State University finally capitulated in its efforts to defend the indefensible: its finding student Steve Hinkle guilty of “disruption” for merely posting a flier with the title of book some students found offensive. Cal Poly should be the poster child for how not to handle a free speech controversy. First, they bungled their way into it with the thinnest of claims. Next, when FIRE got involved they did not realize they had been caught red-handed. Instead they took inadequate steps to address and/or excuse what they had done, spent the summer being savaged […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Victory at Cal Poly

    May 9, 2005

    May has traditionally been a big month for FIRE (and this month is no exception, as readers will see in the next few days). This time last year we finally resolved the extraordinary Steve Hinkle case: May 6, 2004  FIRE Press Release SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA In a major victory for liberty and equal rights on campus, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) has settled a free speech lawsuit. The case involved Cal Poly student Steve Hinkle, who was punished for posting a flier on a public bulletin board announcing a College Republicans-sponsored speech by a black social critic. Some […]

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  • No Myth: Conservatives in Academia Suffer Discrimination

    October 15, 2004

    In a recent Sun column, (“Reclaim Your Victimhood,” Sept. 24), Danny Pearlstein, skeptical of the notion that conservatives in academia suffer discrimination, challenged conservatives “to send me concrete instances” of such. As the French would say, “chiche!” — dare accepted. Pearlstein’s challenge was, at least from his perspective, ill-timed. For within 48 hours came a glaring example of anti-conservative discrimination at Cornell, courtesy of the Student Assembly(SA): The SA’s blatantly political attempt to defund The Cornell American, one of the very few conservative student groups on campus. The attempted defunding was done in reliance on a newly-adopted, ex post facto […]

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  • The Good and The Bad (Plus Some Ugly)

    October 11, 2004

    Today’s college campus is a study in contrasts. Professors and administrators cling to their grotesque orthodoxies, but students seem to be getting saner by the year. What follows are five of the most outrageous campus incidents of the last academic year, then five of the most heartening acts of courage. The conservative-speaker double standard is almost an academic institution. At Bucknell University, administrators refused a student group’s request to invite Republican congressman and Senate hopeful Pat Toomey to give a speech, arguing that his appearance would violate a school policy against electioneering on campus. Meanwhile, Bucknell paid presidential candidate Ralph […]

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  • Major Victory for Free Speech at Cal Poly

    May 6, 2004

    SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA—In a major victory for liberty and equal rights on campus, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) has settled a free speech lawsuit. The case involved Cal Poly student Steve Hinkle, who was punished for posting a flier on a public bulletin board announcing a College Republicans-sponsored speech by a black social critic. Some students at the campus Multicultural Center found the flier “offensive.” Cal Poly has agreed to expunge Hinkle’s disciplinary record relating to the incident, to permit him to post fliers, and to pay significant attorney’s fees. The settlement of the lawsuit ends a year-long […]

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  • Cal Poly Settles Suit by Student

    May 6, 2004

    A Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student who sued the school for allegedly violating his 1st Amendment rights reached a settlement with the university this week. The school promised to expunge Steve Hinkle’s disciplinary record and to pay $40,000 in legal fees. Hinkle, a 23-year-old industrial technology major, was reprimanded in November 2002 after several students complained that fliers he had posted in the school’s multicultural center were offensive.Hinkle, president of the Cal Poly College Republican Club, was advertising a speech by Mason Weaver, the author of “It’s OK to Leave the Plantation.”Weaver argues that reliance on government aid enslaves […]

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  • Academia’s shame

    November 2, 2003

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  • How Campus Censors Squelch Freedom of Speech

    July 14, 2003

    By Stuart Taylor at The Atlantic Monthly

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  • Thor Halvorssen and Steve Hinkle on Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes

    July 8, 2003

    Thor Halvorssen and Steve Hinkle on Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes Transcript, originally aired July 8, 2003 HANNITY: …a California Polytech student was charged and found guilty of a disruption of a campus event after posting a flier advertising a speech by Mason Weaver, the author of the new book “It’s OK to Leave the Plantation.” Now some students reportedly complained that the flier offended them. We contacted the school today and they dispute many of the statements written about this case in recent articles, and they also said federal student privacy laws prevent them from talking about this until […]

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  • School, student settle flier suit

    May 11, 2003

    California Polytechnic State University has settled a lawsuit with a student who was disciplined for posting a flier more than a year ago that some students said was offensive.“This sends a message to college administrators that says you can’t censor speech by re-characterizing it,” said Curt Levey, one of the attorneys in the case and a spokesman for the nonprofit law firm that represented the student, Steve Hinkle.University counsel Carlos Cordova said, “Cal Poly has believed throughout it could have successfully defended against this lawsuit,” but that “Cal Poly entered into the agreement to avoid the cost of further litigation.” […]

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