Location: Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit
Central Michigan 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.
October 10, 2008
In a victory for freedom of expression and freedom of association, Central Michigan University (CMU) agreed to provide security for a speech by author and conservative activist David Horowitz hosted by Campus Conservatives, the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at CMU. CMU had initially refused to provide security without imposing an excessive financial burden on the club. FIRE wrote CMU President Michael Rao, urging CMU to meet its constitutional obligation not to financially burden speech that others might find offensive. FIRE’s letter pointed out that the Supreme Court has declared such burdens unconstitutional.» Read More
March 16, 2007
In an important victory for free association, Central Michigan University (CMU) has revised a policy that absurdly banned ideological and political groups from “discriminating” on the basis of “political persuasion.” FIRE urged CMU to change this policy after students hostile to the mission of the Young Americans for Freedom student group attempted to become members of the group in order to destroy it from the inside. FIRE informed CMU that freedom of association includes the right to exclude members who do not subscribe to a group’s mission. Thanks to FIRE’s intervention, CMU has rewritten its policy, informed student groups of […]» Read More
October 23, 2001
At Central Michigan University, an administrator told several students to remove various patriotic posters (an American flag, an eagle, etc.) from their dormitory. On October 8, a Residential Advisor told them that their display was "offensive," and that they had until the end of the day to remove the items. As one student said, "American flags or pictures that were pro-American had to be taken down because they were offensive to people." FIRE brought the case to the attention of CMU’s President, Michael Rao and soon after, the University reaffirmed its obligations to the First Amendment and expressed regret at […]» Read More
Red Light Policies
Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
Bias incidents take many forms– words, signs, symbols, threats or actions –in electronic or real-time. They include intimidation, vandalism, destruction of property, harassment, and expressions of hate or hostility.
Anytime anyone in the CMU community feels belittled, disrespected, threatened, or unsafe because of who they are, the entire university community is diminished. That’s why it’s important to report all bias incidents – even those intended as jokes. If you have observed or experienced a bias incident, it should be reported as soon as possible.
Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Disciplinary Procedures: Student Responsibilities 13-14
Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
A student shall not bully, haze, harass or stalk any person or group of persons. Telephone harassment, texting, e-mail, computer or online social media harassment, stalking, racial and sexual harassment are included under this policy, as are all other forms of bullying and harassment not specifically mentioned here.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
Students have the right to free inquiry, expression, and association.
As citizens, students have the same duties and obligations as do other citizens and enjoy the same freedoms of speech, press, religion, peaceful assembly, and petition that other citizens enjoy. In all of its dealings with students, the University will respect the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitutions and laws of the United States, the State of Michigan, and local ordinances.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Discrimination because of sex includes sexual harassment which means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature when: … (iii) Such conduct or communication has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, public accommodations, public services, education, or housing environment.
Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
A. DEMONSTRATING is recognized as a legitimate means of publicly expressing opinions. When DEMONSTRATING occurs on the campus, it must be conducted in a manner which preserves the safety of all persons and property.
B. DEMONSTRATING is permitted on the campus outside of University buildings, subject to the following restrictions and limitations:
- DEMONSTRATING is permitted after 6:30 a.m. and before 8 p.m.
- DEMONSTRATING is permitted after 8 p.m. and before 6:30 a.m.:
- Starting 30 minutes before any University sponsored event and lasting until 30 minutes after a University sponsored event (other than a class) no farther than 300 feet from the site of the University sponsored event or of the location of the University building in which the University sponsored event takes place.
- If the person or group registers with the University’s Vice President of Facilities Management, or designee. To register, the person or representative must provide his/her name, address and phone number and the name of the group (if any) DEMONSTRATING and the approximate time(s) and location(s) of the DEMONSTRATION.
June 15, 2014
By Kim Kozlowski at The Detroit News Jordan Zammit was in a political science class at Central Michigan University when the professor said something about the military that really offended him. But instead of keeping quiet, the student — who has family members in the Army and Marines — pulled up his Twitter account and fired back. “A professor at #MyLiberalCampus told me only people too poor and dumb for college join the military,” he tweeted to hundreds of his followers. In that moment, Zammit joined students nationwide who are trying to bring awareness of what it’s like to hold conservative […]» Read More
April 9, 2007
It’s well known that you don’t have the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater when there is none. But yelling “FIRE!” is precisely what one must do when one’s free speech rights are in danger on a college campus. FIRE is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education—a Philadelphia-based legal advocacy group that goes to bat for students whose rights to free speech and association are curtailed illegally by college administrators and policies gone horribly awry. FIRE’s list of accomplishments is ever-growing, but here are just a couple of the latest: – At Central Michigan University, liberal opponents […]» Read More
April 5, 2007
When one flips through the pages of Webster’s or, in today’s modern times, clicks through the pages of Dictionary.com, he or she will see that “organization,” when used as a noun, is defined as a “a group of persons organized for some end or work.” The reader is also told to see the similar word of “association.” How is association defined? An association is “an organization of people with a common purpose and having a formal structure.” Hence, it does not take a rocket scientist, or even a college degree, to determine that the foundation of any successful organization is […]» Read More
April 11, 2005
Besides really irritating a lot of people, University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill’s essay on the causes of the World Trade Center attacks has put a media spotlight on the issue of freedom of expression on college campuses. This in itself is a very good thing. Whatever one’s opinion of the content of Churchill’s essay (and some of the logic does sound highly suspect to me), he was well within his rights to release a controversial analysis of the attacks into the academic community. This ability to participate in an unrestricted exchange of ideas is called academic freedom, and it […]» Read More
October 28, 2001» Read More
September 26, 2001
Airport officials in Oakland, California are upset that 1,000 badges that will get you into secure areas in the Oakland International Airport are missing. That’s 10 percent of the 10,000 such badges that exist. The Port of Oakland President Phil Tagami said this, “bothers me deeply.” And Tagami confirmed that the Federal Aviation Administration has criticized that airport for violating its rule that no more than 5 percent of badges be missing. Speaking of port officials, Italian officials checked the contents of a shipping container on the dock in the southern Italian town of Gioia Tauro. When they opened it, […]» Read More
October 7, 2014
Thirteen years ago, Central Michigan University (CMU) officials forced students to take down posters that could be perceived as offensive to other students, even images of the American flag. Yesterday, the CMU Insider spoke to Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program, to ask: Do CMU policies still violate students’ free speech rights today? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Like too many other colleges and universities, CMU is a “red light” school, meaning at least one of its policies clearly and substantially restricts constitutionally protected speech. CMU earns a red light rating in part for its Computing and […]» Read More
April 25, 2012
Just before a talk on campus by members of the Westboro Baptist Church on Monday, Central Michigan University student Ryan Fitzmaurice published an insightful op-ed in Central Michigan Life titled, “Why I Love the Westboro Baptist Church.” After clarifying that he does not actually love the Westboro Baptist Church, he explains that what he loves is their First Amendment right to participate in the American “conversation”: America is a conversation, but not a polite dinner conversation. Our nation’s conversation is passionate, convoluted, confused, messy, explosive, eccentric, sometimes angry, increasingly odd, and most of the time, wildly off topic. It’s a […]» Read More
April 18, 2011
In April 2007, FIRE won an important victory when Central Michigan University (CMU) reversed a policy banning ideological and political groups from “discriminating” on the basis of “political persuasion.” The case holds important lessons for freedom of association on campus that remain particularly relevant in light of last year’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. The controversy at CMU began with a student effort to derecognize the school’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) because of the group’s unpopular views. When this effort failed, students began to disrupt YAF meetings and created a Facebook group […]» Read More
October 14, 2008
In a victory for the freedoms of expression and association, Central Michigan University has agreed to provide basic security for a speech tonight by author and conservative activist David Horowitz. FIRE has been urging CMU to meet its constitutional obligation not to financially burden speech that others might find offensive. Horowitz had been invited by an organization named Campus Conservatives, the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter at CMU, to speak tonight at 7:30 p.m. for a free public lecture at Warriner Hall in the Plachta Auditorium. On October 9, 2008, Campus Conservatives student Dennis Lennox received an e-mail from […]» Read More
September 11, 2007
Today, FIRE joins individuals across America and around the world in reflecting upon the tragic events of September 11, 2001. As university students and professors from Maine to California host commemorations today to remember those who suffered and died six years ago, we take a moment to look back at how those events played out on campus in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, and how their legacy continues to affect us today. In the wake of the tragedy, FIRE was called on to defend liberty on campus as many universities reacted to the cataclysmic circumstances with sometimes shocking limitations […]» Read More
May 3, 2007
Yesterday’s issue of The New York Sun includes a very telling opinion piece by John Leo that looks at the ploys used by university administrators in their efforts to stifle student speech. “It’s not news that the modern university is censorship-prone, particularly when conservatives wish to speak, but the tactics of the censors keep changing,” Leo writes, and Torch readers undoubtedly realize the truthfulness of such an observation. Leo goes on to recount different approaches we at FIRE are all too familiar with, as many of these examples are straight from recent FIRE cases. Leo’s list of censorship devices includes […]» Read More
April 3, 2007
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich., April 3, 2007—In an important victory for free association, Central Michigan University (CMU) has revised a policy that banned ideological and political groups from “discriminating” on the basis of “political persuasion.” The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) urged CMU to change this policy after students who disagreed with the mission of the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) student organization attempted to become members of the group in order to destroy it from the inside. “Central Michigan University should be commended for quickly fixing its constitutionally unsound ‘anti-discrimination’ policy,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “Freedom of […]» Read More
September 11, 2006
Today, FIRE joins the rest of the nation in remembering the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Five years ago, the events of 9/11 highlighted—in a very ugly way—just how out of touch many universities are with the American public. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when much of America was still in mourning, a number of very prominent universities moved swiftly to suppress displays of public sympathy and patriotism by students and faculty. Here are some examples of university actions in September and October 2001: At Central Michigan University, an administrator told several students to remove various patriotic posters […]» Read More
August 29, 2005
The NCAA controversy surrounding the supposedly “hostile” and “abusive” Native American team names is a reflection of more than a good idea gone bad—it’s a classic case of what happens when a body of administrators enacts policies that are too vague and subjective. As noted by my colleague Robert in a previous entry, the NCAA recently issued a new policy banning usage of team names derived from any ethnic/racial/national group that could be perceived as offensive. This includes mascots, school or team nicknames, and some team imagery as well. The policy is getting all kinds of reactions, and here is […]» Read More
Victory for Free Speech at Central Michigan University; President Rao Defends and Affirms Free Speech and the Bill of Rights
November 7, 2001
MOUNT PLEASANT, MI-In a case that had achieved widespread national attention, students at Central Michigan University (CMU) secured a major victory for liberty when the University reaffirmed its obligations to the First Amendment. President Michael Rao, in a letter to FIRE today, made clear that any residential staff who asked students to remove materials from their dormitory doors acted without understanding his administration’s commitment to the Bill of Rights and to freedom of expression. Students had been asked by residential staff to take down displays in support of military action against terrorism. When the facts were brought to his attention […]» Read More