Clemson University

Location: Clemson, South Carolina
Website: http://www.clemson.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Clemson 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.

  • Clemson University: Student Charged with Harassment and Disorderly Conduct for Single Email

    May 24, 2010

    Clemson student William Kirwan was charged with “Disorderly Conduct,” “Harassment,” “Failure to Comply with Official Request,” and “Computer Misuse” after he told Clemson administrator Laura McMaster via email that “I’m not going to let you bully the organization into doing the things you want us to do or perceive as important” with regard to his group’s choice not to participate in a student organization fair, and joked that she was “smoking crack.” FIRE wrote Clemson president James F. Barker on May 24, 2010, to remind him that Kirwan’s speech was protected by the First Amendment. Clemson dropped all charges against […]

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  • Clemson University: Restrictions on Contacting Public Officials

    January 15, 2010

    On January 12, 2010, Clemson employees received an email telling them that they were prohibited from contacting public officials without prior arrangement of and notification by Clemson officials. FIRE contacted president James F. Barker on January 15, noting that the content of the email misrepresented Clemson’s “Contacting Public Officials” policy and violated employees’ First Amendment right to petition public officials. Shortly after receiving FIRE’s letter, Clemson sent another email to its employees making it clear that individuals are free to contact public officials when they are not on university business, and signaling that faculty members’ contacts with public officials as […]

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  • Clemson University: Free Speech Zone Suspended

    November 13, 2006

    Clemson University has vowed to review its “free speech zone” policy and, until a new policy is instituted, has opened its entire campus to free speech. Clemson has also cleared the Clemson Conservatives student organization of its charges for violating the “free speech zone” policy. Clemson decided to reassess its restrictions on free assembly after FIRE, working with the Clemson Conservatives, contended that the university’s “free speech zones” were both unlawful and immoral.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Facility Use Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies

    University Housing: All flyers must be approved by Housing as well as the Hendrix Student Center. Only recognized student organizations may post in the residence halls.

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  • Office of Access & Equity: Sexual Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual factors and/or other verbal or physical conduct or written communications of an intimidating, hostile or offensive nature.

    Verbal harassment can include, but is not limited to, the following:

    Sexual innuendoes, comments and sexual remarks about clothing, body or sexual activities; Suggestive or insulting sounds;
    Whistling in a suggestive manner; Humor and jokes about sex that denigrate men or women in general ….

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  • Student Handbook: Student Code of Conduct- Computer Misuse 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    No student shall send abusive, obscene, or threatening messages by use of computing facilities and services … or send, without official University authorization, for-profit messages, chain letters, or other unsolicited communications.

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  • Office of Access & Equity: Harassment Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    In general, harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct, based upon race,
    color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, age, disability,
    status as a military veteran or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited
    discrimination or participation in the statutory complaint process), that
    unreasonably interferes with the person’s work or educational performance or
    creates an intimidating or hostile work or educational environment. Examples
    may include, but are not limited to, epithets, slurs, jokes or other verbal, graphic
    or physical conduct.

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  • Office of Access & Equity: Harassment Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual harassment is one of the oldest forms of sex discrimination. It is defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: … 3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or academic environment.

    Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

    * Conduct by individuals in positions of authority or by co-workers or peers that creates a hostile working or learning environment or unreasonably interferes with the ability of a person to perform his/her employment or academic responsibilities; such conduct might include but is not limited to the following:

    * Repeated, unwelcome requests for dates
    * Sexually explicit language or writings
    * Displaying or electronically transmitting lewd pictures or notes
    * Remarks or conduct that demean or belittle an individual personally or in general because of his/her gender. (This type of gender harassment is a violation of the policy even though the remarks are not sexually provocative and the conduct does not involve sexual advances.)

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  • Housing Policies: Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment is any behavior that would verbally or physically threaten, torment, badger, heckle or persecute an individual because of his/her race or gender.

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Core Values 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of students and the general well-being of society. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth.

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  • Student Handbook: Student Code of Conduct- Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    No student shall commit any act, verbal or physical, which has the intent or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s or group’s educational or work performance at Clemson University or which creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational, work, or living environment.

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  • Facility Use Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    Clemson University affiliated individuals and groups may conduct orderly demonstrations or protests if they do not disrupt the normal or previously scheduled activities of the University or University affiliated entities, violate the free speech, assembly or movement of other individuals or organizations, damage property, or create an unsafe situation for any individual, group or organization.

    Although prior registration of demonstrations and protests by students, faculty, or staff or affiliated groups is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended.

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  • USC, Clemson Policies Threaten Students’ Free-Speech Rights, Group Contends

    September 19, 2012

    While students are getting their higher education, they might want to watch what they say while they’re on campus. The University of South Carolina and Clemson University have rules or policies that violate or could violate the First Amendment, says the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a nonprofit organization that rates large U.S. colleges and universities on how they adhere to the rights of free speech, assembly, press, petition and religion. In a study released earlier this year, FIRE, an educational foundation in Philadelphia, examined speech codes, harassment policies and other rules at the two South Carolina universities. […]

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  • Students challenge Clemson’s free speech policies

    November 18, 2006

    The Sun News   A group of students are challenging Clemson University’s use of free speech areas, saying they infringe on the students’ civil rights.Clemson Conservatives were censured by the university in connection with an Oct. 30 protest that they held outside the areas. The group held a protest Friday to get signatures for a petition opposing the university’s policies. Clemson officials said they are working on revisions to the policy and hope to have them ready by Jan. 1 for review by students, faculty and staff. “No public university should have the right to restrict, limit, or abridge this […]

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  • Clemson University Suspends Inquiry into Students’ Sex Lives

    September 18, 2014

    How many times have you had sex in the last three months? Just kidding—The Torch doesn’t want to know. But Clemson University did. Campus Reform’s Kaitlyn Schallhorn reported last night that the public South Carolina institution asked its students for this deeply personal information and other statistics of their sex lives as part of a mandatory—yes, mandatory—“Title IX and Campus SaVE Act education program” run through a third-party site. Understandably, students speaking to Campus Reform felt the details of their sex lives were none of Clemson’s business. Schallhorn reports that Clemson attempted to justify its intrusion in an email sent […]

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  • ‘Washington Post’ Writer Concurs With FIRE on Clemson Case

    June 2, 2010

    Washington Post education writer Valerie Strauss writes approvingly of FIRE’s recent victory for free speech at Clemson University at her Post blog The Answer Sheet, describing the incident sparking FIRE’s involvement as “another in a long list of overreactions by school officials to young people saying things in a way others would rather they didn’t.” Strauss, who brought national attention to Isaac Rosenbloom’s case at Hinds Community College on her blog, now neatly sums up the facts of Clemson student Wil Kirwan’s case, which arose from an e-mail exchange with an administrator over whether or not his student group would participate in […]

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  • Clemson student charged for rude e-mail

    June 1, 2010

    Here’s another in a long list of overreactions by school officials to young people saying things in a way others would rather they didn’t. I recently wrote about a case at Hinds Community College, the largest such institution in Mississippi, where an adult student was charged with “flagrant disrespect” for uttering a curse word after class. The charges were eventually dropped but not before the student was forced to testify at a hearing. Now we turn to Clemson University in South Carolina, where a student got in trouble for using rude language in e-mails to an administrator during an online […]

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  • Victory: Clemson Drops All Charges Against Student Accused of ‘Disorderly Conduct’ for E-Mail

    May 26, 2010

    CLEMSON, South Carolina, May 26, 2010—Clemson University has withdrawn “disorderly conduct,” “harassment,” and two other charges against a student who e-mailed an administrator using “language and tone” that another administrator found “unacceptable.” After undergraduate William Kirwan was charged with a variety of offenses in violation of his First Amendment rights, he turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “Public university administrators cannot punish students simply because they disapprove of their ‘language and tone,’” said FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley. “We commend Clemson’s leadership for putting an end to this violation as soon as FIRE brought […]

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  • Clemson University Clarifies Ban on Freely Contacting Public Officials after FIRE Intervenes

    January 21, 2010

    After Clemson University told faculty members and all other employees that they could not contact public officials without prior arrangement by and notification of Clemson officials, FIRE wrote the public university a letter pointing out that this misguided regulation violated individuals’ First Amendment right to petition public officials. Following receipt of FIRE’s letter, the university has provided a clarification of the policy. Clemson has now made clear that individuals are free to contact public officials when they are not on university business, and signaled that faculty members’ contacts with public officials as part of their academic work are not subject […]

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  • FIRE’s Shibley Speaks at Clemson

    March 2, 2007

    Clemson University’s student newspaper The Tiger reports this morning on FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley’s recent appearance on the Clemson campus. Robert addressed a group of Clemson students and administrators on Tuesday night, speaking about FIRE’s opposition to free speech zones at the university and larger concerns about freedom of speech on public campuses.   FIRE intervened at Clemson in November, 2006, when the Clemson Conservatives were barred from holding a protest outside Clemson’s free speech zone. FIRE wrote to Clemson President James Baker reminding him that a public university campus cannot lawfully quarantine free speech to small, inconvenient areas […]

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  • Zoning Out Free Speech at Joliet Junior College

    January 4, 2007

    Last week, the Daily Southtown (Ill.) published an editorial criticizing the trustees of Joliet Junior College for adopting a new free speech zone policy. Although the new policy seems to be improved because it moves these zones closer to where students actually gather, the editorial board rightly questions why the policy wasn’t completely abolished. The editorial correctly notes that “designating a ‘zone’ and setting up rules for how to use it doesn’t encourage free speech, it limits and discourages it.” Free speech zones are nothing more then a ruse used by college administrators to suppress the free exchange of ideas. […]

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  • Clemson exonerates student group, will review policy on ‘free-speech zones’

    December 4, 2006

    There’s been a major First Amendment victory for students at a prestigious university in South Carolina, where a conservative student group has been absolved of charges stemming from its protest of a pro-homosexual event on campus. Clemson University had a policy that designated only two areas on the campus for students to assemble. Even within those areas, students were required to obtain permission from three different administrative offices 72 hours prior to any planned event. However, after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent a letter to the school, arguing the policy—in violation of the U.S. Constitution—made spontaneous […]

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  • Victory at Clemson University

    November 29, 2006

    Yesterday’s press release highlights Clemson University’s recent decision to temporarily abandon its “free speech zone” policy, encoded within the Sales and Solicitation Policy, which quarantines student assembly to Cox Plaza and Hendrix Plaza, two areas of Clemson’s vast campus.   The Clemson Conservatives student group waged war against the “free speech zone” after they were prohibited from protesting the Clemson Gay-Straight Alliance’s (CSGA’s) rally in support of gay marriage. The Conservatives oppose gay marriage and wanted to protest the CSGA’s efforts in front of the CSGA meeting in Daniel Auditorium—an area outside the “free speech zone.” Despite being denied permission […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech: Clemson University Abandons ‘Free Speech Zone’ Policy

    November 28, 2006

    CLEMSON, S.C., November 28, 2006—Clemson University has vowed to review its “free speech zone” policy and, until a new policy is instituted, has opened its entire campus to free speech. Clemson has also cleared the Clemson Conservatives student organization of its charges for violating the “free speech zone” policy. Clemson decided to reassess its restrictions on free assembly after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), working with the Clemson Conservatives, contended that the university’s “free speech zones”  were both unlawful and immoral. “We are extremely pleased that Clemson has realized that its policies restricting free assembly were out […]

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  • An open letter to Clemson University

    October 13, 2006

    Dear Clemson: Today, I write to you in regards to an issue of the most supreme efficacy. You see, we as a University, residing in one of the last refuges of individual liberty-the great state of South Carolina-have an obligation to uphold the virtues of this legacy. While other states fall prey to progressive measures at their institutions of learning in hopes of achieving a better public image and creating an air of political correctness, Clemson University has displayed immunity from such a plague of despotism. Therefore, take this letter not as an attack on the University itself, but more […]

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