Location: Ypsilanti, Michigan
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit
Eastern 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.
Red Light Policies
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, StatementConduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive campus, educational or working environment for another person. This includes unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, inappropriate sexual or gender-based activities, comments or gestures, or other forms of verbal or physical conduct or communications constituting sexual harassment.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement1. Conduct (not of a sexual nature) that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive campus,
educational or work environment for another person or group.
2. Conduct (not of a sexual nature) that threatens, intimidates, humiliates, or otherwise harms another person or group.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies, StatementEastern Michigan University has zero tolerance for the misuse of
any communications media - print or electronic, individually or mass distributed, if such use results in
communications that are harassing, racist or in any way threatening to other individuals on or off campus.
This type of behavior will be promptly investigated, and should perpetrators of such acts be identified as
students, they will face consequences under the terms of the Student Conduct Code, which governs student
Speech Code Category: Posting Policies, StatementIt is expected that all poster/fliers conform with
generally accepted standards of good taste.
Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech, StatementA bias incident or hate incident involves behaviors, though motivated by bias against a victim’s race, religion, ethnicity/national origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, or disability, are not criminal offenses. Hateful speech or other disrespectful/discriminatory behavior may be motivated by bias, but are not illegal. They become crimes only when they directly incite perpetrators to commit violence against persons or property, or if they place a potential victim in reasonable fear of injury, or intimidate or harass a person with specific intent motivated solely by a person’s race, religion, ethnicity/national origin, sexual orientation, or gender.
Speech Code Category: Posting Policies, StatementDecorations should be of such a nature that they
would be a credit to the individual, the hall and the University. The appearance of the hall to the public -- from the outside -- depends on "window housekeeping." Anything visible through the window should be in good taste. Residence hall staff maintains the right to remove posters, signs, etc.,
from student room doors, windows and/or corridor
walls if they are deemed offensive.
Speech Code Category: Posting Policies, StatementGeneral information boards are located on the main floor of most halls. Any information that is to be posted in more than one
residence hall on staff boards must be approved by either the Director, Associate Director or Assistant Directors of Housing. The University will not approve any information that is
deemed to be racist, homophobic, sexist, indecent,
scandalous, illegal, inciting or in any way oppressive
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, StatementSexual harassment includes any behavior of a sexual nature where: ... such conduct is intended to or would objectively be regarded by a reasonable person as unreasonably interfering with an individual's work, academic performance in a course or program, or participation in an activity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment.
November 22, 2013
In March, student organization Students for Life at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) enlisted Alliance Defending Freedom’s (ADF’s) help in suing the school after it denied the group funding based on its “political or ideological” views. ADF announced yesterday that EMU settled the case late last month, agreeing to fund all groups—including Students for Life—without consideration of the groups’ viewpoints. ADF describes the lawsuit’s origins on its website: In February, Students for Life at Eastern Michigan University applied for student fee funding to host a pro-life display on campus called the Genocide Awareness Project, a traveling photo-mural exhibit… . EMU denied the request because they deemed the […]» Read More
December 12, 2012
The Detroit Free Press reported on Monday that Eastern Michigan University (EMU) will pay former graduate student Julea Ward $75,000 to settle Ward’s lawsuit against the university. Ward filed suit in 2009 after being dismissed from EMU’s graduate counseling program for inquiring about the possibility of referring a gay client who sought counseling regarding a same-sex relationship, citing her religious beliefs. In January, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit allowed Ward’s suit against EMU to continue after she appealed a federal district court’s dismissal. This week’s settlement ends Ward’s suit. In a statement, a university spokesman […]» Read More
July 12, 2012
Despite months of appeals from FIRE, Eastern Michigan University (EMU) does not appear inclined to take its legal obligations under the First Amendment, as a public university, seriously. The university is simply not willing to revise a sexual harassment so clearly unconstitutional that FIRE named it our Speech Code of the Month in July 2011—let alone to revise its other speech codes restricting campus discourse. This is a shame for students at EMU wishing to exercise their right to free speech without fear of administrative reprisal. EMU’s Student Conduct Code policy on “Sexual Misconduct/Sexual Harassment” states, in relevant part: Conduct […]» Read More
May 17, 2012
Torch readers may recall the case of Julea Ward, an Eastern Michigan University (EMU) student in counseling who was expelled for seeking to refer a gay client to another counselor when counseling would have required violating her Christian beliefs. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a victory for Ward in January (her lawsuit against EMU is currently back in district court), and we wrote about the case at that time. The State News, Michigan State University’s student newspaper, reports that a bill is hitting the floor in the Michigan House of Representatives that seeks to […]» Read More
February 10, 2012
Last week here on The Torch, I discussed the interesting ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Ward v. Polite (.PDF). Before discussing the facts of the case and the Sixth Circuit’s holding, I noted that while the court reached the right result by allowing the First Amendment lawsuit brought by expelled graduate student Julea Ward to continue, it did so in a way that may harm college student rights in the future. Here’s why: In analyzing Ward’s claim that her First Amendment right to freedom of expression had been violated by Eastern Michigan […]» Read More
January 30, 2012
On Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that expelled Eastern Michigan University (EMU) counseling student Julea Ward’s First Amendment suit may continue, finding that a federal district court had improperly granted the EMU defendants summary judgment. Ward was expelled from EMU’s graduate counseling program after she inquired about referring a gay client who sought counseling regarding a same-sex relationship. The Sixth Circuit found that Ward had presented sufficient evidence that, when viewed in the light most favorable to Ward (a necessary inference when deciding motions for summary judgment), could prompt a jury to conclude […]» Read More
January 27, 2012
In an opinion (.PDF) issued today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the civil rights suit filed by former Eastern Michigan University counseling student Julea Ward may proceed. Ward was expelled from her graduate program after she inquired about referring a gay client during her student practicum due to her religious beliefs. Following her expulsion, Ward brought suit, alleging that the defendants—members of the review committee that expelled Ward, professors in Ward’s graduate program, and the President and Board of Regents of the university—had violated her rights to freedom of expression and freedom of […]» Read More
July 5, 2011
FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for July 2011: Eastern Michigan University (EMU). EMU’s Student Conduct Code defines “sexual harassment” as Conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive campus, educational or working environment for another person. This includes unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, inappropriate sexual or gender-based activities, comments or gestures, or other forms of verbal or physical conduct or communications constituting sexual harassment. [Emphasis added.] This policy’s prohibition on “inappropriate sexual or gender-based … comments” means that virtually any speech relating in any way to gender is subject to […]» Read More
March 14, 2011
The Detroit News reports that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has put his support behind Julea Ward, a former graduate student at Eastern Michigan University who is suing the school following her dismissal from its counseling program. The Detroit News writes that “Ward claims she was dismissed in March of 2009 after asking how to refer student clients to other advisers in the school’s counseling practicum because the client’s activities were in conflict with her Christian belief against homosexuality.” Schuette has filed an amicus brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, where Ward’s case is on appeal. […]» Read More
October 7, 2010
Controversies over political cartoons in college newspapers are nothing new, but it’s always disappointing to see them spring back up. This time it’s Eastern Michigan University’s turn, where a cartoon depicting members of the Ku Klux Klan has drawn the ire of some students and, almost inevitably, the university itself. The Eastern Echo published the below cartoon on September 28: So what is this cartoon trying to say? Clearly it is meant to depict an absurd situation, but what is the social commentary meant to be? The Eastern Echo explained it in its official statement about the cartoon controversy: We […]» Read More