Georgetown University

Location: Washington, District Of Columbia
Website: http://www.georgetown.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Georgetown 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.

  • Georgetown University: Unequal Treatment of Student Organizations

    May 4, 2010

    Despite its Speech & Expression Policy stating that "’time, place and manner’ are the only norms allowable in governing the expression of ideas and sharing of information that is the very life of the university," Georgetown University has consistently refused to recognize the pro-choice student group H*yas for Choice, saying that doing so would conflict with its Catholic and Jesuit mission. Georgetown’s Access to Benefits Policy denies groups like H*yas for Choice equal treatment among student groups, contradicting its moral and contractual promises of free speech. Further, H*yas for Choice was denied recognition despite the existence of recognized groups of […]

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  • Georgetown University: Student Newspaper’s Censorship of Columnist

    April 1, 2000

    The editor-in-chief of the Georgetown University’s student newspaper, The Hoya, has resorted to student self-censorship. David Jung Wong, a sophomore from Hollywood, Florida, fired Robert Swope, a conservative columnist, for having angered campus feminists with his weekly op-eds. Wong was unhappy with Swope’s unrepentant politically incorrect views and took it upon himself to rid the paper of its token conservative columnist. Wong’s decision has been the subject of discussion in a number of national publications, almost exclusively by intellectually diverse and liberty-loving female authors. Cultural critic Camille Paglia, libertarian intellectual Wendy McElroy, Jewish World Review columnist Michelle Malkin, National Review’s […]

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Red Light Policies

Yellow Light Policies
  • Division of Student Affairs: Speech and Expression Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    The individual or group hosting such an event must reserve the place where it will occur, in accordance with registration requirements. However, the area adjacent to the ICC (“Red Square”) and Leavey Lobby (in inclement weather) shall be available, without prior arrangement, for individuals and groups during daylight hours for the purpose of exchanging ideas.

    An individual hosting an event is responsible for all costs (including security if such is deemed necessary by the University administration) associated with the event ….

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  • Division of Student Affairs: Advertising Policy for Student Media 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes

    As publisher/manager, the University retains the right to:

    Exclude advertisements for abortion services, (contraception, sperm donors) of any kind from any and all student media.
    Deny use of funds from any University budget for any media containing such advertisement.
    Take action through the procedures outlined below against any member of any editorial board approving such advertising.
    Exclude advertisements paid through an exchange of goods and/or service other than cash unless involved in a promotion approved by the media’s editorial board and cleared by the Center for Student Programs.
    Exclude advertisements of research papers or research assistance services of any kind.
    Exclude any advertising that promotes violation of the intention and spirit of the DC Code and/or Georgetown University regulations.

    The University also reserves the right to specify further types of advertisements that it considers to be grossly unjust or inconsistent with the conscience of Georgetown as a Catholic, Jesuit educational institution and to prohibit such advertisements from student media. Any such future prohibitions must be made with the advice and consultation of the Media Board, must be specified in writing to all student media and must be added to the exclusionary rights of this policy on student media before denial of any allotted funds.

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  • Division of Student Affairs: Speech & Expression Policy 13-14

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

    [E]xpression that is indecent or is grossly obscene or grossly offensive on matters such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation is inappropriate in a university community and the University will act as it deems appropriate to educate students violating this principle.

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  • Student Affairs and Related Policies: Policy Statement on Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment, other than sexual harassment, is verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion to an individual because of gender, race, color, religion, age, pregnancy, national origin, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, marital status, family responsibilities, political affiliation, personal appearance, source of income or any basis prohibited by law, when such conduct has the purpose or effect of: unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance; creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or work environment; or otherwise adversely affecting an individual’s academic or employment opportunities. Harassment may include, but is not limited to: verbal abuse or ridicule, including slurs, epithets, and stereotyping; offensive jokes and comments; threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts, and displaying or distributing offensive materials, writings, graffiti, or pictures.

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  • Division of Student Affairs: Bias Reporting System 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech

    Georgetown promotes free speech. Bias-related conduct includes hostile language, behavior or destruction. Incidents of bias should be reported to promote a respectful community.

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  • Student Affairs and Related Policies: Policy Statement on Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    For the purposes of this policy, sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: … Such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for work or learning.

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Green Light Policies
  • Division of Student Affairs: Speech & Expression Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    A university is many things but central to its being is discourse, discussion, debate: the untrammeled expression of ideas and information.

    “Free speech” is central to the life of the university. … The long and short of the matter is that “time, place and manner” are the only norms allowable in governing the expression of ideas and sharing of information that is the very life of the university.

    [A]ll members of the Georgetown University academic community, which comprises students, faculty and administrators, enjoy the right to freedom of speech and expression. This freedom includes the right to express points of view on the widest range of public and private concerns and to engage in the robust expression of ideas.

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  • Examiner Local Editorial: Muzzling free speech on campus

    January 2, 2013

    One New Year’s resolution we’d like to see in 2013 is a renewed effort to uphold the First Amendment on college campuses. According to a new report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, 62 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities “maintain severely restrictive speech codes … that clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech.” FIRE noted that the overwhelming majority of speech is protected. But narrow exceptions (such as “fighting words,” obscenity and defamation) “are often misused and abused by universities to punish constitutionally protected speech.” Restrictions intended to protect students from harassment or bullying have been […]

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  • 6 of 10 universities can’t figure out 1st Amendment

    December 20, 2012

    by Bob Unruh at WND More than six of 10 colleges and universities across the United States have yet to figure out the First Amendment, because their “speech codes” conflict with the Constitution, according to a new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “FIRE surveyed 409 schools for this report and found that over 62 percent maintain severely restrictive, ‘red-light’ speech codes – policies that clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech,” said the executive summary. “That this figure is so large is deeply troubling, but there is good news: for the fifth year in a row, the percentage of schools maintaining […]

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  • Dartmouth trustee vote raises controversy

    May 13, 2005

    While Penn prepares to graduate a new class, alumni of Dartmouth College hope to finally see the end of a controversy over trustee elections. Unlike at Penn — where all new trustees are selected by the current board — Dartmouth alumni vote directly to elect seven of the 17 members of the Board of Trustees. With two such seats up for grabs this year, campaigning and politicking have reached unprecedented levels in Hanover, N.H. Much of the intensity stems from the fact that although Dartmouth’s Alumni Council, a group mostly made up of class- and alumni-group leaders, originally nominated four […]

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  • Trustee Election at Dartmouth Is Seen as ‘Battle for Academic Freedom’

    May 5, 2005

    Elections of trustees to college and university boards are generally a snooze. Not so at Dartmouth College, where an alumni vote for two slots on the Board of Trustees has featured as much drama as a mudslinging congressional campaign. The results of the election will be released in the next few weeks. Dartmouth alumni choose seven members of the college’s 17-trustee board. With two seats open this year, the Alumni Council, a body composed mostly of class and alumni-group leaders, selected a slate of four candidates for the election. However, two dark-horse candidates have mounted successful petition campaigns to get […]

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  • Georgetown Returns to Its Normal, Confused State on Free Speech

    September 26, 2014

    Maybe FIRE was too quick to celebrate when Georgetown University provided a clarifying statement about student speech rights back in May, following repeated urging from students and free speech advocates who called the university out on its inconsistent treatment of students and student groups. On Monday, university police removed the student group H*yas for Choice from where they were tabling just outside the university’s front gates, bringing them back on campus (and away from their intended audience, attendees of a nearby event), before allowing them back outside the gates an hour and a half later. University police have now conceded […]

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  • Georgetown’s Revised Speech and Expression Policy Shows Significant Improvement

    May 20, 2014

    After a years-long wait for a clarifying statement about student speech rights, Georgetown University has finally provided one. While Georgetown’s new “Speech and Expression Policy” still has room for improvement, Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson, former Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) President Nate Tisa, and the university’s Speech and Expression Committee have taken a significant step forward with their revisions to the policy.

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  • Powerful Words from Georgetown Students to Administrators on Free Speech

    April 30, 2014

    FIRE is no stranger to the free speech problems at Georgetown University—and neither is Georgetown’s student newspaper, The Hoya. In its final editorial submission for the school year, titled “The Final Word,” The Hoya’s editorial staff reviewed many of the changes on Georgetown’s campus—not all of them positive. One of them, of course, is the university’s treatment of free speech.

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  • Students Focus on Free Speech in Georgetown Elections

    February 28, 2014

    As Georgetown University students await clarification of the school’s policies governing campus expression, candidates for president and vice president of the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) are putting freedom of speech and association at the forefront of their campaigns, demonstrating that these rights are a priority for the student body. While the four two-person teams propose different strategies for protecting speech on campus, all of them have made efforts to address this critically important issue.

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  • Georgetown Sets Unambitious Timeline for Protecting Student Speech

    February 14, 2014

    On January 20, members of the Georgetown University student group H*yas for Choice were forced to move from the outdoor campus location where they were tabling while a pro-life event took place inside Healy Hall. But despite clear statements from Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson and Georgetown University Student Association President Nate Tisa that the university’s policies did not prohibit the group from tabling where they were, students are still awaiting clarification of the school’s policies governing campus expression. Last week, the university’s Free Speech and Expression Committee met to discuss the issue. Olson apologized to H*yas for […]

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  • Ge*rgetown University Reminds Us Again Why Censorship Is Ridiculous

    January 30, 2014

    Georgetown University’s strained relationship with free speech has long been home to one of American academia’s most absurd products of censorship, the pro-choice student group H*yas for Choice. Now Georgetown is back in the news again with the latest chapter in the Chronicles of Making Things Ridiculous Through Censorship. Back in 2010, FIRE wrote Georgetown on three separate occasions about its refusal to accord H*yas for Choice equal treatment with other student groups. While Georgetown cited its Catholic and Jesuit mission as a reason to refuse to recognize H*yas for Choice, FIRE pointed out (and has repeatedly pointed out since […]

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  • Georgetown ‘Hoya’ Editorial Board Criticizes University Speech Codes

    January 23, 2014

    Last Friday, the editorial board of Georgetown University’s student newspaper, The Hoya, sounded the alarm over Georgetown’s restrictive speech codes. According to The Hoya, “[t]he Georgetown University Speech and Expression policy contains outdated and harmful sections regarding acceptable expression that deserve public notice, if not immediate revision.” The Hoya’s editorial hit all the right notes. It not only criticized the university’s overly broad and vague prohibition (PDF) on “expression that is indecent or is grossly obscene or grossly offensive on matters such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation” but also pointed out that the prohibition conflicts directly with a robust commitment to free […]

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  • D.C. Area FIRE Supporters: Greg Lukianoff Giving Free Talk at Georgetown Tonight!

    December 5, 2013

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be speaking at Georgetown University tonight at 7 p.m. The talk is free and open to the public. Greg will discuss the current state of free expression on campus and the premise of his book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. Georgetown is a “red light” school in FIRE’s Spotlight database, which means the school has at least one speech code that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of expression. Though Georgetown is a private institution, it clearly promises students freedom of expression in its speech and expression policy. Fortunately, as we reported back in October, efforts […]

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  • Private Universities and the Conflict Between Mission and Speech

    July 15, 2013

    Madeline Gootman is a FIRE summer intern. When private universities send out their shiny pamphlets to high school seniors, they highlight their commitment to all things politically correct and otherwise acceptable in academia. However, these commitments to civility, respect, and social comfort are often at odds with the broad promises of free speech that universities make to their incoming students. Unfortunately for students, too many private universities want to have it both ways, promising students the right to free speech and then violating that right when someone’s speech proves too unpopular or controversial. Vanderbilt University’s packet for recently admitted students […]

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  • ‘Free Speech Off the Table’ at Georgetown University

    January 15, 2013

    Georgetown University’s student newspaper, The Hoya, ran a staff editorial today criticizing the university’s use of “free speech zones.” According to the paper, Georgetown held a student activities fair over the weekend at which officially recognized student groups were given space to set up tables and recruit new members. Unrecognized groups, on the other hand, were relegated to the free speech zones at Red Square or the Leavey Center. The Hoya‘s editorial is notable for several reasons. First and foremost, it is extremely heartening to see the staff of a student newspaper speak out collectively in support of greater free […]

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  • Kissel to Georgetown: Honor Commitment to Free Speech

    May 17, 2012

    FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel comments on a commencement controversy at Georgetown University in The Huffington Post today, arguing that the university should honor its commitment to free speech. Adam contrasts Georgetown’s laudable decision to stick by its promises of free expression in allowing Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to speak at commencement with the university’s past failure to provide equal treatment to pro-choice student group H*yas for Choice. As Adam notes, Georgetown’s guarantee of freedom of expression cannot be selectively applied.

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  • A Chance for Georgetown to Own Up to Its True Values

    May 4, 2010

    Is Georgetown University going to live up to its free speech promises or not? A group of pro-choice students at Georgetown, H*yas for Choice, wants equal treatment with other groups on campus, but has been told that it does not deserve equal treatment because its mission conflicts with Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit identity. That would be perfectly fine if Georgetown had not actually promised its students and faculty that free expression is fundamental to Georgetown’s own vision of its Catholic and Jesuit identity. And, it would be more understandable if Georgetown had not already provided official recognition and substantial benefits […]

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  • Adam Kissel Defends Rights of Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Students in American University Student Paper

    April 26, 2010

    In today’s edition of The Eagle, American University’s student paper, Adam Kissel offers his opinion on how individual rights transcend partisan divides. As anyone who has followed FIRE’s work knows, FIRE is proudly nonpartisan. Our staff hails from across the political and religious spectrum, and our cases demonstrate that campus censorship can strike persons of every ideological persuasion. Adam cites two current controversies: While the Supreme Court considers whether belief-based student organizations deserve equal rights on campus, two more universities have been facing this very issue. Georgetown University is facing it over a pro-choice group, the University of Arizona over […]

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  • Hitting the Nail on the Head

    February 8, 2010

    The Georgetown Heckler humor magazine says a lot about campus culture with very few words in its satirical “Other Headlines” section this month: University Moves Free Speech Zone to Undisclosed Location That about sums it up!

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  • Disruption of Petraeus Speech Draws Rebukes from Georgetown Students

    January 22, 2010

    Yesterday at Georgetown University, approximately fifteen anti-war protesters attempted to disrupt a speech and accompanying question-and-answer session with David Petraeus, current Commander of the U.S. Central Command. The Hoya reports: While his speech was originally slated to be an update address sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, after making brief remarks, Petraeus turned the event into a forum for open and candid conversation. He was cut off several times throughout the event, however, due to interruptions by protesters, who rose from their seats to read aloud names and ages of victims of the wars in Iraq and […]

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  • At Georgetown, Even Satire of Satire May Not Be Acceptable

    December 17, 2009

    If you feel like banging your head against a wall but lack the motivating force to do so, try reading this blog entry posted yesterday at Vox Populi, the staff blog of Georgetown University news magazine The Georgetown Voice. The article covers a forum prompted by the controversy over a recent issue of the satire magazine The Georgetown Heckler, which offended members of the Georgetown community over its perceived insensitivity. The issue, among other things, takes aim at a satirical April Fools’ Day issue of the student newspaper The Georgetown Hoya—which likewise was met with charges of racism from the […]

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  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Georgetown University

    January 26, 2009

    Throughout the spring semester, FIRE is drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). In the first two installments of the countdown, we described the restrictive policies at the University of California—Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Virginia, both of which receive a poor, “red light” rating from FIRE for restricting student speech. The next institution on the list is Georgetown University, another “red light” institution. Before we delve into Georgetown’s speech codes, it is important to explain why FIRE believes that Georgetown—a private, […]

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  • Georgetown Student Newspaper Under Fire for Censoring Conservative Columnist

    April 7, 2000

    The editor-in-chief of the Georgetown University’s student newspaper, The Hoya, has had a rough week. David Jung Wong, a sophomore from Hollywood, Florida, fired Robert Swope, a conservative columnist, for having angered campus feminists with his weekly op-eds. Wong was unhappy with Swope’s unrepentant politically incorrect views and took it upon himself to rid the paper of its token conservative columnist. Wong’s decision has been the subject of discussion in a number of national publications, almost exclusively by intellectually diverse and liberty-loving female authors. Cultural critic Camille Paglia, libertarian intellectual Wendy McElroy, Jewish World Review columnist Michelle Malkin, National Review‘s […]

    » Read More