Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Federal Circuit: 3rd Circuit
Gettysburg College 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.
August 17, 2002
After more than a year of public pressure from FIRE, Gettysburg College amended its controversial Sexual Misconduct Policy. Gettysburg students are now free from the draconian policy, which failed to distinguish between an innocent, spontaneous hug and forcible rape. The school’s old Sexual Misconduct Policy infringed on students’ rights to due process and fundamental fairness. Despite months of agreeing to undertake an administrative review and revision of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, Gettysburg continued to maintain it. In response, FIRE added Gettysburg to its Red Alert list, where FIRE highlights the “worst of the worst” offenders against liberty on campus. In […]» Read More
Red Light Policies
Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment and Sexually Inappropriate Behaviors 13-14
Gettysburg College prohibits all sexual misconduct, sexual harassment and sexually inappropriate behavior. …
C. Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances or threats, deliberate or careless use of offensive or demeaning terms that have sexual connotations or are gender-based, repeated and unwelcome requests for sexual favors or a romantic relationship, repeated and unwelcome letters, phone calls, or e-mails of a sexual or romantic nature, sexually motivated physical contact, or other verbal, electronic, or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature.
D. Sexually inappropriate behavior: Includes behaviors which may not rise to the level of sexual harassment but is still sexual in nature. For example conduct that may be an isolated occurrence or rude, obscene or sexually suggestive gestures or communication. Disrobing or exposure of one’s self to another person without that person’s consent is another example.
Gettysburg College prohibits the behaviors and conduct described below.
Inappropriate Bias Behaviors
An Inappropriate bias behavior is defined as an act (speech, written or verbal, or conduct) targeted at a person or group creating what the College deems an insensitive or unwelcoming environment on the basis of actual or perceived identity/expression, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or ability status. Inappropriate bias behaviors may consist of name calling, epithets, slurs, or degrading language, directed toward the targeted person or group. Inappropriate bias behaviors may occur whether the act is intentional or unintentional or is targeted at an individual or group. Acts may qualify as an inappropriate bias behavior even when delivered with humorous intent or presented as a joke or prank.
Examples might include, but are not limited to:
- Theme parties that denigrate specific groups
- The intentional exposure of someone’s sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression when the person wants that information to remain unknown
- Name-calling, stereotyping, avoiding or excluding others based on perceived or actual identity
- Derogatory jokes, verbal or written comments
- Racial, religious, or ethnic slurs, verbal or written comments about one’s sexual orientation or ability status
Conduct that is threatening, harassing, intimidating, or discriminatory, is a conduct violation. When paired with inappropriate bias behaviors, it is a conduct violation in addition to a bias conduct. Bias conduct may take the form of but are not limited to the following:
- Graffiti or degrading images
- Use of sidewalk chalk, spray paint, markers, or any other utensil used to graffiti.
- Anti-religious symbols, derogatory drawings, or pictures
- Exclusion from participation
- Threats or harassment
- Acts that create what the College deems an unsafe environment
- Hate Speech
a. Expression of hatred for some group, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence.
[A]ll members of the community are expected to engage in civil discourse, reasoned thought, sustained discussion and constructive participation without degrading, abusing or silencing others. … Behavior that violates these standards is considered a serious breach of
responsibility and the College will determine an appropriate response; which may include mediation, public forum or other educational means.
Any student found to have committed or to have attempted to commit the following misconduct is subject to the disciplinary sanctions outlined in Article IV: …
Physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion, or conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person.
Use of computing facilities and resources to send or intentionally receive obscene or abusive messages.
YOU HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY to act respectfully toward members of the college community, which means NOT participating in behaviors that are harassing, intimidating, demeaning, violent, abusive or without consent.
Harassment includes any written, verbal or physical acts (including electronically transmitted acts) that is reasonably perceived as creating an intimidating, or hostile work, learning or living environment, particularly if questionable behavior is repeated and/or if it continues after the offending party is informed of the objectionable and/or inappropriate nature of the behavior. Harassment can be a single, serious incident or a series of related, repeated incidents. Harassment is measured by the impact of the behavior, rather than the intent of the harasser.
Examples of Harassment
Might include but are not limited to:
- Making repeated suggestive or derogatory comments, jokes, or gestures about someone’s actual or perceived identity/expression, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or ability status. This can include comments indirectly related to the person’s group membership, such as comments about ethnic food, body shape or appearance, or derogatory slang.
- Unwelcome staring, or advances, or persistent, unwanted contact such as repeated requests to meet or talk, or refusing to accept that a consensual relationship has ended by following, phoning, watching, etc. (This conduct can be so severe as to constitute stalking, which is a criminal act.)
- Displaying or distributing racist, sexist or homophobic graffiti, cartoons, posters, email, screen-savers, etc.
- Ridiculing or mimicking a person’s accent or speech impediment
- Cyber-harassment (including harassment via social media, email, text, or other forms of electronic communication).
Personal Harassment and Bullying
Although bullying does not rise to the level of harassment, the College believes that these behaviors are inappropriate and inconsistent with our mission. In addition, these are hurtful behaviors that interfere with the right for those in our community to live in an environment conducive to learning. Bullying is unwelcome or unreasonable behavior that demeans, offends, or humiliates people either as individuals or as a group. Bullying behavior is often persistent and part of a pattern, but it can also occur as a single incident. It is usually carried out by an individual but can also be an aspect of group behavior.
“Mobbing” is a particular type of bullying behavior carried out by a group rather than by an individual. Mobbing is the bullying or social isolation of a person through collective unjustified accusations, humiliation, general harassment, or emotional abuse. Although it is group behavior, specific incidents such as an insult or a practical joke may be carried out by an individual as part of mobbing behavior.
Examples of Bullying
Performed alone or in a group might include but are not limited to:
- Name calling, insults, physical gestures.
- Playing hurtful or malicious jokes to embarrass.
- Encouraging others to exclude socially someone; spreading rumors or lying that damages someone’s social reputation or social acceptance.
- Cyber-bullying (including bullying via social media, email, text, or other forms of electronic communication).
Gettysburg College subscribes to the wisdom in the words of Justice Louis D. Brandeis:
“If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” (Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 1927).
Free inquiry and expression are indispensable elements in the achievement of the goals of this academic community. It is therefore expected that diverse views will be voiced throughout the community, including those that may be offensive.
Protection from Harassment: All members of the College community are encouraged to communicate differing perspectives. Community members are also, however, entitled to work and live in an environment free of harassment. Therefore any network activity that violates the College’s harassment policy is prohibited. Defamatory remarks and obscenity are also prohibited. The use of overt profanity is strongly discouraged.
Gettysburg College encourages a free and open forum for personal expression. This includes viewpoints that are unorthodox or unpopular.
August 26, 2007
Gettysburg College’s sexual misconduct policy, which was criticized by a group called FIRE last year, has been revised. Greg Lukianoff, president of FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said the group took issue with vague wording in the college’s previous sexual misconduct policy, which drew no distinction between a hug and sex crimes. “When colleges pass codes so broad, every student can be found guilty of violating it on a regular basis,” Lukianoff said. “It leaves it up to the discretion of the school to enforce the policy as they chose.” The group, a nonpartisan organization that monitors […]» Read More
August 24, 2007
Gettysburg College’s sexual misconduct policy, which was criticized by a group called FIRE last year, has been revised. FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is a nonpartisan organization that monitors educational institutions and civil rights, said organization President Greg Lukianoff. He said the group took issue with vague wording in the college’s previous sexual misconduct policy drawing no distinction between a hug and sex crimes. “When colleges pass codes so broad, every student can be found guilty of violating it on a regular basis,” Lukianoff said. “It leaves it up to the discretion of the school to enforce […]» Read More
August 23, 2007
You know a way to make it more likely to catch sex offenders? Make the definition of “sex offense” so broad that virtually any physical contact counts as sexual assault. Then whenever anyone is accused of a sex offense the authorities can find them guilty at their discretion. Sure, it means that a good number of innocent people will probably be found guilty of one of the most horrible crimes one person can commit against another, but it definitely would make prosecutions easier! If this sounds problematic to you (and, boy, I hope it does, or else the republic is […]» Read More
August 23, 2007
Gettysburg College has revised its sexual misconduct policy more than a year after it was criticized by a nonprofit foundation as being too broad and arbitrary. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which advocates for free speech issues on college campuses, objected to the policy in May 2006 because it listed several actions, including patting, hugging and kissing, as examples of sexual misconduct. Under the new policy, the definition simply defines sexual misconduct as “deliberate physical contact of a sexual nature without the other person’s consent.” “According to the old, ludicrous policy, practically every person at Gettysburg College was […]» Read More
June 21, 2006
You know a possible way to lower the murder rate in this country? Simply declare all 16- to 24-year-olds — the age group that commits the most murders — to be murderers. We wouldn’t have to put this whole population behind bars, mind you, but anytime someone was murdered we could lock up everyone in that age group who had been near the murder scene. After all, they have been declared guilty by virtue of their age. Yes, this may mean that hundreds of thousands of innocent people might go to jail, but such actions would make it more likely […]» Read More
June 9, 2006
It’s best not to hug anyone at Gettysburg College. At least not unless you want to get charged with sexual misconduct. Maybe Gettysburg administrators didn’t watch enough Care Bears when they were children. Maybe they were victims of drive-by huggings. Whatever their motivation, the result is an overbroad sexual misconduct policy which makes no distinction between rape and a spontaneous hug. The controversial policy, being challenged by the free speech watch-dog group the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), sets the parameters for acceptable sexual contact. There needs to be consent, which it defines as “the act of willingly […]» Read More
May 22, 2006
IN THE EARLY 1990s, in the midst of a national debate about feminism, sexual relationships, and sexual violence, the media discovered an unusual sexual conduct policy at Antioch College, a small liberal arts school in Ohio. The policy, adopted in response to complaints from a group called Womyn of Antioch about not enough being done to stop date rape on campus, mandated explicit verbal consent every step of the way in a sexual encounter — from undoing a button to sexual intercourse. At the time, it elicited a lot of mockery. But while the debate has gone away, the mindset […]» Read More
May 13, 2006
by Steve Marroni The Evening Sun Both Gettysburg College and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education agree there is a world of difference between a hug and sexual assault. But how to enforce the issue of consent is a point of contention. The organization, which uses the acronym FIRE, is challenging Gettysburg College’s sexual misconduct policy. FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation in Philadelphia that monitors issues such as individual rights, due process and freedom of expression at the nation’s colleges. The crux of the policy, according to college administration, is consent. FIRE says the issue of consent is […]» Read More
May 12, 2006
An impulsive hug could land a student in serious trouble at Gettysburg College, or at least that is the interpretation of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which yesterday challenged the school to change its “arbitrary and overbroad” sexual misconduct policy. Most colleges have such policies, but Gettysburg’s is unusual in identifying “physical contact of a lewd type such as brushing, touching, grabbing, pinching, patting, hugging and kissing” as violations. Gettysburg also requires that verbal consent be given before engaging in sexual conduct, reminiscent of a policy at Antioch College in Ohio that became the butt of late-night television […]» Read More
May 18, 2011
In light of FIRE’s ongoing efforts to highlight concerns raised by the lowered due process protections mandated by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault, it is fitting to review our 2006 campaign against Gettysburg College’s sexual misconduct policy. The old Gettysburg policy’s draconian restrictions are a key example of how university harassment and sexual misconduct policies provide the opportunity for administrative abuse-something that will be made even more likely under OCR’s newly required “preponderance of the evidence” standard for adjudicating these cases. FIRE became involved at Gettysburg in May […]» Read More
August 24, 2007
While students were away for the summer, enjoying beaches and lazy days, the struggle to protect student rights on campus continued. For those just coming back from summer break, here is a review of some of the major student rights cases that you might have missed. Seniors Need Not Sue In a disappointing decision, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case of Lane v. Simon that once a student graduates they lack standing to continue a lawsuit. This decision could have dangerous implications, especially for students about to graduate, since it can take years for lawsuits to wind […]» Read More
August 24, 2007
Gettysburg College’s long-overdue decision to revise its sexual misconduct policy continues to garner media attention. Today, The Evening Sun (which serves the Greater Hanover and Gettysburg areas) reported on the change. FIRE President Greg Lukianoff told the paper that, with regard to the old policy, “[w]hen colleges pass codes so broad, every student can be found guilty of violating it on a regular basis. It leaves it up to the discretion of the school to enforce the policy as they choose.” The new policy, by contrast, is much clearer. Julie Ramsey, Gettysburg’s vice president for student life, told the paper […]» Read More
August 23, 2007
Check out my blog post today on Gettysburg College’s reform of its “hug at your own risk” policy over at The Huffington Post: You know a way to make it more likely to catch sex offenders? Make the definition of “sex offense” so broad that virtually any physical contact counts as sexual assault. Then whenever anyone is accused of a sex offense the authorities can find them guilty at their discretion. Sure, it means that a good number of innocent people will probably be found guilty of one of the most horrible crimes one person can commit against another, but […]» Read More
August 23, 2007
In just a few minutes, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be discussing the Gettysburg case on WHP 580 Talk Radio. You can listen live online by going to http://www.whp580.com/main.html and clicking on WHP Live on the upper right hand side of the screen.» Read More
August 23, 2007
The Associated Press is reporting about FIRE’s announcement yesterday that Gettysburg College has finally rewritten its Sexual Misconduct Policy. The AP writes: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which advocates for free speech issues on college campuses, objected to the policy in May 2006 because it listed several actions, including patting, hugging and kissing, as examples of sexual misconduct. […] The foundation also contended that the policy previously required verbal consent for each stage of a sexual encounter. The policy said that if “either person…does not give continuing and active consent, all sexual contact must cease, even if […]» Read More
August 22, 2007
FIRE’s press release today celebrates victory at Gettysburg College, which has finally put an end to its Sexual Misconduct Policy more than a year after FIRE first took the case public. The policy was so broadly written that nearly every student on campus violated it on a regular basis. Gettysburg applied the term “sexual misconduct” to not only forced sexual acts but to any “brushing, touching, grabbing, pinching, patting, hugging, and kissing” performed without constant and continual verbal consent. This policy is worse than the one that made Antioch College famous in the early 1990s when it first introduced […]» Read More
July 26, 2007
Today, Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania joins Johns Hopkins and Tufts on FIRE’s Red Alert list. As we explained in a press release last month, a place on the Red Alert list is “an ignominious distinction awarded to those institutions of higher education that have shown particularly severe and ongoing disregard for their contractual or constitutional commitments to uphold the fundamental rights of students and faculty.” If a school is on FIRE’s Red Alert list, it means FIRE thinks that prospective students and parents should seriously consider the very real threat to student rights on that campus before deciding to attend […]» Read More
June 15, 2007
As Emily mentioned yesterday, Antioch University, in my home state of Ohio, is closing the doors of its main undergraduate campus (called Antioch College). Even living in Ohio, few people knew much about Antioch with the exception of a short time in the 1990s when the college became nationally known for its bizarre sexual offense prevention policy. Adopted in 1991 at the prompting of the “Womyn of Antioch,” the consent requirements for this policy made news because they are virtually impossible to fulfill—but to fail to do so was a sexual offense. Here’s the consent section of the policy that […]» Read More
June 14, 2007
An article in yesterday’s Inside Higher Ed reports the closure of the main undergraduate college of Antioch University due to low enrollment and a small endowment, stating that the school’s total enrollment had dropped down to just over 300 students for the upcoming semester. Through the years, Antioch had become known for its drastic measures to enforce a politically correct climate on campus, illustrated perfectly by a policy enacted in the 1990s requiring explicit verbal consent before any sexual act. We can’t help but wonder if students wised up to Antioch’s well-known tactics and began to choose other institutions […]» Read More
May 16, 2007
One year ago this week FIRE announced: GETTYSBURG, Pa., May 11, 2006—Gettysburg College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy is so broad in scope that it draws no distinction between an innocent, spontaneous hug and forcible rape. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is calling for the repeal of this draconian policy, which prohibits most, if not all, of the sexual and even merely affectionate relations that take place on Gettysburg’s campus. As we pointed out at the time: “This policy can turn almost any student at Gettysburg into a criminal,” stated FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “In its quest to rid […]» Read More
November 14, 2006
On November 3, 2006, FIRE sent a follow-up letter to Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania encouraging the school to keep its promise to rewrite its Sexual Misconduct Policy as stated in a mass e-mail sent to the student body on October 29, 2006. FIRE pointed out that the primary problem with the policy was its extraordinary overbreadth, noting that “[t]he current policy makes almost every member of the campus community a sexual offender…(it) places acts of true sexual assault in the same group as innocuous everyday acts, such as hugs without permission.” The exact wording of the offending part of […]» Read More
November 7, 2006
On Phi Beta Cons today, Carol Iannone criticizes FIRE’s reaction to the Halloween party picture of University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann with Saad Saadi, a Penn student who dressed as a suicide bomber for Halloween. Iannone says, in part: Contrary to the libertarian view, a good, free, ordered society does not simply proceed on its own. And I am shocked at conservatives and at FIRE for giving her a pass, and chalking up the costume to the ‘freedom’ they fear will somehow be curtailed if persons in authority are asked to stand for civil behavior, and likening the costume […]» Read More
June 30, 2006
Two days ago, David French had a great post over at National Review’s Phi Beta Cons about Larry Ellison’s decision to rescind his $115 million gift to Harvard University following the Larry Summers fiasco. I have consistently been amazed at how wealthy alums give to their alma maters uncritically and almost as if they had no choice in the matter. The most extreme version of this that I have been exposed to was at a speech in New York City, when an audience member stood up and said (this is far from an exact quote, but it gets the point […]» Read More
May 22, 2006
Check out Cathy Young’s column in today’s Boston Globe about Gettysburg College’s dangerously overbroad Sexual Misconduct policy: [T]he requirement of ensuring an explicit ‘‘yes” takes the campaign against sexual assault to a new and absurd level. For one thing, it infantilizes women (while the policies may be gender-neutral on their face, they generally presume men to be the initiators in heterosexual encounters). Are women so weak that they can’t even say ‘‘no,” or otherwise indicate their lack of consent, unless the man takes the initiative of asking? Such policies also absurdly overregulate sexual relations—particularly since they often require verbal […]» Read More
May 17, 2006
FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be featured tonight on the Fox Report with Shepard Smith at 7 p.m. ET. Fox News will be airing a segment on the overbroad sexual misconduct policy at Gettysburg College. Make sure to watch tonight to see more on the betrayal of liberty at Gettysburg College.» Read More
May 15, 2006
Hans Bader, Counsel for Special Projects at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, sent me this comment on the overbroad sexual misconduct policy at Gettysburg College. It’s worth noting that the Antioch and Gettysburg college policies requiring express consent for touching of any kind essentially treat only prostitution as an appropriate relationship, since only prostitutes and johns haggle over every touch and every specific sex act to engage in. I don’t ask my wife for permission before I hug or kiss her. And she’d die of embarrassment if I asked her explicitly in advance what she wanted to do in the […]» Read More
May 12, 2006
Check out this article in The Philadelphia Inquirer about FIRE’s challenge to Gettysburg College’s absurd and unfair sexual misconduct policy. In the article, Gettysburg essentially admits that not only does the policy exist, but it is enforced. As I said in the article, “[t]hey’re saying: ‘Yes we know we’ve written a code so broad that people will violate on a daily basis but trust us we won’t abuse it.’” It’s lunacy to trust administrators—or anyone else—with the power to punish anyone they like on the promise they won’t abuse it. To assume such an arrangement will work in a […]» Read More