Hampton University

Location: Hampton, Virginia
Website: http://www.hamptonu.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

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  • Hampton University: Gay and Lesbian Student Group Denied Recognition Without Explanation

    February 7, 2007

    For the second time in two years, Hampton University inexplicably denied official recognition to students seeking to start a gay and lesbian group on campus. The group, Students Promoting Equality, Action and Knowledge (SPEAK), contacted FIRE, which wrote a letter to Hampton on urging the university to recognize SPEAK or provide an adequate explanation for effectively banning the group from campus for the next two years.  However, Hampton remains silent on the issue.

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  • Hampton University: Punishment of Students for Literature Distribution

    December 1, 2005

    Hampton University students were not allowed to pass out literature on campus without university consent. After a student group was punished for handing out anti-Bush literature, FIRE sent a letter to Hampton, asking them to reaffirm their commitments to the First Amendment. Hampton decided not to expel the students but they were still sentenced to community service, despite Hampton’s commitment to free speech and expression.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Code of Conduct 09-10

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Each member of the Hampton Family will respect one another and visitors as if they were guests in one's home. Therefore, to accost, cajole, or proselytize students, faculty or staff, parents or others, to engage in gender and sexual harassment, use vile, obscene or abusive language or exhibit lewd behavior ... is strictly prohibited and is in direct violation of the Hampton University Code, on or off campus.

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  • Dress Code 09-10

    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes, Statement

    Examples of inappropriate dress and/or
    appearance include but are not limited to:
    ...
    6. Clothing with derogatory, offensive and/or lewd messages either in words or pictures.

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Green Light Policies
  • Code of Conduct 09-10

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Statement

    [I]t is understood that intellectual stimulation is nurtured through the sharing of ideas. Therefore, the University will maintain an open and caring environment.

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  • Hampton’s philosophy: ‘Don’t speak’

    February 26, 2007

    by Michael Paul Williams Richmond Times-Dispatch   When it comes to its students, Hampton University’s philosophy can be described as “don’t speak.” Continuing its assault on the First Amendment, the university has denied recognition to a gay and lesbian student group for the second year in a row. The group Students Promoting Equality, Action & Knowledge goes by the acronym SPEAK. Its stated mission is to serve as a bridge between the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight communities at HU. But without university recognition, it can’t officially meet or post fliers at the seaside campus. The Foundation for Individual […]

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  • Network Aims to Help Harassed Campus Conservatives

    December 26, 2005

    WASHINGTON—Though Christopher Flickinger calls himself “dean” and poses in parodistic photos waving a small American flag and looking stern, he says he’s never been more serious about eliminating what he claims is pervasive anti-conservatism on college campuses today. “When I was on campus, I had no help,” the recent Ohio State University graduate told FOXNews.com. “I was harassed, intimidated, shouted down.” Flickinger, schooled in broadcast journalism, said he wants to provide the support he never had as a lonely conservative in college. That’s why in November he launched the Network of College Conservatives to act in part as “a link […]

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  • FIRE Protests Students’ Punishment for Handing Out Anti-Bush Flyers

    December 13, 2005

    A Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) spokesman says the group is concerned about Hampton University’s commitment to free expression. In November, police officers at the Virginia school confronted seven students who were passing out flyers protesting President Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Later, the students were charged with “posting unauthorized materials” and threatened with expulsion. However, after FIRE sent a letter to Hampton University protesting its actions, the school decided not to expel the students, instead sentencing at least five and possibly all of them to 20 hours of community service each. But FIRE program manager Robert Shibley […]

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  • Clash of campus freedom, civility

    December 11, 2005

    When Tariq Khan staged a one-man demonstration against military recruiters, he felt safe because he was on a college campus. Then he was arrested. “When the police officer started to handcuff me, I was pretty surprised,” Khan said last week. “Usually we tend to think of college campuses as sort of safe havens for this type of thing, for people who want to raise consciousness about controversial issues.” Most colleges and universities, whether public or private, pride themselves on adhering to principles of free speech and expression as protected by the First Amendment. But at many schools, the practical problem […]

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  • Five HU students must do community service

    December 3, 2005

    HAMPTON—Seven Hampton University students who took part in a walkout last month will find out next week they’ll be disciplined for not getting the university’s approval for the event. But one student said he and four others received letters late Friday saying they would be required to complete 20 hours of community service. “The community service is reasonable,” said student Aaron Ray. “But what we had to go through to get to this point was not reasonable.” The 19-year-old is from Columbia, Md. Disciplinary hearings were held Friday for the students accused of violating several policies in the 2004 student […]

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  • Free Press 101

    December 1, 2003

    By Erich Wasserman at Arbiter Online

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  • Playboy’s ‘Smoking Jacket’ Covers Censorship on Campus

    December 3, 2013

    In a new article, Playboy’s website The Smoking Jacket highlights memorable examples of censorship of sexually themed speech on college campuses. The (safe-for-work!) article features eight examples from American universities and an example from an Australian university, including several from FIRE’s archives. Who could forget the 2011 incident at East Carolina University where the school fired a student newspaper advisor after the paper published an uncensored photo of a streaker? Or Hampton University’s 2006 denial of recognition to an LGBT student group? Or last year’s case from Tufts University, where several members of the men’s crew team were suspended for wearing suggestive T-shirts? Check out The Smoking Jacket for the full […]

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  • FIRE Quarterly: ‘From the Board of Directors’

    May 31, 2007

    In a new column in our most recent issue of The FIRE Quarterly (available here), Virginia Postrel, a member of our Board of Directors, explored FIRE’s efforts to ensure freedom of association for students at both public and private universities.   She wrote: Like dorm bull sessions, affiliating with campus groups helps young people define their identities and beliefs. When universities committed to freedom and equality establish procedures for recognizing student groups, they need to be even-handed and respectful of groups’ purposes. To take the most common, and absurd, example, they have to let Christian groups be Christian, defined as […]

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  • Still Waiting for Answers from Hampton

    March 6, 2007

    Hampton University’s denial of recognition to a gay and lesbian student group remains shrouded in mystery, with the administration’s behavior growing increasingly bizarre. On the one hand, Hampton’s Director of University Relations issued the following statement about student organizations: Hampton University has a moratorium on all new student organizations except when there is a vacancy. A vacancy may occur if an organization becomes inactive. Currently there are 90 chartered student organizations. When there is a vacancy, the Student Affairs Council, made up of student affairs staff, faculty and students, evaluates the applications of new organizations on a first come first […]

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  • The Importance of Truth in Advertising

    February 27, 2007

    Here at FIRE, when we talk about the obligations of private universities to protect students’ individual rights, what we most often talk about is the importance of truth in advertising. As private institutions, private colleges and universities have the right to define themselves as they see fit. However, once a university defines itself in a certain way—for example, as an institution that values freedom and equality—it must honor its promises to students who have chosen to attend that university based on its particular self-definition.   Currently, FIRE is challenging Hampton University—which recently denied recognition to a gay and lesbian student […]

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  • ‘Inside Higher Ed,’ ‘Richmond Times-Dispatch’ Cover Hampton Case

    February 26, 2007

    Inside Higher Ed has an article today concisely summarizing FIRE’s latest case at Hampton University, where a gay and lesbian student group—Students Promoting Equality, Action and Knowledge (SPEAK)—was denied recognition with no explanation. The article says in part: The university’s code of conduct states that the university will “support equal rights and opportunities for all regardless of age, sex, race, religion, disability, ethnic heritage, socio-economic status, political, social, or other affiliation or disaffiliation, or sexual preference.” Greg Lukianoff, president of the nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which was contacted by SPEAK, said Hampton has a pattern of squelching […]

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  • No room for a gay group

    February 26, 2007

    Jessica Smith is tired of the phrase “unofficial status.” The Hampton University junior wants to post fliers, instead of relying on word of mouth, when planning events for Students Promoting Equality, Action & Knowledge, a group whose stated mission is to “serve as a bridge between the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight communities.” But for now, Smith has to settle for the status quo. Hampton has denied official recognition to the group, called SPEAK. The news caused members to question the university’s motives. “Everyone is disappointed, but we’ve all become accustomed to the system here and our hopes weren’t […]

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  • Hampton University Says ‘No’ to Gay and Lesbian Student Group

    February 22, 2007

    Students at Hampton University have been trying to start a gay and lesbian group for as long as current students can remember. The university denied a group in the 2004-2005 school year, and this past December Hampton shot down Students Promoting Education, Action and Knowledge (SPEAK). As our press release today explains, SPEAK was given absolutely no explanation about the rejection, receiving a letter stating only that “[y]our organizations [sic] proposal was not selected at this time.”   No gay and lesbian group exists at Hampton, despite the fact that 54 students have expressed interest in joining SPEAK if it […]

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  • Hampton University Denies Recognition to Gay and Lesbian Student Group Without Explanation

    February 22, 2007

    HAMPTON, Va., February 22, 2007—For the second time in two years, Hampton University has inexplicably denied official recognition to students seeking to start a gay and lesbian group on campus. The group, Students Promoting Equality, Action and Knowledge (SPEAK), contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which is calling on Hampton to either explain or reverse its decision. “Denying students the right to form an organization is a serious action, and warrants a serious explanation,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “Hampton’s silence on the decision has left students, alumni, and the public wondering whether the denial was legitimate […]

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  • Hampton’s at It Again

    January 10, 2006

    Sunday’s Hampton Roads Daily Press features a letter from Bennie G. McMorris, the vice president of student affairs at Hampton University. Back in November, FIRE intervened when Hampton prosecuted students who dared to stand in Hampton’s student center at lunch time and hand out flyers about progressive social issues while talking to interested students. The flyer distributors were charged with (1) engaging in “actions to cajole or proselytize students,” (2) violating the Policy on Student Demonstrations, and (3) violating the Policy on the Distribution of Unauthorized Materials. The students were found guilty of these violations, but, after vast public outcry, […]

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  • Hampton Administrators Need a Civics Lesson

    December 12, 2005

    Recently at Hampton University, seven students were punished for distributing anti-Bush flyers without the approval of the university administration. As discussed in FIRE’s Guide to Free Speech on Campus, private universities generally have broad discretion when establishing policies that restrict speech on campus. But this power is not always unchecked.   State constitutions usually take a back seat when we discuss civil liberties, but some state courts have interpreted their constitutions to guarantee more freedom than the U.S. Constitution. Hampton administrators should read Article I, Section 12, of the Constitution of Virginia, which states in part: That the freedoms of […]

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  • Treating Students as Adults? What a Concept!

    December 12, 2005

    Roger Chesley has an excellent editorial in today’s Virginian-Pilot about FIRE’s case at Hampton University—where, you will recall, several students were threatened with expulsion for daring to hold an anti-Bush protest. Here’s how it begins: For an institution so heavily preoccupied with its image, Hampton University administrators continue to step into public relations nightmares. If they would ease the reins on students just a little, the university would avoid unwelcome press coverage and mollify the individuals forking over thousands of dollars in tuition.   That’s not too steep a price for HU to pay. And it would treat the people […]

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  • Hampton Doesn’t Go Far Enough

    December 6, 2005

    Seven Hampton University students endured disciplinary hearings last Friday after they distributed anti-Bush literature to the student community in an attempt to raise awareness of issues such as the crisis in Iraq and genocide in the Sudan. Hampton had threatened the students with expulsion for “cajoling,” “proselytizing,” and distributing unauthorized materials. After protests from FIRE and other groups, the five students were thankfully not expelled, but they have been assigned 20 hours of community service, and the other two will likely receive the same. As student Aaron Jay has said, “The community service is reasonable…but what we had to go […]

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  • Partial Victory for Free Speech at Hampton

    December 6, 2005

    HAMPTON, Va., December 6, 2005—Hampton University in Virginia has decided not to expel at least five of seven students for passing out anti-Bush flyers without university approval. Hampton students’ ability to pass out literature without university censorship was the subject of a letter sent by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to Hampton late last week. “While we are relieved that the students were not expelled merely for passing out flyers, the fact that Hampton punished the students at all contradicts its alleged commitment to free speech,” remarked FIRE President David French. Seven students at the private institution […]

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  • College News Roundup

    December 5, 2005

    [Note: This Columbia Spectator article incorrectly idenitified Hampton University as “Howard University.”] [Hampton] University heard the case of seven students charged with distributing unauthorized flyers, holding an unapproved protest, and proselytizing to students on Friday morning. The university will announce how it plans to punish these students next week, though five of them have already been assigned 20 hours of community service. The seven students were part of a group of 20 that handed out flyers about the Iraq war, the genocide in Darfur, and other political issues as part of a campaign by the World Can’t Wait, a national […]

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  • HU parents breathe sigh of relief

    December 4, 2005

    As a parent who sent a kid away to college, I felt the collected exhale of the parents who learned that their Hampton University students wouldn’t be expelled. The students had their hearings Friday. But on Thursday, Bennie McMorris, the university’s vice president for student affairs, confirmed they wouldn’t be sent home. Instead of getting paddled out the door, they would get a “slap on the wrist” for a “minor offense.” That’s the outcome I predicted to Arthur and Tanya Ray last week. They are the parents of Aaron Ray, one of the students who received a letter about an […]

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  • The Moment of Truth at Hampton University

    December 1, 2005

    On November 2, students at colleges across the country protested the war in Iraq by walking out of classes. Some students at Hampton University, however, thought that it would be more responsible to provide their fellow students with information on issues they consider important. So at noon, about 20 students gathered in the Student Center and began passing out flyers on the war in Iraq, the crisis in the Sudan, and the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina. Passers-by who expressed interest in these issues freely engaged the distributors in conversation. One student involved says that things went peacefully and that the […]

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