Northern Arizona University

Location: Flagstaff, Arizona
Website: http://www.nau.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Northern Arizona 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

  • Safe Working and Learning Environment Policy: Discrimination 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment of an individual on the basis of that individual’s actual or perceived race, sex, age, color, national origin, religion, disability, veteran status or sexual orientation is also prohibited under this policy. Prohibited harassment includes, but is not limited to, stereotyping, negative comments or jokes, explicit threats, segregation, and verbal or physical assault when any of these are based upon a person’s race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation. When these harassing behaviors become severe, pervasive or persistent, they may also violate Federal and State law.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Rules and Regulations- Advertising/Information Distribution Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies

    Students, student organizations, and non-profit community interest groups distributing literature by hand or otherwise must complete a solicitation permit available in the Office of Student Life. … Advertisements, posters, flyers, etc. shall be in good taste and not depict portrayals that are demeaning or discriminatory to any individual or group(s) of persons.

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  • Network Acceptable Use Policy for Students 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Misuse of computing resources includes, but is not limited to, the following:

    Using University computer networking systems and resources for obscene purposes or in a pervasively profane manner, including but not limited to use which may bring into public disrepute the University’s identity and image as a tolerant and serious institution of higher learning.

    Using these resources in a manner, or with the intention, to inflict mental harassment, to intimidate, or to invade the privacy of any particular individual in a manner that is extreme or outrageous in the sense of being intolerable to reasonable members of a civilized society and which, in the case of other students, faculty, staff, administrators or members of the University, interferes with their ability to exercise their rights to participate fully in the purpose, mission, education, and life of the University.

    Using these resources to threaten any particular individual with violence, to engage in that which naturally and directly tends to provoke acts of violence, or a breach of the peace by the person to whom, individually, the conduct or remarks are addressed.

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  • Student Handbook: Statement Regarding Assembly 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    Prior to sponsoring a rally, demonstration, march or other group event, the organization representative must complete the appropriate Permit (which is available in the Office of Student Life, Room 105 of the University Union). … The Permit must be reviewed by a member of the Office of Student Life. Prior to approval, a Dean will meet with the individual(s) requesting the permit. It is at this meeting that such issues as dates, times and location will be discussed.

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  • Standards of Residence: Residence Hall Conduct Handbook 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies

    [E]ach resident who chooses to express his or her creativity, via his or her window or door, assumes the responsibility for balancing his or her personal tastes with the image of the total community. Controversial or antagonistic materials may draw personal confrontations from others within the community who may be offended by the content. The following recommendation is offered to residents who choose to place signs or decorations on their windows or doors. Signs, posters and/or decorations should be appropriate for public viewing and in keeping with good taste.

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  • Student Handbook: Rules and Regulations- Student Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes

    The university reserves the right, on the recommendation of the Dean of Students (designee) to terminate at any time the enrollment of a student who proves to be an undesirable member of the student body.

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Green Light Policies
  • Safe Working and Learning Environment Policy: Sexual Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: … such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work, education, or participation in Board or university activities or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

    Following are some examples of behavior that could constitute sexual harassment if proven to be unwelcome and, if by their severity, pervasiveness, or persistence create an environment that is, by the standard of a reasonable person, hostile and/or intimidating:

    • verbal – jokes, comments, requests, or questions of a sexual nature
    • non-verbal – whistling, staring at body parts, blocking someone’s entrance or exit from a space, gestures of a sexual nature
    • physical – touching, patting, pinching, slapping, rubbing or any physical contact that is uninvited or offensive
    • visual – photos, posters, calendars, jokes, cartoons, memos, letters, or notices of a sexual nature which are placed in or on university property, premises, vehicles or other work or study locations of the university
    • electronic – telephone, facsimile or e-mail communication of a sexual nature that is unwelcome or offensive.

    This list of examples is not exhaustive.

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  • Student Handbook: Statement Regarding Assembly 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    The right to freedom of expression is protected by the First Amendment and is upheld by the Arizona Board of Regents and Northern Arizona University. Northern Arizona University supports the free expression of individual and group views on a variety of topics. The creation and maintenance of productive environments within which this expression and exchange of ideas can take place is an important mission for the university. While the issues and topics may vary and at times be controversial, it is the expectation of the university that members of the university community (students, faculty, staff, and guests) would respect the right of others to freely express their opinions, beliefs and views.

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  • Arizona Board of Regents Student Code of Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Engaging repeated or significant behavior toward another individual, whether in person, in writing, or through electronic means, after having been asked to stop, or doing so to such a degree that a reasonable person, subject to such contact, would regard the contact as unwanted.

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  • Commemorate 9/11 on campus? Not without a permit!

    September 13, 2011

    In the immediate aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001, one of the few places it was controversial to display the American flag — a symbol of unity in that terrifying time — was on America’s college campuses. Ten years later, it still is. Last Friday, three college conservatives at Northern Arizona University (NAU) gathered in the student union to pass out small American flags in remembrance of 9/11. They were indoors, against the wall of a large room, because it was raining outside. Wisely, they also brought a video camera. It wasn’t long before an administrator approached them […]

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  • University Plans to Install Electronic Sensors to Track Class Attendance

    May 5, 2010

    A plan to electronically track attendance at an Arizona university is being framed as a way to encourage going to class and participation, but privacy experts and some students are wary the technology could become a security and privacy concern. Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, will start using “proximity card readers” in some lower-division classes in fall 2010, to record student attendance, said NAU Spokesman Tom Bauer. Using $85,000 in federal stimulus funds, the university hopes such a tool will push professors to incorporate attendance in their grading systems, he said. “I think there’s a misunderstanding of what this […]

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  • NAU speech code unconstitutional

    November 30, 2005

    Northern Arizona University is getting some unwanted publicity for its speech code that violates the U.S. Constitution. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in October singled out the Flagstaff school for its ironically titled “Speech Code of the Month” award. And a recent Goldwater Institute e-mail newsletter carried this headline: “First Amendment on Spring Break at NAU.” I seldom agree with Goldwater, but this time the institute is right. NAU’s nine-page “Safe Working and Learning Environment Policy” states: “Prohibited harassment includes, but is not limited to, stereotyping, negative comments or jokes, explicit threats, segregation, and verbal or physical assault […]

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  • Capsule comments

    November 19, 2005

    Northern Arizona University has adopted a speech code that prohibits “stereotyping” and “negative comments and jokes.” According to the Goldwater Institute, the code also includes a list of prohibited topics that might be offensive, such as veteran status or sexual orientation. While it is laudable to protect students, faculty members and staffers from harassment, the First Amendment remains in effect, and it doesn’t bar offensive speech. A less sweeping speech code is more appropriate for this public university.

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  • First Amendment on Spring Break at NAU

    November 17, 2005

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) recognized Northern Arizona University (NAU) as the October 2005 “winner” of its Speech Code of the Month award. Please hold your applause, though – the award is given to colleges whose speech codes run afoul of the First Amendment. The speech code prohibits “stereotyping” and “negative comments and jokes.” It also includes a laundry list of prohibited topics that might be offensive, such as one’s veteran status or sexual orientation. Yet, the First Amendment protects all sorts of speech – including crude and offensive comments. With its vague language and broad sweep, […]

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  • Editorial: NAU’s restrictive speech code is an unconstitutional disgrace

    October 30, 2005

    East Valley Tribune Northern Arizona University has received some dubious recognition for its clumsy efforts to stamp out incivility and bias among students with a speech code that clearly violates the First Amendment. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (www.thefire.org) has singled out NAU’s “Safe Working and Learning Environment Policy” for its Speech Code of the Month award for October. FIRE has been challenging campus speech codes around the country in recent years, as student activists and compliant administrators have tried to prohibit actions and speech that some find offensive. The NAU policy states that “[p]rohibited harassment includes, but […]

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  • Student Spotlight: Beth Baumann, Championing Free Speech at Northern Arizona University

    July 11, 2014

    In September 2011, when Beth Baumann of Northern Arizona University (NAU) made plans to commemorate the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, she never expected to be shut down by her school. After all, who would stop students from handing out miniature American flags, pins, and bumper stickers? But when inclement weather forced her and two compatriots to move their commemoration from the courtyard outside of the student union into the building itself, they unknowingly exited the school’s free speech zone.

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  • Speech Codes of the Year: 2005

    December 29, 2005

    An outrageous number of colleges and universities severely restrict their students’ expressive rights—so many that researching and analyzing these restrictions is my full-time job. As 2005 draws to a close, I would like to highlight just a few of the particularly outrageous (but, sadly, quite common) restrictions that I found in the course of my research this year. These institutions should be ashamed of themselves. Stevens Institute of Technology provides students with a laundry list of behaviors that constitute sexual harassment, including “sexist jokes,” “comments regarding a person’s attire,” “displaying or discussing materials pertaining to males or females in a […]

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  • Beating the Drum in Arizona

    December 1, 2005

    Back in October, Northern Arizona University “won” the distinction of being named FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month. Not surprisingly, that earned the university some bad publicity, including a newspaper editorial appropriately titled “NAU’s restrictive speech code is an unconstitutional disgrace.” And it turns out NAU’s time in the hot seat isn’t over. Its deplorable speech code was denounced just yesterday in the Arizona Daily Star. Here is a snippet of Jim Kiser’s excellent editorial: NAU’s nine-page “Safe Working and Learning Environment Policy” states: “Prohibited harassment includes, but is not limited to, stereotyping, negative comments or jokes, explicit threats, segregation, […]

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  • Hey, Derek Zoolander: Stay away from Flagstaff!

    November 16, 2005

    Remember Derek Zoolander? Many college students do. He is Ben Stiller’s character in the 2001 comedy “Zoolander.” And it’s a good thing he didn’t attend Northern Arizona University. At one point in the movie, Derek says, “Rufus, Brint, and Meekus were like brothers to me. And when I say brother, I don’t mean, like, an actual brother, but I mean it like the way black people use it. Which is more meaningful, I think.” To most people, that’s funny. To NAU, that would be harassment. Let me explain. NAU’s “Safe Working and Learning Policy”  recently earned the dubious distinction of […]

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  • Editorial Board Denounces ‘Speech Code of the Month’ School

    November 1, 2005

    Troy University isn’t the only place where ghoulish speech codes are under assault from the forces of light and truth this Halloween. FIRE is happy to report that last Sunday, the East Valley Tribune editorialized against Northern Arizona University’s speech code, which was FIRE’s “Speech Code of the Month” in October. The whole editorial, appropriately titled “NAU’s restrictive speech code is an unconstitutional disgrace,” is worth reading: Northern Arizona University has received some dubious recognition for its clumsy efforts to stamp out incivility and bias among students with a speech code that clearly violates the First Amendment. The Foundation for […]

    » Read More
  • Speech Code of the Month: Northern Arizona University

    September 30, 2005

    FIRE announces the Speech Code of the Month for October 2005: Northern Arizona University. \Northern Arizona University, a public institution, maintains a Safe Working and Learning Environment Policy providing that “[p]rohibited harassment includes, but is not limited to, stereotyping, negative comments or jokes, explicit threats, segregation, and verbal or physical assault when any of these are based upon a person’s race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation. When these harassing behaviors become severe, pervasive or persistent, they may also violate Federal and State law” (emphasis added). Not only does this policy explicitly prohibit constitutionally […]

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