Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, Illinois
Website: http://www.northwestern.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 7th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Northwestern University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more here.

This school does not have any cases at this time.
Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Statement of Community Principles and Values 12-13

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

    Civility and respect are expected behaviors.

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  • Student Handbook: Residence Hall Rules and Regulations 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies, Statement

    Signs or posters in windows or on doors must have the approval of all roommates and are subject to the approval of the University.

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  • Campus Publicity Policies and Procedures: General Policies 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies, Statement

    All posters, flyers, leaflets, and other notices must clearly state the name(s) of the sponsoring student(s) and/or organization(s).

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  • Prohibited Use of Electronic Resources for Threats, Harassment, and Pornography 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies, Statement

    Use of the University’s Electronic Resources by any System User to send threatening or
    harassing content or messages or to view, download, retransmit, distribute or otherwise
    communicate content or messages that may violate the University’s Policy on Discrimination
    and Harassment and/or Policy on Sexual Harassment, is prohibited.

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  • Student Handbook: Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech, Statement

    [A] bias incident is defined as an act of conduct, speech, or expression to which a bias motive is evident as a contributing factor
    (regardless of whether the act is criminal).
    ...
    Sanctions may be imposed for students
    found to have committed hate crimes and
    for bias incidents that involve conduct
    that violates laws or University policies,
    specifically including the University’s
    Discrimination and Harassment Policy.

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  • Student Handbook: Civility, Mutual Respect, and Unacceptability of Violence on Campus 12-13

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

    Unacceptable behavior. Demeaning,
    intimidating, threatening, or violent
    behaviors that affect the ability to
    learn, work, or live in the University environment depart from the standard
    for civility and respect. These behaviors
    have no place in the academic
    community.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Discrimination and Harassment 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Harassment -- whether verbal, physical,
    or visual -- that is based on any of these
    characteristics is a form of discrimination.
    This includes harassing conduct affecting
    tangible job benefits, interfering unreasonably with an individual's academic or work
    performance, or creating what a reasonable
    person would sense is an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

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  • Student Handbook: Sexual Harassment 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Sexual advances, requests for
    sexual favors, and other verbal or physical
    conduct of a sexual nature constitute
    harassment when ...
    * Such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's academic or professional performance or creating what a reasonable person would sense as an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational,
    or living environment.

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  • Student Handbook: Prohibited Conduct 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Physical abuse of any person or any
    action that threatens or endangers the emotional well-being, health, or safety of
    any person (including oneself).

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • Division of Student Affairs: Campus Inclusion and Community- Academic Freedom/Freedom of Speech 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Statement

    Northwestern University is committed to the ideals of academic freedom and freedom of speech -- to providing a learning environment that encourages a robust, stimulating, and thought-provoking exchange of ideas.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Disruption 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Statement

    Northwestern University stands for
    freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry,
    freedom of dissent, and freedom to demonstrate in peaceful fashion.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Student Rights 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Statement

    The rights of individual students include ... 3. Freedom to communicate, assemble,
    and peaceably demonstrate;
    4. Freedom to join organizations, to speak
    freely, and to exercise the civil rights to
    which any citizen of the United States
    is entitled, as long as the student does
    not claim to represent the institution.

    » Read More


  • Coaches blow whistle on athlete indiscretions on networking sites

    July 16, 2006

    Before DeMarcus Dobbs plays a game at Georgia, we know this much: He has 271 friends. He was at Whitney’s for a party over Memorial Day weekend. (But he doesn’t drink or smoke.) He broke Jake the Snake’s nose. (But it was Justin’s fault.) He has a girl named Anna who will always love him despite the paint handprint he put on her shirt. And he’d better bring his money next time he sees Bobby “cuz it’s on.” Welcome to the online social networking/self-profiling world of MySpace.com, Facebook.com and dozens of similar Internet sites.   That emerging world has started […]

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  • Colleges learning a tough lesson

    June 1, 2006

    Luke Daquino, a former University at Albany lacrosse player, said he never understood why today’s students bare their souls on the Internet.   The growing popularity of Web sites such as http://www.myspace.com, http://www.facebook.com and http://www.webshots.com allow the college crowd to share personal information and photographs all over the country. “None of that stuff for me,” said Daquino, who graduated last year. “You put way too much stuff on there, you get yourself in trouble. Especially in college, people put pictures of everything that goes on, and they go everywhere.” Some colleges are finding that out the hard way. Photos of […]

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  • Halloween Costume E-Mail Surfaces Deeper Concerns about Freedom of Speech at Northwestern University

    November 3, 2010

    Last week, Northwestern University Dean of Students Burgwell J. Howard and other university actors sent an e-mail to the Northwestern community encouraging students to display sensitivity in their Halloween costume choices. This e-mail was a reaction to the outrage sparked by two white students dressing up in “blackface” last year. Howard provided students with guidelines to determine if their costume is “insensitive.” Wearing a funny costume? Is the humor based on “making fun” of real people, human traits or cultures? Wearing a historical costume? If this costume is meant to be historical, does it further misinformation or historical and cultural […]

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  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Northwestern University

    April 13, 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). Today we review policies at Northwestern University, which FIRE has given a red-light rating for maintaining policies that clearly and substantially restrict free expression on campus. As with all private universities—which are not bound by the First Amendment, but are bound by the promises they make to students and faculty—we begin by examining the commitments Northwestern has made to free speech. Northwestern’s student handbook provides that students have the right “to […]

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  • Thought Reform 101

    March 1, 2000

    At Wake Forest University last fall, one of the few events designated as “mandatory” for freshman orientation was attendance at Blue Eyed, a filmed racism awareness workshop in which whites are abused, ridiculed, made to fail, and taught helpless passivity so that they can identify with “a person of color for a day.” In Swarthmore College’s dormitories, in the fall of 1998, first-year students were asked to line up by skin color, from lightest to darkest, and to step forward and talk about how they felt concerning their place in that line. Indeed, at almost all of our campuses, some […]

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