Temple University

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Website: http://www.temple.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 3rd Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Temple 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.

  • Temple University: Speech Code Litigation

    September 4, 2007

    Sergeant Christian DeJohn, a graduate student at Temple University and decorated member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, sued Temple University in federal court, claiming both that its speech code violated the First Amendment rights of Temple students and that Temple had engaged in actions that violated his rights. FIRE filed an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief in DeJohn’s case, which was joined by numerous organizations including the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Christian Legal Society, and the Student Press Law Center. Upholding a federal district court’s earlier decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held in August […]

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  • Pennsylvania House of Representatives Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom

    September 19, 2005

    The Pennsylvania House of Representatives brought together a committee to examine allegations that Pennsylvania’s public universities were plagued by liberal ideology and indoctrination. David A. French, at the time president of FIRE, served as a legal adviser to the panel. FIRE released FIRE Report on the First Amendment Responsibilities of Pennsylvania State-Funded Colleges and Universities, explaining that Pennsylvania universities are bound to follow the strictures of the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions, notably to respect the expressive rights of students and faculty members, to protect religious liberty on campus, and to protect freedom of conscience on campus.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Code of Conduct: Proscribed Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes

    Any student or student organization found to have committed or to have attempted to commit the following is subject to the disciplinary sanctions outlined in Article IV, D: … Participation in a dissolved or unrecognized student organization.

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  • Policy on Sexual Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    For all individuals who are part of the Temple community, sexually harassing conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to substantially disrupt or undermine a person’s ability to participate in or to receive the benefits, services, or opportunities of the University is prohibited, including the following: unwelcome sexual advances requests for sexual favors, and other harassing conduct or physical contact of a sexual or gender-motivated nature, when: … c. such conduct substantially interferes with an individual’s work, educational performance, or equal access to the University’s resources and opportunities; or d. such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive work or educational environment.

    With reference to behavior between an instructor and students of that instructor, no instructor shall make a sexually suggestive or intimidating remark, ask a student for a date or sexual favor, or in other ways make a sexual advance to the student.

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Green Light Policies
  • Policy on Preventing and Addressing Discrimination and Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment: Unwelcome conduct directed against a person based on one or more of that person’s Protected Characteristics/Statuses, which conduct is so severe or pervasive that it interferes with an individual’s employment, academic performance or participation
    in University programs or activities, and creates a working, learning, program or activity environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive.

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  • Student Code of Conduct: Proscribed Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Engaging in a course of conduct, including but not limited to stalking, directed at a member of the university community which would cause a reasonable person in the victim’s position, severe emotional distress or which would place a reasonable person in the victim’s position in fear of bodily injury or death, provided that this provision shall not be interpreted to abridge the right of any member of the university community to freedom of expression.

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  • Student Code of Conduct: Introduction 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    Temple University is a community of scholars in which freedom of inquiry and freedom of expression are valued.

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  • Temple University tacks on last-minute fee for free speech event

    January 20, 2010

    Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ trial over his controversial remarks about terrorism and Islam begins today in Amsterdam. Not to miss an opportunity to bathe themselves in irony, Temple University decided to hop on the “tamping down on free speech” train by charging an after-the-fact “security fee” for an event featuring Wilders that happened in October. During the event, Wilders showed a short film which featured various passages of the Koran interspersed with scenes or descriptions of Islamist-perpetrated violence. Extra security was dispatched and no disturbances occurred. One month later, the host club, Temple University Purpose, received a bill from the […]

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  • The Court Got It Right

    August 18, 2008

    This month in an important victory for free speech on campus, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that Temple University’s former sexual harassment policy was unconstitutional. While free speech advocates from across the ideological spectrum cheered the Third Circuit’s ruling in DeJohn v. Temple University, some critics expressed dismay at what they deemed a “very ominous” example of “activist judging.” These critics are wrong – and it’s important for both students and university administrators to understand why. In February of 2006, Christian DeJohn filed a complaint in federal district court alleging that Temple had violated his […]

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  • EDITORIAL: Free speech on campus

    August 13, 2008

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit just made hundreds of colleges wonder how long their restrictive speech codes can survive. On Aug. 4, the Philadelphia-based appellate court affirmed a lower court’s ruling against a broadly worded Temple University speech code prohibiting words or deeds whose “purpose or effect [is to create] an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.” Such loose, eye-of-the-beholder standards are increasingly recognized as affronts to the First Amendment, which is right and just. Interestingly, it did not even take much of a challenge by the plaintiff to get to this point. Christian DeJohn, a graduate […]

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  • Appellate court rules Temple University’s former speech code unconstitutional

    August 7, 2008

    by Liz White Student Press Law Center   The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision Monday by a federal district court that Temple University’s former anti-harassment code was unconstitutional. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys for Christian DeJohn, a former Temple graduate student and sergeant in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, filed the lawsuit in February 2006. DeJohn’s suit challenged the constitutionality of a sexual harassment policy that, in part, penalized “expressive, visual or physical conduct … (that) has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work, educational performance or status, or … has the purpose […]

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  • Court strikes down ‘overbroad’ harassment policy

    August 5, 2008

    A federal appeals court on Monday declared Temple University’s now-abandoned sexual harassment policy unconstitutional – and it did so in a way that legal experts agree could make it much more difficult for colleges and universities to defend nondiscrimination policies that limit the speech of students. The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit came in a 2006 lawsuit brought by a former graduate student in history at Temple University. Christian DeJohn, who was also a member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, sued the university, its former president, David Adamany, […]

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  • Temple’s civil rights violations are a disgrace

    April 11, 2008

    by Chris Freind The Bulletin   White males are not a protected class under the Constitution, and veterans do not have First Amendment rights. After all, their concerns should be ignored because they are “mentally unstable” from being “trained to kill.” And disagreeing with one’s professors can result in insults such as “gnat,” “juvenile” “liar” and “fool.” As far as academic freedom of speech, forget it. Welcome to taxpayer-funded Temple University. Temple finds itself at the center of a firestorm regarding an appalling case of squashed academic freedoms and restricted First Amendment rights. The victim of Temple’s suffocating speech code […]

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  • Temple denies degree to decorated vet

    April 10, 2008

    Sgt. Christian DeJohn and his attorneys squared off against Temple University before the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday morning in Center City. Christian DeJohn v. Temple University questions free speech rights and whether a student’s political opinions are a legitimate basis for denying him a degree from a state university. Before a three-judge panel, Sgt. DeJohn’s attorney, Nathan Kellum, tried to convince the judges that Temple’s “speech codes” were unconstitutional. Sgt. DeJohn, a graduate student at Temple and a sergeant in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, was repeatedly denied by school officials in his pursuit of a master’s […]

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  • Federal Court: Machete-Waving Student? Due Process Still Necessary

    August 7, 2012

    Last Friday, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania overturned the expulsion of a student at a public university in Furey v. Temple University. The case is an interesting read—it involves a student waving a machete at an off-duty police officer—but what is most interesting is the court’s holding and its novel approach to due process in the student disciplinary context. Liberally citing the Supreme Court’s seminal due process case of Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976), the federal district court made a number of findings about specific procedures required to ensure due process in […]

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  • Despite Temple’s Clarification, Viewpoint Discrimination Still Possible in Student Group Funding

    September 23, 2010

    As Adam explained here on The Torch on Tuesday, Alvaro Watson, president of the Temple University student group Temple University Purpose (TUP), informed FIRE recently that the Temple Student Government (TSG) maintained an unwritten discriminatory policy. The policy, enforced by the Allocations Board, would deny funding to student groups for speakers who are “offensive”—or not “inclusive” and “friendly.” When Watson questioned the constitutionality of this unwritten policy with help from FIRE, Allocations Board Chair Mark Quien replied that questions of constitutionality were irrelevant! Quien added: If an honorarium insults or offends a large portion of that student body, that speaker […]

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  • Temple Student Government Backs Down from Discriminatory Funding Policy

    September 21, 2010

    Temple University’s student government has backed down from a viewpoint-discriminatory funding policy for student events. Temple Student Government (TSG) had told all student organizations that speakers who are “offensive”—or not “inclusive” and “friendly”—would not be funded. A student government leader also stated that the new rule would “not be found in any documents, but will be enforced by the [allocations] committee.” Less than 24 hours after the student group Temple University Purpose (TUP) challenged the policy with FIRE’s help, the policy was rescinded. On Saturday, September 11, 2010, at a meeting for student organization leaders, TUP President Alvaro Watson was […]

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  • At Temple University, ‘That Word Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means’

    May 19, 2010

    Temple University, I must say, has the most arbitrary processes I’ve ever seen. Its administrators either have no idea what they are doing or else they actually have no concern whatsoever for justice or even for the English language. I’m not just talking about Temple’s exceedingly poor treatment of student Christian DeJohn, which led to an embarrassing loss at the Third Circuit when the court agreed with a lower court in throwing out Temple’s unconstitutional speech code. Actually, it was Temple’s former speech code, since Temple had changed it but kept defending the old one, so the courts simply didn’t […]

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  • ‘Temple News’ Reports on Student Group Probation, Blasts University

    April 27, 2010

    Torch readers will remember the ongoing struggles of Temple University Purpose, the Temple student organization put on probation earlier this month for hosting FIRE President Greg Lukianoff without notifying the Student Center that Greg is “political” or “controversial.” TU Purpose believed—correctly!—that Greg is neither, but the Student Center administration disagreed and decided to punish the group for failing to fill out the paperwork as they thought should be done. As Greg observed in a recent column for The Huffington Post, TU Purpose’s punishment was more likely due to the group’s penchant for inviting controversial figures to campus than to Greg’s […]

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  • Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on His Uncontroversial Controversial Speech at Temple

    April 23, 2010

    Last week, a student group at Temple University was put on probation for bringing FIRE President Greg Lukianoff to speak on campus. The group, Temple University Purpose, was notified of its probation on the morning of Greg’s speech. The university official responsible for this decision justified it by deciding that Greg would need a security officer and that therefore the group did not fill out the appropriate paperwork. In The Huffington Post this morning, Greg followed up on his speech and wrote about just how controversial and unruly it really was. As he says: But the grandiosity that the Temple […]

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  • Temple Student Group Placed on Probation for Inviting Me to Speak?

    April 14, 2010

    A Temple University student group was notified this morning that it was on probation because of me. Apparently Temple just decided I am either so dangerous or so important that I need security for a lecture on campus tonight (I promise I am neither), but since the group sponsoring me did not request security, it is on probation effective immediately. Never mind that I’ve given perhaps hundreds of lectures and never needed security except once—when I was on a panel at NYU about the Danish Mohammed cartoons (and frankly, it was the other panelists who needed protection). Never mind that […]

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  • To Be or Not to Be…Politically Correct: Greg Lukianoff Speaking Tonight at Temple University on “Unlearning Liberty

    April 14, 2010

    Tonight, Temple University student group Temple University Purpose will host FIRE President Greg Lukianoff for a lecture discussing how students are “Unlearning Liberty” when they witness administrators censoring their fellow students. From these acts of censorship, students learn that they should follow administrators’ example to seek punishment for protected expression. Greg’s “Unlearning Liberty” series has been presented at universities across the country and is the subject of his forthcoming book. The speech is especially pertinent as Temple recently charged Temple University Purpose an unconstitutional security fee for hosting controversial speaker Geert Wilders and has refused to clarify publicly that unpopular […]

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  • Temple University Chills Expression in the Wake of Geert Wilders Event

    April 12, 2010

    Temple University’s irreconcilable actions regarding a student group that brought Dutch politician Geert Wilders to campus have left students utterly in the dark about what Temple will do the next time a controversial speaker comes to campus. Temple unconstitutionally charged the group, Temple University Purpose, for extra security after the event, but after FIRE intervened, Temple claimed that it could have charged the group thousands of dollars more. Temple arbitrarily offered to withdraw the extra fee, then unilaterally withdrew it. In its latest letter, Temple merely states that the matter is closed and makes no promise to ensure that controversial […]

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  • FIRE’s Third Letter to Temple University

    March 18, 2010

    March 18, 2010 Valerie I. Harrison Associate University Counsel Temple University 300 Sullivan Hall 1330 West Berks Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122-6087 Sent by U.S. Mail and Facsimile (215-204-5804) Dear Ms. Harrison: Thank you for your February 8, 2010, response to FIRE’s letter of January 26 regarding the unconstitutional fee levied against the student group Temple University Purpose (TUP) to defray extra security costs for the October 20, 2009, presentation by controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders. While we are pleased that Temple University has withdrawn the bill for this event, it is disappointing that Temple has failed to acknowledge the legal […]

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  • Temple waives security fee for Islam critic’s speech

    February 12, 2010

    by Susan Snyder The Philadelphia Inquirer Temple University has withdrawn the security fee it charged a student group that hosted controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders in the fall. The university waived Temple University Purpose’s $224 fee after receiving letters of protest from the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Temple associate counsel Valerie Harrison noted in a Jan. 21 letter to FIRE that security for the Oct. 20 event had cost the university more than $6,000, all of which it could have passed on to the student group. In a Feb. 8 letter, she told FIRE that the university […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech at Temple University As Unconstitutional Security Fee is Withdrawn; Policy Still Troubling

    February 11, 2010

    After two months, Temple University has withdrawn an unconstitutional, after-the-fact security fee levied by the university on a student group for hosting a presentation last October by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is on trial in his native country for his controversial remarks about terrorism and Islam. Temple, which at first defended the fee and argued that it could have charged the group, Temple University Purpose (TUP), over $6,000, dropped its demand for an extra security fee only after FIRE publicized the fee and pointed out that the school’s actions were arbitrary and unconstitutional. Meanwhile, Temple’s policy for controversial events remains […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech at Temple University As Unconstitutional Security Fee is Withdrawn; Policy Still Troubling

    February 11, 2010

    PHILADELPHIA, February 11, 2010—Temple University has withdrawn an unconstitutional, after-the-fact security fee levied by the university on a student group for hosting a presentation last October by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is on trial in his native country for his controversial remarks about terrorism and Islam. Temple dropped its demand for an extra security fee under pressure from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Temple’s policy for controversial events, however, remains ambiguous and unacceptably arbitrary. “Temple University has finally acquiesced to the First Amendment and has accepted that, unlike in the Netherlands, controversial speech is protected in […]

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  • Temple’s First Amendment Problems Are Nothing New–And One Student Is Still Paying the Price

    January 27, 2010

    After reading about FIRE’s latest run-in with Temple University, Sergeant Christian DeJohn of Wyncote, Pennsylvania—erstwhile student in Temple University’s Master of Arts in Military and American History program and member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard-could hardly hide his frustration. That’s because Christian is all too aware of Temple’s struggles with free speech on campus. In fact, Christian is still suffering as a result of the last time Temple tangled so seriously with the First Amendment, even though the court case that bears his last name is now cited across the country as a landmark victory for student free speech. […]

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  • Temple Misunderstands First Amendment Obligations, Continues to Seek Extra Security Fee from Student Group

    January 27, 2010

    Temple University has addressed FIRE’s concerns over the university’s decision to charge $800 in extra security fees for a presentation by controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders this past October, hosted by the student group Temple University Purpose (TUP). Unfortunately, in her January 21 letter—arriving the day after FIRE’s press release criticizing the action—Temple Associate General Counsel Valerie I. Harrison confuses binding Supreme Court precedent, reveals an arbitrary decision-making process, and misrepresents TUP’s “request” for extra security as giving Temple carte blanche to pass the cost of security for the event on to the group. FIRE responded yesterday with a second […]

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  • Temple University Case on CPNLive

    January 22, 2010

    I was on Talk to Solomon on CPNlive.com last night discussing FIRE’s case at Temple University, which charged an unconstitutional security fee to a student organization for an appearance by controversial Dutch legislator Geert Wilders. The discussion also covered FIRE’s work more generally, including a discussion of FIRE’s case at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), which once found a student-employee guilty of racial harassment because of the cover of a book he was reading. (Click here for our video on the IUPUI case: Political Correctness vs. Freedom of Thought—The Keith John Sampson Story.)

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  • Temple University Charges Unconstitutional Security Fee for Geert Wilders Event; Dutch Trial Today over Controversial Expression

    January 20, 2010

    Today, as Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ trial begins in Amsterdam over his controversial remarks about terrorism and Islam, there is an American angle to the case: Temple University students have been charged an unconstitutional, after-the-fact security fee by Temple for hosting a presentation by Wilders last semester. The student group, Temple University Purpose (TUP), turned to FIRE for help after being charged the fee, and is being met with silence after a Temple official promised to look into it. Wilders’ trial in the Netherlands would be unconstitutional in the United States thanks to the First Amendment. As Robert notes in today’s press release, […]

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  • Temple University Charges Unconstitutional ‘Security’ Fee for Geert Wilders Event; Dutch Trial Begins Today over Controversial Expression

    January 20, 2010

    PHILADELPHIA, January 20, 2010—Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ trial begins today in Amsterdam over his controversial remarks about terrorism and Islam. While such a trial would be unconstitutional in the United States thanks to the First Amendment, students at Temple University in Philadelphia are nevertheless facing an unconstitutional, after-the-fact security fee levied by the university for hosting a presentation by Wilders. The student group, Temple University Purpose (TUP), has turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “Temple University needs to realize that, unlike in the Netherlands, controversial speech is protected in the United States,” said Robert […]

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  • Temple Student Newspaper Whitewashes Temple’s Terrible Track Record on Student Speech

    September 8, 2009

    Yesterday’s edition of The Temple News, a student newspaper at Temple University, features an article titled “Exasperating rights of expression,” by Mark Newman. The article correctly emphasizes the importance of freedom of speech on college and university campuses and posits that university students confronted with speech that they do not like should “show some respect for the First Amendment” rather than seek to shut down the expression. Unfortunately, the article goes wrong in its review of Temple University’s track record on free speech. In the article, Newman blithely states that “Temple’s track record on freedom of speech so far has […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Victory for Free Speech as Third Circuit Strikes Down Temple’s Speech Code

    August 31, 2009

    As August comes to a close today, I wanted to again look back through our 10-year history and highlight one of FIRE’s most important victories. Just last August, as a part of our ongoing fight against speech codes, Temple University’s former harassment code was declared unconstitutional by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The case began when Sergeant Christian DeJohn, a graduate student at Temple University and member of the Army National Guard, sued Temple University and its officials in federal court. Christian argued that Temple’s policies infringed upon his First Amendment rights by allowing for […]

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  • A Temple Alum Reacts to DeJohn’s Dilemma

    July 6, 2009

    This past weekend, FIRE supporter Kenneth H. Ryesky took particular interest in our recent update on Sgt. Christian DeJohn’s unfortunate situation. As a graduate of what is now Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Ryesky was disappointed to learn that his alma mater has as of yet failed to address the academic limbo in which Christian now finds himself stranded. In response, Ryesky—a practicing attorney—decided to pen a letter to Temple President Ann Weaver Hart, urging her to do the right thing and ensure that Christian’s thesis receives an honest review on the merits. With his gracious permission, we’re pleased […]

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  • As Independence Day Nears, Sgt. Christian DeJohn is Still Waiting

    July 1, 2009

    This Saturday, Americans will celebrate the 233rd anniversary of our declaration of independence. With our nation presently fighting two wars abroad, this year’s Independence Day reminds us again that the brave men and women of our armed forces make unimaginable sacrifices every day in defense of our constitutional freedoms. It’s fitting, therefore, to inform Torch readers that this Sunday, Sergeant Christian DeJohn of Wyncote, Pennsylvania, will return to active duty for the Army. One day after the Fourth’s fireworks, Christian will be heading out on active duty to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, right smack in the […]

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  • As Lawsuit Comes to Close, Sgt. Christian DeJohn is Left Stranded

    March 12, 2009

    This morning, in a federal courtroom a few blocks from FIRE’s Philadelphia headquarters, the landmark case of DeJohn v. Temple University neared its long-awaited completion. This may come as a surprise to Torch readers, who understandably might have assumed that DeJohn had been decisively concluded back in August of 2008, when the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a precedential ruling declaring Temple University’s former sexual harassment policy to be unconstitutional. But unfinished business remained: namely, determining the precise amount of attorney’s fees Temple must now pay, with taxpayer money, to student Christian DeJohn’s lawyers. Being […]

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  • DeJohn v. Temple: 2008’s Big Legal Win Will Still Be Felt in 2009

    December 31, 2008

    As has been happily documented here on The Torch over the past few days, 2008 has been a terrific year for FIRE. We’ve seen important victories at schools across the country and outstanding institutional growth. (For a more complete sense of just how much we’ve accomplished this year, I recommend checking out this year’s press releases.) But as FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, one victory in particular signifies to me both the great progress made in 2008 and the even greater promise of 2009: namely, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s precedential ruling in […]

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  • Weekly Media Round-Up: FIRE’s Pressure on Michigan State Over ‘Spamming’ Case Heating Up

    December 5, 2008

    While FIRE awaits the results of this week’s disciplinary hearing of Michigan State University (MSU) undergraduate Kara Spencer—who faces possible suspension for sending “spam” e-mails to 391 MSU professors—word of the case and FIRE’s involvement has quickly spread throughout the East Lansing, Michigan, campus and beyond. Shortly following the sending of FIRE’s letter to MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon, an article in MSU’s paper, The State News, alerted the campus community to the university’s outrageous overreaction to Spencer’s e-mails, which conveyed relevant information about impending changes to the school’s academic calendar. Word of MSU’s threats against Spencer has also […]

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  • In Wake of ‘DeJohn’ Ruling, FIRE Issues Warning to ‘Red-Light’ Public Schools in DE, PA, NJ

    September 30, 2008

    As Torch readers will no doubt remember, last month’s ruling in DeJohn v. Temple University from the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit made clear yet again that unconstitutional speech codes have no place at our nation’s public colleges and universities. As I wrote the day after the ruling in an article for JURIST: Temple’s former sexual harassment policy has become the latest in a long line of speech codes to fail in court. Hopefully, with the weight of the Third Circuit behind the ruling, public universities will finally get the message: Harassment policies must be carefully […]

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  • After Free Speech Victory in Federal Court, FIRE Sends Warning to Public Universities Violating the First Amendment

    September 30, 2008

    PHILADELPHIA, September 30, 2008—Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent letters to administrators at twenty public colleges and universities in New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania warning them to abandon their speech codes in light of the recent Third Circuit decision overturning Temple University’s unconstitutional code. All of the colleges FIRE contacted are rated as “red light” schools in FIRE’s Spotlight speech codes database, meaning that they retain policies that unconstitutionally restrict student speech. “For decades, college and university speech codes have been overturned by court after court, and for nearly ten years FIRE has railed against those […]

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  • After ‘DeJohn,’ Time to Revisit Sexual Harassment Policies Nationwide

    September 23, 2008

    George Washington University (GW) law professor John Banzhaf points out that GW’s sexual harassment policy is: very similar to one just found unconstitutional in a very recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. The court struck down a very similar policy at Temple University even before it was applied in a specific situation. This follows several similar court decisions which suggest that rules limiting sexually harassing speech in workplaces cannot be applied to student speech in public universities. Although GW is a private university, Banzhaf makes very good points about university sexual harassment policies in […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Office for Civil Rights Sends Letter of Clarification

    August 21, 2008

    Throughout FIRE’s history, we have witnessed many significant cases and rulings. As our ten year anniversary approaches, we are delving into our archives to remind Torch readers of some of the more important or memorable moments in FIRE’s fight for liberty on campuses across America. This month, we highlight the landmark letter issued by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education that dealt a powerful blow to administrative censors. Five years ago, on July 28, 2003, the Office for Civil Rights sent out a letter of clarification to colleges around the country in which former Assistant […]

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  • On ‘Inside Higher Ed’, FIRE Lawyers Explain Why ‘DeJohn’ Was Correctly Decided

    August 18, 2008

    Greg, Will, and Sam have published an analysis of the Third Circuit ruling in DeJohn v. Temple, which agreed with a federal district court in finding Temple University’s sexual harassment policy unconstitutional. Their analysis makes clear that the ruling is fully within Supreme Court and Third Circuit precedent. This article ought to put to rest the arguments of some critics claiming that the Third Circuit decision was somehow “activist,” “ominous,” or political rather than fair, predictable, and correct. One critic also challenged the decision by ignoring the importance of facial challenges to unconstitutional speech codes. But Greg, Will, and Sam […]

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  • The Third Circuit’s Rejection of Temple’s EEOC Argument in ‘DeJohn’

    August 15, 2008

    The Third Circuit’s decision in DeJohn v. Temple University is significant for many reasons, as we have explained in great detail on The Torch. But there is another aspect of the decision which should not be overlooked: the court’s unequivocal rejection of Temple’s attempt to defend its sexual harassment policy on the grounds that the policy follows the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) guidelines for gender discrimination. Among other things, the Third Circuit took issue with the language in Temple’s policy defining sexual harassment as conduct which has the “purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work, educational […]

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  • ‘Washington Times’ on College Speech Codes: ‘The Game is Up’

    August 13, 2008

    “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit just made hundreds of colleges wonder how long their restrictive speech codes can survive,” begins a staff editorial assessing the significance of last week’s ruling in the case of DeJohn vs. Temple University in today’s issue of The Washington Times. The editorial goes on to assert that “[c]olleges and universities generally know the game is up.” While we at FIRE have been working to dismantle oppressive and unconstitutional speech codes for nearly ten years and know that the policies won’t go quickly or quietly, the DeJohn ruling is a major victory […]

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  • DeJohn v. Temple: ‘Activist Judging’?

    August 12, 2008

      Professor Jon B. Gould has been a consistent critic of FIRE; indeed, last year he called for the dissolution of FIRE in a screed we thoroughly debunked in this space. Therefore it is unsurprising that in an article last week in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required), Gould dismisses the Third Circuit’s opinion in DeJohn v. Temple University as “activist judging.” Although Gould (surprisingly) acknowledges that “the policy did overstep constitutional bounds,” he calls the opinion “politically tinged” and questions why the court would “rule on an inactive policy.” The answer to Gould’s question is patently obvious: In […]

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  • Media Round-Up: DeJohn Continues to Make Waves, Receive Coverage

    August 8, 2008

    This has been a big week for FIRE, with Monday’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision in DeJohn v. Temple University demanding most of our attention. Since Peter’s midweek update, the decision has continued to make waves among college administrators, the legal community and the press. A number of liberty-oriented groups, including the Alliance Defense Fund and the Student Press Law Center, issued statements indicating their gratitude with the Court’s decision. Eugene Volokh dissected the ruling on his influential legal blog, the Volokh Conspiracy. The case received further attention on other legal blogs including JURIST and Law.com. FIRE’s victory press […]

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  • Will Creeley Discusses DeJohn Ruling on JURIST

    August 6, 2008

    FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley wrote an article examining the ruling in DeJohn v. Temple University featured yesterday on JURIST, a legal news and research site. Will discusses at length the potential implications of the DeJohn ruling, and places it in the wider context of the battle for free speech on America’s campuses today. While noting the importance of the ruling and the message it should send to public universities in the United States, Will gives a sober assessment of the still-abundant presence of vague and overbroad speech codes in America’s colleges, noting that “[m]any of […]

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  • DeJohn Decision Garners Widespread Attention

    August 5, 2008

    Yesterday we reported on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s decision in DeJohn vs. Temple University, in which Temple University’s former speech code was ruled facially unconstitutional. The decision marks a major victory for Christian DeJohn, the graduate student who sued the university over its speech code, as well as for FIRE, which—together with a host of diverse civil liberties organizations—submitted an amicus brief in support of the case. News of the decision has attracted interest throughout and beyond the legal and educational news communities. Law.com, Jurist, and the Volokh Conspiracy have all tackled the subject. How […]

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  • DeJohn and the Fate of Speech Codes on Campus

    August 5, 2008

    The Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ opinion in DeJohn v. Temple found that Temple University’s harassment code flagrantly violated the First Amendment. It did so for reasons laid out in FIRE’s amicus brief, sending a clear message to all public universities: unless harassment codes are narrowly tailored, they are unconstitutional. This decision has serious ramifications for the many public universities currently maintaining broad harassment codes. Such schools are now vulnerable to suit, and given this unambiguous decision, administrators and school officials, particularly in the Third Circuit, will have little chance of receiving qualified immunity on the theory that the law […]

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  • Third Circuit delivers a victory for free speech on campus with DeJohn ruling

    August 5, 2008

    Will Creeley [Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education]: “Yesterday’s Third Circuit ruling [opinion, PDF] in DeJohn v. Temple University is a important victory for free speech on campus. In declaring Temple’s former sexual harassment policy unconstitutionally broad, the Third Circuit delivered a reaffirmation of existing Supreme Court jurisprudence regarding the robust First Amendment rights enjoyed by students at our nation’s public universities. It also dealt another serious blow to the widespread and surprisingly durable practice of restricting student speech at public universities via unconstitutional speech codes masquerading as harassment policies. What’s more – and […]

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  • Third Circuit Lays to Rest a Dangerous Argument and Upholds Rights of College Students

    August 5, 2008

    Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued an opinion in DeJohn v. Temple University holding that Temple’s former sexual harassment policy was facially unconstitutional. In that opinion, the court laid to rest a dangerous argument made by Temple administrators: that the university’s adult college students should have no greater free speech rights than students at public elementary and high schools. In its brief to the Third Circuit, Temple relied heavily on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Morse v. Frederick (the “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” case)—-in which the Supreme Court upheld the narrow right of high […]

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  • DeJohn v. Temple: The Facts of the Case

    August 5, 2008

    The precedential decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in the case of DeJohn v. Temple focuses mainly on the unconstitutionality of Temple’s abandoned speech code—which had been disguised, as so many schools are doing nowadays, as part of its sexual harassment policy. The case probably would not even have been filed if Temple had not treated DeJohn so badly in the first place. Following DeJohn’s complaint, here’s what happened: Christian DeJohn, a student in Temple University’s Master of Arts in Military and American History program, was also a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard. DeJohn […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech in DeJohn v. Temple

    August 4, 2008

    The Third Circuit Court of Appeals filed an opinion today in DeJohn v. Temple University, et al. The opinion provides an eloquent defense of free speech rights on university campuses and concludes with an unambiguous finding that Temple’s speech code is facially unconstitutional. Today’s ruling is a great victory for Sergeant Christian DeJohn, the Temple master’s student and member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard who brought the challenge to Temple’s speech code. Christian’s willingness to take a stand for his First Amendment right to free expression is a commendable act of bravery-perhaps no surprise, coming as it does from […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech as Third Circuit Issues Ruling against Temple University

    August 4, 2008

    PHILADELPHIA, August 4, 2008—Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued an opinion in DeJohn v. Temple University upholding a decision by a federal district court that Temple University’s former speech code is unconstitutional. Temple’s code prohibited, among other things, “generalized sexist remarks and behavior.” In September 2007, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Third Circuit to uphold the lower court’s ruling. “The Third Circuit’s ruling today is a clear and crucial victory for freedom of speech at our nation’s public colleges and universities,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff […]

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  • Update on DeJohn vs. Temple University

    April 11, 2008

    After attending yesterday’s oral arguments in DeJohn v. Temple University, I came to the conclusion that one thing was clear: Temple University is not interested in arguing this case on the merits. Joe H. Tucker, Jr., counsel for Temple, focused a large part of the school’s case on whether or not Christian DeJohn was a Temple student and had standing to sue in the first place. He even began his time before the three-judge panel by saying that Temple was resting on the issue of mootness and that there was “no need to consider the constitutionality” of the policy. He […]

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  • Thursday Morning: Third Circuit to Hear Oral Arguments in DeJohn v. Temple University

    April 9, 2008

    Tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments in DeJohn v. Temple University. The case involves former Temple graduate student and Pennsylvania National Guard sergeant Christian DeJohn’s facial challenge to Temple University’s former speech code. A federal district court judge issued a permanent injunction against Temple’s former speech code in March 2007, and the Third Circuit will hear Temple’s appeal of that ruling tomorrow. Last September, FIRE was proud to file an amicus curiae brief with the Third Circuit on behalf of DeJohn, and was joined in […]

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  • Speech Restrictions and the Law in 2007

    December 24, 2007

    When it comes to speech restrictions and the law in 2007, perhaps the fairest thing that can be said is that this was a “complicated” year for advocates of free speech on campus. As many people know, the Supreme Court took on a student speech case this year, Morse v. Frederick—but the catch is that this case was about a high school student, not a college student. For high school students, the news was clearly bad. As Samantha put it in a June 24 blog entry on the decision, “The Supreme Court further eroded high school students’ free speech rights […]

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  • Sergeant Christian DeJohn and the Cost of Standing Up for Free Speech

    September 17, 2007

    Since filing our amicus brief, we must now await the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in DeJohn v. Temple. While our brief focused primarily on the facial unconstitutionality of Temple’s former speech code and the danger of blurring the line between the rights enjoyed by high school students and those enjoyed by college students, it’s important to remember that the DeJohn in DeJohn v. Temple is a real person: Sergeant Christian DeJohn of Wyncote, Pennsylvania, a Temple masters’ student and member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, proud to have served overseas in Bosnia-Herzegovina (where he suffered disabling hearing […]

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  • What’s at Stake in DeJohn v. Temple: The Distinction between High School and College

    September 7, 2007

    As announced on Tuesday, FIRE filed an amicus brief this week in the case of DeJohn v. Temple, to be heard this fall by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. While you can read the brief in full here, we thought it would be useful to highlight one of our motivating concerns about Temple’s argument—specifically, their attempts to blur the distinction between the First Amendment rights enjoyed by college students and those enjoyed by high school students. We’ve talked about the dangers of such an argument on The Torch before—especially in our discussions of Morse v. Frederick and Hosty v. […]

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  • FIRE Files Amicus Brief in DeJohn v. Temple University

    September 4, 2007

    Today, FIRE filed an amicus curiae brief in the case of DeJohn v. Temple University, urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to uphold a district court decision that Temple’s speech code violated its students’ First Amendment rights. FIRE’s brief was joined by a remarkable coalition of nonprofit groups, including the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Christian Legal Society, Collegefreedom.org, Feminists for Free Expression, the Individual Rights Foundation, Students for Academic Freedom, and the Student Press Law Center. The coalition was represented in the filing by attorney L. Theodore Hoppe, Jr. FIRE’s brief addressed the increasing trend among […]

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  • FIRE Files Brief Opposing Unconstitutional Speech Code at Temple University

    September 4, 2007

    PHILADELPHIA, September 4, 2007—Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to uphold a decision by a lower court that Temple University’s former speech code is unconstitutional. Temple’s code prohibited, among other things, “generalized sexist remarks and behavior.” The lawsuit against Temple University was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in February 2006 by attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) on behalf of Temple student Christian DeJohn. DeJohn’s complaint alleged both that Temple had engaged in actions […]

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  • FIRE to File Amicus Brief in DeJohn v. Temple

    August 28, 2007

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff just sent out the following message to FIRE allies across the country, and we figured we’d give the Torch readership a heads-up on our plans: Temple University is appealing a March 21 district court decision in DeJohn v. Temple University in which the court issued a permanent injunction against Temple University’s former speech code. Temple’s speech code—typical of those found at public universities across the country—prohibited “generalized sexist remarks and behavior, not necessarily designed to elicit sexual cooperation, but that convey insulting, degrading or sexist attitudes about women and men.” Despite their code’s overbreadth and vagueness, […]

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  • Federal Judge Strikes Down Speech Code at Temple University

    March 23, 2007

    Yesterday, in a case near to FIRE’s headquarters in Philadelphia, a federal judge issued a permanent injunction against Temple University’s former speech code. Christian DeJohn, a Temple graduate student and sergeant in the Pennsylvania National Guard, was allegedly denied his masters degree for expressing his viewpoints on the war. Represented by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), DeJohn filed suit against the university in February 2006. The court refused to dismiss the case on the grounds that there is significant evidence of ideological discrimination. The trial date is set for April 25, 2007. Just prior to the summary judgment deadline, the […]

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  • Temple Speech Code Lawsuit to Go Forward

    September 14, 2006

    As reported by the Alliance Defense Fund, a federal district judge recently refused to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a Temple University sexual harassment policy on free speech grounds. The policy in question forbids conduct that “…has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.”   In refusing to dismiss the lawsuit, the district court relied heavily on Saxe v. State College Area School District, 240 F.3d 200 (3d Cir. 2001), a case in which FIRE collaborated on an appellate strategy. In Saxe, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (whose jurisdiction includes Pennsylvania) ruled that a harassment […]

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  • Free Speech Lawsuits Filed Against Penn State and Temple

    February 23, 2006

    There’s some good news for students at some of Pennsylvania’s biggest public institutions this week—your institutions just got one step closer to protecting free speech instead of suppressing it. FIRE Legal Network attorney (and former president) David French, now working with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), has filed a nine-count First Amendment lawsuit against Penn State for violating its students’ right to due process as well as their freedoms of expression, association, conscience, and religion. For good measure, he also challenged their unconstitutional “free speech zone” policy. At the same time, French filed a lawsuit against Temple University for retaliation, […]

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  • American Hypocrites’ Association

    January 10, 2006

    Two weeks ago, Greg blogged on a pair of dueling resolutions that were introduced at the meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA) here in Philadelphia. One condemned only David Horowitz’s proposed Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR), while another condemned both the ABOR and “the use of speech codes to restrict academic freedom, and all similar attempts to limit free and open discourse on campus.”   Imagine our non-surprise to discover that the AHA chose to adopt the resolution condemning the ABOR while saying nothing about speech codes. Inside Higher Ed has the full report. My favorite quote: Jonathan Rose, […]

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  • FIRE’s Mitchell in the Harrisburg ‘Patriot-News’

    January 5, 2006

    An important column by FIRE Program Officer Charles Mitchell appears today in the Harrisburg Patriot-News. In response to Rep. Dan Surra’s comment that the Pennsylvania Legislature’s Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom, a committee on which Surra serves, is a “colossal waste of time,” Charles argues for the necessity of the committee. He highlights three Pennsylvania public institutions with unconstitutional speech codes, including Penn State, Surra’s alma mater.   Charles writes: Policies like Penn State’s, Lincoln’s and IUP’s are widespread at Pennsylvania’s public universities. That makes one wonder why Surra thinks a committee investigating violations of academic freedom is such […]

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