University of California, Berkeley

Location: Berkeley, California
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of California, Berkeley 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.

Yellow Light Policies
  • Bear Necessities Guide: Respect and Civility 13-14

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

    [T]he administration of this University publicly declares its expectation that all members of the campus community will work to develop and maintain a high degree of respect and civility for the wealth of diversity in which we are all fortunate to live and work together.

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  • University of California Campus Climate 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech

    If you experience or observe behavior that is inconsistent with our Principles of Community, please report it. You may report in a variety of ways: *Report anonymously or by name, via this Campus Climate page, by selecting the University of California campus where the incident occurred from the list to the right and clicking “Continue”. * Report anonymously to an appropriate campus office, based on the nature of the incident. Please refer to the website for the campus where the incident occurred. * Report anonymously via your campus’ Bias Reporting page, by selecting your campus from the Local Bias Reporting menu above. If your campus does not appear on this list, there is no local reporting form available. Please use this form, instead. * File a report with your Campus Police Department, via the Campus Police menu above.

    Hate Speech: Hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display that may incite violence or prejudicial action against someone based on actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, gender, gender identity, ethnicity ….

    Expressions of Bias: A general communication not directed toward a particular individual, which disparages a group of people on the basis of some characteristic ….

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  • Berkeley Campus Regulations Implementing University Policies: Areas for Public Expression 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    On University grounds open to the public generally, all persons may exercise the constitutionally protected rights of free expression, speech and assembly. Such activities must not, however, interfere with the right of the University to conduct its affairs in an orderly manner and to maintain its property, nor may they interfere with the University’s obligation to protect the rights of all to teach, study, and freely exchange ideas.

    The Sproul Plaza and Lower Sproul Plaza have traditionally been designated as areas for public expression. These areas are open to the public generally between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight. Between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., these areas are generally closed to all activities except coming and going to a University building or crossing the campus. During open hours Sproul Plaza and Lower Sproul Plaza may be used without reservation for discussion or public expression which does not require or involve sound amplification equipment. Space in both areas may be reserved through the Office of Student Life for use by recognized campus organizations or non-University groups in accordance with facility use regulations and established office procedures. However, use of these areas for discussion or public expression may be limited when such use interferes with the orderly conduct of University business or authorized events.

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  • Bear Necessities Guide: Posting in University Housing 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies

    Flyers must be submitted to Residential Living for approval at least five working days prior to requested posting date. … Flyers should not include or allude to alcohol or drugs, be obscene or libelous, or have commercial content.

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  • Bear Necessities Guide: Residential Conduct Code 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    The following information outlines actions that are prohibited:

    Verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment and/or coercion.

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  • Gender Equity Resource Center: Sexual Harassment Info Sheet 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Some examples of potential sexual harassment: … Sexual innuendoes and comments about your clothing, body or sexual activities … ; Suggestive or insulting sounds (ie: cat calls, whistles, etc.: hostile environment); Humor and jokes about sex in general that make someone feel uncomfortable or that they did not consent to (hostile environment); Sexually harassing a person or group based on perceived or actual gender, sexuality, age, disability, race, etc. (ie: a teacher telling a class that “pretty girls aren’t good at science”; calling someone a lesbian because they want to play sports; a group of peers at school saying loudly how “Latin women are always wildcats in bed”, calling a man “fag” because he doesn’t play football, etc: hostile environment) ….

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Green Light Policies
  • Code of Student Conduct: Sexual, Racial and Other Forms of Harassment (Interim) 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment is defined as conduct that is so severe and/or pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so substantially impairs a person’s access to University programs or activities, that the person is effectively denied equal access to the University’s resources and opportunities on the basis of his or her race, color, national or ethnic origin, alienage, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, veteran status, physical or mental disability, or perceived membership in any of these classifications.

    When employed by the University of California, and acting within the course and scope of that employment, students are subject to the University of California Policy on Sexual Harassment. Otherwise, Section 102.09, above, is the applicable standard for harassment by students.

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  • UC Berkeley’s Handling of Rape Complaints Draws Fire

    July 18, 2014

    By Mia Shaw at Capitol Weekly UC Berkeley – under federal investigation for its handling of sexual assault complaints and the target of a critical state audit – has a flawed system for dealing with rape allegations and an internal procedure that critics say shields assailants from criminal charges. The school is one of 55 campuses across the country being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education for allegedly mishandling cases of sexual assault. During the 2013-14 academic year, more than five dozen sexual assault complaints were filed at UC Berkeley. In March, UC President Janet Napolitano announced changes in the […]

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  • U of Central Florida punishes student, then rips off his idea

    August 16, 2012

    There’s a classic joke that the definition of chutzpah is killing your parents and then begging the court for mercy because you’re an orphan. The University of Central Florida (UCF) has now updated that joke for the Internet age: after punishing a student for inventing a better way to search for available classes, it copied his ideas and rolled out its own solution. The victim of this unfunny joke is UCF senior Tim Arnold, who developed a system to find classes with available seats at UCF and send students a text message when those seats were available. The (now inactive) […]

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  • University Of California Campus Police Have History Of Excessive Force Against Protesters

    December 9, 2011

    When students at the University of California, Berkeley, attempted to set up an Occupy Wall Street encampment, campus police answered on Nov. 9 with their batons. But witnesses captured the beating of students on video, and the violent response to a peaceful protest sparked a national outcry. For nearly an hour last week, UC Berkeley faculty grilled Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and administration officials about the incident. Executive Vice-Chancellor George Breslauer admitted that, in retrospect, “tactically, it would’ve been better to wait, to wait perhaps until the middle of the night to minimize the number of encounters between police and protesters and observers.” […]

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  • Bake sale free speech, or bigotry?

    September 29, 2011

    In “The Graduate,” Benjamin Braddock travels to Berkeley in pursuit of the scrumptious Elaine Robinson, after finding her to be even more desirable than her mother — and here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson. Elaine asks him what he’s doing there and he says he has attended some classes at the University of California at Berkeley, America’s foremost citadel of liberalism, even though he’s not registered. “They don’t seem to mind,” he tells her. When I was talking to my brother just the other day, I mentioned UC Berkeley and he said he had sat in on some classes there, although […]

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  • UC Berkeley Chancellor Blames Arizona Shooting on ‘Hateful Speech’

    January 11, 2011

    by Adam Kissel The Huffington Post   Yesterday morning, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau e-mailed the campus community with regard to the horrendous mass shooting in Arizona that killed a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl, and several others while gravely injuring Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the apparent target of the attack. Like many others in the news media and on blogs and Twitter, Birgeneau chose to put the blame for the shooting on the “climate” of speech in Arizona, while lamenting what he sees as similar problems at his own institution. The key sentence: “A climate in which demonization of […]

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  • Why no one should be silenced on campus

    April 9, 2009

    WHEN CONSERVATIVE columnist Don Feder spoke at UMass-Amherst last month, his speech was cut short by a large group of students whose noisy and disruptive antics drove Feder off the lectern midway through his speech. As one UMass student wrote after the event, “I am embarrassed of the way my fellow classmates have chosen to express their discontent.” She should be – but she should also know that she is not the only one who is due for some embarrassment. America’s campuses are seeing a growing movement by students to shut off debate by organized groups and silence speakers with […]

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  • Campus security bills for speakers challenged

    March 29, 2009

    When a UC Berkeley student group invited a speaker known for his hard-line pro-Israel stance, the university feared clashes with Palestinian supporters and billed the group more than $3,000 for police protection. It was a common response by campus officials in a security-conscious era. When a speaker’s controversial topic or history suggests the possibility of a violent reaction, the thinking goes, the sponsoring group should pay for protecting the speaker, the audience and public property. That sounds logical, but it’s also unconstitutional, says the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a conservative-leaning group that defends free speech on campus. Citing […]

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  • Conformity on Campus

    June 1, 2005

    We hear a lot these days about the importance of diversity in ensuring that ideas are heard fairly. But the individuals who are most insistent about this are interested only in racial and sex diversity. Intellectual and ideological diversity is not what the enforcers of political correctness on campuses and other sectors have in mind. This magazine has helped pioneer evidence of how politically unbalanced most college campuses have become. Most recently (see our January/February 2005 issue) we presented the findings of University of California economist Daniel Klein, who found that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in social sciences […]

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  • Educating the University

    June 1, 2005

    By Peter Berkowitz at Policy Review (Hoover Institution) Donald Alexander Downs. Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus. Cambridge University Press. 318 pages. $28.99 Our universities are ailing. Many, including most of our elite universities, have abandoned the notion that a liberal arts education is constituted by a solid core, that is, a basic knowledge of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences that all educated people should possess. Furthermore, for all their earnest words about the beauty and necessity of multicultural education, university administrators and faculty preside over a curriculum that routinely permits students to graduate without acquiring reading, […]

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  • OSPIRG: down but not out

    April 8, 2005

    In the middle of an unusually warm February earlier this year, the talk all over campus was OSPIRG. For the past three years, the activist group has wrangled with student government over how much money would be allocated to their efforts at PSU. This year, after two hours of deliberation OSPIRG got its answer. No large increase, no large payout. Student government again was not swayed by the group’s impassioned pleas for funding and sent them packing with thousands less than they had asked for. Students came pouring out of the meeting crying, aghast that their efforts had failed for […]

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  • Campus Hourglass

    March 17, 2004

    Who will guard the guardians? This common saying applies to American higher education, where professors and administrators are normally exempt from the scrutiny given to other public institutions. A tradition of academic freedom, flowing from the belief that the faculty’s training in their academic disciplines equips them to decide what to teach, has protected the autonomy of American colleges and universities and helped make them the envy of the world. But the principle of academic freedom can be subject to abuse, particularly in personnel and curricular matters, where personal and ideological agendas can intrude in such a way, ironically, to […]

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  • Agitation Ad

    April 10, 2001

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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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  • UC Berkeley Should Commemorate the ‘Free Speech Movement’ By Becoming a ‘Green Light’ School

    May 1, 2014

    This year, the University of California, Berkeley is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the “Free Speech Movement,” which emerged in 1964 to protest UC Berkeley’s ban of on-campus political activities. However, the 50th anniversary isn’t until this fall, so UC Berkeley administrators still have plenty of time to make the event even more significant by revising the university’s speech-restrictive policies and becoming a “green light” institution.

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  • Boring Campuses: Not Just the Fault of Helicopter Parents

    April 16, 2014

    In a new article, Slate’s Rebecca Schuman laments the phenomenon of colleges and universities becoming toned-down, less playful, even boring. Schuman argues that this is in part due to parents over-planning their kids’ lives, leaving them incapable of finding creative ways to have fun when they’re older and on their own: A recent trip back to my beloved alma mater, Vassar—combined with my interactions with students where I teach and some disappointing sleuthing—has made it apparent that much of the unstructured free play at college seems to have disappeared in favor of pre-professional anxiety, coupled with the nihilistic, homogeneous partying […]

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  • Citing Centrality of ‘Robust and Discordant Expressions’ to University Life, OCR Dismisses Complaint of Anti-Semitism Against Berkeley

    August 30, 2013

    Last week, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) dismissed a complaint (PDF) by Jewish students against the University of California, Berkeley. The complaint had alleged that anti-Israel protests on Berkeley’s campus created a hostile environment for Jewish students.  Explaining its decision to dismiss the complaint, OCR wrote: In the university environment, exposure to such robust and discordant expressions, even when personally offensive and hurtful, is a circumstance that a reasonable student in higher education may experience. In this context, the events that the complainants described do not constitute actionable harassment. It is stunning to hear OCR speak […]

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  • From the Archives: The Fight for Freedom of Speech at UC Berkeley Helps Spark the Social Revolution of the 1960s

    August 29, 2012

    In theory, freedom of speech on college campuses should be a given. All public universities must abide by the First Amendment, and few secular private institutions explicitly disavow it. The problem arises when schools adopt policies that have the effect of curtailing freedom of expression in practice. Fifty years ago, the students at the University of California, Berkeley, faced exactly this dilemma. The administration banned political advocacy from public spaces on campus and did not respond meaningfully to three months of student protests, choosing instead to single out the student leaders of this “Free Speech Movement” (FSM) for punishment. Some […]

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  • UC Violates Journalist’s Rights; California Taxpayers Lose $162,500

    July 5, 2012

    In another example of universities violating individual rights and leaving taxpayers with the bill, Californians are out $162,500 following the University of California, Berkeley’s settlement with a photojournalist whose photographs of a protest on Berkeley’s campus were wrongfully seized during the December 11, 2009, event.  David Morse, a journalist with Indybay, had been covering the protest against fee increases and budget cuts outside Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s on-campus residence when things turned violent and protesters began breaking windows and throwing torches. As UC police started arresting people, Morse was approached by an officer who, according to a lawsuit filed in […]

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  • Uncool, Berkeley, Uncool.

    May 4, 2012

    Last week, University of California, Berkeley freshman Derek Low made a video, which quickly went viral, about tweaks he made to his freshman dorm room. Instead of complimenting him for his creativity, Berkeley is dragging him into a judicial hearing.   Low, an electrical engineering and computer science major, used his skills to turn his room, a typically small space he shares with two roommates, into B.R.A.D.—the Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm. The room wakes him up in the morning, turns on lights when he walks through the door, has a sleeping, studying, and partying mode, and responds to both voice […]

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  • Berkeley Student Gov’t President Voids Referendum for Paper’s Funding

    April 13, 2012

    The Daily Californian, a student newspaper at the University of California at Berkeley, is reporting that a measure for direct student organization funding on the student ballot has been voided by the president of the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), Vishalli Loomba.   The “V.O.I.C.E. Initiative” would have subsidized the printing and production of The Daily Californian to the tune of $2 per student per semester, coming out to roughly $93,800 annually. The Daily Californian writes:  Loomba’s order comes just as the second of three voting days for the election begins. In the order, she cites a […]

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  • University of California Schools Flout Student Speech Rights

    November 29, 2011

    While some University of California schools are facing scrutiny due to their handling of students’ exercises of free speech and civil disobedience, others in the system have unfinished business protecting students’ free speech rights in their policies. All eight of the UC universities reviewed by FIRE have “red light” or “yellow light” ratings for restricting campus speech, and four of them have flouted UC President Mark Yudof’s 2009 directive to protect free speech in their policies regarding discriminatory harassment. UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Cruz all have been rated by FIRE with a red light for […]

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  • Affirmative Action Bake Sale at Berkeley Causes Campus Consternation

    September 26, 2011

    An “affirmative action bake sale” protest planned by the Berkeley College Republicans for tomorrow has caused an uproar at the University of California’s flagship campus. Affirmative action bake sales, for those who don’t know, are a widely used form of satirical protest against affirmative action (as viewed by the organizers). Organizers display a satirical bake sale price list in which, for example, black and Hispanic students are to be charged lower prices than Asian and white students for the same items. These events are intended to spark debate and awareness about affirmative action policies, not to raise revenue. Thankfully, Berkeley […]

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  • ‘Daily Texan’ Addresses Berkeley Chancellor’s Chilling Campus E-mail

    January 19, 2011

    The Daily Texan at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) has published a compelling editorial examining University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau’s recent e-mail to the campus community following the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. The Daily Texan questions Birgeneau’s e-mail in the context of his prominent position, pointing out that “this power can be used to stifle discourse.” The editorial also draws connections between the chilling effect of Birgeneau’s e-mail and the speech codes at UT that restrict student speech. In addition to The Daily Texan‘s forceful piece, be sure to read Adam Kissel’s and […]

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  • ‘L.A. Times’ Article Highlights UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Folly

    January 14, 2011

    An article in the Los Angeles Times today highlighted the critical response to University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau’s campus-wide e-mail from this week, in which he “linked a Tucson shooting rampage with Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigrants and the failure of the DREAM Act.” As FIRE’s Adam Kissel detailed in a Torch post that was picked up by The Huffington Post, Birgeneau sent a message to the Berkeley community after Jared Lee Loughner’s mass shooting in Arizona killed six people and seriously wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Birgeneau placed part of the blame for this tragedy on a “climate” of hateful […]

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  • ‘Los Angeles Times’ Quotes FIRE on Berkeley Chancellor’s E-mail about Arizona

    January 14, 2011

    UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau controversially e-mailed the whole campus on Monday, placing blame for the Tucson, Arizona, shooting on the “climate” of speech in Arizona. Birgeneau went so far as to write that “A climate in which demonization of others goes unchallenged and hateful speech is tolerated can lead to such a tragedy.” Criticism of Birgeneau’s e-mail has been making its way across the news wires, and today, Howard Blume of the Los Angeles Times picked up FIRE’s reaction to Birgeneau’s e-mail: A leader of the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a civil liberties group, also criticized […]

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  • UC Berkeley chancellor’s e-mail linking Tucson rampage to issue of immigration draws criticism

    January 14, 2011

    Campus-wide e-mail ties Tucson rampage to Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigrants and the failure of the DREAM Act. by Howard Blume Los Angeles Times   View this article at Los Angeles Times.

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  • Berkeley Student Weighs in on Chancellor’s Controversial Statement Regarding AZ Tragedy

    January 14, 2011

    2010 FIRE Intern and UC Berkeley student Casey Given discusses his chancellor’s controversial statement following the tragic shooting in Arizona and calls on fellow students to stand up for free speech on campus in the wake of similar challenges that conflate speech with violent action.

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  • Instapundit Highlights FIRE’s Response to Berkeley Chancellor

    January 12, 2011

    Blogger and law professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit highlighted Adam’s blog post lamenting UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau’s response to the recent shooting in Arizona.

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  • Adam Kissel Featured on ‘The Huffington Post’

    January 11, 2011

    Adam Kissel’s examination of Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s e-mail to the UC Berkeley community regarding the Arizona shooting and the threat of “hate speech” has been republished on The Huffington Post.

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  • UC Berkeley Chancellor Blames Arizona Shooting on ‘Hateful Speech,’ Warns of Safety Consequences on Campus

    January 11, 2011

    Yesterday morning, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau e-mailed the campus community with regard to the horrendous mass shooting in Arizona that killed a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl, and several others while gravely injuring Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the apparent target of the attack. Like many others in the news media and on blogs and Twitter, Birgeneau chose to put the blame for the shooting on the “climate” of speech in Arizona, while lamenting what he sees as similar problems at his own institution. The key sentence: “A climate in which demonization of others goes unchallenged and hateful speech is tolerated can lead […]

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  • ‘California Watch’: No Free Speech at California Colleges

    January 7, 2011

    Free speech is not safe at California colleges—not by a long shot. That’s what investigative reporter Erica Perez found in FIRE’s 2011 speech code report, as she wrote yesterday for California Watch: A new report from a national free speech advocacy organization found most of the four-year universities it surveyed had speech codes that substantially limit students’ freedom of speech, including dozens of colleges in California. [...] Of the 33 California universities the organization rated, 64 percent got a red light, including San Diego State University, UC Santa Cruz and Claremont McKenna College. About 36 percent got a yellow light, including UC Berkeley, Occidental College and San Jose State University. […]

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  • Former FIRE Intern Urges UC Berkeley to Live Up to its Reputation

    November 16, 2010

    Former FIRE Intern and current University of California at Berkeley junior Casey Given has written an excellent column for The Daily Californian about censorship on campus. Torch readers might remember Given’s August blog post criticizing the Berkeley Administration for failing to punish acts of civil disobedience. In his Daily Californian column, he laments the divergence between Berkeley’s perceived image as a beacon of free speech and the much sadder reality. To most outsiders, “Berkeley” is synonymous with “free speech.” Simply uttering our university’s name to them conjures up images of bearded bohemians and flower children peacefully rallying for a hippie cause […]

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  • 3,000 Copies of ‘The Daily Californian’ Stolen on Eve of 2010 Midterm Elections

    November 4, 2010

    The Daily Californian‘s news blog reported on October 30 that 3,000 copies of the student paper went missing from a central distribution point on the University of California at Berkeley’s campus early last Thursday morning. At about 8 a.m. on Oct. 28, a distribution team member arriving to pick up a stack of the newspapers from the sidewalk south of Sproul Hall on Bancroft Way found the papers – 3,000 of The Daily Californian‘s approximate 10,000 daily circulation – gone from the distribution point. Another team member returning to Sproul for additional papers confirmed the missing stack. Diane Rames, general […]

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  • Berkeley Student Charged with ‘Unauthorized Conduct’ for Addressing Police Officer about Campus Bike Rules

    November 1, 2010

    You might remember ScooterGate, in which the University of Georgia (UGA) charged a student with “disruption” and “disorderly conduct” because he sent a mocking e-mail to UGA Parking Services to complain about the lack of campus parking spaces for scooters. Well, the University of California at Berkeley now has BikeGate—and it’s a great example of the abuse of police power to oppress free speech at UC Berkeley. Here’s what happened: At UC Berkeley, the UC Police enforce a no-ride zone where riding bicycles is banned 10 hours a day (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Monday through Friday, “[i]n the area […]

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  • The Blurred Limit of Expression at the Home of the Free Speech Movement

    August 10, 2010

    To many people, “Berkeley” is synonymous with “protest.” Mentioning the University of California, Berkeley often conjures up images of bearded bohemians and flower children peacefully rallying for a “hippie” cause of the past, such as the famous Free Speech Movement of the mid-sixties. Indeed, Berkeley’s protest culture has given the university a reputation for being a bastion for freedom of expression, which can be quite attractive to prospective students looking for a unique college experience. I know because I was once one of them. At Berkeley, so I thought, I would be immersed in an Eden of free speech, a […]

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  • Does ‘The Berkeley Experience’ Treat Students Like Children by Encouraging Protesters to Go Too Far?

    July 9, 2010

    University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor and FIRE friend Donald Downs published an excellent article yesterday on Minding the Campus. The article examines how the University of California, Berkeley, might have sown the seeds of its own chaos prior to violent protests last November and December, which even included a violent attack on Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s home. Focusing on Berkeley’s report on these events, Don argues that Berkeley has drawn students who are interested to share in “The Berkeley Experience” of vehement protest dating back to the Free Speech Movement, but has failed to teach them that the rule of law applies in […]

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  • Berkeley Claims Control of the Word ‘California’ But Permits Student Group to Use It

    May 3, 2010

    The University of California at Berkeley restricts student organizations from using the words “California,” “Cal,” and “Berkeley” in organization names without prior permission. Like many colleges and universities across California, Berkeley is enforcing unconstitutional provisions that prevent the use of school names in a wide variety of contexts, even when there is no confusion between private speech and official university speech. These provisions chill speech across the state. With FIRE’s help, a longstanding Berkeley student publication, California Patriot, is now allowed to register under its actual name. Berkeley’s rules for student organization names include bans on the use of certain […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of Speech at University of Arizona: Refund of Security Fee for Controversial Speaker

    July 6, 2009

    Today’s press release announces yet another FIRE victory on behalf of a student group unfairly burdened with the cost of bringing controversial speakers to campus. Late last week, FIRE learned that the University of Arizona was reversing its decision to charge the College Republicans $384.72 in extra security fees for an event featuring author and conservative activist David Horowitz. As FIRE has reminded America’s universities time and again throughout our ten-year existence, charging speakers or their student hosts for extra security fees solely because they may provoke hostile reactions from audience members affixes a price tag to protected speech and […]

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  • Four FIRE Cases on Security Fees Top Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle

    March 31, 2009

    Page A-1 of Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle features four of FIRE’s cases on unacceptably high security fees for controversial speakers. In each case, the potential reaction of the audience was used to assess security fees and charge them to the host. But as the Supreme Court wrote in Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992), “Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob.” In the article, Bob Egelko points out that both Berkeley and UCLA, two of the three top-ranked schools in U.S. News & World Report, […]

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  • Rights in the News: FIRE Stands up for Virginia Tech Faculty

    March 27, 2009

    As you may have read in The Torch this week, FIRE is leading the charge against requirements at Virginia Tech that tie tenure and promotion to a commitment to “diversity”—requirements that amount to a political loyalty oath for faculty members. Such requirements, as FIRE and others have written, are a serious threat to academic freedom and freedom of conscience. In addition to Adam’s coverage of FIRE’s efforts at Virginia Tech, Robin Wilson of The Chronicle of Higher Education has written on the growing criticism directed at the guidelines (subscription required). Ashley Thorne at the National Association of Scholars notes FIRE’s […]

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  • Controversial Speakers Face Huge Security Fees at Berkeley and Colorado

    March 17, 2009

    Today’s press release calls upon the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Colorado at Boulder to meet their constitutional responsibility not to burden controversial speakers or ideas on campus. The principle is pretty clear: whether the speaker is controversial, popular, or unremarkable, similar security fees should be assessed for similar events. All too often, we have seen the assessment of very high “security costs” as a pretext for punishing or even excluding unpopular or controversial speakers. The truth is that if any extra security is deemed necessary because of a potentially hostile audience, it is the responsibility […]

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  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: UC–Berkeley

    February 9, 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 the University of California–Berkeley. UC–Berkeley receives a yellow-light rating, which means that there are one or more policies in place that can too easily be used to restrict protected speech. A yellow-light institution differs from a red-light institution in that its policies do not explicitly prohibit large quantities of protected expression. At a yellow-light institution, policies either contain narrower restrictions on protected expression or, while not […]

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  • Free Speech under Attack during Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week

    October 25, 2007

    This week, as the Terrorism Awareness Project provides speakers at college campuses in order to increase awareness about terrorism of the Muslim extremist variety, the predictable has come to pass: speakers have been prevented by protesters from enjoying their freedom of speech. At Emory University, David Horowitz’s lecture ended prematurely when audience members refused to hear him out. A photo essay describes what protesters did to Nonie Darwish at Berkeley. Rick Santorum suffered a similar fate at Penn State. The Washington Times has a list of those who are blogging about such events here. Students who are hosting a screening […]

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  • Emmett Hogan on 2006: The More Things Change…?

    January 5, 2007

    Emmett Hogan is a student at University of Michigan Law School and a luminary early FIRE employee. As we looked back on 2006 in campus rights and abuses I wanted to check in with him for his thoughts on the past year in FIRE history. This was his thoughtful response: One of FIRE’s most gripping cases from 2006 involved a breathtaking exercise in thought reform by Michigan State University. FIRE publicly challenged what MSU calls a “Student Accountability in Community Seminar” (SAC) which is intended to address student behavior that administrators consider unacceptable; the seminar is successful only when it […]

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  • Journalism Association Condemns Press Freedom Violations

    August 16, 2006

    Yesterday, the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) reported the August 4 decision by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) to censure a community college in New Jersey for violating freedom of the press. Ocean Community College (OCC) has already been censured by the College Media Advisers, Inc. (CMA), a national organization that advocates for best practices among college media outlets.   According to the SPLC, the AEJMC passed the resolution of censure following the OCC Board of Trustees’ December decision not to renew student newspaper advisor Karen Bosley’s contract.   Bosley’s “offense” was allowing the newspaper […]

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  • Newspaper Theft at Troy University: Facebook Article Involved?

    February 15, 2006

    Today’s Inside Higher Ed features an article about an instance of illegal censorship at Troy University in Alabama, which holds the dubious distinction of being one of the targets of FIRE’s Speech Codes Litigation Project because of its unconstitutional speech code. The latest instance of censorship at Troy came last Thursday, when nearly 2,000 out of 3,000 printed copies of the Tropolitan, Troy’s main campus newspaper, were stolen from their distribution sites. Tropolitan staffers surmise that the theft might be connected to the fact that an article in that edition of the paper revealed that university police officers might be […]

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  • The Generational Swindle (Part 1001)

    May 12, 2005

    Berkeley, where pot smoking was a basic civil right in the sixties, has banned drinking in the fraternities, turning its sights on demon rum in the hands of the wrong kinds of students. Berkeley: Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair, but watch out for Carrie Nation, Big Brother, and Big Sister.  How would that have sounded during the Revolution?  “Hey, Mario Savio and you kids from SDS, put down that beer or get busted!”

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