Location: Davis, California
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit
University of California, Davis 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.
July 3, 2012
In September 2010, UC Davis School of Medicine professor Michael Wilkes, a recognized expert on prostate cancer screening, published an article in the San Francisco Chronicle criticizing the effectiveness of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Wilkes also criticized UC Davis’ co-sponsorship of an event he felt excessively promoted the test. The same day the article was printed, Wilkes was notified of UC Davis’ decision to reduce Wilkes’ teaching responsibilities and to cut funding to an exchange program Wilkes helped coordinate. An attorney for the UC Davis Health System threatened Wilkes with possible legal action, claiming that several claims in the […]» Read More
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.
Expressions of Bias: A general communication not directed toward a particular individual, which disparages a group of people on the basis of some characteristic ….
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 ….
Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience
The successful conduct of the university’s affairs requires that every member of the university community acknowledge and practice the following basic principles: … We affirm the inherent dignity in all of us, and we strive to maintain a climate of justice marked by respect for each other. We acknowledge that our society carries within it historical and deep-rooted misunderstandings and biases, and therefore we will endeavor to foster mutual understanding among the many parts of our whole. … We confront and reject all manifestations of discrimination, including those based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs, status within or outside the university, or any of the other differences among people which have been excuses for misunderstanding, dissension or hatred. We recognize and cherish the richness contributed to our lives by our diversity. We take pride in our various achievements, and we celebrate our differences.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
SHarassment, 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.
Harassment includes, but is not limited to, conduct that is motivated on the basis of a person’s race, color, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identify, pregnancy, marital status, ancestry, service in the uniformed services, physical or mental disability, medical condition, or perceived membership in any of these classifications.
Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
Any person may hand-distribute literature on University outdoor areas open to the public generally, except that materials may not be distributed in outdoor areas surrounding on-campus student residential facilities as defined in the Student Housing Solicitation policy.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when submission to or rejection of this conduct affects a person’s employment or education, unreasonably interferes with a person’s work or educational performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
Users shall not use electronic communications resources in a manner that creates a hostile working environment (including sexual or other forms of harassment), or that violates obscenity laws.
Users shall avoid spamming, and other inappropriate mass messaging to newsgroups, bulletin boards, mailing lists, or individuals.
March 7, 2013
For months now, FIRE has followed the case of University of California, Davis School of Medicine professor Michael Wilkes, who has faced threats against his academic freedom for more than two years after he co-authored a controversial op-ed about prostate cancer testing in the San Francisco Chronicle in September 2010. As I noted previously on The Torch, the fight for Wilkes’ academic freedom took a blow in January when an administrative review panel convened by UC Davis largely rejected the consensus of the UC Davis Academic Senate, which had determined that UC Davis had substantially violated Wilkes’ academic freedom. Here’s […]» Read More
January 14, 2013
Last year, FIRE reported on the case of University of California, Davis medical school professor Michael Wilkes, who alleges that he faced retaliation from the university over comments made in a column he co-authored for the San Francisco Chronicle. Last spring, the Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility of the UC Davis Academic Senate found that the university had gravely violated Wilkes’ academic freedom. UC Davis promised an investigation after the Senate passed a resolution unanimously calling on the university to apologize to Wilkes and retract all threats against him. Among other occurrences, Wilkes was informed in a letter from […]» Read More
October 17, 2012
This summer, FIRE alerted Torch readers to the saga of Michael Wilkes, a professor at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. Wilkes faced retaliation at UC Davis after co-authoring an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle in which he criticized both a particular screening method used to detect prostate cancer (an area in which Wilkes has considerable expertise) and an event co-sponsored by UC Davis that he felt overly promoted the screening method. FIRE’s involvement with Wilkes actually didn’t begin until well after this travesty started—a travesty that is now entering its third year. Shortly following the publication […]» Read More
October 3, 2012
Over at USA Today College, Jordan Friedman reports on the University of California, Davis incident where student protesters were pepper-sprayed while exercising their First Amendment rights. The students were each awarded $30,000 as a part of a settlement last week. Friedman notes: [T]he incident at UC-Davis and its implications raise a greater question: What are common restrictions to students’ free-speech rights on college campuses, and when are these limits justified? Friedman enlists FIRE’s own Will Creeley and the Student Press Law Center’s Frank LoMonte to answer that question. Check it out!» Read More
August 29, 2012
FIRE is fighting to defend the academic freedom and free expression rights of University of California, Davis School of Medicine professor Michael Wilkes. Wilkes has been under threat of punishment for nearly two years after he co-authored a column in the San Francisco Chronicle in which he criticized both the effectiveness of the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test for cancer screening and UC Davis’ sponsorship of an event he felt overly promoted the PSA test. Wilkes was threatened with employment sanctions and told by UC Davis attorneys that he could be liable for “defamation.” FIRE and the UC Davis Academic Senate […]» Read More
August 27, 2012
On Friday, we introduced Torch readers to the case of Michael Wilkes, a professor at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. Wilkes faced retaliation from the university for co-publishing a critical column in the San Francisco Chronicle in September 2010. Wilkes, an expert on prostate cancer screening whose research includes serving as a principal investigator on studies funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, criticized UC Davis’ co-sponsorship of a seminar that he felt excessively promoted one particular screening method-the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Wilkes quickly faced retaliation from the UC Davis administration, including threats of […]» Read More
August 24, 2012
Perhaps the University of California, Davis School of Medicine (SOM) just doesn’t “get” free speech. It turns out that, at around the same time SOM was punishing medical student Curtis Allumbaugh on the basis of his protected emails, it was engaged in a campaign of intimidation against Michael Wilkes, an SOM faculty member. Wilkes’ great sin? Speaking his mind in the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle. FIRE was successful in defending Allumbaugh’s rights and has written to UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi asking her to stand up for Wilkes’ rights as well. But nearly two years after the […]» Read More
July 12, 2012
The Los Angeles Times reports that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that a former student at the University of California, Davis may go forward with his lawsuit against UC Davis police, as well as police officers of the City of Davis, for hitting him in the face with a “pepperball.” The student, who suffered the incident while attending a street party in April 2004, had to undergo several surgeries after injuring his eye, additionally lost his athletic scholarship, and was forced to drop out of college. The Ninth Circuit’s decision upholds a federal […]» Read More
April 16, 2012
In a thought-provoking article for Jurist published last week, University of California, Davis, School of Law Professors Alan Brownstein and Vikram Amar explore the intersection between freedom of speech and civil disobedience on campus. Prompted by a recent protest at UC Davis in which 11 students and one faculty member “repeatedly obstructed access to a branch of a bank located on-campus” and now face criminal charges, Brownstein and Amar analyze the First Amendment considerations relevant in formulating responses to such activity. While taking no position on either the protest’s message or the charges the protestors now face, Brownstein and […]» Read More
March 9, 2012
Yesterday, in an open letter to the University of California (UC) community, UC President Mark G. Yudof made it clear that First Amendment rights do not protect substantially disruptive protests of an event held by others. On February 27, as these videos show, one particularly persistent heckler and what look like dozens of other students intentionally disrupted an event called “Israeli Soldiers’ Stories” at the University of California, Davis. The heckler said he wouldn’t leave until he was arrested and that his intention was to shut down the event. The others all rose to leave at once, evidently during the […]» Read More
February 29, 2012
The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) School of Medicine has removed a student from probation after punishing him for telling a fellow student to stop monitoring the mailing list for his entering class. The School of Medicine (SOM) conflated Curtis Allumbaugh’s personal emails with professional practice when it invoked the UC Davis Principles of Community to punish his lack of “courtesy,” then added insult to injury when it threatened to put any med student who violated the Principles of Community on academic probation. Allumbaugh came to FIRE for help. Allumbaugh’s ordeal began after he emailed the “med2014″ mailing list […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
November 22, 2011
Outrage over the shocking use of pepper spray on seated students by campus police at the University of California at Davis continues to grow, and repercussions for the institution’s administration may follow. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports this morning that calls for the resignation of Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi are mounting. The Board of the Davis Faculty Association has asked Chancellor Katehi to resign immediately, and the university’s English Department has echoed that request. The Chancellor apologized yesterday at a public rally: On Monday, at a huge two-and-a-half-hour rally at the center of the Davis campus that drew thousands […]» Read More
November 21, 2011
In a shocking incident which has garnered international attention, campus police officers at the University of California at Davis used pepper spray on at least a dozen seated students participating in protests against economic inequality this past Friday. Video of the incident quickly went viral, and reaction to this remarkably harsh and, by all appearances, disproportionate action by campus police has been equally swift: The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, as has the chief of campus police. FIRE President Greg Lukianoff is quoted in InsideHigherEd‘s coverage of the incident today: Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for […]» Read More
February 17, 2011
In my nearly five years with FIRE, I’ve seen a lot of terrible campus speech policies—incredibly restrictive speech codes, tiny free speech “patios”, wildly overbroad harassment policies, and more. But just when I thought I’d seen it all, along comes a school that infringes on student rights in an altogether new and fascinating way. Congratulations, University of California at Davis: You’ve impressed me. As Casey Mattox of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) documents here, until yesterday, UC Davis’ Office of Community Campus Relations defined “Religious/Spiritual Discrimination” as: The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the […]» Read More
January 13, 2010
The California Aggie, the student paper at the University of California-Davis, has an excellent article on FIRE’s recently released Spotlight on Speech Codes 2010 as well as the speech codes at its own university. The article notes FIRE’s major finding in the 2010 report: that restrictive speech codes declined at public universities but increased at private universities. Will had the opportunity to comment for the article: The decline in speech codes within public universities is due to increased consciousness on part of school administrators to protect student rights, said Will Creeley, FIRE’s director of legal and public advocacy. “It’s difficult […]» Read More
October 15, 2007
Deb Niemeier and John Cary Sims at the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) offer a defense of the UC Davis campaign against Larry Summers, arguing that academic freedom is violated when a speaker speaks at an event that does not include the possibility of “debate or discussion.” They argue, amazingly, that “Summers’ appearance before the regents was stacked in such a way that no debate or discussion was possible, violating a bedrock principle of academic freedom.” (No matter that Summers was not scheduled to speak about the issues of race and gender to which the anti-Summers petition alludes.) […]» Read More
October 8, 2007
Check out Peter Berkowitz’s op ed, “Ethics 101,” in today’s Wall Street Journal. In his article, Berkowitz points out that, while centers to study ethics exist at many campuses across the country, including some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, few spend much time examining ethical issues relating to higher education. He writes: Celebrating its 20th anniversary last spring, the Harvard University Program on Ethics and the Professions is among the nation’s oldest and most distinguished. Yet of the more than 130 public lectures by eminent visitors sponsored over the last two decades by the Harvard ethics program, only three […]» Read More
September 19, 2007
It was disappointing to learn that the University of California (UC) withdrew its speaking invitation to former Harvard president Lawrence H. Summers after the invitations had gone out. The main pressure appears to have originated with a petition organized by faculty at UC Davis who argued that Summers “has come to symbolize gender and racial prejudice in academia.” His defenders, as well as some of his earlier critics at Harvard, criticized the decision in their remarks to the Harvard Crimson. “To deny him the opportunity to speak is … academia at its worst,” Harvard professor N. Gregory Mankiw told the […]» Read More