Location: Chicago, Illinois
Federal Circuit: 7th Circuit
University of Chicago 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.
November 15, 2011» Read More
February 23, 2009
The University of Chicago promotes freedom of expression in its Student Manual, writing, “At the University of Chicago, freedom of expression is vital to our shared goal of the pursuit of knowledge.” However, when student Andrew Thompson posted photographs of his ex-girlfriend on Facebook.com within an album entitled “[Name of ex-girlfriend] cheated on me, and you’re next!” Thompson was asked to delete the post. The Dean of Students in the College, Susan Art, informed Thompson that his ex-girlfriend had come to her and complained, and that the album needed to be removed. After deleting the album, Thompson asked if the […]» Read More
February 22, 2006
As a result of worldwide controversy regarding caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, first published in a Danish newspaper, free speech was being openly disregarded on American college campuses. In the weeks following the printing of the cartoon, students, professors, and student publications not only reprinted the controversial cartoons but even created their own satirical cartoons depicting Mohammed. Chilling of speech in relation to the cartoon was found at Century College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and New York University, amongst others.» Read More
Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
Even if formal intervention is not appropriate in a particular situation, abusive or offensive behavior can nonetheless be inconsistent with the aspirations of the University community, and various forms of informal assistance and counseling are available.
Speech Code Category: Posting Policies
If a posting contains obscene language and/or pictures, or if a posting is deemed to be offensive to a particular group or individual, the posting may be removed.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Sexual harassment encompasses a range of conduct … such as unwanted touching or persistent unwelcome comments, e-mails,
or pictures of an insulting or degrading sexual nature, which may constitute unlawful harassment, depending upon the specific circumstances and context in which the conduct occurs. For example, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or sexually-directed
remarks or behavior constitute sexual harassment when (i) submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, explicitly or implicitly, a basis for an academic or employment decision, or a term or condition of either; or (ii) such conduct directed against an individual
persists despite its rejection.
Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
To further the effectiveness of their event, organizations and other groups of students organizing a protest or demonstration must make the appropriate arrangements with the staff of the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities (ORCSA) and/or their appropriate RSO Advisor. The protest location must be approved in advance by ORCSA, and intended movements to other areas of campus or into buildings/offices must be expressed in the initial protest request and explicitly approved in advance. Like all other events or activities at the University, a request to hold a protest or demonstration should be submitted no later than 48 hours before the start of the event and must be approved by ORCSA and/or their appropriate RSO Advisor.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
[R]esidents may not engage in personal abuse, written or oral, directed against other residents, guests, or members of the housing staff. Any form of abusive, threatening, or harassing behavior will be considered grounds for serious disciplinary action by the housing staff.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
[E]ven Regular Users may not use information technology in ways that interfere with others, or that consume University resources other than those directly under the user’s control. … For example, discussion among online participants in a faculty-sponsored, University-hosted discussion group irrelevant to University education or research might become heatedly ad hominem. Participants might ask the University to act against other participants, or to force the faculty sponsor to include or exclude certain participants. Or a third party might take exception to pejorative comments, and, based on the discussion server’s location on the University network, institute legal action against the University. The discussion group thus consumes University resources (such as General Counsel time). Because the discussion group is an ancillary use of information technology, its consumption of University resources makes it an unacceptable use of University information technology.
Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
What is bias?
The University of Chicago defines Bias as is a pre-formed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons who possess common characteristics, such as skin color, or cultural experiences, such as religion or national origin.
What is a bias incident?
A Bias Incident involve actions committed against a person or property that are motivated, in whole or in part, by a bias against race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity, age, or disability. Bias incidents that are addressed by the university Bias Response Team include actions that are motivated by bias but may not meet the necessary elements required to prove a hate crime.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
The primary function of a university is to discover and disseminate knowledge by means of research and teaching. To fulfill this function, a free interchange of ideas is necessary not only within the university but also with the larger society. At the University of Chicago, freedom of expression is vital to our shared goal of the pursuit of knowledge.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
The University has always featured events that encourage spirited debate about a variety of topics, academic and otherwise. This is in keeping with our commitment to rigorous inquiry, which has been a central feature of the University of Chicago’s distinctive culture throughout its history. Constant and deliberate work is required to sustain this commitment.
[A]lthough faculty, students and staff are free to criticize, contest and condemn the views expressed on campus, they may not obstruct, disrupt, or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Unlawful harassment based on one of the factors listed above [race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, veteran status, or other protected classes under the law] is verbal or physical conduct that is so severe or pervasive that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or educational program participation, or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.
A person’s subjective belief that behavior is offensive, intimidating or hostile does not make that behavior unlawful harassment. The behavior must be objectively unreasonable.
May 23, 2014
By Kaitlyn Schallhorn at Campus Reform While the federal government investigates the University of Chicago’s (U of C) alleged mishandling of reported sexual assaults, the school will hire a new dean tasked solely with investigating them. Effective July, U of C will implement a new associate dean of students who, according to a university spokesperson, will only cover “sexual misconduct and harassment/discrimination.” The university will also implement a special disciplinary committee comprised of faculty, staff, and students to hear cases of sexual misconduct. “The disciplinary committee will come from a university-wide pool representing all academic units; students will most likely […]» Read More
October 8, 2012
Did you know that free speech wasn’t really valued in the United States until the 1960s?Hopefully you didn’t just say “yes” to that question. But if you did, I can understand why: Ever since the infamous “Innocence of Muslims” video surfaced on YouTube and was used as an excuse to kill Americans abroad, some academics have taken to making that very case on the Internet and in print. This is a meme that needs to be stopped dead in its tracks.I’ve heard the “America only started loving free speech in the ’60s” argument before from academic friends, and Stanley Fish […]» Read More
September 26, 2012
Everyone is a blasphemer to someone. I know it doesn’t feel like it. I know it’s hard for modern Americans to imagine going to jail (or worse) because of what you believe in your heart, but every single person reading this has a belief that in some part of the world or at some point in history could’ve gotten you arrested, beheaded, or burned at the stake. Are you a Protestant? That was a burning offense. Catholic? More of a beheading/hanging one. Jewish? You get the idea. And, of course, there are people like me, atheists, who are still considered […]» Read More
September 26, 2012
University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner created an Internet sensation yesterday with an article for Slate in which he argued that the United States overvalues free speech. Posner argued that the reaction to the “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube video that has been indirectly blamed for causing the deaths of four Americans, including our ambassador to Libya, shows that other nations “might have a point” when they decide that free speech must “yield to other values and the need for order.” Unfortunately but predictably, academics seem to be leading the charge against freedom of speech in the wake of the controversy over the video. University […]» Read More
March 26, 2010
The University of Chicago has censored a student’s post on a private Facebook page. Undergraduate Joseph “Tex” Dozier posted a joke that he had had a dream about assassinating University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer “for a secret Israeli organization.” Mr. Mearsheimer is co-author of the controversial book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. This post prompted an investigator from the university’s police department to question Mr. Dozier about his political views, suggest that he would investigate Dozier’s comments on his university radio show and demand that Dozier remove the post or else have the post reported to Mr. […]» Read More
May 12, 2009
The University’s free speech policies were criticized last Tuesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), who claim that the U of C has not carried through with its promised commitment to open student discourse. The academia-focused civil liberties group also found fault with the University’s policies on bias reporting and organized protest. “The University of Chicago has chilled speech across the campus,” Adam Kissel (M.A.’02), director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, wrote in a press release. FIRE’s attention was drawn to the U of C after reading a Maroon article last quarter about the administration’s request that […]» Read More
May 25, 2006
Universities have traditionally been places where debate and the free exchange of ideas have been welcomed. But after 9/11, that may be changing — as some recent, troubling incidents suggest. In this column, I’ll survey some recent incidents suggesting free speech on campus is in peril, and discuss the extent to which the First Amendment protects student and faculty speech Cracking Down on Student Demonstrators and Controversial Student Speech Recently, students at the University of Miami (a private school, but one with a stated policy of fostering free speech) demonstrated alongside striking maintenance workers to show solidarity. Now, they face […]» Read More
April 26, 2006
As dozens gathered Tuesday night in a University of Chicago lecture hall to discuss the visceral and sometimes violent reaction to cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, Muslim students who had been invited decided to watch a movie across campus instead. The three-man panel discussion, organized by the university’s chapter of the Objectivist Club, mainly focused on the U.S. media’s reluctance to reprint the cartoons, first published in Denmark in September. Panelist Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said the issue was simple: Journalists are afraid. “There’s a lot of dishonesty” in the media’s explanation […]» Read More
October 14, 2014
By the beginning of the new year, the University of Chicago (UC) has pledged to revise its free speech policy in response to the wave of free speech controversies occurring at colleges across the country. Like many other universities, UC is no stranger to controversy over free speech. Just a few months ago, the UC campus erupted in debate over gay rights activist Dan Savage’s use of the word “tranny” during an event at UC’s Institute of Politics (IOP). Although Savage used the term in a discussion about reclaiming slurs as a tool of empowerment, a student at the event […]» Read More
University of Chicago Students Disregard Context, Call for Ban on ‘Hate Speech’ After Dan Savage Lecture
June 6, 2014
In the crusade to eradicate “harmful” speech from campus and ensure that students are never forced to endure the unspeakable horror of confronting an idea with which they disagree, context is often the first casualty. FIRE frequently encounters efforts to punish, or declare as wholly “off-limits,” certain words or ideas—even when examination of the context in which they were expressed exposes those efforts as utterly ridiculous.» Read More
University of Chicago Student Makes Clear the Threats to Student Rights Presented by OCR, Bias Incident Policies
May 8, 2012
In the pages of The Chicago Maroon, University of Chicago (UC) student Bryant Jackson-Green takes on the myriad threats to student free speech and due process rights presented by new mandates from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), as well as by UC’s own policies regarding campus bias incidents. Jackson-Green, who is also a member of FIRE’s Campus Freedom Network (CFN), writes at length about the fact that OCR’s April 4, 2011, “Dear Colleague” letter leaves those students across the country accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault with diminished due process rights, in particular by mandating universities incorporate […]» Read More
April 13, 2012
FIRE celebrated Free Speech Week last week by teaming up with Students For Liberty to send FIRE speakers and materials to student groups across the country. We’re pleased to announce it was a great success! To mark the occasion, 72 student groups distributed FIRE materials and pocket-sized Constitutions on campus. More than 20 student groups also organized expressive events. Many decided to build Free Speech Walls at schools including American University, Boston University, Harvard University, Kansas State University, Winthrop University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Texas San Antonio. FIRE’s Campus Freedom Network (CFN) also worked with […]» Read More
April 2, 2012
FIRE Associate Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Azhar Majeed will be speaking tonight at the University of Chicago as part of Free Speech Week, an effort FIRE is co-sponsoring with Students For Liberty. Azhar’s talk, titled “How Free is ‘Free Speech’ at UChicago?,” will begin at 7:30 pm in the Bartlett Trophy Lounge at the University of Chicago and is sponsored by Students for a Free Society. Food will be provided. More information about Azhar’s talk is available here, and full details for the event are below: How Free is “Free Speech” at UChicago? Azhar Majeed, Associate Director of […]» Read More
January 21, 2011
University of Chicago (U of C) campus newspaper Chicago Maroon has yet again highlighted FIRE’s red-light rating of the private institution due to its speech codes. The Maroon had published an article last year on the speech codes as well. In recent years, U of C has racked up numerous free speech controversies, including censorship of a student’s online speech, a Mohammed cartoon debacle, and censorship of a student’s Facebook album. In the latest Maroon piece, writer Maria Mauriello describes FIRE’s free speech concerns about UC, particularly regarding its bias incident policy. U of C’s speech codes employ vague and […]» Read More
May 6, 2010
Today, FIRE’s Adam Kissel will participate in an Academic Freedom Symposium hosted by the American Constitution Society, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Federalist Society at the University of Chicago Law School. The Symposium kicked off last night with a talk by Professor Aziz Huq on “Academic Freedom Around the World.” The events pick up again today with a lunch panel featuring Adam and Professor Richard Shweder of the University of Chicago to discuss “Academic Freedom in Practice.” The panel will take place at 12:15 p.m. in Room II in the law school. Certainly Adam will have plenty to […]» Read More
March 26, 2010
Which of the following expressive activities deserves more than a cursory investigation and perhaps also punishment? A. Someone sends New York Representative Louise Slaughter a message saying, according to Politico, that “snipers were being deployed to kill” the children of members of Congress who had voted in favor of recent health care legislation. B. When asked about his feelings of the American public school system, an education critic says, “I say let’s blow it up.” C. Someone comments about the model in a photograph about a new competitor to the Segway, “Totally unattractive pose … [t]he photographer should be shot.” […]» Read More
March 25, 2010
by Jill Laster The Chronicle of Higher Education A student at the University of Chicago says an innocent status update on Facebook led to an investigation by university police. Joseph Dozier, a third-year political-science and classics student, posted a comment on his Facebook page on December 6 saying “Dreamt that I assassinated John Mearsheimer for a secret Israeli organization-there was a hidden closet with Nazi paraphanelia [sic]. Haha! :-)” Mr. Mearsheimer, who has been one of Mr. Dozier’s instructors, is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago. Mr. Dozier told The Chronicle that his post referred […]» Read More
March 24, 2010
FIRE has received a couple of e-mails since today’s press release went out from correspondents who believe that, in fact, the University of Chicago did the right thing by investigating and censoring undergraduate student Tex Dozier’s Facebook statement that he had a dream that he had assassinated one of his professors, John Mearsheimer, co-author of the controversial book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, on behalf of a “secret Israeli organization.” Here’s the exact quote, in context with several of the student’s adjoining Facebook status updates (in chronological order, with identifying information redacted as ***): Homemade Indian feast compliments […]» Read More
Facebook/Twitter Joke about ‘Israel Lobby’ Author’s Assassination Leads to Police Investigation at University of Chicago
March 24, 2010
For the second time in two years, the University of Chicago has censored a student’s post on a private Facebook page. Undergraduate Joseph “Tex” Dozier posted a joke that he had dreamt about assassinating University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer “for a secret Israeli organization.” This post prompted an investigator from the university’s police department to question Dozier about his political views, suggest that he would investigate Dozier’s comments on his university radio show, and demand that Dozier remove the post or else have the post reported to Mearsheimer, one of his professors. FIRE’s press release has taken Dozier’s case […]» Read More
March 24, 2010
CHICAGO, March 24, 2010—For the second time in two years, the University of Chicago has censored a student’s post on a private Facebook page. Undergraduate Joseph “Tex” Dozier posted a joke that he had had a dream about assassinating University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer “for a secret Israeli organization.” Mearsheimer is co-author of the controversial book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. This post prompted an investigator from the university’s police department to question Dozier about his political views, suggest that he would investigate Dozier’s comments on his university radio show, and demand that Dozier remove the post or else have […]» Read More
May 15, 2009
Before heading home for a weekend of sitting out in the sun, standing in line for Star Trek or, in my case, seeing how much Lost it is possible to cram into a single weekend of house-sitting, here are a couple of worthy articles to chew on. Both, incidentally, involve the social networking site Facebook—and by association practically every college student in the fifty states. Robert’s article at Pajamas Media takes a hard look at the NCAA’s questionable practice of sending cease-and-desist letters to students unconnected with athletic departments who wish to “recruit” (in the NCAA’s eyes) sought-after college […]» Read More
May 14, 2009
The Chicago Maroon student newspaper this week reported on FIRE’s criticism of the University of Chicago’s free speech policies, particularly with regard to the U of C’s censorship of a student’s Facebook.com page. Adam discussed this ridiculous case in depth on The Torch a few days ago. The gist of the case is that a male student, angry about his ex-girlfriend’s alleged infidelity, posted an album of pictures on Facebook entitled “[Name of ex-girlfriend] cheated on me, and you’re next!” This album drew comments from other Facebook users such as “Seriously though, what a f***ing whore” (language redacted), which led […]» Read More
May 6, 2009
by Peter Sachs Chi Town Daily News A national advocacy group is raising free speech issues with the University of Chicago for demanding that a student remove derogatory information about his girlfriend from a Facebook page. The Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education compained about the incident in February, says Adam Kissel, a director at the group. “The University of Chicago is claiming the power to censor off-campus, disrespectful, allegedly disrespectful speech,” Kissel says. The incident began in January, when a U of C student posted a photo album on Facebook naming his ex-girlfriend in the title and […]» Read More
May 5, 2009
A University of Chicago dean ordered a student to change the title of his Facebook.com photo album and remove pictures of his ex-girlfriend after she complained to the dean. Dean of Students Susan Art invoked the university’s policy of “dignity and respect” and claimed the authority to police allegedly disrespectful off-campus speech, even when it appears on a personal Facebook page. Indeed, the university violates its own promises of free speech by maintaining a policy subjecting disrespectful speech to disciplinary action and a “bias incident” policy that encourages members of the university to report on the so-called biases of their […]» Read More
April 27, 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 Chicago, which FIRE has given a red-light rating for maintaining policies that gravely infringe upon free speech at the university. Although it is a private university, not legally bound by the First Amendment, the University of Chicago has nonetheless chosen to commit itself to protecting free speech on campus. The university’s protest policy, found in the Student Manual, states that The primary function […]» Read More
University of Chicago Debates Milton Friedman Institute Today, No Pre-Distribution of Materials Allowed
October 15, 2008
The academic freedom of the University of Chicago’s new $200-million Milton Friedman Institute has been under attack for a few months by some faculty members who object to its existence, its namesake, its possible influence on policy, its influence on undergraduates, or all of the above and more. In addition to these recent posts of mine, a couple of the websites of record are here (in favor of the MFI) and here (against), and on the topic of guilt-by-association with reference to Milton Friedman, here. The critics have their own right to criticize the Institute. But after their arguments were […]» Read More
November 30, 2006
Approximately 75 students and community members attended a panel discussion Tuesday about freedom of speech in the context of the controversy over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad. The panelists spoke and took questions from the audience for nearly three hours. Entitled “Free Speech and the Danish Cartoons,” the panel event featured speakers Yaron Brook, president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute; Tom Flynn, the editor of Free Inquiry magazine; and Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. According to Rebecca Knapp, a fourth-year in the College and vice president of the Objectivist Club, […]» Read More
November 16, 2006
Milton Friedman, one of the most influential economists of the twentieth century, died today at the age of 94. His many accomplishments include reviving the monetarist theory, predicting the “stagflation” of the 1970s, and creating the “Chicago School” of economics, based at the University of Chicago, where he taught. In 1976, on the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the publication of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Friedman was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. Since then, twelve faculty members and/or graduates of the economics school at the University of Chicago have followed in his footsteps and been […]» Read More
October 31, 2006
Halloween is upon us and college students all across the country will be celebrating this day by dressing up in a wide array of costumes. While some students will probably stick to classic costumes such as ghosts and vampires, some others may be thinking about slipping into scarier, more politically incorrect costumes this Halloween. For instance, in 2005, at the University of Chicago a group of students found themselves in trouble for holding a “Straight Thuggin’ Party” where students listened to rap music and dressed in hip-hop attire. Should students be afraid of disciplinary action for wearing potentially offensive Halloween costumes? […]» Read More
May 24, 2006
New York University prides itself on being a “private university in the public service,” but talk is cheap—that is, when it isn’t silenced altogether. Despite the lofty aspirations of the school’s motto, in late March NYU decided that certain types of speech on campus just aren’t entitled to the core First Amendment protections relied upon by every American with something to say. On March 30, a panel discussion entitled “Free Speech and the Danish Cartoons,” hosted by NYU’s Objectivist Club, was censored by NYU officials, who refused to allow the event to proceed as planned (and be open to the […]» Read More
April 24, 2006
Be advised, Chicago-area Torch readers: FIRE’s own Greg Lukianoff is heading your way. Our fearless leader will be part of a panel discussion on the Danish cartoons of Mohammed tomorrow night at the University of Chicago. More information can be found in our press release on the event. Incidentally, the Windy City is a very appropriate place for Greg to go these days. Chicago’s own DePaul University has been in the news repeatedly for suspending a professor for his criticism of Palestinians, squelching a student group’s efforts to protest a visit by Ward Churchill, and clamping down on an “affirmative […]» Read More
March 3, 2006
As we reported last week, FIRE is disappointed that the Supreme Court has decided not to hear Hosty v. Carter, thereby upholding the Seventh Circuit’s 2005 decision to allow public university administrators to censor student newspapers. The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) issued a press release this week airing student editors’ reactions. This decision has gained new importance in light of the recent debate surrounding the publishing of the Danish Mohammed cartoons. The Seventh Circuit encompasses Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois, and in Illinois alone, two controversies have arisen regarding the public display of the cartoons. At the University of Chicago, […]» Read More
October 20, 2005
It’s been in the news a bit recently that the Inter-University Council of Ohio passed a free-speech resolution (warning: PDF). The resolution committed Ohio’s public universities to upholding the principles enunciated in the American Council on Education’s statement from this summer, analyzed by FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff here. Here is one take on the matter from Doug Pennington, a columnist for the University of Cincinnati’s student newspaper: [T]he IUC passed a resolution on Oct. 11 confirming the following truisms: “Ohio’s four-year public universities are committed to valuing and respecting diversity of ideas, including respect for diverse political viewpoints. Neither students nor […]» Read More