University of Denver

Location: Denver, Colorado
Website: http://www.du.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 10th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Denver 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.

  • University of Denver: Sexual Harassment Finding Violates Professor’s Academic Freedom in the Classroom

    November 4, 2011

    In April 2011, veteran professor Arthur Gilbert was investigated for sexual harassment after two students anonymously submitted complaints stemming from his course “The Domestic and International Consequences of the Drug War.” Gilbert’s dean, Ambassador Christopher R. Hill, suspended Gilbert from campus while he was investigated by DU’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity (ODEO) and Department of Human Resources. ODEO found that Gilbert would have created a hostile environment if his class had been a regular workplace, but acknowledged the special characteristics of the classroom environment and deferred judgment. Hill declared Gilbert guilty, however, without considering Gilbert’s academic freedom or […]

    » Read More
Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Conduct Policies: Violation of Equal Opportunity Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Prohibited harassment occurs if a hostile environment has been created that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to unreasonably interfere with a person’s work performance or participation in University programming/activities. … Prohibited harassment may take the form of (but is not limited to) offensive slurs, jokes, and other offensive oral, written, computer-generated, visual or physical conduct which is aimed at an individual or group because of their protected status.

    » Read More

  • University Honor Code Statement 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience

    All members of the University of Denver are expected to uphold the values of Integrity, Respect, and Responsibility. These values embody the standards of conduct for students, faculty, staff, and administrators as members of the University community. Our values are defined as: … Respect: honoring differences in people, ideas, and opinions.

    » Read More

  • Student Activities Policies: Protests, Rally’s or Vigils 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    All protests, rallies and vigils must be approved by Student Activities.

    » Read More

  • Guidelines for Campus Demonstrations 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    Driscoll Lawn is the recommended venue for demonstrations and protests. The use of this venue or other venues may be reserved through the Director of the Driscoll Center’s Office. These spaces are made available to the campus community on a first-come, first-serve basis. During certain campus-wide events (including but not necessarily limited to Homecoming and Commencement), the area for which demonstrations are recommended may be moved north to the Ritchie Center Lawn in front of the Coors Fitness Center or to another location to avoid congestion on Driscoll Lawn.

    Representatives of the sponsoring department or organization wishing to stage a demonstration will complete an Application Form for Demonstration, Rallies or Picketing at least two (2) business days before the event. (Forms are located in the Campus Life Office).

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • Vision and Values 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    The mission of the University of Denver is to promote learning by engaging with students in advancing scholarly inquiry, cultivating critical and creative thought and generating knowledge.

    » Read More

  • Student Conduct Policies: Violation of Equal Opportunity Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature will constitute “sexual harassment” when: … Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for working or learning.

    » Read More


  • Reload and Fight

    December 13, 2011

    A University of Denver professor plans to teach the same course next spring on the domestic and international consequences of the drug war that led to two anonymous student complaints, resulting in his being suspended this year for more than 100 days. The complaints centered on a few sexual references that civil liberties groups say were completely harmless and should never have led to any action being taken against the professor. Following the suspension, the course was taught by three other instructors, including a graduate student. That decision by university administrators against Arthur N. Gilbert, associate professor at the Josef […]

    » Read More
  • College ignoring professor’s freedom

    November 28, 2011

    by Bob Kellogg OneNewsNow The University of Denver is refusing to reconsider its violation of the academic freedom of a professor who has been teaching for 50 years. Professor Arthur Gilbert was placed on administrative leave after anonymous complaints were filed about his making statements in class that constituted sexual harassment. But even though his peers conducted an investigation that found the charges were without merit, the school refuses to reconsider its decision. “The university actually declined to take into account the fact that his academic peers did not believe that he had done anything wrong,” notes Robert Sibley of the Foundation […]

    » Read More
  • The End to My ‘Sexy’ Academic Career

    July 26, 2013

     Madeline Gootman is a FIRE summer intern. As most of my friends will tell you, I am an outspoken young woman when it comes to matters of sexuality and sexual health. I recently joined the Vanderbilt Peer Sex Educators, an organization of students formed to increase the campus dialogue surrounding sexual health. In addition to my extracurriculars surrounding sexuality (I also work at the Women’s Center on campus), I am majoring in Women and Gender Studies.  After hearing about my very feminist list of extracurriculars, a reasonable person might assume that I would not have a problem with the May 9 […]

    » Read More
  • Four Key Points About Free Speech and the Feds’ ‘Blueprint’

    July 15, 2013

    It’s been more than two months since FIRE and the higher ed community were shocked by a letter issued jointly by the Departments of Education and Justice to the University of Montana. FIRE staff have blogged extensively about the Departments’ “blueprint” for campus sexual harassment in the last 10 weeks, but there are four crucial points that I believe bear special emphasis. 1. Overbroad and vague harassment rationales have been the primary justification and legal theorybehind campus speech codes since the 1980s.  In one sense, the attempt to stretch the definition of harassment beyond all recognition is nothing new. Speech codes came into vogue on campuses […]

    » Read More
  • Please Explain Why Putting University Administrators in Charge of Judging Speech Is a Good Idea

    July 9, 2013

    Architect Rolls and Plans – Shutterstock My colleagues have done a thorough job of explaining why defenders of the Department of Education’s “blueprint” for preventing campus sexual harassment are on very shaky legal and logical ground. They have pointed out that some of ED’s allies have misquoted the findings letter and mocked Senator John McCain’s serious questions about the threat to free speech and about OCR’s authority to impose this blueprint. Other defenders of the blueprint have brushed away concerns by portraying its definition of sexual harassment as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” as simply a way of encouraging reporting. […]

    » Read More
  • U. of Denver Hides Behind Title IX to Justify Persecution of Veteran Professor

    January 11, 2013

    Throughout the maddening case of veteran University of Denver (DU) Professor Arthur Gilbert, the DU administration has employed a “trust us” defense when questioned about its repeated, well-documented violations of Gilbert’s rights to free speech, academic freedom, and due process. Gilbert was suspended from the DU campus for more than 100 days and found guilty of sexual harassment based on the content of his graduate-course lectures. DU has refused to consider the academic context of the case over the objections of FIRE, DU’s Faculty Review Committee, the American Association of University Professors (both the national organization and the DU chapter), […]

    » Read More
  • DU ‘Clarion’ Highlights University’s Appearance in ‘Unlearning Liberty’

    November 8, 2012

    The Clarion, the student newspaper at the University of Denver (DU), has published an article noting the inclusion of DU professor Arthur Gilbert’s case in FIRE president Greg Lukianoff’s new book Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. Given the outrageousness of Gilbert’s treatment by DU, that inclusion is well deserved. Clarion reporter Anita Balakrishnan does a good job explaining DU’s prosecution of Professor Gilbert for sexual harassment and the opposition it encountered. (Readers can also acquaint themselves with the case by reading this chronology.) Gilbert’s ordeal started after the submission of two anonymous complaints by students […]

    » Read More
  • U of Denver Faculty Senate to Administration: Vacate Tenured Professor’s ‘Harassment’ Finding

    May 30, 2012

    For more than a year now, Professor Arthur Gilbert, a tenured professor in the University of Denver’s (DU’s) Josef Korbel School of International Studies, has been fighting for his free speech and academic freedom against DU’s gross intrusions and disregard for due process. As we first documented here in the fall, Gilbert was summarily removed from the DU campus after two students submitted anonymous complaints that he had created a hostile environment while teaching his graduate course “The Domestic and International Consequences of the Drug War.” In ultimately finding Gilbert guilty, DU disregarded a scathing report from DU’s Faculty Review […]

    » Read More
  • Univ. of Denver Fails to Scare Prof Away from Teaching Drug War Course

    January 11, 2012

    Cory Lamz, Editor-in-Chief of the University of Denver (DU) student newspaper The Clarion, writes this week, as FIRE reported recently, that international studies professor Arthur Gilbert will again teach his course on “The Domestic and International Consequences of the Drug War.” This is no small thing, given that when Gilbert—whose service to DU spans roughly 50 years—taught the graduate-level course last year, two students submitted anonymous complaints of sexual harassment over the allegedly sexualized nature of the course topics and teaching, despite the ample warning given on the course’s syllabus. Gilbert was never allowed to see the complaints for himself. […]

    » Read More
  • U. of Denver’s Shame in ‘Inside Higher Ed’

    December 14, 2011

    Following FIRE’s Monday press release, Inside Higher Ed has published an article on the poor climate for academic freedom in light of the University of Denver’s (DU’s) action against a professor. Following two anonymous complaints over his teaching of a graduate-level course on “The Domestic and International Consequences of the Drug War,” DU charged tenured professor Arthur Gilbert with sexual harassment and suspended him from campus pending an investigation. DU ultimately declared Gilbert, a tenured professor with decades of service to DU’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, guilty of sexual harassment. It did so despite the reservations of its […]

    » Read More
  • University of Denver Calls Teaching ‘Sexual Harassment,’ Ignores Faculty; AAUP Launches Inquiry

    December 12, 2011

    DENVER, December 12, 2011—University of Denver Professor Arthur N. Gilbert is daring to teach his “Drug War” course again after the university violated his academic freedom and suspended him earlier this year, deeming his teaching about sexual issues to be “sexual harassment.” Over the objections of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a faculty committee, and the University of Denver chapter of the American Association of University Professors (DU AAUP), DU refuses to correct its error. On November 30, the national AAUP opened an inquiry into the case. “To remove a professor from the university without any hearing on the […]

    » Read More
  • University of Denver Professor’s Plight Featured in ‘The Denver Post’

    December 1, 2011

    FIRE has been closely following the case of University of Denver (DU) professor Arthur Gilbert, who was investigated and found guilty of sexual harassment after two anonymous students complained about the content of his course, “The Domestic and International Consequences of the Drug War.” In The Denver Post yesterday, reporter Kevin Smith highlighted the due process and academic freedom concerns raised by DU’s handling of this case. He quotes FIRE’s own Peter Bonilla on the subject: “[T]he University of Denver was not interested in the academic freedom issues of his case,” said Peter Bonilla, assistant director of FIRE’s individual rights […]

    » Read More
  • Concerns raised about academic freedom over University of Denver professor’s punishment

    November 30, 2011

    Others at DU come to defense of punished professor by Kevin Simpson The Denver Post   A charge of sexual harassment that resulted in the suspension of a University of Denver professor last spring has spiraled into an argument over academic freedom that has attracted national attention. The school found that Arthur Gilbert, a tenured professor at DU’s Korbel School of International Studies, “created a sexual harassment hostile environment” in a class he taught for more than 20 years called “The Domestic and International Consequences of the Drug War.” Responding to complaints from two graduate students, the university investigated nine […]

    » Read More
  • University of Denver Student Speaks out Against Punishment of Professor

    November 21, 2011

    The punishment of Professor Arthur Gilbert, a University of Denver (DU) faculty member with more than 50 years of teaching experience, has provoked much outrage from the community. The fact pattern of his case makes this reaction understandable. Gilbert was suspended from the DU campus and investigated on the basis of two anonymous complaints about the allegedly sexualized nature of his course on the history of America’s drug wars and the negative effects of “purity crusades” (this content was made clear in the course’s syllabus). The investigation, conducted by human resources administrators, found that in a regular workplace, his discussion […]

    » Read More
  • University of Denver Refuses to Reconsider Violation of 50-Year Veteran Professor’s Academic Freedom

    November 18, 2011

    Over the objections of FIRE, a faculty committee, and the University of Denver Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (DU AAUP), the University of Denver (DU) has refused to reconsider its violation of Professor Arthur N. Gilbert’s academic freedom. DU had suspended Gilbert earlier this year after receiving anonymous complaints of sexual harassment about his class, but all of the comments in question were based on academic material relevant to the class. Although DU claims in a letter to FIRE that it “carefully” investigated the claims, DU never evaluated Gilbert’s comments in the context of the classroom environment. Professor Gilbert is […]

    » Read More
  • University of Denver AAUP Echoes Call to Restore Academic Freedom to DU

    November 15, 2011

    In a letter to the University of Denver’s provost and president on November 12, 17 members of the University of Denver chapter of the American Association of University Professors (DU AAUP) echoed FIRE’s concern for academic freedom in the case of DU professor Arthur Gilbert, whom DU found guilty of sexual harassment for relevant classroom comments that apparently were never investigated from an academic perspective. That’s really important: context matters a huge amount. There are a lot of things you can and should say in a class about moral taboos that probably have no reason to come up in, say, […]

    » Read More
  • Carroll: Prof’s rights disregarded by DU

    November 5, 2011

    by Vincent Carroll The Denver Post   Shouldn’t a fellow who’s been on the job for 50 years — and who’s been touted occasionally by his university employer in public promotions — be allowed to tell his story before anonymous complaints drive him from the classroom? Shouldn’t he be questioned first even if the complaints allege, according to the dean of his school, that he’d created “a sexual harassment hostile environment” in his classroom? In fact, shouldn’t his version of events be especially relevant under the circumstances, given the damage such allegations could inflict on his reputation? University of Denver […]

    » Read More
  • University of Denver Attacks Academic Freedom With Punishment of 50-Year Veteran Professor

    October 27, 2011

    The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Peter Schmidt reports this week on a deeply troubling case involving a tenured professor at the University of Denver. DU Provost Gregg Kvistad has largely affirmed the punishment of Professor Arthur N. Gilbert over the objections of a faculty committee, which cited serious concerns about academic freedom and due process in DU’s suspension of the professor after receiving anonymous complaints alleging that he created a hostile sexual environment in his class. Having followed Gilbert’s grievance for several weeks now, we had hoped that DU would pay heed to the concerns of the faculty committee reviewing […]

    » Read More