University of Idaho

Location: Moscow, Idaho
Website: http://www.uidaho.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Idaho has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.

  • University of Idaho: Student Charged With Discrimination and Harassment for ‘Offensive’ Speech

    May 5, 2010

    On April 5, 2010, University of Idaho student Alex Rowson was charged with “discrimination” for saying that “illegal immigration destroyed my home state of California” when he interrupted a break in a musical concert celebrating César Chávez Day. In an unrelated incident, he was charged on April 23, 2010, with “harassing” other students by shouting that “liberalism is destroying America” during a “Take Back the Night” march. After FIRE wrote President Duane Nellis and demonstrated why the charges of “discrimination” and “harassment” were unfounded, the university eventually dropped all charges against Rowson relating to discrimination and harassment.

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Red Light Policies

  • Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Policy Pertaining Specifically to Students 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    "Sexual Harassment" is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It includes
    unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or
    physical conduct of a sexual nature.

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  • Computer Use Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies, Statement

    Users of any electronic communications shall not send or post messages that are libelous, patently offensive, or that intimidate, threaten, demean or harass individuals or groups, or that would otherwise bring discredit to the university.

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Yellow Light Policies
Green Light Policies
  • Statement of Student Rights 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Statement

    The regents recognize that students enjoy the same inalienable rights as other citizens under the constitution and laws of the United States ....

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  • Student Code of Conduct: Physical Abuse, Hazing, or Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Living together in a university community requires respect for the rights of fellow members of that community to pursue their academic goals and to participate in lawful campus or UI activities.
    Harassment;
    Hazing;
    Detention;
    Threats;
    Intimidation;
    Coercion;
    Physical abuse; or
    Similar actions, undertaken knowingly, are violations of this code.

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  • Residence Hall Handbook: Harassment 13-14

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

    University Housing works to promote a campus climate and work environment that is open and
    welcomes all people. Acts of discrimination or harassment hurt and degrade all members of the
    campus community. Every member of the campus community is responsible for creating and
    maintaining a climate free of discriminatory harassment. Actions and/or communications that
    are discriminatory or harassing are not permitted.

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  • Rowson still shakes things up

    August 23, 2010

    Alexander Rowson is no less passionate about political topics since the events of last spring, but said he has learned better outlets for it. “I want to shake things up in the area, but there are better ways to do that and that is what I am going to try to do,” Rowson said. Rowson made political comments at the Cesar Chavez and “Take Back the Night” events last spring and was initially charged with harassment and discrimination by the university. The university dropped those charges after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education wrote the dean and argued that […]

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  • University of Idaho Revises Former ‘Speech Code of the Month’ Policy

    August 12, 2010

    Good news out of the University of Idaho: the administration has revised a residence hall harassment policy that FIRE named our Speech Code of the Month in September 2009. Before it was revised, the policy provided that “Actions and/or communication that are discriminatory, harassing or insensitive are not permitted.” We wrote at the time that This policy prohibits a staggering amount of constitutionally protected speech. In fact, this policy prohibits precisely the speech that the First Amendment exists to protect, since people typically do not seek to censor sensitive, respectful expression. Moving beyond the legal issues, speech codes like this […]

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  • University of Idaho ‘Argonaut’ Covers FIRE Free Speech Case; UI Won’t Reveal Name of Secret Accuser

    June 3, 2010

    Tuesday’s Argonaut, the student newspaper of the University of Idaho (UI), covers FIRE’s case involving a student who was charged with discrimination and harassment because of political comments he made during two events. Peter wrote about the events relating to these charges last week: On or about March 30, during César Chávez Day at UI, there was a musical performance in the food court in UI’s student union building. The music was loud enough that, in Rowson’s opinion, it was disrupting his class nearby. Between songs, Rowson went to the microphone and made a political statement about “how illegal immigration […]

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  • Victory: University of Idaho Drops Charges of Harassment and Discrimination for ‘Offensive’ Speech

    May 24, 2010

    After FIRE intervened, the University of Idaho (UI) abandoned disciplinary charges of “harass[ment]” and “discrimination” against student Alexander Rowson relating to political statements he made at two campus events. On or about March 30, during César Chávez Day at UI, there was a musical performance in the food court in UI’s student union building. The music was loud enough that, in Rowson’s opinion, it was disrupting his class nearby. Between songs, Rowson went to the microphone and made a political statement about “how illegal immigration destroyed my home state of California.” His impromptu protest lasted roughly thirty seconds, he says, […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: University of Idaho

    September 1, 2009

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for September 2009: the University of Idaho. In the University of Idaho’s residence halls, “Actions and/or communication that are discriminatory, harassing or insensitive are not permitted.” (Emphasis added.) This policy prohibits a staggering amount of constitutionally protected speech. In fact, this policy prohibits precisely the speech that the First Amendment exists to protect, since people typically do not seek to censor sensitive, respectful expression. Moving beyond the legal issues, speech codes like this one infantilize college students by assuming they cannot cope with any sort of offense. Do we really want to […]

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  • Film Students Asked to Sign Disclosure of ‘Offensive’ Content

    November 28, 2006

    I don’t know why I didn’t anticipate this might happen, but now that is has, it smacks of the inevitable: A professor at the University of Idaho has asked students to sign a “statement of understanding” acknowledging that some of the films he shows may have content that is offensive to some students. Inside Higher Ed brings us the story. In a university culture where the avoidance of offense is considered a sacred principle on many campuses, it’s not surprising that Professor Dennis West would hit on a method already commonly used when engaging in nearly any activity that comes with […]

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