Location: Moscow, Idaho
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit
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.
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.» Read More
Red Light Policies
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
A-1. “Gender-Based Harassment” includes acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.
A-2. “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. Sexual Violence is a form of Sexual Harassment.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
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.
Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
Interference, disturbance, or obstruction of any other student or staff member by means of noise, abusive language or other nuisance.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
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.
Physical abuse; or
Similar actions, undertaken knowingly, are violations of this code.
Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility, StatementUniversity 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.
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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, […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More