Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Federal Circuit: 8th Circuit
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities 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.
Red Light Policies
Disorderly conduct within or immediately surrounding the residence halls/University apartments is not permitted. Knowing or having reasonable grounds to know, that one’s behavior will or potentially could cause alarm, anger, harm, or disturb others, or provoke an assault or breach of peace, is prohibited. Participants are responsible for engaging in disorderly conduct when they commit or intend to commit any of the following:
e. use of obscene, or abusive language, or engaging in conduct that would reasonably tend to cause alarm, anger, fear, or resentment in others;
j. hate/bias incidents that use language, signs, symbols or threats that would reasonably tend to arouse, alarm, anger, fear or resentment in others or would endanger the health safety and welfare of a member(s) of the University community.
Harassment on the basis of race or color is a violation if the conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment, or interferes with an individual’s work or educational performance. Racial slurs or jokes and verbal or physical conduct motivated by an individual’s race or color are unacceptable in the University educational and work community.
What do we mean by “bias incident”? Expressions of disrespectful bias, hate, harassment or hostility against an individual or group because of the individual or group’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, gender identification, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status and/or sexual orientation can be forms of discrimination. Expressions vary, and can be in the form of language, words, signs, symbols, threats, or actions that could potentially cause alarm, anger, fear, or resentment in others, or that endanger the health, safety, and welfare of a member(s) of the University community, even when presented as a joke.
All outdoor space events require significant planning time. For most events, 10 business days is the required minimum in order for your group to obtain space, however, if your event includes any displays or requires security, 20 business days is required. Your group may be required to have a longer timeline (up to 12 weeks) dependent upon the nature and scale of your event due to the large number of permits and approvals that may be required. For any outdoor event, submit your application as early as possible and work closely with a Student Activities Advisor to ensure successful planning.
Our community members are responsible for establishing a safe and inclusive community by interrupting social injustice, championing those negatively affected by bias or intolerance, and exploring social justice through the sharing of ideas and life experiences. This commitment is founded on the principle of doing no harm and requires community members to take responsibility for their own actions and learning, to address and report acts of bias or intolerance, and to be inclusive in language and behavior.
Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action: Definition- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination 13-14
Harassment on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation if the conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment, or interferes with an individual’s work or educational performance. Slurs, jokes, and verbal or physical conduct motivated by an individual’s sexual orientation is unacceptable in the University educational and work environment.
Bullying means aggressive behavior directed at another person, either in person or through electronic means, that causes stress or harm and that is repeated over time, including but not limited to assaulting, defaming, terrorizing, making obscene gestures, or invading privacy.
Under the United States Constitution, freedom of speech is a guaranteed right.
Harm to person means engaging in conduct that endangers or threatens to endanger the physical and/or mental health, safety, or welfare of another person, including, but not limited to, threatening, stalking, harassing, intimidating, or assaulting behavior.
“Sexual harassment” means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: … such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment in any University activity or program.
December 28, 2009
When a child doesn’t finish his homework, who’s at fault? The Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Group in the University of Minnesota’s teacher-education program wants every teacher blaming things like “white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity and internalized oppression.” Those who don’t, these professors believe, are unfit to be teachers. These professors plainly want everybody to share their ideology. Fair enough. But they don’t want to limit themselves to persuasion — they want to use the university’s power to demand that all teachers conform to their political litmus test. Thus the task group’s “final report” recommends ideological screening of applicants […]» Read More
December 21, 2009
By this stage, many people around town – and not a few across the country – have heard of the controversy surrounding a task force report on “Race, Culture, Class, and Gender” coming out of the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at the University of Minnesota. My friend and former American Experiment colleague Kathy Kersten has written about the document twice in the Star Tribune, national organizations such as the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) have blasted it, FOX News has jumped in, and who knows how many bloggers have […]» Read More
December 12, 2009
In this age of political correctness, a college student’s best friend is FIRE — the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Since 1999, FIRE has safeguarded the civil rights of students across the ideological spectrum — winning victories at 121 colleges and universities, bringing an end to 81 unconstitutional or repressive policies, and benefiting 2.7 million students. Now, FIRE is riding to the rescue of students at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where a heavy-handed attempt at thought control is underway. The Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Group of the U’s College of Education and Human Development has […]» Read More
December 10, 2009
After receiving a $4.5 million grant from the Bush Foundation on Friday to overhaul teacher education curriculum, the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development is moving forward with what has become a controversial redesign of its teaching curriculum. The Teacher Education Redesign Initiative (TERI) began about three years ago and has gained more momentum in the past year. The initiative aims to work with area K-12 schools to find out what qualities good teachers should have and then incorporate those qualities into the curriculum. Seven task groups worked over the summer to propose ideas for the curriculum […]» Read More
December 2, 2009
by Peter Schmidt The Chronicle of Higher Education The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has come under pressure to reject a faculty panel’s proposal to require students in its education school to doubt the United States is a meritocracy and to demonstrate an understanding of concepts such as “white privilege.” Conservative pundits and a prominent free-speech advocacy group have attacked the education-school panel, called the Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group, which has said future teachers should “understand the importance of cultural identity” and “be able to discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white […]» Read More
November 30, 2009
Thanks to the efforts of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education—and a rare, if welcome, instance of Congress standing up for students’ rights in higher education—the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) abandoned its de facto “social justice” criterion. Yet while the development made it harder for Education schools to use “social justice” and “diversity” to demand ideological fidelity from students, the ideologues that populate such programs have hardly ceased their efforts. Only now they must take accountability for their actions. A good example of the continuing problem is […]» Read More
December 31, 2012
The Wall Street Journal this weekend featured an in-depth look at administrative bloat in the University of Minnesota system, where (as in many places in academia) the ranks of administrators are growing far more quickly than those of faculty or students. As authors Douglas Belkin and Scott Thurm write: Many of the newly hired, it turns out, were doing little teaching. A Wall Street Journal analysis of University of Minnesota salary and employment records from 2001 through last spring shows that the system added more than 1,000 administrators over that period. Their ranks grew 37%, more than twice as fast […]» Read More
October 16, 2012
Last week, FIRE kicked off a blog series about how schools can reform problematic speech codes with a discussion of why mandating “civility” is inconsistent with students’ right to free speech. This week, we are tackling another trouble spot for free speech: the harassment policy. As an initial matter, campus harassment policies can be divided into two categories: policies prohibiting discriminatory harassment (including sexual harassment) and policies prohibiting general harassment (including threats and stalking). It will be most useful to discuss these categories separately. Discriminatory Harassment Federal anti-discrimination law requires colleges and universities receiving federal funding (which is virtually all […]» Read More
June 26, 2012
There is tragic news from Minnesota today. Amanda Tatro, the student plaintiff in Tatro v. University of Minnesota (in which FIRE filed an amici curiae brief along with the Student Press Law Center), has reportedly died at the age of 31. FIRE’s thoughts are with Amanda Tatro’s husband and family at this difficult time.» Read More
June 22, 2012
As discussed here on The Torch, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a ruling (PDF) Wednesday in Tatro v. University of Minnesota, finding that the University of Minnesota did not violate mortuary science student Amanda Tatro’s First Amendment rights by punishing her for the content of Facebook posts discussing her classroom work with cadavers. While the state’s highest court reached the same ultimate result as the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ troublingly broad July 2011 decision, it did so on far narrower grounds—a much better result for free speech on campus. The court held that public universities do not violate the First […]» Read More
June 20, 2012
Earlier today, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a ruling (PDF) in Tatro v. University of Minnesota, an important student free speech case. The state Supreme Court upheld the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ problematic July 2011 decision, finding that the University of Minnesota did not violate the First Amendment rights of mortuary sciences student Amanda Tatro by punishing her for the content of her Facebook posts. Despite the disappointing affirmation of the lower court’s ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court’s opinion is in some respects a significant improvement from the Court of Appeals’ earlier decision. The Supreme Court’s opinion explicitly cabins a […]» Read More
February 17, 2012
Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Tatro v. University of Minnesota, a controversial case involving the punishment of a mortuary sciences student for comments posted on Facebook. FIRE and the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) submitted an amici curiae brief on behalf of student Amanda Tatro, arguing that her punishment violated the First Amendment and would establish a dangerous precedent if allowed to stand. Now, as we settle in and wait for the court’s opinion, University of Minnesota student newspaper the Minnesota Daily is weighing in with opinions and more information about the case. On Monday, […]» Read More
February 9, 2012
Yesterday, the Minnesota Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Tatro v. University of Minnesota. As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Tatro concerns the University of Minnesota’s punishment of mortuary sciences student Amanda Tatro for off-campus comments she posted on Facebook that her school labeled as threatening. However, as FIRE argued in an amici curiae brief filed along with the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) before the Minnesota Supreme Court, Tatro’s expression was clearly protected and non-threatening, and the implications of granting the universities the right to police such off-campus, online speech would be very damaging […]» Read More
December 28, 2011
While FIRE has won numerous victories this year in working to protect individual rights on college campuses, 2011 was a mixed year for the defense of students’ rights by the courts. Importantly, this year highlighted divergent theories of the First Amendment rights of students off campus. While some courts have held that schools are limited by the First Amendment in what they can regulate off campus, other courts this year held that things students say off campus can have almost unlimited disciplinary consequences on campus. This is a troubling trend, outlined in several cases below. In June, the United States […]» Read More
July 12, 2011
In a troubling ruling (PDF) for speech on campus issued yesterday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that a public university student’s First Amendment rights are not violated by discipline meted out for social networking posts when such posts “materially and substantially disrupted the work and discipline of the university.” The facts of the case, Tatro v. University of Minnesota, are certainly unique, even within the always interesting realm of First Amendment law. University of Minnesota (UM) undergraduate student Amanda Tatro studies in the university’s mortuary sciences program. As part of the program’s coursework, Tatro and other students participate in “laboratory […]» Read More
‘Omaha World-Herald’ Covers U. Minnesota’s Teacher Ed Scandal Regarding ‘Cultural Competence’ Requirement
July 11, 2011
Yesterday the Omaha World-Herald covered the teacher education scandal at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, where the Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group proposed an ideological litmus test for future teachers based on a highly politicized notion of "cultural competence." FIRE intervened, and the case made national news before the university’s top lawyer finally promised that the university would never screen out prospective students with the "wrong" views. Yesterday’s article connects this scandal to a decision in April 2011 by the Omaha school board to buy 8,000 copies of a book arguing that teachers should "take action for […]» Read More
March 22, 2010
Last March and November, my colleague Azhar Majeed noted the extra steps that some faculty bodies are taking to preserve their academic freedom in response to the ambiguous statement by the Supreme Court in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006) explicitly reserving judgment on the question of whether faculty members at public colleges and universities, despite the special importance of academic freedom and the societal benefit of having professors speak freely on issues related to institutional governance and areas of their professional expertise, are protected by the First Amendment when they do so because, in the end, they are […]» Read More
March 18, 2010
A report on higher education in Minnesota released this morning by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) with the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota features FIRE’s work defending the First Amendment in the state. The report, “At a Crossroads: A Report Card on Public Higher Education in Minnesota” (PDF), includes a survey of students that presents some disturbing findings. Of most interest for Torch readers are the responses to these two questions from a professional poll taken of students at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus and St. Cloud State University: “On my campus, there are certain topics or viewpoints that […]» Read More
January 15, 2010
Regular Torch readers are familiar with the scandal created by the Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development when the task group proposed an ideological litmus test for teachers based on a highly politicized view of “cultural competence.” Fortunately, after extensive public attention, the university’s top lawyer promised that the university will never “mandate any particular beliefs, or screen out people with ‘wrong beliefs’ from the University.” The first test of that promise is concluding this afternoon as I write and as the college’s two-day Teacher Education Redesign Initiative […]» Read More
January 8, 2010
Even during the supposedly slow Christmas-to-New-Year’s stretch, FIRE’s cases continued to captivate the media, none more so than the recent brouhaha at Yale over a censored F. Scott Fitzgerald-quoting t-shirt calling Harvard men “sissies.” Following Greg’s earlier writings in The Huffington Post, Robert wrote on the case for Pajamas Media. (Knowing such PC nonsense when he saw it, Glenn Reynolds tipped them both at Instapundit.) Both The Boston Globe and U.S. News & World Report have picked up the story as well. And in a wonderfully caustic post, Write Bastard blogger Ian Wood heaps scorn on Yale, where apparently “the […]» Read More
December 28, 2009
Today’s issue of the New York Post features an op-ed by FIRE’s Adam Kissel, in which he discusses the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities’ plan to impose a political litmus test on future teachers enrolled in its College of Education and Human Development. The plan would have redesigned the curriculum to enforce a narrow view of “cultural competence” and sought to require each student in the program to accept theories of “white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression.” Adam explains in his article: The task group also wants teachers to blame themselves. This isn’t about admitting that they need to […]» Read More
Victory for Freedom of Conscience as University of Minnesota Backs Away from Ideological Screening for Ed Students
December 23, 2009
Today’s press release reports that the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities has backed away from its plans to enforce a political litmus test for future teachers. As Torch readers know, the plans from its College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) involved redesigning admissions and the curriculum to enforce an ideology centered on a narrow view of “cultural competence.” Those with the “wrong” views were to receive remedial re-education, be weeded out, or be denied admission altogether. In a letter to FIRE, however, the university’s top lawyer has now promised that the university will never “mandate any particular beliefs, or screen out people with ‘wrong beliefs’ from the University.” […]» Read More
Will the University of Minnesota Board of Regents Need to Intervene to Protect Freedom of Conscience?
December 18, 2009
Yesterday, FIRE reported that the University of Minnesota, in the face of widespread national outrage in the media, is defending the indefensible: a set of plans to impose an ideological litmus test on future teachers. The desire to teach “cultural competence” or to expose students to any set of values and beliefs is not itself a matter of individual rights—indeed, FIRE would defend professors against any effort to ban specific views from the classroom—but these plans cross the line by declaring that students without the approved values, attitudes, and beliefs are not “competent” enough to become teachers. This morning, the […]» Read More
University of Minnesota Defends Ideological Screening for Ed Students; Academic Freedom Committee Meets Friday
December 17, 2009
Today’s press release explains that the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities has chosen to defend its plans to enforce a political litmus test for future teachers in the face of national outrage, rather than repudiate the parts of the plans that violate the academic freedom and freedom of conscience of future teachers. The plans from the university’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) involve redesigning admissions and the curriculum to enforce an ideology centered on a narrow view of “cultural competence.” Those with the “wrong” views are to receive remedial re-education, be weeded out, or be denied admission altogether. After […]» Read More
December 1, 2009
The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities College of Education & Human Development’s proposals to mandate the beliefs and values of its students have generated widespread attention since Katherine Kersten first reported on them in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and FIRE’s letter expressing deep concern over the proposed requirements has served to further intensify the spotlight on the college’s plans. An intense debate about the college’s proposals has ensued in the media and across the blogosphere. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has editorialized about the proposals, and Power Line and many other bloggers are appalled by the threats that the proposals pose to the individual liberties […]» Read More
November 30, 2009
Given the uproar over the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities’ (U of M’s) plans to implement a re-education program for future teachers, which has generated quite a bit of media coverage in recent days, FIRE will be shining the spotlight heavily on U of M. We have already sent a letter to U of M President Robert H. Bruininks laying out our many concerns about the program. Today, I would like to examine U of M’s speech codes and explain why FIRE has given the university a red-light rating in Spotlight, our comprehensive database on university speech codes. The University of Minnesota-Twin […]» Read More
November 30, 2009
Last week, FIRE wrote University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (U of M) President Robert H. Bruininks about the proposed political and ideological litmus test for future teachers at U of M’s College of Education and Human Development. The college intends to mandate particular beliefs and values—”dispositions and commitments”—for future teachers. These are not just things like the disposition to deal with classroom discipline, but demands that future teachers demonstrate “cultural competence” as defined by the college’s Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group. The college even intends to redesign its admissions process so that it screens out people with the “wrong” beliefs and values as […]» Read More
In Letter to President of University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, FIRE Expresses Deep Concern over Political Litmus Test
November 25, 2009
FIRE sent a letter to University of Minnesota-Twin Cities President Robert H. Bruininks today, expressing deep concern over proposals generated by the College of Education and Human Development’s Teacher Education Redesign Initiative task groups. As Adam, who authored today’s letter, detailed in full yesterday here on The Torch, the “Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group” has proposed mandating certain beliefs and values—”dispositions”—for future teachers. Further, the College evidently plans to implement a screening procedure so that potential students with the “wrong” beliefs who seek admission will be excluded from participation. FIRE’s letter asks that the university abandon the proposals […]» Read More
November 24, 2009
All signs are that the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is planning to enforce a political litmus test for future teachers. The university’s College of Education and Human Development intends to mandate certain beliefs and values—”dispositions”—for future teachers. Yet that is not enough. It even intends to redesign its admissions process so that it screens out people with the wrong beliefs and values-those who it judges will not be able to be brought around to the correct beliefs and values of “cultural competence” even after remedial training. The college’s Teacher Education Redesign Initiative includes several task groups. The Race, Culture, Class, […]» Read More