Location: Durham, New Hampshire
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit
University of New Hampshire 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.
October 22, 2004
Timothy Garneau, a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, was evicted from his dorm for posting fliers joking that freshman women could lose the “Freshman 15″ by walking up the dormitory stairs. Garneau was charged with offenses including “acts of dishonesty”; violation of “affirmative action” policies; “harassment”; and “conduct which is disorderly, lewd.” FIRE wrote UNH President Ann Weaver Hart explaining that posting a satirical flier was protected speech under the First Amendment, and that evicting Garneau from housing was an outrageous violation of his rights. UNH’s Judicial and Mediation Programs Office informed Garneau that UNH had rescinded all […]» Read More
Red Light Policies
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Sexual harassment is unwanted and unwelcome behavior, or attention, of a sexual nature that interferes with your life. Sexual advances, forced sexual activity, statements about sexual orientation or sexuality, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature all constitute sexual harassment. The behavior may be direct or implied. Sexual harassment can affect an individual’s work or school performance, and can create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
Use of University computer facilities and/or computing technology to send or post obscene, harassing, or abusive messages.
Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
A license/permit shall be required by all students, University units and groups for outdoor assemblies, solicitation, and distribution of literature, and upon approval, shall be issued by the Chief of Police or designee, University of New Hampshire Police Department (862-1427), subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions.
Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
A bias incident is an act of a threat or act of harassment or intimidation, verbal, written or physical which is personally directed against or targets either an individual student/faculty/staff member or a group because of their actual or perceived race, color, veteran status or marital status or other category protected by law or UNH policy…. Hypothetical examples depending on the totality of the circumstances: anonymous acts of vandalism to public posters by defacing them with bias-related symbols or slogans, targeted vandalism on a student’s door directed at his/her protected status by writing homophobic, ethnic, or racial epithets on dry-erase boards, directing slurs at a group or individual (whether in person or electronically) by telling derogatory gender- or ethnic-based jokes or making insulting comments about an individual’s traditional manner of dress or geographic origin, harassment that interferes with a person’s educational experience or employment by displaying sexually suggestive objects or pictures in the workplace or academic environment except as those items may be part of legitimate pedagogical pursuits.
Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
[I]n accordance with the SRRR and applicable law, residents or guests shall not harass, intimidate, threaten or abuse a guest or fellow resident through speech, conduct or writing. Isolated or incidental breaches of civility shall normally be treated as opportunities to counsel an offending student, with or without a formal warning. Repeated or knowing threats, harassment, intimidation or abuse sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of another resident’s sleep, study or repose may result in conduct charges or eviction.
Speech Code Category: Posting Policies
Students and guests are also prohibited from displaying materials that advertises or promotes drugs or alcohol, use gratuitous profane or vulgar language, or that are harassing or threatening to others.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
The University is committed as well to the free and open exchange of ideas, active discourse, and critical debate so necessary to a university. Accordingly, all members of the University of New Hampshire community have the right to hold and vigorously defend and promote their opinions. The exercise of this right may result in members of the community being exposed to ideas that they considered unorthodox, controversial, or even repugnant. It is the policy of the University of New Hampshire to uphold the constitutional rights of all members of the university community ….
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
The requirements of federal and state law determine the definition of discriminatory harassment. The relevant body of law stipulates that any behavior may be considered to be harassing when: … such behavior unjustly, substantially, unreasonably and/or consistently interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance or creates an intimidating environment.
In determining whether discriminatory harassment exists, the University will evaluate the evidence from the standpoint of a reasonable person’s reaction and perspective under the circumstances presented.
[T]he following are examples of behaviors that may be judged to be harassing: repeatedly directing racial epithets at an individual; hanging a noose in an African-American’s work place or dormitory; painting a Nazi swastika on the door of a Jewish individual; repeatedly sending unwelcome, sexually-explicit e-mail messages; taunting a person about his or her sexual orientation, disability, or religion; making unwelcome sexual propositions; repeatedly telling derogatory gender-based or ethnic-based jokes; displaying sexually suggestive objects or pictures in the workplace except as those items may be part of legitimate pedagogical pursuits; giving unwelcome hugs or repeatedly brushing or touching others.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
October 15, 2012
If you feel that the quality of our national dialogue is at an all—time low, you’re not alone. But why, in a day and age when more of us are college educated than ever before, are we losing the ability to engage in informed, meaningful debate? Shouldn’t we be living in some kind of golden age of national dialogue? In our latest video (see below), the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, where I work) sheds light on one potential contributing factor to this incongruity: decades of censorship on the modern college campus is teaching students all the wrong lessons […]» Read More
April 6, 2005
On March 22, David Huffman spoke out in the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) student newspaper against being excluded from an on-campus public event. He was excluded for being male. The incident spotlights the shell game being run on state campuses across North America under the guise of free speech. As a student, Huffman’s fees paid for the public forum from which he was barred. As taxpayers, his family underwrote his being treated like a black in the Ante-Bellum South. Critical commentary on the incident has dwelled upon freedom of speech. But such commentaries miss the deeper point that ‘freedom […]» Read More
March 10, 2005
This past Tuesday, David French, HLS ’94, President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), spoke to a gathering of HLS students about how restrictive speech codes at universities are undermining the educational values upon which these universities are founded. French observed that even though he came to HLS from a religious college, not much changed in terms of the educational atmosphere. “I was going from one religious school to another religious school…it was just a different kind of religion.” This was a time according to French when Harvard was referred to as “Beirut on the Charles”.Upon arriving […]» Read More
March 10, 2005
Every year when I attend a national conference of administrators for America’s colleges and universities, one message comes through loud and clear: claims of harassment, sexual or otherwise, are out of control. At this conference, experts review harassment case law, recent suits and settlements from across the country. They also tell horror stories of absurd harassment accusations they have battled and quote statistics placing the cost of defending just one of these suits, no matter how frivolous, at hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the average award to plaintiffs equally high. In my work at the Foundation for Individual Rights […]» Read More
October 31, 2004
DURHAM – A sophomore at the University of New Hampshire has been evicted from his dorm for posting fliers urging women to lose weight by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Timothy Garneau, 20, of Berlin, said he posted the fliers as a joke because he was tired of waiting so long for the elevator. Garneau lived on the seventh floor of Stoke Hall. Garneau posted fliers Sept. 3 that showed a fit woman in a leotard and said: “Nine out of 10 freshman girls gain 10 to 15 pounds. But there is something you can do about it. […]» Read More
October 30, 2004
DURHAM — A University of New Hampshire student banned from his dorm for posting fliers that urged freshmen women to lose weight by taking stairs instead of an elevator says he won’t accept a watered down UNH judicial finding that might let him move back in to campus housing. “Definitely not,” said UNH sophomore Timothy Garneau, 20. “I’m appealing it. I firmly believe that if I did accept the situation that I got today, that I would not be placed back in housing.” Garneau was kicked out of his Stoke Hall dormitory on Sunday after UNH’s Judicial and Mediation […]» Read More
October 29, 2004
DURHAM – A University of New Hampshire sophomore was expelled from his dormitory last week for hanging a poster implying that freshman girls could avoid gaining the “freshman 15″ by using the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Timothy Garneau, 20, of Berlin, said the poster was meant as a joke. The university judicial system found that the computer-generated woman in the leotard and sweatband on Garneau’s poster was among the few smiling. Garneau was found “responsible” for harassment, disorderly and lewd conduct, affirmative-action violations and lying to university officials about making the poster. He moved out of his double […]» Read More
October 29, 2004
DURHAM -University of New Hampshire student Timothy Garneau thought he was being funny when he posted fliers around his dorm suggesting girls use the stairs instead of the elevator in order to lose weight. University officials weren’t in on the joke and kicked the 20-year-old sophomore out of his dorm room last weekend. Now a national nonprofit educational foundation devoted to protecting free speech and individual liberty has accused UNH of violating Garneau’s constitutional rights to free speech and due process. pears to be a computerized image of a woman wearing exercise gear. The sign read: “9 out of 10 […]» Read More
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 theory behind 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
February 2, 2009
In yesterday’s edition of the Boston Herald, FIRE was fortunate enough to be the subject of two separate articles. The first featured FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate and his quest to land a spot on Harvard University’s Board of Overseers—something we have been championing since his bid was announced back in December. As quoted in the Herald, Harvey explains why he wants to join the board: “I hope to make Harvard a better place,” said Silverglate, a Harvard Law School grad, who needs 219 signatures from Harvard degree-holders to appear on the ballot. “It saddens me that Harvard persists in having, […]» Read More
October 15, 2007
As Will discussed earlier, Florida International University professor Stanley Fish argues in his latest “Think Again” column for The New York Times that campus speech codes do not present as much of a problem for students as one might think. In the process of reviewing filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney’s Indoctrinate U, Fish argues that any negative effects that speech codes may have on the state of free speech on campus is overblown because colleges will rarely, if ever, actually enforce their speech codes. Pointing to the fact that every speech code that has been litigated in the courts has ultimately […]» Read More
November 2, 2006
It has been two years since FIRE intervened at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) where sophomore Tim Garneau had been evicted from his dormitory and was living out of his car after being charged with harassment and “conduct which is disorderly, lewd.” What could he have possibly done that was so horrible that university administrators would throw him out of his home into the New Hampshire cold? Garneau, who lived on the top floor of his dorm, was frustrated with waiting at the elevator for people who were only going up one or two stories; to encourage these people […]» Read More
October 18, 2006
As a free speech organization, we see pretty much every type of censorship out there. People are frequently censored at colleges and universities for engaging in controversial political speech. Other times, people are censored for engaging in speech that is crude and repugnant, but that is wholly protected. And then there are times that people seem to be censored for no reason at all. Today’s case at Marquette University is one of those instances. In the spirit of levity, here are a few more of the silliest instances of censorship we’ve seen here at FIRE: Gonzaga University tried to punish […]» Read More
February 15, 2006
Do not miss Wendy McElroy’s piece on the abuse of “sexual harassment” from grade school through college. As we wrote on the home page: McElroy aptly rebukes the AAUW for “the harm wrought to children by biased reports that lump ‘comments, jokes, teasing, gestures, or looks’ in with real violence.” FIRE salutes Wendy McElroy for bravely drawing attention to the ongoing national scandal of overbroad and vague campus sexual harassment policies. The misuse of sexual harassment rationales has been a constant theme in FIRE’s work, with students and faculty alike demonstrtating a tendency to cry “harassment” any time they are […]» Read More
October 21, 2005
Check out the fascinating story (“Censoring Art or Protecting Workers?”) about censored artwork in Inside Higher Ed. Apparently the University of Michigan at Flint is demanding that a graphic drawing called Hermaphrodite be removed from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center because it is creating a “hostile environment” for workers. Anyone who pays attention to the battle for free speech on campus knows that “hostile environment” is the most abused rationale for silencing expression on campus. As I wrote in a recent column about a legal decision that threatens to badly expand what constitutes “hostile environment”: Claims of harassment […]» Read More
August 3, 2005
Terry Caesar penned a column Monday on Inside Higher Ed lamenting the chilling effect speech codes have on professorial humor. Citing one of FIRE’s favorite examples, the former speech code at the University of Connecticut, he wrote: To relate an official response to some example of a joke, or even an unintended joke, on American campuses today is itself to appear to be telling a joke. Yet everybody knows speech codes that ban “inappropriately directed laughter” (say) are no joke. It’s not clear to me if a professor can be held accountable for a student who spontaneously tells a joke […]» Read More
July 19, 2005
Mere hours after FIRE went public in defense of Washington State University student Chris Lee’s free speech rights, the newspaper most devoted to covering Washington State University wholeheartedly endorsed FIRE’s position in a powerful editorial. The editorial is even sweeter given that the paper in question, the Spokane Spokesman-Review, was responsible for running a fairly muddled story written last week without even consulting FIRE. But in “Rawlins wrong on free speech,” the Spokesman-Review editorial board correctly writes: In a college setting, students should be encouraged to explore and to push boundaries, to test ideas and to challenge norms. By caving […]» Read More
July 1, 2005
A notorious FIRE case received a “Dishonorable Mention” in the Boston Phoenix’s “Eighth Annual Muzzle Awards”: The University of New Hampshire taught Timothy Garneau a lesson on the perils of political correctness last November. After Garneau wrote and distributed a flier joking that freshman women could lose 10 to 15 pounds by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, he was ordered out of his dorm, and was forced to live in his car for three weeks. After the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education intervened, Garneau was reinstated. Garneau’s case is an outrage indicative of a worrisome trend, which […]» Read More
April 15, 2005
While this is certainly not a FIRE case, it is, undeniably, a pretty funny story from today’s Chronicle of Higher Education (registration required): Fill a paper with gobbledygook, add some fake charts, slap on a title dense with highfalutin scientific jargon, and—voilà!—a highfalutin conference may actually accept it. That’s what happened when three students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology submitted a nonsensical research paper to the ninth World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics, scheduled to be held in Orlando, Fla. in July. The paper, called “Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy,” was accepted […]» Read More
March 23, 2005
FIRE Board of Advisors member Christina Hoff Sommers has written an interesting article on the Larry Summers controversy at Harvard. While the bulk of the piece addresses the way in which the media have covered the underlying gender difference debate, the last paragraph resonated with FIRE’s experience and work: Of course, offending feminist professors was not Summers’s only crime. He is outspoken, direct, and does not suffer fools gladly. Not only did he violate the holy dogma of social constructionism, he regularly violates a sacred commandment of modern education: Thou shalt be sensitive, nurturing, and protective of everyone’s self-esteem. Such […]» Read More
March 4, 2005
After reading David’s recent posts on the “controversy” over Jada Pinkett Smith’s “heteronormative” speech, I simply must put in my two cents. Before you continue reading this post, I urge you first to read what she actually said. One of her comments (“Don’t let anybody define who you are…. Don’t let them put you in a box. Don’t be afraid to break whatever ceiling anybody has put on you.”) is, IMHO, a point that is as important as it is beautiful, and for her speech to be at the center of any controversy is stunning. I am deeply worried for […]» Read More
March 1, 2005
One year ago this month, Occidental College radio show host Jason Antebi hosted his popular radio show Rant and Rave for the very last time. In this last show he mocked two student representatives who had previously tried to have him impeached from his student government position. The student representatives filed sexual harassment charges against him, the dean of students fired him from his radio show over the objections of the radio station’s student management, and the College found him guilty of violating federal sexual harassment laws. As shocking as this turn of events may be, it is hardly novel […]» Read More
February 4, 2005
And let’s not forget about our recent case at the University of New Hampshire, where a student was expelled from the dorm; sentenced to psychological counseling; found guilty of harassment, disorderly conduct, and violating the affirmative action policy; and forced to live out of his car for weeks simply for joking that freshman girls could lose weight by taking the stairs. Go Pats!» Read More
October 28, 2004
DURHAM, N.H., October 28, 2004—The University of New Hampshire has evicted a student from housing for posting fliers in his residential hall joking that freshman women could lose the “Freshman 15” by walking up the dormitory stairs. The public university found him guilty of violating policies on affirmative action, harassment, and disorderly conduct, and has sentenced him to mandatory counseling and probation along with his eviction. In appealing his sentence, student Timothy Garneau explained that the flier was intended to make light of the common frustration with people who delay the elevator by taking it for just one or two […]» Read More