Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Federal Circuit: 10th Circuit
University of Oklahoma 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.
May 15, 2009
Noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins waived his speaker fee and came to the University of Oklahoma to speak for the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The Oklahoma state legislature, which considered passing legislation deeming Darwin’s theory “unproven and unpopular,” launched an investigation into Dawkins’ speech. The legislature requested all e-mails pertaining to the speech as well as the total cost of the speech, including any money that Dawkins might have received. By investigating a speech based on the unpopular views of the speaker, the state legislature is endangering free speech, creating a chilling effect by implying that […]» Read More
January 26, 2008
Weeks prior to the 2008 presidential election, the University of Oklahoma (OU) notified students and faculty that “the forwarding of political humor/commentary” using their university email accounts was prohibited. After FIRE wrote OU President David L. Boren, explaining that the policy violated the right to freedom of speech, Boren replied that the policy was intended to be applicable only “to the extent discussions are attributable to the University as endorsing or opposing a political candidate.” Boren issued a university-wide statement on October 27, 2008, fully rescinding the earlier email and stating that OU policy “does not limit the right of anyone to express […]» Read More
December 28, 2004
At the University of Oklahoma, the School of Geology and Geophysics attempted to silence Professor David Deming, a frequent critic of administrative policy and a politically outspoken faculty member. OU removed him from his department, stripped him of most of his classes, and moved his office to a converted basement lab. After controversial remarks in Oklahoma Daily newspaper, Roger Slatt, Director of Geology and Geophysics, began to unconstitutionally monitor Deming’s letters to the newspaper and include them in three professional evaluations, until directed to stop by OU President David L. Boren. Slatt and his colleagues did not stop there, however. […]» Read More
March 23, 2000
At the University of Oklahoma David Deming, an associate professor of Geology and Geophysics, criticized an opinion column that stated: “Easy access to a handgun allows everyone in this country . . . to quickly and easily kill as many random people as they want.” A citizen who holds protected beliefs about the Second Amendment, Deming responded with a letter that stated: “[Her] easy access to a vagina enables her to quickly and easily have sex with as many random people as she wants . . . and spread venereal diseases.” In response, the Dean of the College of Geosciences, […]» Read More
The following are examples of uses that are unacceptable: … use University systems for commercial or partisan political purposes, such as using electronic mail to circulate advertising for products or for political candidates.
Facility Use and Solicitation Policy for Registered Student Organizations and Individual OU Students 13-14
The University of Oklahoma Chief of Police, or his or her designee, shall have the final decisionmaking capability and will decide how many police officers will be present, if any, and how many security personnel will be present, if any, after being properly advised as to the facts surrounding the event and the likelihood of potential disruptions or security threats … The RSO/student shall be responsible for the cost of additional security.
Sexual harassment shall be defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature in the following context: … 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.
Conduct prohibited by this policy may include, but is not limited to:
- Unwelcome sexual flirtation; advances or propositions for sexual activity
- Continued or repeated verbal abuse of a sexual nature, such as suggestive comments and sexually explicit jokes.
- Sexually degrading language to describe an individual.
- Remarks of a sexual nature to describe a person’s body or clothing.
- Display of sexually demeaning objects or pictures.
Harassment as a form of discrimination is defined as verbal or physical conduct that is directed at an individual or a group because of race, color, sex … sexual orientation, genetic information, religion, political beliefs, national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or veteran status when such conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive and objectively offensive so as to have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s or group’s academic or work performance or of creating a hostile academic or work environment viewed by examining a totality of the circumstances from the standpoint of a reasonable person with the same characteristics as the purported recipient of the harassing conduct.
Facility Use and Solicitation Policy for Registered Student Organizations and Individual OU Students 13-14
There are several areas located on the University campus that are open to students and RSOs for free speech, protests, leafleting, etc. and require no reservation or notice (unless such use also includes the placement of tables, booths, structures, large displays, vehicles, sound, audio or PA systems, or when assistance is needed from the University, in which case reservations as noted in Paragraph B below are required) … The public areas for use by RSOs/Students include all public sidewalks, and the following areas:
Areas Governed by Student Life (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Concrete South of Bizzell Statue
East side of Dale Hall
West side of Gaylord Hall
Lloyd Noble Parking Lot-Southeast Quadrant
South Oval (West side grassy area and East side grassy area)
East side Dale Hall, Copeland Hall, Kaufman Hall, Gittinger Hall or Nielson Hall
West side of Gaylord Hall, Gould Hall, George Lynn Cross Hall or Richards Hall
East side of Physical Science Center
West lawn of Felgar Hall
Gould Hall courtyard
Library Mall walkway north of Nielson Hall
Dale Hall breezeway
Non-landscaped areas of the North Oval
The grassy area immediately north of Evans Hall
Abusive conduct: Unwelcome conduct that is sufficiently severe and pervasive that it alters the conditions of education or employment and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, harassing or humiliating. … Mental harassment: Intentional conduct that is so extreme and outrageous that a reasonable person would not tolerate it.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome and discriminatory speech or conduct undertaken because of an individual’s gender or is sexual in nature and is so severe, pervasive, or persistent, objectively and subjectively offensive that it has the systematic effect of unreasonably interfering with or depriving someone of educational, institutional, or employment access, benefits, activities, or opportunities.
Other forms of misconduct based on one’s gender also constitute violations of this policy including: threatening or causing physical harm, extreme verbal abuse, or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person … Bullying, defined as repeated and/or severe aggressive behavior likely to intimidate or intentionally hurt, control or diminish another person, physically or mentally (that is not speech or conduct otherwise protected by the First Amendment).
November 30, 2012
In 2007, Keith John Sampson, a middle-aged student working his way through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as a janitor, was declared guilty of racial harassment. Without granting Sampson a hearing, the university administration — acting as prosecutor, judge and jury — convicted him of “openly reading [a] book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject.” “Openly.” “Related to.” Good grief. The book, “Notre Dame vs. the Klan,” celebrated the 1924 defeat of the Ku Klux Klan in a fight with Notre Dame students. But some of Sampson’s co-workers disliked the book’s cover, which featured a black-and-white photograph of a Klan […]» Read More
September 11, 2012
In its 13 years defending free speech on colleges campuses nationwide, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), where I have worked since 2008, has won nearly 250 public victories on behalf of students and faculty. FIRE has been responsible for well over 100 reforms of unconstitutional and illiberal campus speech policies, with the total number of affected students reaching into the millions. Needless to say, in all that time FIRE has seen certain types of violations committed over and over. Now, with the linens and seersucker put away and the new school year officially in business, I thought I would […]» Read More
October 22, 2009
Freedom of speech is one of the most essential freedoms in the United States, and its value and importance on college campuses cannot be understated. This week is “National Freedom of Speech Week,” a perfect time to reflect on the importance of free speech and how it is being viewed and upheld here at OU. Colleges and universities are among the most common organizations to regularly advertise allegiance to free speech on their campuses. When first applying for college, many of us looked through different universities’ prospective student brochures. Almost all of them proclaim that one of the school’s core […]» Read More
May 20, 2009
by Greg Lukianoff The Huffington Post Back in March, I uncovered that members of the Oklahoma state legislature had launched an investigation of a March 6 speech at the University of Oklahoma by noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. The investigation was preceded by an attempt by another Oklahoma legislator to pass two bills condemning Dawkins and proclaiming the theory of evolution as “an unproven and unpopular theory.” Another representative, Rebecca Hamilton, followed up with a post-speech letter to the university demanding all e-mails and correspondence relating to the speech; a list of all money paid to Dawkins, public or […]» Read More
March 14, 2009
In a case that harkens back to the old-timey censorship of yesteryear, it appears that the Oklahoma legislature is pulling out the stops to oppose the University of Oklahoma’s decision to host the Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins on its campus. Dawkins was invited to speak at an event celebrating the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. In a move sure to score political points with some constituents, Oklahoma representative Todd Thomsen proposed not one but two resolutions condemning Dawkins and asking the University to disinvite him. One of the resolutions reads: A Resolution expressing disapproval of the […]» Read More
November 5, 2008
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, created a political activity policy for colleges and universities to abide by in response to a string of complaints accusing colleges across the country of silencing student and faculty political expression. FIRE, a nonprofit educational foundation, wants all public colleges and universities to acknowledge that students and student groups can express themselves politically on campus under the First Amendment and that faculty employees enjoy the right to engage in partisan political speech when occurring outside of their “employment-related” activities. FIRE released the statement of policy on political activity for campuses Oct.15 […]» Read More
September 9, 2005
There is a chill on campus, but that’s nothing new. For decades, campus speech has been chilled by speech codes and other attempts to prevent expression that might offend. Some would like to imagine that the excesses of “political correctness” are ancient history, but repression in the name of tolerance hasn’t gone anywhere. Oppressive speech codes are not only still around—they have actually multiplied, even after numerous court decisions declared them unconstitutional. Within the past year, college students have been punished for such things as expressing a religious objection to homosexuality and arguing that corporal punishment may be acceptable. Students […]» Read More
February 23, 2005
Tenure hasn’t been all it’s cracked up to be for University of Oklahoma professor David Deming. Sure, he still has a job, but it wasn’t enough to keep him out of the basement. Deming’s situation is a perfect example of what’s wrong with today’s academic establishment. The modern academy is too often characterized by political and intellectual conformism and a willingness to silence people who don’t just go along to get along — people like Deming. OU faces a federal lawsuit for removing Deming from its geology department, stripping him of classes, and, in a ridiculous attempt at punishment, actually […]» Read More
January 12, 2005
Certainly our freedom of speech is one of the most cherished and fundamental rights in this country. Unfortunately, the United States falls far short of the ideal put forth in the old saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Far too many people are now more than willing to suppress the speech of others simply because they find it offensive. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this move towards oppression is that our nation’s universities are leading the way. At the University of Oklahoma, a disgraceful group of […]» Read More
December 13, 2004
(CNSNews.com) – The issues of gun control and free speech dominate a lawsuit filed by an Oklahoma University geology professor who used a blunt sexual comparison to criticize a pro-gun control newspaper column and later was demoted for that and other perceived transgressions. The letter that geology professor David Deming wrote to the editor of the Oklahoma Daily newspaper in February 2000 argued that the owner of an unregistered gun was no more likely to become a murderer than a woman who had not registered her sex organ was to becoming a prostitute. The letter prompted 25 charges of sexual […]» Read More
December 10, 2004
(AgapePress) – Administrators at the University of Oklahoma are being accused of conspiring to punish an outspoken professor for his political views. Tenured geology professor David Deming has filed a lawsuit against OU for stripping him of his office and most of this courses. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has advocated on his behalf, claims OU administrators plotted to ostracize Deming for his outspoken political views and attempts at whistle blowing. FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff notes that four years ago, Deming was charged with sexual harassment for mocking a columnist’s pro-gun control arguments. Since […]» Read More
February 27, 2004
Norman, Okla. From David Deming’s old desk up on the ninth floor, he could look out the window over hundreds of houses east of the University of Oklahoma campus here. It wasn’t an awe-inspiring vista, but it was something. In his new office in the basement, he has a great view of a sink. Mr. Deming is a tenured associate professor in the School of Geology and Geophysics. Or rather, he used to be in the school. Because of a feud with the administration, he has been removed, placed in a strange limbo the university calls a “dean direct” position. […]» Read More
May 8, 2000
By JOEL HARDI Facing the threat of a federal lawsuit, the University of Oklahoma on Thursday dropped its investigation into whether a professor’s controversial comparison of a handgun to a vagina broke the university’s sexual-harassment rules. More than 25 people filed complaints with the university in February, accusing David Deming, an associate professor of geology and a self-described gun owner, of sexual harassment. In a letter to the editor of Oklahoma’s student newspaper, the Oklahoma Daily, he had mocked a columnist’s arguments for gun control, saying that “her possession of an unregistered vagina also equips her […]» Read More
March 16, 2009
FIRE President Greg Lukianoff has weighed in on the controversy surrounding noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’ speech at the University of Oklahoma last week in an article entitled “Is Oklahoma Investigating Richard Dawkins’ Free Speech?” For those who have not been following the situation, Dawkins delivered a speech at a campus event celebrating the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Prior to the event, a member of the Oklahoma state legislature filed two legislative resolutions condemning Dawkins’ invitation to campus. Though Dawkins’ speech proceeded as planned on March 6, drawing an audience of thousands, FIRE has received […]» Read More
November 7, 2008
FIRE scored another victory for free speech and academic freedom this week with its successful intervention on behalf of Kerry Laird, an instructor at Temple College (TX) who was ordered to remove a religiously themed cartoon and a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche translating to “God is dead” from his office door. Within half an hour of receiving FIRE’s letter, Temple College President Glenda O. Barron swiftly and commendably reversed the order and reaffirmed Laird’s constitutional rights at the public college. Scott Jaschik, writing for Inside Higher Ed, ably captures both the gravity of the constitutional issues at stake at Temple […]» Read More
October 31, 2008
FIRE President Greg Lukianoff has a new post at The Huffington Post comparing FIRE’s recent cases at the University of Oklahoma and Quinnipiac University. Greg begins his comparison by mentioning our recent victory at the University of Oklahoma, where the college president recently rescinded a campus-wide ban on political emails. Greg explains that “it is rare that one sees a college president flatly and publicly reverse him or herself” which is why “President Boren should be commended for clarifying this murky policy.” But as Greg is quick to mention, the positive development at OU stands in sharp contrast to the […]» Read More
October 28, 2008
In a resounding victory for free speech, the University of Oklahoma (OU) has rescinded a September statement that banned the use of university e-mail accounts to engage in protected political expression. The reversal is a welcome confirmation of the First Amendment right of OU students, faculty, and staff to engage in protected political expression during this exciting election season and beyond. Here’s the timeline: On September 12, Nicholas S. Hathaway, Executive Vice President and Vice President of Administration and Finance, sent an e-mail to all University of Oklahoma students, faculty, and staff, informing them that university e-mail accounts “may not […]» Read More
October 8, 2008
We blogged last week about the Chicago Tribune‘s coverage of FIRE’s letter in defense of political expression at the three University of Illinois (UI) campuses, where a memo circulated by UI’s ethics office banned a wide variety of political expression on campuses—down to the bumper stickers on the cars of UI faculty and staff. Instead of waiting until our usual end-of-the-week media round-up, we wanted to provide a brief update on the continued media exposure to FIRE stemming from UI as the situation has developed. Over the weekend the Associated Press, picking up on the Tribune‘s lead, covered a rally […]» Read More
March 1, 2005
Reader Fletcher Moore writes in regard to my post from Monday in which I stated that the University of Alabama was, “after all, the school that banned the American flag from dorm windows.” Mr. Moore responds: If you follow your own link, you’ll note that the policy applied to “all window displays in student dormitories,” and was created in response to the display of a Confederate flag. Students hung American flags in response to the policy, as a means of protest. To be sure, the policy is crude and contrary to a signal American freedom, but it was not as […]» Read More
February 23, 2005
The Oklahoma City Oklahoman today published my column on the most recent case at the University of Oklahoma (OU) involving geology professor David Deming. FIRE has been defending Professor Deming for years against OU administrators who seem willing to go to nearly any lengths to get this gadfly out of their hair. Back in 2000, OU tried to punish Prof. Deming for “sexual harassment” for writing a letter to the campus paper in support of gun rights that some people found offensive. FIRE came to Prof. Deming’s defense, and between FIRE’s involvement and the threat of a free speech lawsuit […]» Read More