University of Oregon

Location: Eugene, Oregon
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Oregon 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 Oregon: ASL Instructor Dropped Due to Classroom Comment

    June 27, 2011

    FIRE has asked the University of Oregon (UO) to reverse its punishment of American Sign Language instructor Peter Quint, who was relieved of his teaching duties on the basis of a single comment he made in class to students who had repeatedly violated a class policy against speaking aloud. Quint, who is deaf, shared with his class a personal story about how he was able to escape a Pashtun tribesman in Pakistan who had a gun by means of showing “respect” in a foreign environment. When the students spoke aloud again, Quint sarcastically asked if he would have to shoot them for the […]

    » Read More
  • University of Oregon: Derecognition of Student Group for ‘Offensive’ Publication

    February 11, 2005

    The Oregon Commentator, a conservative student magazine, won a three-month long battle for press freedom from the University of Oregon student government. When a transgendered student senator complained of being offended after being mocked in the magazine, the student government finance committee rejected the Commentator‘s mission statement, which had remained unchanged for the past 21 years. The finance committee publicly denied their constitutional obligation to distribute student fees on a viewpoint-neutral basis. FIRE wrote to UO President Dave Frohnmayer, who declared he didn’t want to intervene in the funding process. It was not until FIRE sent an open letter to the […]

    » Read More

Red Light Policies

  • Office of Affirmative Action & Equal Opportunity: An Overview of Services and Complaint and Grievance Procedures 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Discriminatory Harassment: This is conduct that unreasonably discriminates among individuals on the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, marital status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, and that is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it interferes with work or academic performance because it has created an intimidating, hostile, or degrading environment and would have such an effect on a reasonable person of the alleged victim’s status. Discriminatory harassment includes sexual and racial harassment.

    Racial Harassment: This is conduct that disparages, ridicules, and/or is physically abusive of a person based on that person’s race.

    Sexual Harassment: With respect to behavior by UO employees directed toward UO students, sexual harassment is defined as:
    Any sexual advance, any request for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a UO employee when … such conduct interferes with the work or academic performance of a student because it has created an intimidating, hostile, or
    offensive working or academic environment for the student who is the object of the conduct and a reasonable person of that student’s gender would have been affected similarly to the student.

    » Read More

  • Office of the Dean of Students: Examples of Conduct Code Violations 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment: Unreasonable insults, gestures, or abusive words directed to another person that may reasonably cause emotional distress. Example: Sending an e-mail to a professor using curse words.

    » Read More

Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Conduct Code: Definitions 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    “Harassment” means … Unreasonable insults, gestures, or abusive words, in the immediate presence, and directed to, another person that may reasonably cause emotional distress or provoke a violent response (including but not limited to electronic mail, conventional mail and telephone) except to the extent such insults, gestures or abusive words are protected expression ….

    » Read More

  • Student Conduct Code: Violations of Community Standards by Individual Students 13-14

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

    The following conduct violates standards of respect for property and shared University resources: … Disorderly conduct (including that resulting from the use of alcohol), unreasonable noise, or conduct that results in unreasonable annoyance ….

    » Read More

  • University of Oregon Policies: Facilities Scheduling 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    Facilities: Facilities and outdoor space owned or operated by the University.

    Requests for access to UO Facilities must be made in writing, using the required request forms. Users must disclose the general intended use at the time the user seeks to schedule the Facility. Failure to disclose such information may result in denial or cancellation of the reservation. Request for use of a Facility must be scheduled sufficiently in advance to allow the university to determine if the use is permissible and to allow the University to make reasonable preparations for the intended use.

    » Read More

  • Bias Response Team: What is Bias? 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech

    Bias is hard to define, but the following is a framework for what bias is may help someone decide if they are a target or witness of bias. Bias is any physical, spoken or written act of abuse, harassment, intimidation, use of vulgarity, cursing, making remarks of a personally destructive nature toward any other person, and any restriction or prevention of free movement of an individual. Bias occurs whether that act is, intentional or unintentional or is directed toward an individual or group regarding race, color, creed, national origin; Sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, political, religious ideology, or any other distinguishing characteristic.

    » Read More

Green Light Policies
  • University of Oregon Policies: Freedom of Inquiry and Free Speech 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    The University of Oregon values and supports free and open inquiry. The commitment to free speech and freedom of inquiry described in this policy extends to all members of the UO community: Faculty, staff, and students. It also extends to all others who visit or participate in activities held on the UO campus.

    Free speech is central to the academic mission and is the central tenet of a free and democratic society. The University encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to this community. Further, as a public institution, the University will sustain a higher and more open standard for freedom of inquiry and free speech than may be expected or preferred in private settings. Free inquiry and free speech are the cornerstones of an academic institution committed to the creation and transfer of knowledge. Expression of diverse points of view is of the highest importance, not solely for those who present and defend some view but for those who would hear, disagree, and pass judgment on those views. The belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, and in any other way despicable, detestable, offensive or “just plain wrong” cannot be grounds for its suppression.

    » Read More

  • Student Conduct Code: Definitions 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    “Sexual Misconduct” means: … Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that interferes with work or academic performance because it has created an intimidating, hostile, or degrading environment and would have such an effect on a reasonable person of the alleged complainant’s status when the conduct is unwelcome and sufficiently severe or pervasive that it deprives that person of benefits of the University’s educational environment.

    » Read More

  • University of Oregon Policies: Affirmation of Community Standards 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    The University of Oregon community is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the development of integrity. In order to thrive and excel, this community must preserve the freedom of thought and expression of all its members. The University of Oregon has a long and illustrious history in the area of academic freedom and freedom of speech.

    » Read More


    September 25, 2013

    by Ashley Thorne George Washington’s “Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation” begin, “Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.” The next 109 Rules spell out what respect meant to Washington. For him these were more than standards of politeness; they were habits of selflessness and deference to others. Americans have long cherished the ideal of civility-but not all Americans, and higher education today oddly finds the notion of civility especially perplexing. Many colleges and universities say in their official pronouncements that they hope their campuses will […]

    » Read More
  • A Free-Speech Victory at the ‘University of Nike’

    September 22, 2013

    by Rebecca Burns The “University of Nike” sounds like an institution straight out of a dystopian novel. But that moniker has actually been embraced by the University of Oregon, where Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight is one of the school’s most important donors. A gleaming new football center, complete with a locker room requiring biometric thumbprints to enter, isn’t the only sign of the corporation’s influence on campus: During negotiations with the school’s faculty union over its first-ever contract, critics say that the university pulled out some fancy footwork meant to preserve the patronage of Nike and other major donors, including […]

    » Read More
  • Casual References to Violence Bring Serious Consequences for College Instructors

    July 31, 2011

    by Peter Schmidt The Chronicle of Higher Education   View this article at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    » Read More
  • The ‘No Viewpoint’ Viewpoint

    June 6, 2005

    By Greg Lukianoff at Inside Higher Ed Imagine a college student returning to campus next fall and being greeted by a student government representative who asks her if she is devoutly religious or not. She answers “yes” and the representative responds, “I am sorry, the student government has decided that the separation of church and state means that, as state college, we have to be free of religious students. You may want to consider a religious college.” Next imagine this befuddled student taking her complaint to the president of the college and he says “Yes, I know the student government’s […]

    » Read More
  • OSPIRG: down but not out

    April 8, 2005

    In the middle of an unusually warm February earlier this year, the talk all over campus was OSPIRG. For the past three years, the activist group has wrangled with student government over how much money would be allocated to their efforts at PSU. This year, after two hours of deliberation OSPIRG got its answer. No large increase, no large payout. Student government again was not swayed by the group’s impassioned pleas for funding and sent them packing with thousands less than they had asked for. Students came pouring out of the meeting crying, aghast that their efforts had failed for […]

    » Read More
  • U. of Oregon Enacts Academic Freedom Policy for Students, Faculty, and Staff

    June 3, 2014

    Last week, University of Oregon (UO) President Michael Gottfredson signed a broad new academic freedom policy, granting UO faculty and staff what are among the strongest free speech protections in the country. The policy covers students as well, but is especially critical for faculty and staff after the Supreme Court’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006), which opened the door for government employers to punish their employees for their speech.

    » Read More
  • Judgment for University of Oregon in Doctoral Candidate’s Title IX Lawsuit

    December 12, 2013

    A little over a year ago, we reported the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit allowing former doctoral candidate Monica Emeldi to proceed to trial in her sex discrimination lawsuit against the University of Oregon (UO). The trial finally began last Monday, and less than 48 hours later, the federal district court entered judgment for UO, finding that Emeldi had not sufficiently proven her claims of retaliation against the school. Emeldi filed her Title IX lawsuit against UO in 2008, after Dr. Robert Horner resigned as the chair of her dissertation committee and she was unable to […]

    » Read More
  • U. of Oregon Admins and Faculty Reach Tentative Agreement Protecting Faculty Speech

    September 24, 2013

    On September 18, the University of Oregon (UO) and its faculty union, United Academics, reached a tentative agreement that includes important protections for faculty speech and strikes the previously proposed “civility” clause that prompted our concerned Torch post last week. As In These Times assistant editor Rebecca Burns noted, the problem with the university’s old proposal wasn’t just its mandate that faculty treat all “students, staff, colleagues, and the public fairly and civilly”—the kind of requirement that FIRE has seen used as a tool for punishing professors who share unpopular opinions. Burns also expressed concern that the proposal’s limitation on faculty members’ ability to consult for other organizations […]

    » Read More
  • U. of Oregon Faculty and Admins Debate Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and Civility

    September 16, 2013

    Colleen Flaherty wrote for Inside Higher Ed last Thursday to highlight the debate between University of Oregon faculty and administrators regarding revisions to the university’s policies on free speech and academic freedom. Faculty members initially proposed language that would provide broad protections for faculty speech, including the “right to engage in internal criticism, which encompasses the freedom to address any matter of institutional policy or action, whether or not as a member of any agency of institutional governance.” This provision addresses precisely the kind of speech at issue in the recent decision in Demers v. Austin (PDF); in that case, Washington State University […]

    » Read More
  • Unconstitutional Funding Referendum Passes at University of Oregon

    April 10, 2012

    Last week, students at the University of Oregon (UO) were asked to vote on a wide range of ballot measures affecting all aspects of campus life. One of these items was put to a referendum in the hopes of adopting new funding rules into the constitution of the Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO), the student government body at UO. The question read: Should students be allowed to vote directly on funding levels for certain fee-funded programs? The referendum passed (.PDF) by an overwhelming vote of 4,228 to 553. Good for those 553 students who voted against it: […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE Cases Figure Strongly in ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’ Article on Retaliation Against Faculty Speech

    August 3, 2011

    The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Peter Schmidt has an excellent article on the hair-trigger sensibilities of the college classroom, in which many professors have found themselves under fire for remarks seen as violent or threatening. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the free speech and academic freedom issues involved, several of the cases Schmidt cites in his piece are cases in which FIRE has been—or is currently—involved. Two of the cases Schmidt devotes significant coverage to in his article are cases with which FIRE has been intimately involved in recent months. The first, involving law professor Lawrence Connell of Widener University, concerns […]

    » Read More
  • Fox News and ‘Daily Mail’: Wrongly Dismissed Oregon Professor Now Planning to Sue

    July 18, 2011

    Public scrutiny is mounting against the University of Oregon (UO), which suspended American Sign Language (ASL) instructor Peter Quint from teaching and then notified him he would not be reappointed, all because he sarcastically made a reference to shooting students who were breaking the rules during one of his classes. As Fox News and Britain’s Daily Mail are reporting, Quint is preparing to sue the university for violating his rights. Among UO’s many transgressions in prosecuting his case, as FIRE has explained, is failing to consider Quint’s remark in its proper context. As we originally wrote: On May 4, Quint opened his […]

    » Read More
  • University of Oregon Suddenly Drops ASL Professor after Remark in Class; FIRE Intervenes

    July 5, 2011

    FIRE has asked University of Oregon (UO) President Richard Lariviere to reverse the damage to free speech and academic freedom that UO caused when it dropped American Sign Language (ASL) instructor Peter Quint in the middle of the term without a hint of due process, all because of a comment he made during class about students who were violating a class policy.  Quint, who is deaf, had been appointed as an ASL instructor for the 2009-2010 academic year, and his appointment was renewed for 2010-2011, with a reasonable expectation of renewal for the coming year. A small number of students […]

    » Read More
  • University of Oregon Divided over Free Speech Controversy

    February 2, 2010

    The University of Oregon student body has been learning some useful lessons in liberty as the campus debates what to do about an extremely controversial group’s presence on campus. Last week, the student government narrowly voted to defend free expression when it voted down a resolution designed to push the group off campus for good. The organization is the Pacifica Forum, a discussion group hosted on campus by an emeritus professor, as permitted by university rules. The group is so controversial, it appears, because every so often it discusses topics that a lot of people on campus find extremely offensive—such […]

    » Read More
  • Oregon Governor Signs Bill Protecting Student Press into Law

    July 18, 2007

    The Student Press Law Center reports that last Friday, the governor of Oregon signed into law a bill protecting the free speech rights of high school and college journalists. House Bill 3279 provides that: Student journalists are responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature and advertising content of school-sponsored media.Any student enrolled in a public institution of higher education may commence a civil action to obtain damages under this subsection and appropriate injunctive or declaratory relief as determined by a court for a violation of subsection (2) of this section, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or section […]

    » Read More
  • Censorship is Everybody’s Problem

    December 29, 2005

    FIRE’s press release from yesterday details some of the cases that made 2005 FIRE’s busiest year ever. If 2005 made anything clear, it is that no student, regardless of his or her views, is safe from censorship on today’s college and university campuses. This year, we intervened on behalf of students censored for expressing viewpoints spanning the political spectrum: Seminole Community College in Florida refused to allow a student to distribute literature from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. After FIRE intervened, the college changed course and allowed the student to distribute her literature. Northeastern Illinois University decided to […]

    » Read More
  • K. C. Johnson Strikes Again

    August 26, 2005

    The invaluable K. C. Johnson has an excellent op-ed in today’s Inside Higher Ed. K. C. does a wonderful job of collecting evidence that much of the ideological uniformity in higher education is not so much the result of “self-selection” but instead the product of an academic culture that uses ideology as a stand-in for intelligence or merit. His most interesting paragraphs relate how ideological uniformity is justified by a desire to create a particular academic orthodoxy on issues of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation According to Montclair State’s Grover Furr, “colleges and universities do not need a single […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Cultural Competency’ at the University of Oregon

    June 7, 2005

    The University of Oregon, a school already familiar to FIRE, has been heavily criticized for the content of a proposed “diversity plan” designed to help increase minority enrollment at the university. The Register-Guard of Eugene, Ore., recently ran an article on the controversy. According to that article, one of the most controversial aspects of the plan was that “it would require a ‘demonstrable commitment to cultural competency’ in tenure and post-tenure reviews.” The “cultural competency” portion of this draft is deeply disturbing on two levels.  First, no matter how “cultural competency” is defined, it imposes a type of “loyalty oath” […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE’s Heat Douses Student Censorship in Oregon

    March 10, 2005

    In a sudden turn of events, the University of Oregon student government has increased funding to a conservative student magazine that had been the target of alleged viewpoint discrimination. The Oregon Commentator came under fire after satirizing transgendered student senator Toby Hill-Meyer, who had requested that the campus newspaper refer to him using the general-neutral pronouns “ze” for “he,” and “hir” for “him.” Consequently, the Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO) recognized and denied funding to the magazine for poking fun at Hill-Meyer. That is when the Commentator contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). FIRE’s […]

    » Read More
  • Freedom of the Press at Oregon

    March 3, 2005

    FIRE’s latest press release involves the University of Oregon student government’s long-delayed recognition of a conservative student publication. A number of members of the committee that determines funding allocations had objected to approving the Oregon Commentator’s mission statement (approval of this statement is needed for funding) because of the publication’s mockery of a transgendered student senator (for instance, the Commentator made fun of this senator because the senator asked that people use the pronouns “ze” instead of “he” or “she” and “hir” instead of “him” or “her” when referring to the senator). While mockery certainly is unpleasant, particularly for the […]

    » Read More
  • Victory for Freedom of the Press at University of Oregon

    March 3, 2005

    EUGENE, Ore., March 3, 2005—The Oregon Commentator, a conservative student magazine, has won a three-month-long battle for press freedom against the University of Oregon (UO) student government.  The Commentator had been derecognized and denied funding after it published items satirizing a transgendered student senator.  Acting in response to student complaints, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) intervened, writing letters to the administration and to relevant campus leaders.  On March 2, FIRE learned that the student government had reversed its unconstitutional actions and re-recognized the Commentator.   “We are pleased that the Commentator has finally been restored to its […]

    » Read More
  • Commentator’s mission denied, again

    February 2, 2005

    The Programs Finance Committee rejected the Oregon Commentator’s mission statement again Tuesday night in a fierce budget hearing that ended with PFC member Mason Quiroz announcing his resignation. “I just want to publicly state that I don’t support this part of the branch of student government anymore,” Quiroz said in the final moments of the hearing. “I think it’s obvious that our money is going to hateful speech … I don’t care, I don’t care. Kick me out. I resign from my position right now. You guys are sleeping with the devil.” About 110 people crowded into the EMU Gumwood […]

    » Read More