University of Pittsburgh

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Website: http://www.pitt.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 3rd Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Pittsburgh 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.

  • Pennsylvania House of Representatives Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom

    September 19, 2005

    The Pennsylvania House of Representatives brought together a committee to examine allegations that Pennsylvania’s public universities were plagued by liberal ideology and indoctrination. David A. French, at the time president of FIRE, served as a legal adviser to the panel. FIRE released FIRE Report on the First Amendment Responsibilities of Pennsylvania State-Funded Colleges and Universities, explaining that Pennsylvania universities are bound to follow the strictures of the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions, notably to respect the expressive rights of students and faculty members, to protect religious liberty on campus, and to protect freedom of conscience on campus.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Computer Access and Use 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies, Statement

    The following are considered improper use of University owned computing equipment, networks, services, and resources: ... Using electronic media to harass or threaten other persons, or to display, design,
    copy, store, draw, print, or publish obscene language or graphics.

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  • The Pitt Promise: A Commitment to Civility 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience, Statement

    By choosing to join this community, I accept the obligation to live by these common values and commit myself to the following principles:

    As a Pitt Student:

    * I will embrace the concept of a civil community which abhors violence, theft and exploitation of others;
    * I will commit myself to the pursuit of knowledge with personal integrity and academic honesty;
    * I will respect the sanctity of the learning environment and avoid disruptive and deceitful behavior toward other members of the campus community;
    * I will support a culture of diversity by respecting the rights of those who differ from myself;
    * I will contribute to the development of a caring community where compassion for others and freedom of thought and expression are valued;
    * I will honor, challenge and contribute to the scholarly heritage left by those who preceded me and work to leave this a better place for those who follow.

    By endorsing these common principles, I accept a moral obligation to behave in ways that contribute to a civil campus environment and resolve to support this behavior in others. This commitment to civility is my promise to the University of Pittsburgh and its community of scholars.

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  • Guidelines and Responsibilities for University Administrators: Handling Sexual Harassment Complaints- Hypothetical Circumstances 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    You personally observe conduct which you believe constitutes sexual harassment. For example, technicians in your lab have hung sexually explicit pictures on the wall or are having a sexually explicit discussion.
    Response: This is "hostile environment" sexual harassment. Even though no one has complained to you, you should ensure that the pictures are removed and that sexually explicit discussions do not occur in public areas of the workplace. The lab technicians should be told why the action is being taken.

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Code of Conduct: Student Rights Within the University Community 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Statement

    With the approval of the Board of Trustees, the University affirms the following student rights and
    privileges: ... To engage in discussion, to make inquiries, to exchange thought and opinion, to publish and exchange
    findings and recommendations, to speak, write, or print freely on any subject, and to sponsor speakers
    of their choice, in accordance with the guarantees of our Federal and State Constitutions, subject only
    to the right of the University to make reasonable rules and regulations related thereto.

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  • Sexual Harassment Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Sexual harassment may include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or
    other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: ... 3. Such conduct is severe or pervasive and objectively and subjectively has the effect of: a. Unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or equal access to education; or b. Creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or academic environment; or 4. Such conduct, if repeated, is reasonably likely to meet the standard set forth in number 3 immediately above.

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  • Student Code of Conduct: Offenses Related to Persons 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    An offense related to a person is committed when a student:
    ...
    Harasses, or attempts to harass a person through repeated, unwanted communications or by putting another person in objective and subjective fear of injury or unreasonably causing severe or pervasive distress by: purposely following another person in public places or other places; communicating in an anonymous manner; or acting in another manner with the intent to harass a person.

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This school does not have any media coverage at this time.
  • The Pitt Promise: A Commitment to Civility over Constitutionality

    July 23, 2014

    One needs only to flip five pages into the University of Pittsburgh’s Student Code of Conduct and Judicial Procedures to find “The Pitt Promise: A Commitment to Civility” (the “Pitt Promise,” or “the Promise”)—a list of pedagogical principles and values to which students are expected to adhere. In principle, the pledge is morally sound and perhaps desirable, but, as FIRE has explained, mandating civility clauses infringes on students’ First Amendment rights. As a current student at the University of Pittsburgh, a public institution of higher education that is bound by the Constitution, it concerns me that the university has enacted a policy that so clearly infringes on its students’ rights.

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  • Introducing FIRE Summer Intern Zoe Kuenstler

    June 16, 2014

    Zoe Kuenstler is a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh, studying the Arabic language and majoring in anthropology and economics. Zoe’s main extracurricular activities include serving on the executive board of the co-ed national honors fraternity Phi Sigma Pi as external secretary and acting as project manager for the Pittsburgh chapter of Students Consulting for Non-Profit Organizations. Zoe writes about her reasons for interning at FIRE: When I was a freshman in high school my African Asian studies teacher taught a three week long lesson on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one week spent on the Israeli side, one week spent on the […]

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  • The Problem with Mandating Civility

    October 11, 2012

    FIRE is often referred to as a “watchdog” organization, and that is indeed an important part of what we do. But those who follow our work know that we also love to reward schools for upholding students’ free speech rights. That is why when a university earns a “green light” rating—a distinction currently awarded to just 15 out of the hundreds of schools we survey—FIRE does as much as possible to ensure that good news receives the maximum publicity. For example, we publish an annual list of the best colleges for free speech on The Huffington Post. In the last […]

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  • Fraternities Must Stand Up to Schools’ Squelching Free Speech

    October 11, 2004

    While there is no shortage of free-speech battles on college campuses, fraternities have the dubious honor of being at the center of many of the least-sympathetic controversies. From Halloween parties where brothers show up dressed as Ku Klux Klan members to fraternity newsletters that graphically relate a brother’s sexual exploits with named co-eds, fraternities sometimes express themselves in ways that are not exactly likely to win the battle for hearts and minds. However, although fraternities later may regret the actions of some of their brothers, they must not allow their rights to be stripped away by overzealous or opportunistic administrators. […]

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  • Practical Advice for Fraternities Caught in the Battle for Free Speech on Campus

    September 16, 2004

    I. Introduction While there is no shortage of free speech battles on college campuses, fraternities have the dubious honor of being at the center of many of the least sympathetic controversies. From Halloween parties where brothers show up dressed as Ku Klux Klan members to fraternity newsletters that graphically relate a brother’s sexual exploits with named co-eds, fraternities sometimes express themselves in ways that are not exactly likely to win the battle for hearts and minds. However, although fraternities may later regret the actions of some of their brothers, they must not allow their rights to be stripped away by […]

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