Location: Tampa, Florida
Federal Circuit: 11th Circuit
University of South Florida 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 South Florida: Administrator Confuses Conservatives and Libertarians to Deny Group’s Recognition
October 15, 2010
The University of South Florida (USF) denied recognition to the conservative student organization Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), arguing that YAF was too “similar” to the libertarian Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) student group. YAF submitted its Chapter Constitution in April 2010, but Student Programs Coordinator Edna Jones Miller rejected the application several months later because “the purpose of your proposed organization may be fairly similar, if not the same, as another existing organization that is established at the USF Tampa campus” and “no other student organization can exist with the same or similar mission/purpose.” Meanwhile, other student groups with […]» Read More
January 29, 2002
Computer Science Professor Sami Al-Arian no longer faces termination for his alleged “disruption” of university activities, which FIRE protested through a letter from Alan Charles Kors to University of South Florida (USF) President Judy Genshaft. In the letter, Kors denounced USF’s termination of Professor Al-Arian due to FIRE’s belief that his firing was an example of a “heckler’s veto,” which the letter deemed to be the public outcry against Professor Al-Arian shortly after FoxNews television host Bill O’Reilly’s implication that Professor Al-Arian was sympathetic to terrorists. While Professor Al-Arian is still terminated, USF changed the justification of his firing in […]» Read More
Red Light Policies
(4.14) Sexual Harassment – Behavior which falls into any one of sections listed below as 4.14 (a), (b), or (c):
(4.14)(a) Conduct which may be interpreted as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.
Sexual Harassment (which includes sexual violence) is any of the conduct below: …
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: … Such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to alter the conditions of, or have the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with, an individual’s work or academic performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment.
Examples of prohibited conduct include, but are not limited to: … Displaying or telling sexually oriented jokes, statements, photographs, drawings, computer images, web sites, videos, slides, graphics, calendars, cartoons, e-mails or other communications.
USF System Policies and Procedures Manual: Diversity and Equal Opportunity- Discrimination and Harassment 13-14
Examples of Prohibited Conduct Include, but Are Not Limited To:
1. Writing or displaying letters, notes, or e-mails which are derogatory toward any individual’s race, color, marital status, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or veteran status.
2. Making comments, slurs, or jokes which are derogatory toward any individual’s race, color, marital status, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or veteran status.
4. Making gestures or displaying pictures, cartoons, posters, or magazines which are derogatory toward any individual’s race, color, marital status, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or veteran status.
USF System Policies and Procedures Manual: Appropriate Use of Information Technology Resources 13-14
Other examples of inappropriate actions under this policy include, but are not limited to, the following: … Transmission of threatening or abusive emails or publishing of material that violates USF System rules, regulations, policies or the Student Code of Conduct.
Student rights…The right of respect for personal feelings, freedom from indignity, and to expect an education of the highest quality.
By joining this community, each member is expected to accept and live these commitments. … I resolve to respect the dignity and intrinsic value of all persons.
Any materials posted in common areas including outside of room/apartment doors, windows, hallways, lounges, kitchens, etc. are subject to approval by Housing & Residential Education staff. Residents who are offended by materials posted in common areas or their rooms should contact their Resident Assistant immediately.
[N]on-commercial material or literature, the author of which is identified, may be handed out in any outdoor University location open to the general public.
Student rights…The constitutional rights of freedom of expression and assembly.
[N]on-commercial speech activities are permitted in outdoor University locations open to the general public exclusive of sidewalks, building entrances or other areas where normal traffic may be obstructed.
February 6, 2002
The Topic Since September 11, there have been numerous incidents in which faculty members have been criticized for their comments about terrorism, U.S. foreign policy, and the Middle East. But only one tenured professor — Sami Al-Arian of the University of South Florida — faces the prospect of losing his job for his public comments. Mr. Al-Arian has been the source of controversy at the university for several years, with his critics saying that his comments about Israel promote hate and his defenders saying that he is a caring professor whose comments — however controversial — must be defended […]» Read More
February 3, 2002
A university is a place of open inquiry, vigorous intellectual debate and untrammeled scholarly freedom. But during a national crisis, even universities sometimes take the position that if you can’t say the right thing, you should put a sock in it. In past emergencies, the suppression of dissent has been commonplace and thoroughly popular. During World War I, pacifists, leftists and other opponents of the U.S. military effort were sent to prison for their trouble. President Nixon’s fury at the anti-war movement led to the abuses of the Watergate scandal. So it would not have been surprising to see a […]» Read More
October 7, 2013
“Civility” is one of the words that sets off alarm bells at FIRE. (No, it’s not because we’re unusually rude.) Many universities have enacted “civility codes,” ostensibly to maintain a respectful and inclusive atmosphere on campus. But, as my colleague Samantha Harris has pointed out, this is often censorship by another name. If you curtail how someone expresses him or herself, you may also restrict the message they can convey. Free speech cannot be subjected to a politeness requirement. As Justice Harlan observed in Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15, 25 (1971): For, while the particular four-letter word being litigated […]» Read More
July 12, 2013
The University of South Florida’s student newspaper, The Oracle, published a comprehensive story on free speech at USF this week. The article leads off with an example that illustrates a problem all too common on today’s college campuses: Students seek to express themselves on an issue of political or social importance, but instead of helping to facilitate open debate, the university administration throws up roadblocks. As detailed in The Oracle article: When students organized a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Trayvon Martin last February, conflict occurred between the student organizations and university administration over whether a permit for the event […]» Read More
December 16, 2011
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the troubles faced by University of South Florida Polytechnic student Michael Nacrelli. To bring you up to speed: Nacrelli, a Student Government senator, faced charges of “disruptive conduct” and “failure to follow instructions” last month following a series of emails criticizing student government on which he copied several of his fellow Senators, in spite of requests from a USF administrator that he not do so. (USF’s newspaper, The Oracle, gives a good rundown.) Fortunately, as Mary Toothman of The Ledger (Lakeland, Fl.) now writes, USF Polytechnic has cleared him of any potential […]» Read More
December 1, 2010
Did the University of South Florida (USF) deny recognition to the Young Pakistani student group because they were too “similar” to the Young Indian student group? Read Mike Adams’ parody of what happened to the conservative Young Americans for Freedom when USF denied recognition to them for being too “similar” to coexist with the libertarian Young Americans for Liberty on campus.» Read More
University Recognizes Young Americans for Freedom: Conservative and Libertarian Groups Were Too ‘Similar’ to Coexist
November 30, 2010
TAMPA, Nov. 30, 2010—The University of South Florida (USF) has reversed its denial of recognition to the conservative Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) student group. USF had argued that YAF was too “similar” to the libertarian Young Americans for Liberty on campus. After USF denied YAF’s application for recognition, YAF came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “Let me get this straight: USF recognizes over 60 multicultural groups, no fewer than 20 engineering clubs, and even a group solely devoted to appreciation for Nerf products, but a conservative group was considered too similar to a […]» Read More
February 15, 2005
While many agree that Ward Churchill’s academic freedom should be protected, many have also condemned his essay and, outside of his expression, have also condemned him—by questioning and ridiculing his character and ethnic background. Despite others’ negative interpretations of his words and assessment of his competence, Churchill recently received a standing ovation when giving a speech affirming his views and defending his expression at the University of Colorado. In addition, his press release provides his own reaction to the public outcry against him: I am not a “defender” of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that if U.S. […]» Read More