University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Website: http://www.utk.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Tennessee – Knoxville has been given the speech code rating Green. Green light institutions are those colleges and universities whose policies nominally protect free speech. Read more here.

Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Freedom of Expression and Speech Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes, Statement

    In a situation attended by strong emotional feeling, or
    where there is a past history of obscenity or indecency
    associated with a speaker selected by a registered student
    organization, the Dean of Students, after finding
    that such a situation or history exists, shall prescribe conditions
    for the orderly and scholarly conduct of the
    speaking event.The conditions may include limiting the
    audience to the inviting organization’s membership or to
    members of the university’s academic community,
    appointing an experienced senior professor to preside
    over the meeting, requiring a statement from the offices
    of the sponsoring organization certifying that they have
    discussed the appearance of the speaker with the Vice
    Chancellor for Student Affairs, and authorizing a search
    of all persons entering the arena of the speech and such
    other conditions as the agency deems advisable.

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  • Office of Information Technology: Acceptable Use Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies, Statement

    Users will not: ... Send email chain letters or mass mailings for purposes other than official university business ... Engage in activities that violate state or federal law, a University contractual obligation, or another University policy or rule including but not limited to Human Resources policies and Standards of Conduct for students.

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  • Bias Incident Protocol and Reporting 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech, Statement

    [T]he policy was not drafted with the intent to punish a student for an act of bias that does not also violate the university's Standards of Conduct ... .

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  • Student Handbook: Freedom of Assembly and Demonstration Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Statement

    Because free inquiry and free expression are indispensable
    to the attainment of the goals of a university, The
    University of Tennessee encourages students to develop
    the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in an
    independent search for truth. The institution supports
    the rights of students and other members of The
    University of Tennessee community to express freely
    their views for or against actions and opinions with
    which they agree or disagree.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Standards of Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Harassment, which is defined as unwelcome
    conduct that is so severe or pervasive, and objectively
    offensive, that it substantially interferes with the
    ability of a person to work, learn, live, or participate
    in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges
    provided by the University. In no event shall this
    rule be construed to discipline a student for speech
    protected by the First Amendment to the United States
    Constitution (e.g., mere insulting or offensive speech).

    » Read More


  • Tennessee Lawmakers Freak Out Over UT-Knoxville’s ‘Sex Week,’ Again

    February 14, 2014

    by Tyler Kingkade at The Huffington Post Republican lawmakers in Tennessee are hellbent on trying to stop students and faculty at the state’s flagship university from attending a series of events called “Sex Week.” Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee, a student group at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, is hosting Sex Week in early March for the second year in a row. Sex Week will feature a series of lectures about sexuality and sexual health, discussions about sexual violence, dance classes, a drag show, an art show and a poetry slam. There will also be a discussion on abstinence, and a forum called “Longterm Intimacy: Commitment […]

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  • 6 of 10 universities can’t figure out 1st Amendment

    December 20, 2012

    by Bob Unruh at WND More than six of 10 colleges and universities across the United States have yet to figure out the First Amendment, because their “speech codes” conflict with the Constitution, according to a new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “FIRE surveyed 409 schools for this report and found that over 62 percent maintain severely restrictive, ‘red-light’ speech codes – policies that clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech,” said the executive summary. “That this figure is so large is deeply troubling, but there is good news: for the fifth year in a row, the percentage of schools maintaining […]

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  • MSU, Ole Miss get high marks for free speech

    September 11, 2012

    As college football enters its third week, the Southeastern Conference continues its stranglehold on the national polls, claiming three of the top seven spots in two separate polls.  But it turns out, the SEC has some other rankings to brag about this week.  The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released its second annual list of Best Colleges for Free Speech, and FIRE’s top seven list includes, you guessed it, three SEC universities.  Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville may not be the poster children for SEC football, but they are at the […]

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  • Southern schools dominate list of best colleges for free speech

    September 6, 2012

    By Joshua Rhett Miller at FoxNews.com Just as college students head off to campus, a list of schools that hold the First Amendment above political correctness is out  - with a slew of Southern schools leading the way. The list, released Wednesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), cites James Madison University, the College of William & Mary, the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania for protecting free speech on campus and maintaining policies honoring freedom of expression. “It’s easy for students to get caught up […]

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  • UT recognized for promoting free speech

    May 25, 2011

    Congratulations to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville for being named one of the seven best colleges and universities for freedom of speech by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Free speech is a cornerstone of American democracy. Learning to use it, value it and understand it should be a key component of every higher education experience. UT is joined by Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, The College of William & Mary, University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Virginia. FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation based in Philadelphia that is dedicated to upholding individual rights, freedom of […]

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  • The Seven Best Colleges For Free Speech

    May 23, 2011

    by Greg Lukianoff The Huffington Post   View this article at The Huffington Post.

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  • Tennessee Lawmakers, Anti-Porn Advocates Demand Censorship of UT Sex Week

    March 6, 2014

    Some state lawmakers are calling UT’s decision not to shut the event down “unacceptable” and warning that the university’s funding might be affected if the school doesn’t take action. A group of petitioners is even asking UT to institute a system of prior review of Sex Week materials—a grave mistake that would be a disaster for UT, its students, and the First Amendment.

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  • Angry over ‘Sex Week,’ Legislators in Tennessee Attempt to Bar Outside Speakers from Campus

    February 21, 2014

    Hey, state legislators in Tennessee: Quit trying to restrict the voices that students at your public universities are allowed to hear.

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  • FIRE Names Seven Best Schools for Free Speech on ‘Huffington Post’

    May 24, 2011

    PHILADELPHIA, May 24, 2011—Today the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) commends the nation’s seven best colleges and universities for freedom of speech in an article by FIRE President Greg Lukianoff on The Huffington Post. The colleges listed are Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, The College of William & Mary, the University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and the University of Virginia. “FIRE spends most of its time bringing much-needed attention to the sorry state of free speech for students and faculty on our nation’s campuses,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “Today, we wanted to […]

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  • University of Tennessee Acts to Preserve Free Speech on Campus

    April 22, 2010

    The University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UTK), one of only a handful of schools to receive FIRE’s most favorable “green light” rating for protecting free speech on campus, acted quickly after being contacted by FIRE to revise a new policy that posed a serious threat to student speech. As a result, UTK remains one of FIRE’s “green light” institutions. The university is to be commended for being so responsive to concerns about free expression on campus. In February, FIRE learned that UTK’s policy on Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources had been revised to include a prohibition on “Engag[ing] in activities that […]

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