University of Texas at Austin

Location: Austin, Texas
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 5th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Texas at Austin 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.

Red Light Policies

  • Office of the Chief Information Officer: Acceptable Use Policy 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    V. REQUIREMENTS: … Be civil. Do not send rude or harassing correspondence. … What are the consequences for violating the rules listed in Section V of this document?

    Punishment for infractions includes, but is not limited to: * Verbal warnings * Revocation of access privileges * Disciplinary probation * Suspension from the university * Criminal prosecution

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  • Office of the Dean of Students: Student’s Guide to Sexual Harassment and Misconduct 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual misconduct is a concept taken from the Regents’ Rules ethics statement. Sexual misconduct is conduct of a sexual nature that, although not so serious or pervasive that it rises to the level of sex discrimination or sexual harassment, is unprofessional and/or inappropriate for the educational and working environment. The purpose of prohibiting sexual misconduct is to discourage and, if necessary, take disciplinary action for inappropriate or unprofessional activity of a sexual nature in the workplace or classroom, even if that conduct appears to be welcomed and consensual or is not so serious or pervasive that it meets the definition of sex discrimination or sexual harassment.

    Examples of behavior that could constitute sexual misconduct include, but are not limited to:

    * Repeatedly engaging in sexually oriented conversations, comments or horseplay, including the use of language or the telling of jokes or anecdotes of a sexual nature in the workplace, office or classroom, even if such conduct is not objected to by those present;
    * Gratuitous use of sexually oriented materials not directly related to the subject matter of a class, course, or meeting even if not objected to by those present ….

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Policy on Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual Harassment. Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that includes:

    1. Sexual violence, as defined under the Texas Penal Code which includes rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion, and can occur when:
      • The submission to unwelcome physical conduct of a sexual nature, or to unwelcome requests for sexual favors or other verbal conduct of a sexual nature, is made an implicit or explicit term or condition of employment or education;
      • The submission to or rejection of unwelcome physical conduct of a sexual nature, or unwelcome requests for sexual favors or other verbal conduct of a sexual nature, is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions or evaluations;
      • Unwelcome physical acts of a sexual nature, or unwelcome requests for sexual favors or other verbal conduct of a sexual nature, that have the effect of creating an objectively hostile environment that substantially interferes with employment or education on the basis of sex; or
      • Such conduct is intentionally directed towards a specific individual and has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with that individual’s education, employment, or participation in University activities, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive atmosphere.
    2. Physical conduct that, depending on the totality of the circumstances present, including frequency and severity, may constitute sexual harassment includes but is not limited to:
      • Unwelcome intentional touching;
      • Deliberate physical interference with or restriction of movement;
    3. Verbal conduct, including oral, written, or symbolic expression, that, depending on the totality of the circumstances present, including frequency and severity, may constitute sexual harassment includes but is not limited to:
      1. Explicit or implicit propositions to engage in sexual activity;
      2. Gratuitous comments, jokes, questions, anecdotes or remarks of a sexual nature about clothing or bodies;
      3. Gratuitous remarks about sexual activities or speculation about sexual experiences;
      4. Persistent, unwanted sexual or romantic attention;
      5. Subtle or overt pressure for sexual favors;
      6. Exposure to sexually suggestive visual displays such as photographs, graffiti, posters, calendars or other materials;
      7. Deliberate, repeated humiliation or intimidation based upon sex.

    This policy applies only to verbal conduct that is not necessary to an argument for or against the substance of any political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic idea.

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  • Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities: Student Discipline and Conduct 14-15

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

    Notwithstanding any action taken by civil authorities or agencies charged with the enforcement of criminal laws on account of the violation, the dean may initiate disciplinary proceedings under subchapter 11-300 against a student who … otherwise engages in the following acts of inappropriate conduct that hold the potential to interfere or disrupt the teaching function of the University: pranks,
    repeated contact of a harassing nature through a personal or electronic medium, and berating or otherwise abusive behavior.

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  • Residence Hall Manual: Harassment 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Members of an educational community should adhere to standards of civility and good taste that reflect mutual respect. A respectful environment is free of harassment, violence and verbal abuse. It is the policy of the University to maintain an educational environment free from harassment and intimidation.

    In an effort to foster an environment free from harassment and intimidation, Residence Life is committed to responding appropriately to acts of racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism and any other force that seeks to suppress another individual or group of individuals. When acts of harassment or intimidation occur in the residence hall environment, the Residence Life staff, in conjunction with the Residence Hall Council, may lead a floor or hall meeting to discuss the incident and decide, as a community, appropriate steps that need to be taken to address the incident.

    Residents who are suspected to have engaged in harassment as defined in the Institutional Rules will be referred to the Dean of Students for possible disciplinary action.

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  • Campus Climate Response Team 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech

    Do you know of a student organization hosting a party with a racist theme?

    Have you seen derogatory graffiti on bathroom walls and buildings regarding sexual orientation or gender identity and expression?

    Have you overheard malicious threats intended to intimidate another person because of their religion?

    Are you worried that somebody has created a hostile or offensive classroom environment?

    Do you have concerns about a campus climate incident but you are not sure what to do?

    If so, please contact the Campus Climate Response Team by submitting your concerns using the Campus Climate Incident Online Report Form.

    » Read More

Green Light Policies
  • Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities: Student Discipline and Conduct 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment is defined as conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent to create an objectively hostile environment that interferes with or diminishes the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by the University.

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  • University Catalog: Speech, Expression, and Assembly 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    Subchapter 13–900. Public Assemblies without Amplified Sound

    Sec. 13–901. General Rule on Public Assemblies
    1. “Publicly assemble” and “public assembly” include any gathering of persons, including discussions, rallies, and demonstrations. The rules in subchapter 13–800 apply to any use of amplified sound at a public assembly.
    2. University persons and organizations may publicly assemble on campus in any place where, at the time of the assembly, the persons assembling are permitted to be. This right to assemble is subject to the rules in this subchapter, to the general rules in subchapter 13–200 and subchapter 13–300, and to the rules on use of University property in chapter 10 of the Institutional Rules. No advance permission is required.
    Sec. 13–902. Reservation of Space
    1. Registered student, sponsored student, faculty, or staff organizations and academic or administrative units who wish to publicly assemble in a particular room or space at a particular time may reserve the room or space under the provisions in subchapter 10–200 of the Institutional Rules.
    2. A registered student, sponsored student, faculty, or staff organization or academic or administrative unit with a reservation has the right to the reserved room or space for the time covered by the reservation. Any person or organization using or occupying the room or space without a reservation must yield control of the room or space in time to permit any student, faculty, or staff organization or academic or administrative unit with a reservation to begin using the room or space promptly at the beginning of its reserved time.
    3. Reservations are not required but are strongly encouraged. An academic or administrative unit or registered student, sponsored student, faculty, or staff organization planning to use a room or space without a reservation may find the facility locked or in use by another person or organization. A large group without a reservation is likely to attract the courteous but inquiring attention of the University of Texas Police Department.
    Sec. 13–903. Notice and Consultation

    Registered student, sponsored student, faculty, or staff organizations that are planning a public assembly with more than fifty participants are strongly encouraged to notify and consult with the dean of students as soon as practicable after the point at which the planners anticipate or plan for more than fifty participants. Registered student, sponsored student, faculty, or staff organizations planning smaller assemblies are encouraged to consult the dean of students if there is uncertainty about applicable University rules, the appropriateness of the planned location, or possible conflict with other events. The dean of students can help the planners avoid unintended disruption or other violations that may result in subsequent discipline or subsequent interference with the assembly by campus authorities.

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  • Myths, Realities, and Common Sense at Texas

    November 6, 2013

    by KC Johnson “We should be seeing 12,500 cases a year.” So spoke Jennifer Hammat, Title IX coordinator for the University of Texas. As FIRE’s Peter Bonilla tweeted, “That quote put differently: ‘we should be seeing 250-300 rapes/sexual assaults per week.’” Does anyone (apart, it seems, from Hammat) believe that there are 300 rapes each week at UT? To provide some statistical context, consider that FBI crime figures for the most recent year (2012) indicate that in New York state (population 19.5 million) there were 2848 instances of forcible rape. In the state of Texas–including the university, of course, and […]

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  • Why was this professor’s study scrutinized?

    October 4, 2012

    People disagree with scholarly studies all the time. So what made the University of Texas investigate a professor’s recent study? One angry, gay blogger, as it turns out. Previous studies have concluded that children raised in same—sex households do just as well in school and in life as their peers. University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus tested that conventional wisdom with a study of 3,000 adults raised by straight, gay and bisexual parents. Result: Adults raised in same—sex households had higher rates of depression and dependence on welfare. Some gay rights groups denounced Regnerus as a bigot and denounced his study […]

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  • U. of Texas drops inquiry into author of gay parenting report

    September 7, 2012

    The past weeks’ political conventions have once again brought home how deeply divided our country is when it comes to the issues of gay marriage and gay parenting. Feelings are so strong that their intensity can blind people to important issues of principle. That’s why it’s important to know that last week, the University of Texas at Austin announced that it had found no evidence that Professor Mark Regnerus had engaged in scientific misconduct when he published a paper that has been used to bolster the arguments of those opposed to same-sex parenting. Regardless of your views on gay and lesbian parenting […]

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  • CULTURE DIGEST: Seizure of Texas prof’s computers, emails called troubling

    September 7, 2012

    Baptist Press NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — Although University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus has been cleared of alleged research misconduct in a study of gay parenting, the seizure of his computers and 42,000 emails by university officials is troubling, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “It seems to us that UT Austin should take a closer look at its rules to make sure that the provision for sequestration does not become an open invitation to hassle and discourage researchers working within politically charged topics,” the foundation said, according to Fox News. Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology, […]

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  • Univ. of Texas Vindicates Study That Casts Negative Light on “Gay” Parenting

    September 5, 2012

    By Dave Bohon at The New American A University of Texas at Austin professor whose research on homosexual parenting was attacked by a “gay” activist has been vindicated by university officials. As reported in June byThe New American, the study by University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus demonstrated that children raised by parents who at some point had a same-sex partner were more likely to be on welfare, experience depression, have less education, and have a history of sexual abuse than children raised by heterosexual parents. Homosexual activist blogger Scott Rose took the lead in attacking the research of Regnerus, sending […]

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  • Speech Codes: Alive and Well at Colleges…

    August 1, 2003

    By Greg Lukianoff at The Chronicle of Higher Education

    » Read More
  • ACLU Sues U. Maryland Over So-Called ‘Free-Speech’ Zones

    December 19, 2002

    By Sarah Lesher at University Wire

    » Read More
  • Foreign Policy, Free Speech are Under Fire on Campuses

    November 15, 2001

    By Mary Beth Marklein at USA Today

    » Read More
  • Stop Funding Campus Anti-Americanism

    November 2, 2001

    The Augusta Chronicle

    » Read More
  • Texas Students, FIRE’s Joe Cohn is Coming to a Campus Near You

    October 6, 2014

    Yeehaw! Joe Cohn, FIRE’s Legislative and Policy Director, will be traveling across the Lone Star State for a rootin’ tootin’ Texan campus tour. Students and faculty at or near the University of Houston, University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University at San Marcos, and Texas A&M are invited to attend Joe’s presentation and learn about their rights to freedom of speech and due process on campus. University of Houston When: Monday, October 6, 6:30 p.m. Where: Moody Towers Lobby   University of Texas at San Antonio When: Tuesday, October 7,  6:00 p.m. Where: […]

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  • Victory for Student Rights: UT Austin Restores Transparency in Funding Student Organizations

    May 19, 2014

    The assessment of mandatory student fees for the purpose of supporting a variety of student organizations and programming is commonplace at public universities. Distribution of these funds is often placed in the hands of students themselves, with the understanding—reinforced by multiple Supreme Court decisions—that this process must be content- and viewpoint-neutral. In the absence of transparency, however, the fair allocation of student fee funds can be threatened—as was until recently the case at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). Fortunately, in response to concerns raised by FIRE, UT is taking steps to ensure transparency is restored and funds are distributed even-handedly.

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  • Threat of Honor Code Charges Causes Texas Student Group to Cancel Event

    November 21, 2013

    On Monday, the University of Texas-Austin (UT-Austin) chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) announced that it would host a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” event on Wednesday, during which volunteers for the group would wear a label stating “illegal immigrant,” and other students would have the opportunity to “capture” them for a $25 gift card bounty. The aim of the event, YCT President Lorenzo Garcia said, was to spark debate and promote conversation about immigration issues. The YCT chapter at UT-Austin is no stranger to using provocative tactics in order to get people talking about issues, having previously conducted an “Affirmative Action Bake […]

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  • University of Texas Police Arrest Man for Standing Around Talking about Politics

    August 11, 2010

    President Obama was at the University of Texas at Austin on Monday to give a speech and, as expected, the Presidential visit drew the usual complement of protesters and political activists. Among them was John Bush, the executive director of a group called Texans for Accountable Government, along with several others. A video has been posted to YouTube showing Bush’s arrest at the hands of the UT police for what appears to be the crime of standing around on campus talking to students about his political views. Prepare to be appalled by what looks like a total and ridiculous overreaction on […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of Expression: University of Texas Permanently Suspends Window Posting Ban

    July 30, 2009

    Torch readers may remember that last fall, in the midst of the election season, the University of Texas at Austin (UT) threatened to punish two students if they did not remove political campaign signs that they had placed in their dormitory room window. Thankfully, after national media attention, the university came to its senses quickly and suspended its rule banning signs in students’ dorm room windows. This week, the university has announced that it will permanently suspend the rule. This represents an important victory for freedom of expression at UT. In the case of the two students last fall, the university’s enforcement of its rule had the unfortunate consequence […]

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  • In Texas, First Amendment Imperiled in 2008

    January 1, 2009

    I’m not sure what happened down in Texas in 2008, but administrators at several schools have been unusually cowardly about even the slightest challenges to their ideas of good order on campus. During the election season there was the Great Non-Riot of 2008 at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), where two students faced punishment equivalent to suspension or expulsion for posting political signs on their dormitory-room window, which inspired students across campus to vow to do the same in solidarity and in a noble exercise of the right to freedom of expression. Once student outrage reached a high […]

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  • Repression of Political Speech and Activity Abounds on College Campuses in 2008

    December 24, 2008

    In an election year when the presidential race between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain dominated much of the country’s attention and media headlines, college and university campuses were certainly not immune to election fever. University students and faculty across the nation joined in the multitude of voices advocating for, criticizing, protesting, and otherwise commenting on the candidates and the hot-button issues of the season. With this came some regrettable consequences. This year, we witnessed a number of colleges and universities prohibiting and punishing many forms of constitutionally protected political speech and activity. While the rights of students and faculty […]

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  • Breaking News: UT–Austin Suspends Rule on Political Signs

    October 9, 2008

    Less than two hours ago, Will Creeley blogged about the University of Texas at Austin’s ban on political signs in dorm room windows, calling it “a silly, if not necessarily unconstitutional, ban on student expression in dorm windows and on dorm doors.” Two students, Connor and Blake Kincaid, were to be punished for refusing to take the signs out of their window when asked. It looks like public exposure has had the predictable effect. We just received this e-mail from the president of the university, William Powers Jr., forwarded to us by a concerned student at UT–Austin: The University’s rule […]

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  • Political Censorship at UT–Austin

    October 9, 2008

    Late yesterday afternoon, in a brazen act of censorship on campus, the University of Texas at Austin (UT) ruled against two students who have refused to remove political signs posted on their dormitory door and window, according to a report from The Daily Texan this morning. Connor Kincaid and Blake Kincaid reportedly had until 7 PM Wednesday evening to remove the signs; as of 9:30 PM, the signs remained posted. Both students have been told that failure to comply will result in an administrative block against registration for spring classes, a punishment equivalent to expulsion. The UT policies governing the […]

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  • Student Paper at University of Texas at Austin Seeks Relief from Prior Review

    December 15, 2006

    Last week, the Student Press Law Center reported that the Texas Student Publications Board has removed the requirement of official prior review from its agreement with The Daily Texan, the University of Texas at Austin student paper and one of the only major college papers still subject to prior review. The new contract has been sent to the Texas Board of Regents for approval. The original agreement between The Daily Texan and the Texas Board of Regents gave the Board complete final editorial control and liability for the content of the paper. The Board of Regents has recently proposed expanding […]

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