University of Virginia

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Website: http://www.virginia.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Virginia 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.

  • University of Virginia: Lack of Due Process During Honor Code Investigations

    January 2, 2001

    Students at the University of Virginia (UVA) rejected a proposed referendum that would have deprived UVA students of existing due process rights under the school’s procedure for adjudicating honor code violations. The system had been criticized after physics Professor Louis A. Bloomfield filed 122 charges of academic dishonesty against students who allegedly cheated in his class. After students filed lawsuits, including one whose degree was revoked at a trial where he was absent because he had graduated eight years earlier, UVA proposed a series of changes to the proceedings. These included disallowing juries to decide the relative seriousness of an […]

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Green Light Policies
  • Vice President for Student Affairs: Student Rights and Responsibilities 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    The University of Virginia is a community of scholars in which the ideals of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and freedom of the individual are sustained. The University is committed to supporting the exercise of any right guaranteed to individuals by the Constitution and the Code of Virginia and to educating students relative to their responsibilities.

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  • Policy: Preventing and Addressing Discrimination and Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment: Unwelcome conduct directed against a person based on one or more of that person’s protected characteristics or statuses, which conduct is so severe or pervasive that it interferes with an individual’s employment, academic performance or participation in University programs or activities, and creates a working, learning, program or activity environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive.

    Protected Characteristics/Statuses: Age, color, disability, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, and veteran status.

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  • Bias Reporting Web Site 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech

    Some bias-motivated or otherwise disrespectful acts may be constitutionally protected speech and thus not subject to University disciplinary action or formal investigation. Indeed, as our founder Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “For here we are not afraid . . . to tolerate error so long as reason is free to combat it.” However, we should do all that we can to foster a good dialogue on what is appropriate in our community of peers.

    The University has adopted the following definition of “bias complaint”:

    “A bias complaint is a report of a threat or act of harassment or intimidation — verbal, written or physical — which is personally directed against or targets a University of Virginia student because of that student’s race, age, color, disability, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, or veteran status.”

    This definition is used for reporting and statistical purposes only. It carries no independent sanctioning weight or authority.

    The University encourages prompt reporting of bias complaints so that it can evaluate the alleged facts for possible violation(s) of University policy, including the Standards of Conduct, and refer such complaints to law enforcement when an independent investigation for violation(s) of criminal law may be warranted.

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  • Responsible Computing Handbook for Students: Threats to Your On-Line Safety and Security 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    The Internet community is under regular attack – at varying levels of
    seriousness – from “outlaws.” Such outlaws (both within our community and outside
    it):

    *post messages that threaten other people

    Students who do these things at the University of Virginia may lose computing
    privileges and be subject to suspension or expulsion from the University. They might
    even be subject to prosecution under state and federal laws.

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  • Bias Reporting Web Site: What is Bias 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    The University values and embraces the ideals of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression, all of which must be vitally sustained in a community of scholars.

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  • Cyberbullying bill would tie harassment policies to aid

    March 24, 2014

    By Jake New at eCampus News Senator introduces legislation that would require universities to adopt cyberbullying policies to be eligible for financial aid programs When Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge in 2010, the events leading to his death were a painful reminder that cyberbullying is not confined to middle schools. Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, had used a webcam to film the freshman kissing another male student, and then invited his Twitter followers to join him for a second viewing. Clementi complained to Rutgers officials about the incident, but committed suicide a day later. Now, two U.S. […]

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  • Examiner Local Editorial: Muzzling free speech on campus

    January 2, 2013

    One New Year’s resolution we’d like to see in 2013 is a renewed effort to uphold the First Amendment on college campuses. According to a new report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, 62 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities “maintain severely restrictive speech codes … that clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech.” FIRE noted that the overwhelming majority of speech is protected. But narrow exceptions (such as “fighting words,” obscenity and defamation) “are often misused and abused by universities to punish constitutionally protected speech.” Restrictions intended to protect students from harassment or bullying have been […]

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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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  • Education: Three champs

    September 10, 2012

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has become one of the foremost champions of America’s most important liberty: free speech. Almost singlehandedly, FIRE has beaten back sometimes Stalinesque restrictions on free expression at campus after campus across the country. Recently the group issued its list of the seven best colleges for free speech in 2012. Three of the seven are Virginia institutions: James Madison, William and Mary, and the University of Virginia. The commonwealth should applaud all three institutions and take pride in their defense of the rights of students and faculty alike. Other Virginia institutions, however, still have […]

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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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  • Higher ed: Laurels

    May 29, 2011

    Virginia’s colleges and universities have not always won laurels for their devotion to the cause of free speech. Indeed, in recent years some of them — such as George Mason and Virginia Tech — have come in for deserved criticism on that front. So it was encouraging to see two of the state’s leading institutions, UVa and William and Mary, listed among the seven best schools in the country for free speech. Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), presented the list in a recent article on The Huffington Post . FIRE’s advocacy is often […]

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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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  • UVa plans to revise sexual misconduct policy

    May 6, 2011

    The University of Virginia plans to revise its sexual misconduct policy to broaden the scope of offenses and to lower the standard of evidence necessary to find a student guilty. Under the policy, sexual misconduct would become the umbrella term to include any unwelcome sexual behavior. The revision more precisely defines what constitutes assault, harassment and exploitation, including offenses such as cyberstalking, the recording of sexual images and the knowing transmission of a sexually transmitted infection. The policy also would eliminate the geographic limit on UVa’s jurisdiction, which under current policy covers university property or a student or employee residence […]

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  • UVa plans to revise sexual misconduct policy

    May 5, 2011

    The University of Virginia plans to revise its sexual misconduct policy to broaden the scope of offenses and to lower the standard of evidence necessary to find a student guilty. Under the policy, sexual misconduct would become the umbrella term to include any unwelcome sexual behavior. The revision more precisely defines what constitutes assault, harassment and exploitation, including offenses such as cyberstalking, the recording of sexual images and the knowing transmission of a sexually transmitted infection. The policy also would eliminate the geographic limit on UVa’s jurisdiction, which under current policy covers university property or a student or employee residence […]

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  • First Amendment is safe at UVa, W&M

    February 5, 2011

    As Virginians we can be justly proud that our state has some of the top colleges and universities in the nation. We have colleges that are ranked nationally in sports and academic achievement. But now we have a new reason for pride: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has identified the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary as two of only 13 colleges and universities in the country (in a total of 439 institutions) with “speech codes” that do not violate the provisions of the First Amendment of the Constitution. FIRE, an advocacy organization […]

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  • University of Virginia reforms speech code

    December 29, 2010

    The University of Virginia has eliminated four controversial policies that restricted the free speech of students and faculty, becoming one of a minority of schools across the country to do so. The recent decision to change the policies was led by Allen W. Groves, dean of students, who said he was alerted to the questionable policies last spring by Adam Kissel, vice president of an organization called Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, which aims to protect free speech on college campuses. The changes made at UVa: *Groves reformed the school’s “Just Report It!” “bias reporting” system to […]

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  • You Can’t Say That Here — This Is a University!

    November 2, 2010

    by A. Barton Hinkle Richmond Times-Dispatch Teresa Sullivan has been in the president’s office for only a brief period, but the University of Virginia already has made a tremendous improvement on her watch. The Foundation for Individ ual Rights in Education (FIRE), an organization dedicated to protecting free speech on campus, reports that it has conferred its green-light award on Mr. Jefferson’s university. UVa thereby becomes one of only 13 colleges in the nation — William & Mary is another — to receive the rare designation, which the Charlottesville school earned by revising its egregious speech codes. Those speech codes […]

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  • Speech on Campus After 9/11: Less Free than It Used to Be?

    May 25, 2006

    Universities have traditionally been places where debate and the free exchange of ideas have been welcomed. But after 9/11, that may be changing — as some recent, troubling incidents suggest. In this column, I’ll survey some recent incidents suggesting free speech on campus is in peril, and discuss the extent to which the First Amendment protects student and faculty speech Cracking Down on Student Demonstrators and Controversial Student Speech Recently, students at the University of Miami (a private school, but one with a stated policy of fostering free speech) demonstrated alongside striking maintenance workers to show solidarity. Now, they face […]

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  • Clash of campus freedom, civility

    December 11, 2005

    When Tariq Khan staged a one-man demonstration against military recruiters, he felt safe because he was on a college campus. Then he was arrested. “When the police officer started to handcuff me, I was pretty surprised,” Khan said last week. “Usually we tend to think of college campuses as sort of safe havens for this type of thing, for people who want to raise consciousness about controversial issues.” Most colleges and universities, whether public or private, pride themselves on adhering to principles of free speech and expression as protected by the First Amendment. But at many schools, the practical problem […]

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  • College newspapers fight for rights

    September 22, 2005

    By Erin France at The Daily Tar Heel The U.S. Supreme Court received a petition Tuesday to review a case from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that could affect free press policies on college campuses nationwide. The 7th circuit overturned a lower court decision this summer that ruled in favor of Margaret Hosty, who sued Patricia Carter, then dean of student affairs and services at Governors State University in Illinois, for censoring the school newspaper. The move was criticized by several First Amendment watch groups. Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said the case […]

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  • A two-way street for race relations

    April 14, 2004

    ONE SENATOR praises a fellow colleague for his years of service. Another senator does the same for another colleague. Both say that they would have been excellent leaders during time periods heavily associated with racial unrest — the civil rights movement and the Civil War, respectively. Both of the senators that were extolled had questionable records on civil rights in the past. One of the senators who commended his colleague is forced to resign from his position. The other gets virtually no attention. The difference? The first is a Republican, and the second is a Democrat. While one may think […]

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  • Campus Hourglass

    March 17, 2004

    Who will guard the guardians? This common saying applies to American higher education, where professors and administrators are normally exempt from the scrutiny given to other public institutions. A tradition of academic freedom, flowing from the belief that the faculty’s training in their academic disciplines equips them to decide what to teach, has protected the autonomy of American colleges and universities and helped make them the envy of the world. But the principle of academic freedom can be subject to abuse, particularly in personnel and curricular matters, where personal and ideological agendas can intrude in such a way, ironically, to […]

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  • GOP Senators Condemn Campus ‘Thought Control’

    October 30, 2003

    By Robert B. Bluey at CNSNews.com

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  • On-Color Jokes

    November 30, 2002

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  • On Working with Administrators: Five Principles for Student Activists

    August 2, 2013

    David Hicks is a FIRE summer intern. At FIRE’s sixth annual CFN Conference, past-FIRE intern Luke Wachob talked about his student group’s work at James Madison University to bring his school from a FIRE “red light” to a “green light” rating by changing unconstitutional speech codes on the campus. He highlighted the willingness of JMU’s administrators to work with, rather than against, students to reform these policies. After years of cooperation, JMU administrators and students are now able to stand together in their respect for free speech. Like the students at JMU, I have had positive experiences working with the administrators […]

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  • ‘The Cavalier Daily’ Reports on FIRE’s “Best Colleges” List

    September 6, 2012

    The Cavalier Daily reports today on the University of Virginia’s (UVA’s) proud distinction as one of the best colleges for free speech. Released yesterday in The Huffington Post, FIRE’s 2012 list of the seven best colleges for free speech recognized UVA for the second straight year. FIRE worked with UVA in the fall of 2010 to revise several speech codes which had restricted student speech on campus, and we were very pleased to welcome them as a “green light” school in October 2010. As The Cavalier Daily reports, the school has continued to live up to this rating in the […]

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  • ‘Virginia Advocate’ Praises UVA’s Green Light Rating

    March 16, 2012

    In The Virginia Advocate, an independent student newspaper at the University of Virginia, Wendy Morrison writes a brief column noting with pleasure the university’s rank as a “green light” school after having seen FIRE’s latest national survey of campus speech codes,  “This ranking was no faint praise,” Morrison writes, “when you compare UVA to other top tier Universities like Yale, who were given yellow lights and whose profiles cited many examples of seemingly unreasonable censorship.”  Indeed, it is no faint praise, though it is praise we give out far less often than we’d like. Currently only sixteen colleges nationwide (with […]

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  • ‘Cavalier Daily’ Editor Cleared, But Questions Remain for Freedom of Student Press

    October 19, 2011

    The Cavalier Daily reported today that the charges against Editor-in-Chief Jason Ally for allegedly breaching the confidentiality of a University of Virginia (UVa) Honor Council case have been dismissed. The situation began last month when Ally and his managing board printed an editorial acknowledging that an unidentified former writer had included plagiarized material in his work for the paper, and informing their readership that the case had been referred to the Honor Council. Adam Goldstein from the Student Press Law Center also wrote about the case today for the Huffington Post, exploring the intersection of this case with First Amendment rights, […]

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  • Praise for Free Speech at Virginia Schools in ‘Richmond Times-Dispatch’

    June 1, 2011

    In response to Greg’s article on The Huffington Post commending the nation’s seven best colleges and universities for freedom of speech, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has offered glowing praise for the two Virginia schools that made the list (the University of Virginia (UVa) and the College of William & Mary) and for FIRE’s efforts in combating censorship on campuses nationwide. The Dispatch illuminates one of the pillars we rely on so strongly to win cases: FIRE’s advocacy is often effective, and always nonpartisan – it condemns all attacks on intellectual freedom regardless of political or ideological slant. Noting the importance of this advocacy, the Dispatch […]

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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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  • Va. Supreme Court to Hear Appeal Involving ‘Climategate’ and Academic Freedom

    March 11, 2011

    Last week, the Supreme Court of Virginia agreed to hear an appeal by Kenneth Cuccinelli II, Attorney General of Virginia, regarding his investigation of former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann for possible fraud involving Mann’s environmental research. A lower court had set aside his investigative demands without ruling on whether fraud had been committed. FIRE had expressed concern over the academic freedom implications of such a broad request for documents in such an investigation.

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  • Virginia Newspaper Touts Growing Number of ‘Green Light’ Schools

    February 8, 2011

    With only 14 “green light” colleges and universities in the entire country, the state of Virginia should be proud to be home to two of them. Writing in the Daily Press (Hampton Roads, Va.), Michael F. Cochrane commends the University of Virginia (UVa) and The College of William & Mary for preserving free speech on campus: As Virginians we can be justly proud that our state has some of the top colleges and universities in the nation. We have colleges that are ranked nationally in sports and academic achievement. But now we have a new reason for pride: The Foundation […]

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  • More Praise for UVA’s New ‘Green-Light’ Rating

    January 17, 2011

    In a column for Townhall.com, Mike Adams praises the University of Virginia (UVA) for going from a red-light to a green-light school by eliminating the last of its unconstitutional speech codes back in October. Adams describes how FIRE staff encouraged Dean Allen Groves to implement the essential policy reforms: FIRE began working with UVA administrator Dean Allen Groves in April 2010 after Adam Kissel gave a lecture on free speech that was hosted by two UVA student groups – Students for Individual Liberty and Liberty Coalition. Shortly thereafter, Dean Groves received a letter from FIRE, which provided detailed objections to […]

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  • Radio Station Dubs UVa’s ‘Green Light’ One of the Most Significant Stories of 2010

    January 4, 2011

    FIRE’s involvement with University of Virginia earning a green-light rating was mentioned on WINA 1070′s Charlottesville Right Now! with Coy Barefoot by Rick Sincere, former chair of the Libertarian Party of Virginia, as one of his most significant news stories of 2010: When President Teresa Sullivan took over as president of the University of Virginia, she quietly changed some regulations in the student handbook dealing with free speech policies at the instigation of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE; thefire.org). Adam Kissel … came here to speak in April with the Students for Individual Liberty and it happened […]

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  • Praise Continues for UVa’s Green-Light Rating

    January 3, 2011

    Universities that are thinking about reforming their unconstitutional speech codes should be encouraged by the public praise they’ll receive by doing so. Torch readers will remember that last Wednesday, Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post wrote for her blog The Answer Sheet about the University of Virginia’s rapid transformation from a red-light to a green-light university. Today, Fredericksburg.com and Brendan Fitzgerald of C-VILLE join the ranks of recent authors and publications to spread the good news, extolling UVa’s newfound commitment to freedom of expression. We welcome the continued coverage of UVa’s positive turn.

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  • UVa’s Green-Light Rating Back in the News

    December 29, 2010

    Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post wrote for her blog The Answer Sheet today about the University of Virginia’s (UVa’s) elimination of four policies that had restricted free speech on campus. Torch readers will remember that in November, UVa became the 13th school in FIRE’s Spotlight database to earn a green-light rating, meaning that FIRE is unaware of any policies that threaten students’ free speech rights on that campus. Strauss’ article highlights the four policies that UVa reformed: *Groves reformed the school’s “Just Report It!” “bias reporting” system to promise students that protected speech will not be “subject to university disciplinary action […]

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  • UVa’s Green-Light Rating, Fewer Red Lights Nationally Pave the Way to the New Year

    December 22, 2010

    This year, FIRE has made progress in helping to reduce the number of red-light colleges and universities, with a total of 28 institutions improving from red-light to yellow-light status, and one university, the University of Virginia (UVa),  making the huge step from a red-light to a green-light institution. This means that, at UVa, FIRE is unaware of any policies that threaten students’ free speech rights on that campus. In October, UVa eliminated all of its speech codes, earning FIRE’s coveted green-light rating.  It is important to stress UVa’s path to becoming a green-light school, as it might serve as an […]

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  • Former FIRE Intern Urges College Students to Fight for Free Speech

    November 30, 2010

    2010 FIRE intern Casey Given wrote an excellent blog post for Students For Liberty today drawing attention to the University of Virginia’s new green-light Spotlight rating and encouraging liberty-minded students to use FIRE as a resource to fight for free speech on their campuses. 

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  • University of Virginia Columnist Praises Commitment to Free Speech at UVa, Newest ‘Green Light’ School

    November 8, 2010

    The University of Virginia (UVa) made us proud by eliminating the last of its unconstitutional speech codes recently, earning a spot in our elite group of “green light” colleges and universities. Today, the Cavalier Daily, a UVa student newspaper, published columnist George Wang’s op-ed highlighting UVa’s commitment to free speech and stressing the importance of free speech on college campuses. Wang explains why he commends the university for its achievement and why he commends FIRE for encouraging universities to correct common mistakes in campus speech policies: Freedom of expression is crucial to a university’s educational environment. Without free speech, there is no […]

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  • ‘Volokh Conspiracy’ and Local Media Decry Virginia Speech Codes

    November 3, 2010

    Ever since the University of Virginia (UVa) eliminated all four of its speech codes to earn FIRE’s coveted “green light” rating, local and national media have put the spotlight on the speech codes remaining at other public universities in Virginia. When FIRE announced the news, we noted that UVa joins The College of William & Mary as two Virginia institutions in an elite group of 13 “green light” schools and that we are now turning our attention to three more Virginia public universities: George Mason, rated “red light,” and James Madison and Virginia Tech, both rated “yellow light.” How bad for free speech are these three […]

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  • University of Virginia Eliminates All Speech Codes, Earning FIRE’s ‘Green Light’ Rating

    October 28, 2010

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., October 28, 2010—This week, the University of Virginia (UVa) confirmed that it had eliminated the last of its policies that unconstitutionally restricted the free speech of students and faculty members. While more than two-thirds of the nation’s colleges maintain policies that clearly and substantially restrict freedom of speech, UVa is now a proud exception, having fully reformed four speech codes. UVa has now earned a coveted “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “President Teresa Sullivan and her staff should be commended for making these simple but important changes to guarantee the First […]

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  • Virginia Attorney General Issues New Demand for University of Virginia Documents

    October 6, 2010

    On September 29, Virginia’s Attorney General, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, issued a new Civil Investigative Demand (CID) for a huge amount of documents relating to his investigation of former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann. Mann is one of the people at the center of the well-known “Climategate” controversy. Cuccinelli’s previous CIDs were set aside by Judge Paul M. Peatross, Jr., who ruled that four out of the original five grants that were being investigated were not state grants and therefore out of the scope of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (FATA). Cuccinelli had issued the CIDs as part of […]

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  • At UVa, Bias is Reportable, but Not Always Punishable

    September 15, 2010

    2010 FIRE Intern Ginny Robinson takes on her school, the University of Virginia (UVa), for administrative overreach in a column in the student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, entitled “Big brother is watching.” Her primary target is the school’s recent “netbadge initiative,” which requires students to disclose all previous arrests to the university before logging on to their UVa e-mail accounts and then all future arrests within 72 hours.     Of greater interest to FIRE, she also wrote against the school’s bias reporting website, “Just Report It!”, in which: [t]he University encourages prompt reporting of bias complaints so that it […]

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  • Judge Sets Aside Virginia Attorney General’s University of Virginia Document Demands

    August 30, 2010

    Citing a failure to show “reason to believe” that fraud had occurred at the University of Virginia (UVa), Judge Paul M. Peatross, Jr., has set aside the Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) issued to UVa by Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, who has sought a huge swath of UVa documents in order to investigate possible fraud under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (FATA). The sweeping CIDs would have required UVa to find and hand over more than a decade’s worth of documents involving dozens of researchers related to former UVa professor Michael Mann and his five UVa-related research […]

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  • University of Virginia Revises Troublesome ‘Bias Reporting’ Policy

    August 27, 2010

    Following discussions with FIRE, University of Virginia Dean of Students Allen Groves has revised the university’s “bias reporting” policy, which previously infringed on students’ right to free speech. FIRE is grateful for Dean Groves’ commitment to Virginia students’ free speech rights and is happy to report on this exciting development. The old policy encouraged students to report all “bias complaints,” defined as [A] report of a threat or act of bigotry, harassment or intimidation – verbal, written or physical – which is personally directed against or targets a University of Virginia student because of that student’s race, age, color, disability, […]

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  • Virginia ACLU Petitions Supreme Court to Overturn Restrictions on Alcohol Advertising

    August 27, 2010

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has filed a petition asking the United States Supreme Court to review a recent decision by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit allowing for the restriction of alcohol-related advertisements in collegiate newspapers. The ACLU of Virginia, which filed the petition (.pdf) on Monday, is challenging the Fourth Circuit’s decision (.pdf) in Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech v. Swecker on behalf of The Collegiate Times and The Cavalier Daily, student newspapers at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, respectively. The Times and the Daily have challenged this regulation—instituted by Virginia’s […]

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  • University of Virginia Invokes Academic Freedom to Fight ‘Climategate’ Fraud Investigation

    July 6, 2010

    The University of Virginia filed a brief last week opposing Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli II’s demand for a huge amount of documents relating to Cuccinelli’s fraud investigation of Michael Mann, an American professor at the center of the “Climategate” controversy. The brief expands on the university’s academic freedom argument and other arguments, and it mentions FIRE twice.  In general, FIRE opposes investigations of professors for fraud when no evidence has been provided. Cuccinelli’s initial demands provided no evidence, which would have set an extremely troubling precedent if they had gone unchallenged in that form. FIRE thus pushed Cuccinelli to reveal […]

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  • Virginia’s Attorney General Defends Fraud Investigation of Professor

    June 18, 2010

    Last month, I wrote about Attorney General of Virginia Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II’s sweeping demands for documents relating to the research of a former University of Virginia professor, Michael Mann, one of the professors involved in the “Climategate” controversy. Cuccinelli now has responded (PDF) to the university’s legal challenge to his demands. When the university challenged his demands, I wrote: Fraud is a serious charge, one that needs to be firmly distinguished from simple disagreement with a researcher’s methods or analysis, even when the disagreement is very vehement. Trying to turn up evidence of fraud through a massive and burdensome […]

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  • It Only Takes a Minute to Make a Difference on the Campuses You Care About

    June 17, 2010

    My school, The University of Virginia, was listed number one in the Princeton Review‘s list of the 100 Best Value Colleges for 2009. Although I truly appreciate UVa’s dedication to fiscal responsibility, I wish that my school would be as conscientious a steward of my liberty as it is of my finances. I am deeply disappointed that UVa currently has a “red light” speech code rating because it maintains policies that both clearly and substantially restrict freedom of speech.  That is why, when talking to current Cavaliers and UVa alumni, I like to mention FIRE’s Give Half for Liberty campaign. […]

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  • University of Virginia Fights Attorney General’s Sweeping Demand for Research Documents

    May 29, 2010

    Thursday, the University of Virginia filed a petition to the Albemarle Circuit Court in Charlottesville, Virginia, asking the court to set aside the demands of the state’s attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, for a huge set of documents relating to the research and correspondence of a former professor, Michael Mann. As the petition notes, the origin of these demands was the set of “Climategate” documents that began to make international news in late 2009. As FIRE wrote earlier this month in a letter to Attorney General Cuccinelli, we are concerned that this demand for documents may be a politically […]

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  • FIRE Criticizes Virginia Attorney General’s Investigation of Professor

    May 12, 2010

    In a letter today, FIRE criticizes Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s decision to open a civil investigation of former University of Virginia professor Dr. Michael Mann. On April 23, Attorney General Cuccinelli sent a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) to the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (UVa) pursuant to his authority under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (FATA), requesting that the university produce the “data, materials and communications” created by Dr. Mann in conjunction with five research grants he and others obtained during his employment at UVa. Our letter documents the clear threat to academic freedom and […]

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  • University of Virginia Student Calls for UVA to Become ‘Green Light’ School

    April 12, 2010

    Last week, University of Virginia (UVA) student Megan Stiles published an excellent column in The Cavalier Daily, UVA’s student paper, calling on incoming UVA president Teresa Sullivan to “reevaluate current University speech codes to obtain the green light rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.” Stiles opens her column describing Adam’s speech at UVA last week and explaining UVA’s red-light rating. She then discusses the policies that FIRE objects to: The policies in question deal mainly with the University’s definition of sexual harassment. The University’s policy is very broad and includes certain speech, which may be distasteful and […]

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  • CFN Member Encourages Reform at the University of Virginia

    November 5, 2009

    CFN member Ginny Robinson yesterday used her column in the University of Virginia’s student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, to expose the school’s illiberal speech policies. Robinson notes that another public college in Virginia, The College of William & Mary, recently earned a green-light rating from FIRE after revising its speech-related policies to comport with the First Amendment. As Robinson notes, UVA’s policies continue to earn it a red-light rating, our worst rating, because of their severe limits on free expression. In her column, Robinson explains to her peers and the administration why it’s time to change. Discussing the school’s bias policies, she […]

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  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: University of Virginia

    January 19, 2009

    Last week, we introduced a speech code countdown here on The Torch. Over the next six months, FIRE will be drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Last week we described the restrictive policies at UCLA, which receives a poor, “red light” rating from FIRE for restricting student speech. The next institution on the list is the University of Virginia, which FIRE also rates as a “red light” institution. The University of Virginia’s red-light rating is the result of a number of policies, the […]

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  • Finally official, conservative student group hosts first speaker

    October 28, 2008

    Months after a First Amendment controversy threatened the association, Thomas Jefferson now keeps the company of Edmund Burke. UVA’s branch of The Burke Society, a student group dedicated to understanding the theory of the late British political theorist, had their first major event on campus on October 15. The conservative student group hosted flame-thrower David Horowitz in a lecture on “Islamo-fascism.” Horowitz is as well known for his flip from the far left to the far right as he is for his often injurious speech. Horowitz garnered much displeasure from the Middle Eastern Leadership Council and some jeers from the […]

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  • What Would the Founders Think of the Modern University?

    July 9, 2008

    (Maggie Rackl is a senior at the College of Charleston, where she majors in History with a minor in Asian Studies, and a 2008 FIRE Summer Intern.) In my experience, a favorite question of college and university admissions applications is the classic, “If you could go to dinner with any one person, living or dead, who would it be and what would you discuss?” As much of a groaner as this question is, I find it particularly fun to imagine chatting with any one of the many founders of our nation over plates of meat and potatoes and steins of […]

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  • Unconstitutional ‘Bias Reporting’ Programs: A Nationwide Problem

    November 29, 2007

    This fall, The College of William & Mary launched a Bias Incident Reporting System “to assist members of the William and Mary community—students, staff, and faculty—in bringing bias incidents to the College’s attention.” In its initial incarnation, the system was fraught with constitutional problems, from both free speech and due process standpoints. The system initially allowed for anonymous reporting, providing that “[a] person reporting online may report anonymously by leaving the personal information fields blank.” The definition of “bias” was overbroad and encompassed constitutionally protected expression: “A bias incident consists of harassment, intimidation, or other hostile behavior that is directed […]

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  • ‘Cavalier Daily’ Cartoonist Fired for Politically Incorrect Cartoons

    September 12, 2007

    In one of the biggest non-surprises of the year, University of Virginia student newspaper cartoonist Grant Woolard has been fired from the Cavalier Daily student newspaper for authoring two cartoons published in recent weeks (as I discussed previously in The Torch, and thanks to a Torch reader for the tip). Woolard’s future with the paper had been in jeopardy since protests about his cartoons began, leading the newspaper to start “working with” administrators to deal with the fallout from the cartoons (and, undoubtedly, with the 65 “bias reports” against Woolard that stemmed from the newspaper’s publishing of the cartoons).   […]

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  • Cartoon Controversy at the University of Virginia

    September 10, 2007

    Being a political cartoonist is a thankless task these days. From the worldwide controversy surrounding the famous Danish Mohammed cartoons, to more localized dustups at places like Harvard Business School and Missouri State University, it seems that to be a political cartoonist (or the person who publishes such cartoons) is to constantly risk not just condemnation but censorship by those who dislike your opinions. Now this virus of intolerance of political cartoons has hit the University of Virginia, where Inside Higher Ed reports that student cartoonist Grant Woolard is facing calls for an apology and his firing for two cartoons […]

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  • Zoning Out Free Speech at Joliet Junior College

    January 4, 2007

    Last week, the Daily Southtown (Ill.) published an editorial criticizing the trustees of Joliet Junior College for adopting a new free speech zone policy. Although the new policy seems to be improved because it moves these zones closer to where students actually gather, the editorial board rightly questions why the policy wasn’t completely abolished. The editorial correctly notes that “designating a ‘zone’ and setting up rules for how to use it doesn’t encourage free speech, it limits and discourages it.”   Free speech zones are nothing more then a ruse used by college administrators to suppress the free exchange of […]

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  • More on the University of Virginia

    October 3, 2005

    As we have discussed before, a furor started about a month ago at the University of Virginia after a few incidents of racist speech. Yesterday, former FIRE intern Anthony Dick, a U-Va. grad who is now an editor at National Review, wrote in the Washington Post condemning the idea that the appropriate way to respond to hate is illiberal restrictions on liberty. The whole piece is excellent, but the end is the best: First, the Constitution prevents censorship of speech that is merely offensive or hateful. Like it or not, the First Amendment gives Americans the right to express vulgar, […]

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  • WWJD—What Would Jefferson Do?

    September 1, 2005

    The Associated Press (fresh off a masterful profile of FIRE) is reporting that “University of Virginia officials are considering making hate speech a violation of the campus honor code after racist messages were scrawled on doors and shouted from passing cars.”   To be clear, UVA already has an appalling speech code. In a chilling inversion of everything its founder (Thomas Jefferson—you may have heard of him) held dear, UVA bans: jokes of a sexual nature; suggestive comments about physical attributes or sexual experience; gestures of a sexual nature; and sexually suggestive e-mails. But now, UVA is considering banning even […]

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  • Churchill Wars Continue

    March 28, 2005

    Both Ward Churchill and one of his legislative critics compared the University of Colorado to an asylum this weekend — showing that the debate over the controversial professor has not been put to rest by a university review released Thursday. Churchill says that the new investigation requested by the review — this time an inquiry into whether he engaged in plagiarism and other forms of research misconduct — is unfair. In a speech in San Francisco Friday night, he said that the new investigation at Colorado, which will examine among other things his claims of being an American Indian, was […]

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  • Cheating Scandal at UVA Highlights the Need for Fairness and Due Process

    June 12, 2001

    UVA prides itself on its honor system, whose hearings resolve accusations of lying, cheating, and stealing. In theory, they imitate civil trials. Only the fair search for truth in such a system maintains the credibility of campus justice. History teaches that procedural protections and fundamental fairness must be thought about impartially and put into place before crises. This is vitally important for America’s colleges and universities, where “justice” increasingly means “conviction.” UVA’s system had been flawed, but it almost became a reckless engine of injustice at a crucial juncture. In early May 2001, UVA experienced a crisis over charges of […]

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