Vassar College

Location: Poughkeepsie, New York
Website: http://www.vassar.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 2nd Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Vassar College has been given the speech code rating Exempt. Exempt institutions are private universities that express clearly and consistently that they believe in a set of values above the commitment of free speech. Read more here.

This school does not have any cases at this time.
Not Rated Policies
  • College Regulations: Academic Freedom and Responsibility 13-14

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

    [M]embers of the college community accept constraints, similar to those of parliamentary debate against personal attacks or courts of law against the use of inflammatory language. Under the rule of civility, individuals within the community are expected to behave reasonably, use speech responsibly, and respect the rights of others. Genuine freedom of mind is not possible in the absence of civility.

    As a private institution, Vassar is a voluntary association of persons invited to membership on the understanding that they will respect the principles by which it is governed. Because Vassar is a residential college, and because it seeks diversity in its membership, individuals have a particular obligation beyond that of society at large to exercise self-restraint, tolerance for difference, and regard for the rights and sensitivities of others.

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  • Student Handbook: Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome gender-based verbal or physical conduct that is sufficiently
    severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives someone of the ability to participate in or benefit from the college’s educational program or activities or employment benefits or opportunities.

    Examples of sexual harassment may include, but are not limited to,

    • Egregious, unwanted sexual attention or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
    • Implied or overt threats of punitive action, a result of rejection of sexual advances
    • Conditioning a benefit on an individual’s acceding to sexual advances
    • Unwelcome, sexually explicit messages, statements, or materials

    • Attempting to coerce an unwilling person into a romantic or sexual relationship
    • Sexual violence
    • Intimate partner violence
    • Stalking, including cyberstalking
    • Gender-based bullying

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  • College Regulations: Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Discriminatory Harassment is unwelcome conduct directed toward an individual based on the individual’s actual or perceived race, color,  religion or religious belief, citizenship status, sex, marital status, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, military service or affiliation, genetic information, or age that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or abusive environment for that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a college activity.

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  • College Regulations: Bias Incident and Hate Crime Protocol 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech

    A bias incident is characterized as a behavior or act – verbal, written, or physical – which is personally directed
    against or targets an individual or group based on perceived or actual characteristics such as race, color, religious belief, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, disability, veteran status, or age. Behavior reflecting bias may constitute a violation of Vassar College regulations. The kinds of incidents that may constitute a bias incident include, but are not limited to, threatening telephone calls or mail (including electronic mail), graffiti, physical assault, sexual assault or abuse, stalking, vandalism, destruction of personal property, harassment, or coercion.

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  • College men accused of sexual assault say their rights violated

    December 17, 2013

    by John Lauerman WASHINGTON — Female students nationwide have filed federal complaints that claim campus sexual-assault investigators lack training, fail to adequately probe incidents and treat the attackers with too much leniency. Now, college men accused of sexual assault are protesting the same system. Taking a page from the women’s complaints, men are citing violations under Title IX, the anti-gender discrimination law that women have used to demand equality in sports programming and education for 40 years. Men are claiming the investigations are biased in favor of their accusers, who are most often women. Campus sexual-assault investigations represent a parallel […]

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  • Film portrays stifling of speech, but one college’s struggle reflects a nuanced reality

    June 27, 2007

    A new documentary is making the rounds that argues, with vivid examples, that the nation’s colleges are squelching freedom of expression and are no longer free marketplaces of ideas. The film carries the striking title “Indoctrinate U,” and was made by Evan Coyne Maloney, who describes himself as a libertarian and is looking for a national distributor. The film borrows the technique of ambush interviews from an ideological opposite, Michael Moore, and tells how at California Polytechnic State University, a student underwent a daylong disciplinary hearing for posting a flier publicizing a black speaker whose talk was titled, “It’s O.K. […]

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  • Boring Campuses: Not Just the Fault of Helicopter Parents

    April 16, 2014

    In a new article, Slate’s Rebecca Schuman laments the phenomenon of colleges and universities becoming toned-down, less playful, even boring. Schuman argues that this is in part due to parents over-planning their kids’ lives, leaving them incapable of finding creative ways to have fun when they’re older and on their own: A recent trip back to my beloved alma mater, Vassar—combined with my interactions with students where I teach and some disappointing sleuthing—has made it apparent that much of the unstructured free play at college seems to have disappeared in favor of pre-professional anxiety, coupled with the nihilistic, homogeneous partying […]

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  • Found Guilty of ‘Improper Sexual Behavior,’ Expelled Vassar Student Files Suit

    July 30, 2013

    Former Vassar College student Xiaolu Yu has filed a lawsuit against the college, claiming that sexual discrimination and a lack of due process led to the school finding him guilty of “improper sexual behavior” a year after he had consensual sex with another student. The allegations might sound familiar to Torch readers; former St. Joseph’s University student Brian Harris recently brought a Title IX claim against his university on similar grounds. The Poughkeepsie Journal reports on Yu’s case: Yu, a Chinese citizen, said that after the night of consensual sex, he and the woman exchanged texts, a police report wasn’t […]

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  • Controversy over New Independent Newspaper at Vassar Spikes Student Interest in Free Speech

    December 10, 2010

    At Vassar College recently, there was some controversy surrounding the Vassar Student Association Council’s (VSA’s) approval of the publication of The Vassar Chronicle, a new political journal created by the Moderate, Independent and Conservative Alliance (MICA). Vassar’s student-run publication, The Miscellany News, has been covering both sides of the discussion surrounding the Chronicle‘s trial run.  In opposition, Boyd Gardner strangely argued that the decision to approve the Chronicle was rash and miscalculated: My opposition, and the opposition of several of my colleagues, was grounded in the fact that the decision to create a new publication, especially one that will address such emotional […]

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  • More Commentary on ‘New York Times’ Piece

    June 29, 2007

    On Wednesday, Greg expressed his disappointment with Joseph Berger’s column in The New York Times, which discussed Evan Maloney’s film “Indoctrinate U” and painted a picture of the status of free speech on campus using a much sunnier color palette than we would have chosen. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones bothered by Berger’s conclusions.   Berger’s article singled out a 2005 incident at Vassar College in which a student publication was denied funding for one year and prevented from publishing after printing an opinion piece criticizing what the anonymous author perceived as tension on campus based on race and […]

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  • ‘New York Times’ disappoints

    June 29, 2007

    I am, to say the least, disappointed by Joseph Berger’s column in The New York Times today concerning Evan Maloney’s film “Indoctrinate U” and free speech on campus in general. I have been corresponding with Joe for several weeks, and even had lunch with him this past Friday. I had hoped that after such extensive interaction, I had demonstrated to him that a serious and ongoing free speech problem exists on campus. I also hoped that I had convinced him that taking student fee funding away from a student newspaper for printing a controversial article is censorship. Unfortunately, I was […]

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  • ‘New York Times’ Disappoints

    June 27, 2007

    I am, to say the least, disappointed by Joseph Berger’s column in The New York Times today concerning Evan Maloney’s film “Indoctrinate U” and free speech on campus in general. I have been corresponding with Joe for several weeks, and even had lunch with him this past Friday. I had hoped that after such extensive interaction, I had demonstrated to him that a serious and ongoing free speech problem exists on campus. I also hoped that I had convinced him that taking student fee funding away from a student newspaper for printing a controversial article is censorship. Unfortunately, I was […]

    » Read More
  • Politics vs. Porn

    September 30, 2005

    Earlier this week, my FIRE colleague Robert Shibley called Torch readers’ attention to a free speech controversy at Vassar College. Students there were outraged by the latest issue of The Imperialist, the publication of Vassar’s Moderate, Independent, and Conservative Alliance (MICA), because it criticized self-segregation on the part of minority students. There were many calls for The Imperialist and MICA to be defunded and/or derecognized by the student government.   Today, I spoke with Graydon Gordian, the editor of The Imperialist, and Matt Ambrose, the president of MICA. I am pleased to report that Vassar’s student government has apparently declined […]

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  • More Bad News for Student Press Freedom

    September 27, 2005

    Evidence has begun to roll in showing that the freedom of the student press is under assault as never before. It’s certainly bad enough that our own federal court system is attacking the free campus press through the Seventh Circuit’s en banc decision in Hosty v. Carter (now being appealed to the Supreme Court)—but hold on, it gets worse. In just the last few days, FIRE has become aware of not one, not two, but three different assaults on campus press freedom that have taken place since the beginning of the school year—and it’s only the end of September. Our […]

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