Washington University in St. Louis

Location: Saint Louis, Missouri
Website: http://www.wustl.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 8th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Washington University in St. Louis 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.

  • Washington University: Mandatory University Viewpoint

    September 10, 2002

    The Student Bar Association (SBA) at Washington University School of Law voted 27-6, with 4 abstentions, to recognize Law Students Pro-Life. This vote overturned two earlier decisions that denied recognition to Law Students Pro-Life, the critical first vote having been 27-10-1 against the group. In a September 9, 2002 letter of rejection to Law Students Pro-Life, the SBA termed "the catching issue" what they labeled "the narrowness of the group’s interests and goals." The SBA "felt that the organization was not touching on all possible Pro-Life issues" because it did not have an "anti-death penalty" position in its constitution. FIRE […]

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Red Light Policies

  • Residential Life Policies & Procedures: Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment is defined as any behavior or conduct that is injurious, or potentially injurious to a person’s physical, emotional, or psychological well-being, as determined at the sole discretion of the University. Such behavior is subject to disciplinary action.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Advertising and Promotion Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies

    Posting may not make any references to alcoholic beverages or other drugs. Sexist and discriminatory materials are not allowed.

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  • Computer Use Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Electronic mail should adhere to the same standards of conduct as any other form of mail. Respect others you contact electronically by avoiding distasteful, inflammatory, harassing or otherwise unacceptable comments. (In an academic community, the free and open exchange of ideas and viewpoints preserved by the concept of academic freedom may sometimes prove distasteful, disturbing or offensive to some. This policy is not intended to restrict such exchange.) … While the University encourages respect for the rights and sensibilities of others, it cannot protect individuals against the existence or receipt of materials that may be offensive to them. Those who make use of electronic communications may come across or be recipients of material they find offensive or simply annoying.

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  • Sexual Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    For the purposes of this statement, Washington University has adapted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) definition of sexual harassment for an academic community: Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favor or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, including sexual violence, whether committed on or off campus, when: … such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance or creating an intimidating or hostile environment for work or learning. Such conduct will typically be directed against a particular individual or individuals and will either be abusive or severely humiliating or will persist despite the objection of the person targeted by the speech or conduct.

    Examples of conduct which may constitute sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

    • requests for sexual favors
    • hugging, rubbing, touching, patting, pinching or brushing another’s body
    • inappropriate whistling or staring
    • veiled suggestions of sexual activities
    • requests for private meetings outside of class or business hours for other than legitimate mentoring purposes
    • use in the classroom of sexual jokes, stories or images in no way germane to the subject of the class
    • remarks about a person’s body or sexual relationships, activities or experience
    • use of inappropriate body images to advertise events
    • sexual violence, including but not limited to rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion

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  • Residential Life Policies & Procedures: Posting Guidelines 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies

    No reference to alcohol, drugs, or nudity is permissible; no sexist or discriminatory materials allowed. What constitutes sexist or discriminatory materials will be left to the discretion of the Residential Life staff.

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Green Light Policies
  • Policy Statement on Demonstrations & Disruption 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    In pursuit of its mission to promote teaching and learning, Washington University in St. Louis encourages students, faculty and staff to be bold, independent, and creative thinkers. Fundamental to this process is the creation of an environment that respects the rights of all members of the University community to explore and to discuss questions which interest them, to express opinions and debate issues energetically and publicly, and to demonstrate their concern by orderly means. Therefore, it is the policy of the University to protect the rights of free speech, assembly and expression by making its facilities available for activities related to the exercise of these rights, including peaceful assembly.

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  • University Student Judicial Code: General Principles 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    The primary purpose for the maintenance of discipline in the University setting is the protection of the campus community and the maintenance of an environment conducive to learning and inquiry. Freedom of thought and expression is essential to the University’s academic mission. Nothing in this Code should be construed to limit the free and open exchange of ideas and viewpoints, even if that exchange proves to be offensive, distasteful, disturbing, or denigrating to some.

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  • Discriminatory Harassment Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    In an academic community, the free and open exchange of ideas and viewpoints reflected in the concept of academic freedom may sometimes prove distasteful, disturbing or offensive to some. Indeed, the examination and challenging of assumptions, beliefs or viewpoints that is intrinsic to education may sometimes be disturbing to the individual.

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  • Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Discriminatory harassment is unwelcome and objectively offensive conduct that (a) has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educational environment, (b) is directed at a particular individual or individuals because of the individual’s/individuals’ race, color, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, veteran status, disability or genetic information, and (c) is abusive or severely humiliating.

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  • University Student Judicial Code: Offenses 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Threatening physical abuse, stalking, hazing, or any other conduct which harasses, threatens, or endangers the safety or health of, any member of the University community or visitor to the University.

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Washington University in St. Louis

    April 5, 2013

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for April 2013: Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). Specifically, WUSTL’s Residence Life Policies and Procedures define “harassment” as: any behavior or conduct that is injurious, or potentially injurious to a person’s physical, emotional, or psychological well-being, as determined at the sole discretion of the University. Such behavior is subject to disciplinary action. While many speech codes open the door to administrative abuse of discretion, few are so shameless about it. In fact, the only similar policy that comes to mind is Northeastern University’s Appropriate Use Policy (PDF)—another former Speech Code of […]

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  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Washington University in St. Louis

    April 6, 2009

    Throughout the spring semester, FIRE is drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Today we review policies at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL), which FIRE has given a red-light rating for maintaining policies that clearly and substantially restrict free expression on campus. As a private university, WUSTL is free to place other values above the right to free expression—but it must do so openly, in such a way that any prospective student or faculty member considering joining the university community would be aware […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Victory for Freedom of Conscience at Citrus College; Coerced Student Anti-War Letters Repudiated by Administration

    March 13, 2009

    As we at FIRE often say, as dangerous as it is to tell citizens what they can and cannot say, it is far worse to tell them what they must say and, worse still—what they must believe. Unfortunately, we have far too many examples of colleges doing exactly that. In February of 2003, Citrus College joined a list of schools that have coerced students to lobby the government for beliefs that they did not agree with. The case began when Professor Roslyn Kahn offered extra credit to students who wrote letters to President Bush protesting the war in Iraq. Several […]

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  • Honorary Degrees, Free Speech and Respect

    May 16, 2008

    Many faculty members and students at Washington University in St. Louis plan to turn their backs today when Phyllis Schlafly receives an honorary doctorate. They and many others are furious that the university is honoring a woman who has spent her career crusading against protections for women as well as for promoting the teaching of disproved theories that attack evolutionary science. The university has largely framed the issue as one of free speech and the free exchange of ideas. Statements from the university have noted that many degrees have gone to people who have been “part of the broad public […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Victory for Conscience and Legal Equality at Washington University, Saint Louis

    October 16, 2006

    Four years ago this month, Washington University School of Law’s Student Bar Association (SBA) voted to recognize the student group Law Students Pro-Life. The October 14, 2002, vote overturned two earlier decisions that denied recognition to Law Students Pro-Life, ostensibly on the grounds that the group’s mission was too narrow because it did not have an “anti-death penalty” provision in its constitution. FIRE wrote to the university, which publicly promises the freedoms of religion and speech, urging it to correct this injustice. When FIRE received no response, and the university took no action, FIRE and the ACLU of Eastern Missouri […]

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  • RIC Is Not the Only One

    February 24, 2005

    A FIRE supporter has written us and noted that forced lobbying is “quite common, and apparently accepted, in Social Work schools.” He goes on to say: At Washington University Social Work students also engaged in school-directed lobbying of the state legislature on behalf of University-approved positions as part of a course for credit. Since Washington is a private school, such lobbying could endanger the school’s tax-exempt status. If these practices are common, it is quite possible that many other students have had their rights of conscience violated and not known that FIRE could help. If there are any other readers […]

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  • Open Letter From the ACLU and FIRE

    October 11, 2002

    An Open Letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to the Student Bar Association, Washington University School of Law October 11, 2002 Dear Members of the Student Bar Association, We were both surprised and profoundly disappointed to learn of your most recent meeting, at which the Student Bar Association (SBA) left unchanged its decision not to recognize Law Students Pro-Life (LSPL) as a legitimate student group at Washington University School of Law (WUSL). We hoped that, with time and further thought, LSPL’s right to exist would become as clear […]

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  • Law School Dean Joel Seligman’s Response to Critics

    October 10, 2002

    From: Marjorie Anderson [mailto:manderson@wulaw.wustl.edu] Sent: Thursday, October 10, 2002 2:59 PM To: rz[...] Subject: Re: Say It Isn’t So! Due to the overwhelming number of emails, I am helping Dean Seligman answer all incoming mail. In response to your email, Dean Seligman replies: “Thank you for your recent email. The SBA and the ProLife students have been meeting and in the normal course of events, the ProLife student’s application for recognition will be considered again and I suspect ultimately adopted. I have been far more impressed by the ProLife students here who have recently been constructive and worked to secure […]

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  • Double Standard at Washington University, Saint Louis

    October 9, 2002

    ST. LOUIS, MO—Washington University in Saint Louis, under Chancellor Mark Stephen Wrighton and Law School Dean Joel Seligman, knowingly has permitted an official University agency to deny recognition of a student organization because of the group’s refusal to adopt the University’s political view of the group’s moral mission. “Washington University’s chancellor has condoned intolerable restrictions on freedom of conscience, freedom of association, and freedom of speech. Washington University, known historically as a great center of inquiry and debate, is acting as a politically orthodox campus that denies intellectual pluralism and diversity,” said Alan Charles Kors, president of the Foundation for […]

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  • FIRE’s letter to WUSL Chancellor Mark Stephen Wrighton

    September 30, 2002

    September 30, 2002 Mark Stephen Wrighton Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis Chancellor’s Office, Box 1192 One Brookings Drive St. Louis, MO 63130 Dear Chancellor Wrighton, As you can see from our directors and board of advisors, FIRE unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, academic freedom, due process, legal equality and, in the case of Washington University’s Law Students Pro-Life, voluntary association, freedom of speech, and religious liberty on America’s college campuses. Our web page, www.thefire.org, will give you a greater sense of our […]

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  • SBA President Elliott Friedman’s Letter to Law Students Pro-Life

    September 10, 2002

    —–Original Message—– From: Elliott Friedman [mailto:emfriedm@wulaw.wustl.edu] Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2002 12:06 AM To: Jordan Siverd Subject: Law Students ProLife Jordan, By a vote of 27-10-1, Law Students ProLife did not pass approval of the Student Bar Association at Washington University School of Law to be considered an active student organization. The representatives of SBA voiced their concern as follows: 1) The title of your organization did not represent adequately the goals and initiatives of the organization. By taking away the “anti-death penalty” issue from your Constitution, several students felt that the organization was not touching on all possible Pro […]

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