Location: Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit
Wellesley College 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
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
Users are prohibited from using information technology resources (including but not limited to: email, directory information, websites, and google groups) in a manner that is construed by another as hateful, threatening or harassing, that otherwise might contribute to the creation of a hostile academic or work environment, or for purposes or uses that are commercial, including solicitation and mass communications intended to benefit private individuals.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
All persons associated with religious groups and organizations are expected to abide by the Wellesley College’s policies regarding the publicizing of events and programs and the honor code’s definition of harassment. Harassment may be considered to include:
a) any patterns of pursuit, conversationally or physically (e.g. knocking on dorm doors, approaching people in public spaces) with the intent of recruiting someone for membership in a religious group without an initial request for information from the person herself,
b) any attempt to induce someone to drop a religious affiliation in favor of another.
Student Handbook: Policy Against Sexual Harassment and Unlawful Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation 14-15
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: … Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work, academic performance, education, or participation in College programs or activities, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, work or academic environment.
Depending upon the circumstances and how they impact the workplace or academic environment, examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to such conduct as the following: … verbal abuse, insults, jokes, comments or innuendo of a sexual nature that include lewd, obscene or sexually suggestive displays or remarks.
Depending upon the circumstances and how they impact the workplace or academic environment, examples of unlawful discrimination could include the above-referenced examples concerning sexual harassment, as well as the following types of conduct: … Verbal abuse, offensive innuendo or derogatory words, concerning a person’s race, color, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, ethnic or national origin, disability, veterans’ status, or any other protected status ….
February 13, 2014
by Jane S. Shaw at National Review Online Okay, Robert Shibley of FIRE argues that a statue is like a speech. Thus, those Wellesley feminists (as it turns out, I must be one of them) who don’t want the sleepwalking man in his underwear on campus are against free speech. I agree with Robert most of the time. And, certainly, the petition’s claims that the statue is the source of “undue stress” are silly, but can’t we talk about good taste? Wellesley has a beautiful and serene campus. I think the women on Wellesley have a right to keep their campus beautiful. There’s plenty of […]» Read More
February 7, 2014
by Robert Shibley Wellesley College near Boston is suffering through a bout of controversy over, of all things, a sculpture. Artist Tony Matelli’s very realistic The Sleepwalker, which depicts a balding, slightly pudgy man in briefs sleepwalking outdoors, is evidently causing a stir on the elite women’s college campus. It’s even produced a Change.org petition (signed by more than 700 people as of this writing) asking the Wellesley administration to remove the sculpture on the basis that it is “a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for some members of our campus community.” As far as sexualized images on […]» Read More
September 11, 2014
Students, faculty, and FIRE supporters in the Boston area are invited to hear Catherine Sevcenko, FIRE’s Associate Director for Litigation, speak at Wellesley College today at 4:30 p.m. in Pendleton West 212. Catherine will be speaking about “Why Stopping Hate Speech is Harmful” as a part of The Freedom Project’s Fall 2015 lecture series.» Read More
May 27, 2014
With the recent controversies at Oberlin College and Wellesley College, it’s no surprise that trigger warnings have been the subject of a lot of media attention. Today, FIRE’s Robert Shibley and his wife Araz (who is also a lawyer) joined the chorus of those concerned about this practice in a column on Reason.com. In the piece, the Shibleys set forth the many harms caused by trigger warnings on campus:» Read More
February 12, 2014
Free-Range Kids author Lenore Skenazy penned a compelling editorial for yesterday’s Wall Street Journal on the ongoing controversy over the “Sleepwalker” statue at Wellesley College. Whereas the director of Wellesley’s art museum tried to convince students that the statue, far from being frightening, was actually “vulnerable” and “passive,” Skenazy argues that even if students do feel “triggered” by the statue, that is not a reason for censorship: While no one would ever deny the misery of real-life traumas like rape and assault, including the lingering trauma of flashing back on them, since when is it the job of a university […]» Read More
February 11, 2014
Wellesley College students have had mixed responses to “Sleepwalker,” a statue of a man in briefs who appears to be stumbling along the side of a road through campus, arms outstretched and eyes closed. While some students posed playfully with the statue for pictures, a Change.org petition to have the statue moved to an indoor space garnered over 900 signatures. FIRE’s Robert Shibley shared his take on the situation in The Daily Caller last Friday. Among the main objections to sculptor Tony Matelli’s piece is that the statue might serve as a “trigger” for students who had been sexually assaulted—that […]» Read More
September 13, 2013
Last week, University at Buffalo (UB) student newspaper The Spectrum published an editorial warning about the loss of liberty for students who attend schools in some countries abroad, even when the programs are cooperative ventures between American and foreign institutions. As we’ve written before here on The Torch, satellite universities affiliated with domestic institutions often promise the freedom of expression that students in the United States enjoy (or are supposed to enjoy) but deliver much less. The Spectrum’s editorial questions whether UB’s partnerships with the Singapore Institute of Management and the Nanyang Technological University further the goals of a modern […]» Read More