Western Kentucky University

Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky
Website: http://www.wku.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Western Kentucky University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more here.

This school does not have any cases at this time.
Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Regulations Governing Time, Place and Manner of Meetings, Assemblies or Demonstrations 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    Planned or spontaneous meetings, assemblies or demonstrations may be conducted by members of the University community in those appropriate areas of the campus which are regularly available to the University community ….

    Reservations are not required for utilization of the following areas:

    1. The lawn area west of the Garrett Conference Center and north of the outdoor theater seating in the Fine Arts Center.  These areas are available when the University is officially in session and shall be made available to organizations and groups as designated above, as well as individual members of the University community.
    2. The area on the front lawn of the Glasgow’s campus 500 Building as defined by the Glasgow campus administration.
    3. The area north of the South Campus’ Applied Physics Institute approximately 150 feet from the building and as defined by the Community College Dean.

    » Read More

  • Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Examples of inappropriate conduct include: …

    • Using abusive or harassing language in either public or private messages or content;
    • Knowingly visiting pornographic or illegal sites; and/or disseminating, soliciting, or storing sexually oriented messages or images that are not required as part of educational requirements.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: The Western Creed 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience

    As a member of this community, I have both a personal and shared responsibility to participate actively in university life by: … * Seeking unity by respecting the dignity of all persons; * Celebrating and embracing diversity ….

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Standard of Conduct 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes

    Please know that any behavior that does not demonstrate that of a good citizen may result in your introduction to the University Judicial Process.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Information Technology- Email and Communications 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    The following activities are strictly prohibited, without exception:

    1.   Sending email messages, including “junk mail/SPAM” or other advertising material, to individuals who did not specifically request such material (email spam).

    3.  Users must respect the right of others and communication should be free from harassment or intimidation to the same extent that this right is recognized in the use of other communications media. Consequently, although each user has the right to freedom of speech, unlawful material may not be sent or displayed to others. Any uses of computing resources to threaten; harass or bully others, or transmitting obscene or fraudulent messages is prohibited.

     

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Student Rights and Responsibilities 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    Students have the right to enjoy the same freedoms as are guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and to expect an education of the highest quality.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Code of Student Conduct- Harassment 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Any physical, behavioral or verbal abuse of a person based upon gender, race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sexual orientation, marital status, age, uniform service, veteran status, or physical or mental disability, where:

    1. Tolerance of or participation in the offensive conduct explicitly or implicitly becomes a condition of employment or participation in a university course, program or activity; or

    2. The conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent to interfere with an individual’s work, academic or program participation; or

    3. The conduct creates an environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or offensive.

    Such conduct includes, but is not limited to stalking, cyber stalking, cyber bullying/harassment, and retaliation as a result of complaints or alleged misconduct.

    » Read More

  • Discrimination and Harassment Policy 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    B. Harassment: any physical, behavioral or verbal abuse of a person based upon gender, race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sexual orientation, marital status, age, uniform service, veteran status, or physical or mental
    disability, where:

    1. Tolerance of or participation in the offensive conduct explicitly or implicitly becomes a condition of employment or participation in a university course, program or activity; or

    2. The conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent to interfere with an individual’s work, academic or program participation; or

    3. The conduct creates an environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or offensive.

    C. Sexual Harassment: unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, where:

    1. Tolerance of or participation in the offensive conduct explicitly or implicitly becomes a condition of employment or participation in a university course, program or activity; or

    2. The conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent as to interfere with an individual’s work, academic or program participation; or

    3. The conduct creates an environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile or offensive.

    D. Hostile Work Environment: Actions or behavior which discriminate against a member of a protected classification (i.e., gender, race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sexual orientation, marital status, age, uniform service, veteran status, or physical or mental disability), and are severe and pervasive to the extent that the actions or behavior interfere with an employee’s ability to perform his or her job or interfere with a student’s access to educational opportunities.

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  • KY School Responds to Call for Speech Policy Change

    April 18, 2014

    By Bob Kellogg at OneNewsNow Western Kentucky University made the change after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and WKU’s Student Government Association challenged a policy that prohibited the use of school email resources for “[t]ransmitting statements, language, images or other materials that are reasonably likely to be perceived as offensive ….” Robert Shibley, executive vice president of FIRE, says similar policies are commonplace on America’s university campuses these days. “Over and over again, FIRE sees universities try to limit speech in an attempt to prevent anyone from being offended,” he tells OneNewsNow. “But unfortunately what they’re doing is limiting […]

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  • University says condom vandalism of pro-life display has been ‘properly, decisively’ dealt with

    April 24, 2012

    BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY, April 24, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The president of Western Kentucky University said the desecration of an approved pro-life display has been “properly, decisively” dealt with – although a pro-life student group has pointed out that there has been no apology to the pro-life students, and the student responsible has apparently not been disciplined. In fact, according to Students for Life, the woman who placed condoms over each cross in the pro-life display may still receive college credit for her act of vandalism. The student group Hilltoppers for Life got university permission to erect 3,700 crosses in a […]

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  • Western Kentucky University Revises Speech Code of the Month Policy

    March 17, 2014

    In some good news for free speech on campus, Western Kentucky University (WKU) has revised a “Computing Ethics” policy that drew condemnation from the university’s Student Government Association (SGA) and was named FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month for March 2014. Because this was WKU’s only “red light” policy, the university now earns an improved, “yellow light” rating in FIRE’s Spotlight database.

    » Read More
  • Speech Code of the Month: Western Kentucky University

    March 10, 2014

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for March 2014: Western Kentucky University (WKU). WKU’s Computing Ethics Policy prohibits using university email to send messages that are “reasonably likely to be perceived as offensive or disparaging” based on personal characteristics, and it also prohibits the use of email for “advocating religious or political opinions.” This viewpoint-discriminatory policy effectively shuts down open discourse over the university’s email system and threatens academic freedom by severely restricting what students and faculty members can say—and how they can say it—when discussing important political and social issues.

    » Read More
  • Continuing Progress for Western Kentucky University Reform Efforts

    October 29, 2013

    As FIRE’s Sarah McLaughlin reported earlier this month, students at Western Kentucky University (WKU) are working to move their university one step closer to a better Spotlight rating. Last week, WKU’s College Heights Herald reported on the continuing success of their efforts. Torch readers may remember that Student Government Association (SGA) Director of Public Relations Laura Harper has spearheaded the reform movement at WKU. After learning that FIRE had rated the university’s Computing Ethics Policy as a “red light,” Laura drafted a resolution urging WKU to revise the policy. The resolution not only points to the inherent problems with the policy’s overly broad and vague speech restrictions but also highlights the […]

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  • Student at IU Attempts to Censor Fellow Students by Vandalizing Pro-Life Display

    October 1, 2013

    FIRE often exposes how colleges censor students—but last week, it was a student at Indiana University who decided to engage in some vigilante censorship by vandalizing a pro-life display. According to a student account, new student organization Students for Life at IU intended to have a peaceful demonstration on campus as part of an organized protest dubbed the “Planned Parenthood Project.” The trouble reportedly began when a student approached the demonstration, removed wooden crosses meant to represent the number of abortions performed daily by Planned Parenthood from the ground, and threw them into a trash can. (The student report includes a photo of this.) […]

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  • Western Kentucky Removes Restrictions on Social Media, but Policy Remains a ‘Red Light’

    March 23, 2012

    Western Kentucky University (WKU) has revised a “red light” policy in its Student Handbook regulating student use of social media, according to the WKU student newspaper the College Heights Herald. The move is a boon for WKU students’ free speech rights, who will now enjoy greater freedoms when using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. We are pleased to report this development, and we commend WKU’s administration for taking this step to uphold students’ rights in this ever-expanding area of expression. However, problems remain with the policy, labeled “Information Technology.” (You can find it beginning on page 39 of WKU’s […]

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  • Western Kentucky U. Getting Tough on Social Media at Expense of First Amendment

    February 27, 2012

    As reported late last week by the College Heights Herald and today by the Associated Press, Western Kentucky University is making alarming inroads against its students’ use of social media. First, WKU President Gary Ransdell took to the university’s official Facebook page with this message for students about “responsible” use of social media applications. Ransdell wrote in part that   We, at WKU, have become particularly conscious lately of some who are misusing social media and using some poor judgment. So my message here is “Be smart.” Use social media thoughtfully; always remember what you send is permanent and can […]

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  • Western Kentucky U. Student Senator Seeks to Reform ‘Red Light’ Policy

    February 22, 2012

    The College Heights Herald, the main student newspaper at Western Kentucky University (WKU), reports a promising development coming from WKU’s Student Government Association. Student senator Christopher Costa, the Herald reports, is preparing a resolution for consideration by the SGA that would call for the removal of WKU’s External Computer Use and Ethics policy from WKU’s student handbook. The section on external computer use (part of WKU’s Information Technology policy), states: Communications on sites such as Facebook, etc. will not be actively policed; however, students should be aware that the information posted on the internet can be viewed by university officials […]

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  • Your Tuition Dollars at Work

    September 16, 2010

    We have written before about the problem of administrative bloat on college campuses and its tendency to lead to the micromanagement of students’ lives, particularly in the area of free speech. As Azhar discussed last month here on The Torch, a recent study by the Goldwater Institute found that between 1993 and 2007, the number of administrators for every 100 college students increased by 39 percent, while the number of professors and researchers for every 100 students rose by only 18 percent during the same period. Obviously, the role of college administrators in creating and enforcing unconstitutional speech codes is […]

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