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: Policies and Guidelines Regarding Student Organizations 13-14

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

    Offenses as defined are punishable when committed by student organizations. … Organizing, sponsoring, implementing or conducting programs or activities which are disorderly, which are violations of law or University regulations, or which contain lewd, indecent or obscene conduct or expression.

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  • Student Handbook: Student Rights and Responsibilities 13-14

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

    The right of respect for personal feelings, freedom from indignity, and to expect an education of the highest quality.

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  • Student Handbook: Code of Student Conduct- Unruly Conduct 13-14

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

    Disorderly or lewd, any words or acts that result in physical altercation, fighting and indecent or obscene conduct or expression that cause physical injury or threaten himself/herself or others, or interferes with any individual’s rightful act.

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  • Student Handbook: Code of Student Conduct- Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Physical abuse, threatening comments, or intimidation of any person on University owned or controlled property or at University sponsored or supervised functions, or conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any member of the University community or any other person or persons. Such conduct includes, but is not limited to stalking, cyber stalking, cyber bullying/harassment, and retaliation as a result of complaints or alleged misconduct.

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  • Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Examples of inappropriate conduct include: … 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.

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  • Student Handbook: The Western Creed 13-14

    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 ….

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Regulations Governing Time, Place and Manner of Meetings, Assemblies or Demonstrations 13-14

    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 ….

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  • Discrimination and Harassment Policy 13-14

    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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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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