Williams College

Location: Williamstown, Massachusetts
Website: http://www.williams.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Williams College 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.

  • Williams College: Suppression of Freedom of Association by Nondiscrimination Policy

    December 15, 2000

    FIRE successfully defeated a Williams College proposal that denied students’ right to free association by requiring clubs adopt non-discrimination language. Williams College only mentioned the category of sexual orientation—not, for example, the category of religion or race—and justified this imposition by asserting, without any specific citations, that Williams’ actions in this regard were “completely dictated by the Federal Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights guidelines for non-discrimination.”

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Computing Ethics and Responsibilities 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies, Statement

    Williams College has written standards of conduct that seek to prohibit annoyance and harassment by any members of the Williams College community.

    You may not use computing resources to violate the College's standards of conduct. You may not distribute electronic chain letters or spam. These are not only annoying, but can also severely disrupt computing and network performance.

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  • Student Handbook: Sexual Harassment Policy 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
    3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's performance by creating an intimidating or hostile educational or working environment.

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  • Student Handbook: College Standards of Conduct 12-13

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

    Accepting membership in this community entails an obligation to behave with courtesy to others whose beliefs and behavior differ from one's own; all members and guests of this community must be free of disturbance or harassment, including racial and sexual harassment.

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: College Standards of Conduct 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Statement

    Williams College...is committed to being a community in which all ranges of opinion and belief can be expressed and debated, and within which all patterns of behavior permitted by the public law and College regulations can take place.

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This school does not have any media coverage at this time.
  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Williams College

    December 20, 2012

    This winter, FIRE will be presenting a blog series on the state of free speech at ten of America’s top liberal arts colleges. First up: Williams College in Massachusetts. Williams fares quite well in comparison to many of its counterparts when it comes to protecting free speech on campus, but there is still room for improvement. Overall, FIRE gives Williams a “yellow light” rating for its speech codes because of several policies that could too easily be abused to punish protected speech. Although Williams is a private institution (as are all of the colleges in this series), and thus not […]

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  • The Censors’ Favorite Team

    February 4, 2005

    Tens of millions of people across America will watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX this Sunday night. In a gesture of magnanimity before the big game, those of us at FIRE’s headquarters here in Philadelphia would like to tip our hat to all the New England college administrators we’ve dealt with throughout the years. Not far from New England’s home of Foxboro Stadium near Boston lies Harvard University, home of the Crimson, censorship of business students, and a whole host of due process concerns. Meanwhile, Patriot-supporting administrators at nearby Tufts University in Medford have […]

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  • FIRE’s Letter to Williams’ College

    December 15, 2000

    Morton Owen Schapiro President Williams College P.O. Box 687 Williamstown MA 01267 RE: Williams College Non-Discrimination Policy Dear Dr. Schapiro: 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, due process, legal equality, academic freedom, and—in the matter of a compulsory administrative order from Williams College Activities Coordinator Richard C. Kelley—voluntary association, freedom of speech, and religious liberty on America’s college campuses. Our webpage, www.thefire.org, will give you a fuller sense of our identity and […]

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