Tufts University: Use of Sexual Harassment Allegations to Suppress Protected Speech

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Tufts University

A hearing panel at Tufts University unanimously voted to dismiss charges of sexual harassment against a student newspaper that had satirized a campus student leader. The Primary Source, a student publication that describes itself as the “Journal of Conservative Thought at Tufts University,” turned to FIRE after an undergraduate student filed charges against the paper with both the Dean of Students and the Office of Equal Opportunity, claiming that a cartoon and written remarks in the journal of opinion had made her into a “sex object.” In response, FIRE wrote to the administration, reminding them of two prior free speech cases at Tufts where FIRE successfully intervened.

  • Free Press 101

    December 1, 2003

    By Erich Wasserman at Arbiter Online The recent seizure of an entire press run of the student newspaper, the Hampton Script, by Hampton University administrators is the latest in a sad history of censorship, and now even theft, of student publications by administrators on college and university campuses across the country. At Hampton, acting President JoAnn Haysbert ordered an entire press run confiscated. What had the students done to provoke such a reprisal? Had they published hard-core pornography or incited riots by printing demonstrable falsehoods? No, they had merely done their job by reporting on hundreds of health code violations […]

    » Read More

  • Speech Codes: Alive and Well at Colleges…

    August 1, 2003

    By Greg Lukianoff and Harvey Silverglate at The Chronicle of Higher Education Five years ago, a higher-education editor for The New York Times informed one of us, Harvey Silverglate, that Neil L. Rudenstine — then president of Harvard University — had insisted that Harvard did not have, much less enforce, any “speech codes.” Silverglate suggested the editor dig deeper, because virtually any undergraduate could contest the president’s claim. A mere three years earlier, the faculty of the Harvard Law School had adopted “Sexual Harassment Guidelines” targeted at “seriously offensive” speech. The guidelines were passed in response to a heated campus […]

    » Read More


  • Free Speech Victory at Tufts University: Charges of “Sexual Harassment” against Student Newspaper Dismissed

    November 27, 2001

    MEDFORD, MA—In a unanimous vote, a hearing panel at Tufts University voted to dismiss charges of sexual harassment against a student newspaper that had satirized a campus student leader. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) advised the paper’s editors and communicated vigorously with the administration on their behalf. Thor Halvorssen, Executive Director of FIRE, said: “We are delighted that Tufts chose not to trample on the principles of free speech. This is a victory for everyone who values genuine pluralism.” In a case that illustrates the threat to liberty posed by speech codes, The Primary Source, a student […]

    » Read More