University of California, Davis: Mandatory Violence Prevention Program Violates Students’ Freedom of Conscience

Category: Freedom of Conscience
Schools: University of California, Davis

At the beginning of the Fall 2014 quarter, UC Davis alerted students to the requirement that they complete the university’s mandatory online Violence Intervention & Prevention (VIP) program, warning students that they would be unable to register for classes if they did not do so by November 7. The VIP program included a section, called “Words that Hurt,” in which students were required to match certain words and phrases, including “I’d hit that” and “pimp,” with reasons “why they are problematic.” FIRE wrote to UC Davis on October 31, warning that requiring students to profess viewpoints with which they may disagree violates the students’ freedom of conscience. Though UC Davis initially defended the program, on November 19 it agreed to remove the portion identified by FIRE as problematic, with Senior Campus Counsel Michael Sweeney promising that the program “will not in any way require students to adopt certain viewpoints or affirm that any speech is objectionable.”

  • ROBBY SOAVE: Free Speech Stifled At Colleges

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    By Robby Soave at The Press Enterprise It’s every college professor’s job to open students’ minds to new – often controversial – ideas. But many college administrators are hard at work undermining these efforts, erecting unconstitutional barriers between students and viewpoints that might offend them. The University of California-Davis provides a good example of a typical public university administration’s contempt for open discourse. Until last month, in order to register for classes, UC Davis students were obligated to complete an online activity, “Words that Hurt.” It required students to match several “problematic” words and phrases – like “I raped that […]

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  • UC-Davis Quickly Caves When Challenged About Sexual-Assault Training Coercion

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    By Greg Piper at The College Fix That was fast: Less than two weeks after the University of California-Davisdefended its sexual-assault training materials that require students to agree that certain words and phrases (“pimp,” “slut”) are “problematic,” the school has caved. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which wrote to UC-Davis to protest the violation of conscience – students couldn’t register without completing the training – says that the school has now removed the “Harmful Language” slide and “Words that Hurt” activity. The school lawyer told FIRE it will “ensure that any new slides will not in any way require […]

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  • College Makes Students Agree Saying ‘I’d Hit That’ Is Wrong To Register

    November 20, 2014

    By Emily Arata at Elite Daily Bet you never thought you’d see the phrase, “I’d hit that,” on an official university document. The University of California, Davis, is under fire for a mandatory Violence Intervention & Prevention program that all students must take before registering for classes. A section of the online quiz titled Harmful Language, for example, asks students to match common slang phrases and words with their problematic meanings. Students match “I’d hit that,” “Slut,” “I raped that exam!” and more to the provided definitions. The problem, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), is that UC […]

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  • UC Davis Removes Part of Controversial Sexual Violence Questionnaire

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  • UC Davis Forces Students To Agree With Their Views On ‘Harmful Language’ Before They Can Sign Up For Classes

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    By Ashley Dobson at Red Alert Politics The University of California Davis is now requiring its students to complete  a mandatory “Violence Intervention & Prevention” online program, which requires them to agree with the school’s stance on what constitutes “harmful language,” before they are allowed to register for classes. The issue? All of the language included in the program is constitutionally protected. The program consists of a series of slides relating to sexual assault and stalking. It includes a section on “Harmful Language”  where students much match words/phrases with why they are problematic.” There is no option for students to argue that […]

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  • UC-Davis Won’t Let Students Register Until They Say Certain Words Are ‘Problematic’

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    Last month, FIRE wrote to the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) about a module in the university’s online sexual assault training that required students to identify certain types of speech as “problematic” in order to complete the training and register for classes. The module contained a section on “Harmful Language,” which informed students that phrases such as “I’d hit that!” or “I stalked him/her on Facebook” can “have a significant impact on normalizing violence.” Students were then asked to complete an activity in which they matched those words and phrases with “why they are problematic.” As FIRE wrote in […]

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  • UC Davis Response to FIRE Letter Misses the Point on Freedom of Conscience

    November 17, 2014

    FIRE wrote to the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) last month to express our concerns about a mandatory “Violence Intervention & Prevention” (VIP) online program which requires students to affirm that certain phrases—all of which are constitutionally protected expression—are “problematic.” Students who do not complete the program cannot register for classes. As we explained in our letter, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that state actors (such as, in this case, a public university like UC Davis) may not compel individuals to adopt certain viewpoints. Unfortunately, though, UC Davis counsel Michael Sweeney’s response to FIRE indicates he does not […]

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