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


University of California, Davis

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

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.”