A common misstep FIRE encounters in college speech codes is the inclusion of more than one definition of a particular type of misconduct within a single policy.
These policies typically provide a broad and speech-restrictive definition of the term, followed by a more reasonable definition. Regardless of whether the broader definition is applied in practice, its inclusion in the policy is confusing and creates a potential chilling effect on expression. After all, students reading these policies are forced to assume they could be enforced, and they may reasonably fear punishment over something as simple as telling a classmate a joke. [...] » Read More
Editor’s note: Shawnee State University revised this speech code shortly after FIRE named the policy our Speech Code of the Month.
Bans on posting or sending “racially offensive” or “racist” materials over university wireless networks are unfortunately commonplace in FIRE’s Spotlight database. As FIRE has discussed time and time again, materials about race that are subjectively offensive to some — or even most — are still protected by the First Amendment, unless they’re included in unprotected speech or conduct like threats or harassment.
FIRE announces our Speech Code of the Month for July 2018: Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.
Carleton is private, and thus not legally bound by the First Amendment, but college policy states that “[t]he President and the Dean consider the protection of the right of individuals to express their views freely and without risk of repercussions to be among our most important responsibilities.” You would expect, then, that Carleton’s policies would protect “the right of individuals to express their views freely and without risk of repercussions” … but you would be wrong. Rather, Carleton maintains a range of policies [...] » Read More
FIRE announces our Speech Code of the Month for June 2018: the University of Central Missouri.
This is the second time a UCM policy has been named FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month. Back in November 2014, we highlighted a portion of UCM’s Student Rights & Responsibilities policy that prohibits subjectively “hateful” rhetoric and suggests that students whose rhetoric “demean[s]” others “are not well suited to the academic environment.” As we wrote at the time:» Read More
FIRE announces our Speech Code of the Month for May 2018: the University of Kentucky.
The University of Kentucky’s Bias Incident Response Team threatens to seriously chill freedom of speech for the university’s more than 30,000 students and faculty. Bias response teams like Kentucky’s are burgeoning on campuses around the country. As FIRE exclusively reported in 2017, hundreds of universities nationwide now maintain these Orwellian systems, which ask students to report — often anonymously — their neighbors, friends, and professors for any instances of biased speech and expression. Currently, of the 467 colleges and universities rated in FIRE’s » Read More
FIRE announces our Speech Code of the Month for April 2018: Delaware State University.
Much ink has been spilled over the past few days about Fresno State University’s investigation of a professor for controversial comments she made on Twitter. Unfortunately, however, Fresno State is far from the only public school that, despite its First Amendment obligations, threatens to infringe on online expression.» Read More
FIRE announces our Speech Code of the Month for March 2018: the State University of New York at Binghamton.» Read More
Category: Newsdesk, Speech Code of the Month, Top Story Schools: Binghamton University, State University of New York
FIRE announces our Speech Code of the Month for February 2018: Kentucky State University.» Read More
FIRE announces our Speech Code of the Month for January 2018: Dartmouth College.
Once a “green light” institution, Dartmouth has adopted more restrictive policies over the past several years. First came a bias-reporting policy that earns a yellow light rating for its potential to chill speech on a variety of political and social issues. Now, FIRE has learned that Dartmouth also maintains an Acceptable Use Policy that prohibits users of Dartmouth’s IT resources from posting or transmitting any “offensive” content. This incredibly broad restriction means that Dartmouth now earns FIRE’s poorest, red light rating — reserved for colleges [...] » Read More
FIRE announces our Speech Code of the Month for December 2017: Utah State University.
Utah State’s Student Code requires that “[a]ll interactions with faculty members, staff members, and other students shall be conducted with courtesy, civility, decency, and a concern for personal dignity.”
On the surface, this might sound reasonable: what’s wrong with asking for basic civility and respect? These are things I personally support — in fact, I consider the restoration of civil debate to be of critical importance to our increasingly polarized society. The problem here — to borrow a phrase from parents around the country, myself included — [...] » Read More