Many colleges and universities actually do maintain policies that require civility in expression from their students.» Read More
What happens when students want to respond to news right away through protests on their campuses? Many colleges have policies that say they have to wait.» Read More
After meeting the Marquis de Lafayette during his tour of America in 1824, an Easton, Pennsylvania lawyer was inspired to name his town’s new college after the general, as “a testimony of respect for [his] talents, virtues, and signal services … in the great cause of freedom.”
Indeed, Lafayette had been a key proponent of individual rights both at home in France and in America. As the principal author of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789, he proclaimed: “The free communication of thoughts and of opinions is one of the most [...] » Read More
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