Policy GA-PA-PO1 University Policy on Free Speech, Expression, and Assembly: Prohibited Expression

Relevant excerpt

Harassment.
No person will engage in conduct that constitutes harassment of another person. No person will make, distribute, or display any statement that constitutes harassment of another person on campus or through University information resources.

To make an argument for or against the substance of any political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic idea is not harassment, even if some listeners are offended by the argument or idea. The categories of sexually harassing speech set forth in HOP Policy EI-PO8 are rarely, if ever, necessary to argue for or against the substance of any political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic idea. In general, verbal harassment will not be tolerated.

Verbal harassment may consist of threats, insults, epithets, ridicule, personal attacks, or the categories of harassing sexual speech set forth in HOP Policy EI-PO8. Verbal harassment is often based on the individual’s appearance, personal characteristics, or group membership, including but not limited to race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, citizenship, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, ideology, political views, or political affiliation. Verbal harassment has been interpreted very narrowly by the federal courts. This policy will be interpreted as narrowly as need be to preserve its constitutionality. The harassment that this section prohibits does not include speech that is necessary and appropriate to support a vigorous debate in a diverse community of educated people. An essential part of higher education is to learn to separate substantive argument from personal offense, and to express even the deepest disagreements within standards of civility that reflect mutual respect, understanding, and sensitivity among the diverse population within the University and in the larger society.

Download PDF