American University

Location: Washington, District Of Columbia
Type: Private
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Speech Code Rating

American University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more
  • Policy on Posting Materials

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: August 9, 2022

    The following guidelines should be followed by those wishing to post items on campus: 1. All registered student organizations must have all items approved by University Center and Student Activities prior to being mass produced. … 8. Posted materials may not advertise alcohol, drugs, gambling, or anything else... Read More
  • Student Conduct Code: Definitions

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 9, 2022

    “Harassment” – an intimidating, severe, hostile, or coercive act – whether physical, verbal, electronic (including, but not limited to: e-mail, social media, instant messaging, etc.), which is intentional and/or persistent. Read More
  • Discrimination and Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 9, 2022

    Harassment. Harassment is a form of discrimination that encompasses unwelcome conduct based on a person’s legally protected status. Harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct directed toward, or differential treatment of, an individual because of their membership or perceived membership in any protected grou... Read More
  • Student Conduct Code: Residence Hall Regulations

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: August 9, 2022

    The following conduct is expressly prohibited: … To solicit, canvass, post, or distribute any materials within the residence halls and/or property operated by AU Housing & Residence Life without the approval of the community director or to violate the university or residence hall posting policies. Read More
  • Freedom of Expression Guidelines

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: August 9, 2022

    The University fosters and protects freedom of expression and dissent for all members of the University community. Read More
  • Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 9, 2022

    Title IX Sexual Harassment means conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following: … Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University’s education program or activit... Read More
  • Computer Use and Copyright Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: August 9, 2022

    Prohibited actions under this policy, include, but are not limited to, the following: … using email, messaging services, or any electronic communication service to harass, stalk or intimidate another person (e.g., by broadcasting unsolicited messages, repeatedly sending unwanted mail, or using another individu... Read More
  • American University: Law Students Investigated for Disagreeing with Pro-Life Classmate

    June 24, 2022

    On May 25, 2022, American University Washington College of Law’s Title IX office launched a formal investigation into eight law students who expressed pro-choice views in a class GroupMe chat. The students disagreed about the leaked Dobbs v. Jackson decision with a Christian, pro-life classmate, who reported the exchange to AU, alleging religious discrimination. AU’s… Read more

  • American University: Recognition Denied to Political Student Organization

    February 29, 2016

    In the fall of 2015, American University’s (AU) Office of University Center & Student Activities denied a request by the group “Students for Rand”—which supports the candidacy of Senator Rand Paul—to receive recognition as an official student organization.

  • American University: Denial of Right to Videotape Public Events

    June 1, 2002

    In 2002, American University (AU) punished an undergraduate student journalist for videotaping a public speech by Tipper Gore. A kangaroo court at AU found the student guilty of “possession of stolen property.” Ben Wetmore was charged with seven violations of campus policy, including “theft” of Tipper Gore’s “intellectual property.” These charges came after a long… Read more

  • VICTORY: 43 days later, American University finally ends investigation into pro-choice law student

    July 8, 2022

    Student: ‘This investigation should never have happened in the first place’ Today, FIRE wrote to American with steps it must take to defend student expression Washington, D.C., July 8, 2022 — On Thursday — after more than six weeks of investigation — American University administrators finally cleared a student of a bogus harassment charge for… Read more

  • American University launches bogus harassment investigation into students who criticized leaked Supreme Court abortion ruling in private group chat

    June 24, 2022

    Academic and legal careers of eight students hang in the balance as university pursues baseless investigation Accuser says pro-choice talk was harassment on the basis of his political and religious beliefs  Student: ‘I can’t believe American is investigating us for having a frank discussion about abortion access.’ Washington, D.C., June 24, 2022 — Eight law… Read more

  • American University in Cairo responds to allegations of academic freedom violations, but says little

    August 14, 2019

    Late last month, FIRE shed light on numerous academic freedom violations that occurred at American University in Cairo, an institution bound to expressive rights by both its policies and its American accreditor’s requirements, during its treatment of professor Adam Duker formerly AUC’s assistant professor and Abdulhadi H. Taher Chair in Comparative Religion.  AUC has now… Read more

  • Student Government’s Mandatory Trigger Warning Request May Signal Impending Academic Freedom Battle at American U.

    October 4, 2016

    The American University Student Government’s (AUSG’s) recent request that the university adopt a mandatory trigger warning policy may signal the beginning of an academic freedom battle between students and faculty at the Washington, D.C.-area campus. It may also represent the beginning of an uptick in similar requests by students on campuses nationwide. FIRE reiterates its… Read more

  • As the 2016 Election Cycle Rages On, FIRE Reminds Colleges that Political Speech Is Free Speech

    March 16, 2016

    PHILADELPHIA, March 16, 2016—At too many colleges and universities nationwide, election season results in the censorship of political activity and speech on campus. To ensure that students and faculty are free to speak their minds in support of their preferred candidates, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is proud to release an updated… Read more

  • Responding to Faculty Resolution, American University Student Government Unanimously Endorses Trigger Warnings

    October 8, 2015

    Students at American University (AU) are at odds with faculty over whether trigger warnings help or hurt free speech on campus. On Sunday, the AU undergraduate senate unanimously voted in favor of a bill formally endorsing trigger warnings, according to the campus newspaper, The Eagle. The bill was a response to a resolution passed by… Read more

  • It’s Free Speech Week, and Students Are Speaking Out

    October 21, 2013

    October 21­–27 is Free Speech Week, a celebration of Americans’ First Amendment right to free expression. You can celebrate by sharing information about constitutional rights with your friends, planning a free speech event, or even speaking your mind about the news of the day. Students especially should take this week to find out just how free speech is respected on their campuses and… Read more

  • FIRE President Greg Lukianoff Speaking at American University Tonight

    April 30, 2013

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be on the campus of his undergraduate alma mater, American University, tonight to discuss free speech on campus and his book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. American University is a "red light" school, which means it has at least one policy that both clearly and… Read more

  • ‘The Eagle’ on How American U. Can Improve Its ‘Red Light’ Rating

    September 28, 2012

    American University (AU) is currently rated as a "red light" institution in FIRE’s Spotlight database, but it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s the message AU students should take away from an article in the campus newspaper The Eagle drawing attention to AU’s speech codes.  The Eagle‘s Maris Feeley writes that AU’s Spotlight rating… Read more

  • Free Speech Week Fallout at American University

    April 17, 2012

    Last week here on The Torch, Jaclyn penned a roundup of the Free Speech Week activities that took place nationwide during the first week of April. While the vast majority of events went off without a hitch, students at American University had a disappointing experience: Not all groups were so lucky, disappointingly. The Free Speech… Read more

  • ‘Free Speech Week’ Celebrated on Campuses Nationwide

    April 13, 2012

    FIRE celebrated Free Speech Week last week by teaming up with Students For Liberty to send FIRE speakers and materials to student groups across the country. We’re pleased to announce it was a great success!   To mark the occasion, 72 student groups distributed FIRE materials and pocket-sized Constitutions on campus. More than 20 student… Read more

  • Adam to Speak at American, Syracuse This Week

    April 13, 2011

    FIRE’s Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel will speak at two colleges this week whose recent free speech controversies have drawn FIRE’s scrutiny. Today, Adam will speak at American University (AU) in Washington, D.C. He will discuss AU’s speech codes, as well as a recent incident concerning the AU Student Government’s (AUSG’s) punishment of a… Read more

  • American University Says No to DOJ Grant Over Mandatory Sexual Assault Classes and Surveys

    March 30, 2011

    On the website, Amanda Hess has an interesting article about American University’s (AU’s) decision to block a campus initiative that would have made the university eligible for $300,000 in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Justice, aimed at addressing and preventing sexual assault on campus. Why did AU do it? Here’s the key… Read more

  • Adam on American University’s New Conduct Code: Same Problem, New University

    September 17, 2010

    Much of the September 14 issue of the American University student newspaper The Eagle concerns recent revisions to AU’s “Student Conduct Code.” Of particular concern to AU students is the vague expansion of AU’s ability to punish off-campus behavior. It’s not hard to see why; the revised regulation simultaneously gives AU more authority to police… Read more

  • At American University, Newspaper Theft Goes Unpunished, and Leaves Questions About Commitment to Free Speech

    August 6, 2010

    A couple of weeks ago Adam wrote a blog post reviewing some of the most egregious acts of college press censorship from this past year. Among them was an instance of newspaper theft at American University (AU), sparked by the publication of—as is often the case with newspaper thefts—a controversial student column. Some students responded… Read more

  • Threats to Freedom of the Press on Campus, 2009-2010

    July 15, 2010

    Over at The Huffington Post, Dan Reimold provides an alarming list of violations and threats to freedom of the press on college campuses from the past academic year. FIRE was involved in several of these cases where students, administrators, or other campus officials—and in one case a county prosecutor—interfered with campus press. We reported on… Read more

  • CFN Members at American University Show Support For Free Speech

    April 22, 2009

    Earlier this month, members of FIRE’s Campus Freedom Network and American University Students for Liberty hosted a FIRE table on their campus. They passed out FIRE’s Guides to Students Rights on Campus as well as other FIRE materials to students walking around campus. According to CFN member and AU SFL President Irena Schneider ’11, “We… Read more

  • FIRE President to Speak at American University Tonight

    February 19, 2009

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will speak tonight at American University. The title of Greg’s speech is "Unlearning Liberty," in which he will discuss the threats to liberty on campus. Greg will also explain how administrative censorship teaches students to choose censorship instead of discussion to combat ideas with which they disagree. Tonight’s lecture is co-sponsored… Read more

  • Ladner ‘Is Terminated as President’ of American University

    October 11, 2005

    So it finally happened: the president of American University, my undergrad alma mater, has been terminated (subscription required) after coming “under heavy fire for spending university funds on lavish personal parties, a highly paid chef, and other amenities, including a car service for his wife.” The battle with Ladner has been epic, but he may… Read more

  • Hunting Witches and Terrorists

    September 29, 2005

    As we have pointed out before, American University President Benjamin Ladner is currently suspended and under investigation for possible misuse of AU funds. In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required), Ladner responded to the controversy with a striking statement: In a lengthy interview with The Chronicle, Mr. Ladner said he… Read more

  • AU President Placed on Leave

    August 25, 2005

    Benjamin Ladner, the president of American University, has been placed on paid leave “pending the outcome of an investigation into personal and travel expenses.” Ladner is accused of “us[ing] university funds to pay for the use of a French chef, an engagement party for his son, trips to Europe, and $200,000 in drainage and landscaping… Read more

  • UC Santa Barbara’s Unlikely Claims

    February 8, 2005

    Last week the University of California at Santa Barbara capitulated in its attempt to force the owner of a site called to remove the initials “UCSB” on its site. This is a remarkable case for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it highlights the trend of using intellectual property law… Read more