Amherst College

Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
Type: Private
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Speech Code Rating

Amherst College 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
  • Community Standards: Chapter I. College Standards- Section 1. Amherst College Honor Code, Statement on Respect for Persons

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: April 15, 2021

    Respect for the rights, dignity and integrity of others is essential for the well-being of a community. Actions by any persons that do not reflect such respect for others are damaging to each member of the community and hence damaging to Amherst College. Each member of the community should be free from interference,... Read More
  • Community Standards: Chapter I. College Standards- Section 2. Examples of Violations to the Student Code of Conduct

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: April 15, 2021

    2.1. Harm to Persons 2.1.1. Intentionally or recklessly causing physical or emotional harm or endangering the well-being, health, or safety of any person. 2.1.2. Any action that threatens physical or emotional harm or endangers the well-being, health, or safety of any person. 2.1.3. Any physical or verbal threats ag... Read More
  • Nondiscrimination and Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: April 15, 2021

    Harassment: Harassment is verbal or physical contact or conduct using technology, that is based on a person’s protected identity and is so severe or pervasive that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or educational program participation, or that creates an i... Read More
  • Community Standards: Chapter III. Select College Policies- Section 25. Posting Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: April 15, 2021

    Posting – for purposes of this policy, a “posting” includes all methods of mass-distributing information in physical or hardcopy form, including, but not limited to, posters, fliers, table tents, signs, banners, chalked messages, lawn displays, and any other methods that the college determines are subject to this po... Read More
  • Reporting and Responding to Bias: A Handbook

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: May 6, 2021

    Bias incidents are defined at Amherst as actions taken that one could reasonably conclude stem from bias against the perceived or actual identity of a person or group, that cause harm to the person or to the larger community. In response to incidents of bias, the College will use a variety of tools, including restor... Read More
  • Community Standards: Chapter I. College Standards- Section 3. Interim Title IX Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: April 15, 2021

    Title IX Prohibited Conduct is:  Conduct on the basis of sex; Against a person in the United States; That is alleged to have occurred in a College Program or Activity; and That meets one or more of the following definitions: … Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person ... Read More
  • Community Standards: Chapter I. College Standards- Section 1. Amherst College Honor Code, Statement of Student Rights

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: April 15, 2021

    Subject to respect for the rights of others, every student enjoys the assurance of the full exercise of those rights expressed in the Honor Code and the preceding three Statements, including, but not limited to, the following specific rights: 1.4.1. The right to engage in the free exchange of ideas. 1.4.2. The right... Read More
  • Community Standards: Chapter I. College Standards- Section 1. Amherst College Honor Code, Statement of Freedom of Expression and Dissent

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: April 15, 2021

    Amherst prizes and defends freedom of speech and dissent. It affirms the right of teachers and students to teach and learn free from coercive force and intimidation and subject only to the constraints of reasoned discourse and peaceful conduct. It also recognizes that such freedoms and rights entail responsibility f... Read More
At present, FIRE has not been publicly involved in any cases at this school.
  • Due Process Legal Update: Part II

    March 29, 2017

    Recently, I wrote an update on two of the most recent decisions in the spate of lawsuits brought by students accused of sexual misconduct who allege they were denied basic fairness in campus proceedings. More than 150 such suits have been filed since 2011, with at least eight filed in the last two months alone…. Read more

  • Amid Campus Protests, University Presidents Push Dialogue and Engagement

    November 18, 2015

    University of Maryland (UMD) President Wallace D. Loh wrote an interesting and thoughtful opinion piece this week for TIME’s Ideas blog. It addressed how a university administrator and the larger campus community can respond to campus protests against racial injustice while upholding free speech protections for unpopular speech. He emphasized that both are important components of… Read more

  • Amherst: We Don’t Need to Consider Exculpatory Evidence Discovered After Appeal Period Closed

    July 22, 2015

    In response to a complaint filed in federal court this past May, Amherst College filed a response on Monday staunchly defending its expulsion of a student for sexual misconduct as well as its subsequent refusal to consider new evidence in the case. The case, Doe v. Amherst College, stems from a sexual encounter between two… Read more

  • Amherst College Settles with Student Who Sued Over Withheld Diploma

    January 26, 2015

    Amherst College has settled a lawsuit brought last June by a student identified only as John Doe. Doe filed the lawsuit after the college withheld his diploma because of a sexual assault allegation from 2009 that had long since been resolved—or so he thought. After the allegations arose initially, Doe was placed on medical leave… Read more

  • Students Return to Campus Censorship, But Fight Back with FIRE

    September 2, 2014

    PHILADELPHIA, September 2, 2014—As millions of college students arrive on campus this fall—many for the first time—few of them realize that nearly 59 percent of our nation’s colleges maintain policies that clearly and substantially restrict speech protected by the First Amendment. Too many students will realize that the rights they took for granted as Americans… Read more

  • Boston’s WGBH Announces Muzzle Award ‘Winners’

    July 9, 2014

    Boston’s WGBH News has just announced the “winners” of its 2014 Muzzle Awards, given to those who have particularly impeded freedom of speech over the past year. Formerly published in the Boston Phoenix, WGBH has adopted the awards and is continuing the tradition of “singl[ing] out the dramatic and the petty, the epic and the absurd.”

  • Amherst Bans Fraternities, Sororities, and Similar Organizations On and Off Campus

    May 9, 2014

    Amherst College’s Board of Trustees sent out an email Tuesday announcing that it was reaffirming its 1984 ban on the college’s recognition of fraternities and sororities—and that it would be taking things a step further this summer in a move that will take a significant bite out of Amherst students’ ability to freely associate.

  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Amherst College

    January 8, 2013

    This winter, FIRE is presenting a blog series on the state of free speech at America’s top 10 liberal arts colleges, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report (a list that actually includes 11 schools, since two—Claremont McKenna College and Vassar College—are tied for the #10 spot). Before the new year, we told you… Read more

  • Misunderstanding ‘Harassment’

    October 16, 2012

    Last week, FIRE kicked off a blog series about how schools can reform problematic speech codes with a discussion of why mandating “civility“ is inconsistent with students’ right to free speech. This week, we are tackling another trouble spot for free speech: the harassment policy. As an initial matter, campus harassment policies can be divided… Read more

  • Jewish Group at Amherst College Receives Funding After AAS Senate Debate, but Concerns Remain about Senate Funding Policies

    February 25, 2011

    According to a column by Romen Borsellino in The Amherst Student, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) Senate at Amherst College, of which Borsellingo is a member, debated during a meeting on February 14 whether a new Jewish student organization, the Jew Crew, should receive funding for an event. Detractors claimed that the Jew Crew was… Read more