Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit
Boston University has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.
Red Light Policies
Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
Respecting the rights of other students presupposes that in the close and diverse society of residence life, student expression of opinion will be respectful of others and will be exercised in good taste and decency.
Bigotry, hatred, and intolerance have no place in the residential community.
In displaying or distributing expressions of opinion, students are expected to show respect for the aesthetic, social, moral, and religious feelings of others upon whom their views may be imposed. Students living in the residences are entitled to expect that those with whom they live will demonstrate tolerance for diversity and respect for privacy.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
You must not use any computing facility irresponsibly or in a way that might needlessly interfere with the work of others. This includes transmitting or making accessible offensive, annoying, or harassing material….
Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
The posting of materials on the exterior of room and apartment doors is permitted. However, it is expected that student expression will be respectful of others, will be exercised in good taste, and will not be in violation of the right of other persons to be free from invasion of their personal privacy.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Sexual harassment is defined as sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and any other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, whether intentional or unintentional, where: … the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance, academic performance, or educational experience, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, or offensive working, educational, or living environment.
It is not possible to list all circumstances that might constitute sexual harassment. In general, sexual harassment encompasses any sexually related conduct which causes others discomfort, embarrassment, or humiliation, and any harassing conduct, sexually related or otherwise, directed toward an individual because of that individual’s sex.
A determination of whether conduct constitutes sexual harassment is dependent upon the totality of the circumstances, including the pervasiveness or severity of the conduct. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination lists the following examples of conduct which may constitute sexual harassment.
- Unwelcome sexual advances—whether they involve physical touching or not;
- Sexual epithets, jokes, written or oral references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life;
- Comment on an individual’s body, comment about an individual’s sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess;
- Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, or cartoons;
- Unwelcome leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, or suggestive or insulting comments;
- Inquiries into one’s sexual experiences; and
- Discussion of one’s sexual activities.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
The general laws of society confer rights and impose obligations on all citizens. When they enter the University, students retain their rights under the laws of society, but student status confers no immunity or sanctuary from federal, state, or municipal laws.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
Academic freedom is essential in institutions of higher education if they are to make their proper contribution to the common good. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition. It is that which justifies academic freedom, not the interest of the individual faculty member or even the interest of a particular university.
Academic freedom is the freedom to engage in research, scholarship, or other creative work in order to expand knowledge, to publish research findings, to teach and to learn in an atmosphere of unfettered free inquiry and exposition.
March 21, 2014
by Caroline Kitchens at Time The nation’s largest and most influential anti-sexual-violence organization is rejecting the idea that culture — as opposed to the actions of individuals — is responsible for rape. “Rape is as American as apple pie,” says blogger Jessica Valenti. She and her sisters-in-arms describe our society as a “rape culture” where violence against women is so normal, it’s almost invisible.Films, magazines, fashion, books, music, humor, even Barbie — according to the activists — cooperate in conveying the message that women are there to be used, abused, and exploited. Recently, rape culture theory has migrated from the lonely corners […]» Read More
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 groups also organized expressive events. Many decided to build Free Speech Walls at schools including American University, Boston University, Harvard University, Kansas State University, Winthrop University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Texas San Antonio. FIRE’s Campus Freedom Network (CFN) also worked with […]» Read More
October 6, 2011
As part of our Speakers Bureau program, FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley gave two speeches yesterday at Boston University (BU), one about social media to the Federalist Society and one about BU’s speech codes and FIRE’s work to Liberty at Boston University. Following Will’s talks, BU student newspaper The Daily Free Press has written an article drawing attention to Will’s points about free speech at BU: Creeley said that while BU outlaws verbal abuse, he wonders what BU means by “verbal abuse.” Students know extremes of verbal abuse, he said, but may be unaware that some more nuanced examples, such as diatribes […]» Read More
November 17, 2006
Harvey Silverglate, FIRE’s co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors, writes in The Boston Phoenix this week about the alarming trend among major universities towards university-controlled alumni publications. Silverglate points out that just like politicians and major corporations, universities are increasingly concerned about “controlling the message”—a stance that means traditional independent alumni publications become little more than unwanted interference. The result? Alumni are subjected to an avalanche of puff pieces, self-congratulatory blather, and thinly-veiled donation requests. Surveying the alumni publications of Harvard, Boston College, and Boston University, Silverglate discovers that all three gloss over controversies on campus for rosier, […]» Read More
September 30, 2005
Earlier this week, my FIRE colleague Robert Shibley called Torch readers’ attention to a free speech controversy at Vassar College. Students there were outraged by the latest issue of The Imperialist, the publication of Vassar’s Moderate, Independent, and Conservative Alliance (MICA), because it criticized self-segregation on the part of minority students. There were many calls for The Imperialist and MICA to be defunded and/or derecognized by the student government. Today, I spoke with Graydon Gordian, the editor of The Imperialist, and Matt Ambrose, the president of MICA. I am pleased to report that Vassar’s student government has apparently declined to […]» Read More