Bryn Mawr College

Location: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 3rd Circuit

Tell Bryn Mawr College to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Bryn Mawr College 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.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.

Red Light Policies

  • Student Handbook: Bryn Mawr College Honor Code

    Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience
    Last updated: February 19, 2018

    We recognize that acts of discrimination and harassment, including, but not limited to, acts of racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, and discrimination against religious and political minorities are devoid of respect and therefore, by definition, violate this Code.

    » Read More

Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Equal Opportunity, Non-Discrimination, and Discriminatory Harassment Policies

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: February 19, 2018

    It is the policy of Bryn Mawr College to maintain a work and academic environment free from discrimination and offensive or degrading remarks or conduct.

    Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct constitute sexual  harassment when … Such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s work performance or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

    Sexual harassment can include verbal behavior such as unwanted sexual comments, suggestions, jokes or pressure for sexual favors; nonverbal behavior such as suggestive looks or leering; and physical behavior such as pats, where such behaviors are severe, offensive, and occur repeatedly unless a single instance is so severe that it warrants immediate action.

    Some specific examples of behavior that are inappropriate include:
    • Continuous and repeated sexual slurs or sexual innuendoes.
    • Offensive and repeated risqué jokes or kidding about sex or gender-specific traits.
    • Repeated unsolicited propositions for dates and/or sexual relations.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Equal Opportunity, Non-Discrimination, and Discriminatory Harassment Policies

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: February 19, 2018

    The College is firmly committed to academic and professional excellence and to freedom of inquiry and expression for all members of the College community. In order to preserve an atmosphere in which these goals can be pursued, norms of civility, based on mutual respect and appreciation of differences, recognition of the rights of others and sensitivity to their feelings, must govern the interactions of all members of the community.

    » Read More

  • Bias Response

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: February 19, 2018

    What is a bias incident?

    Bias incidents refer to conduct, speech, images or expression that demonstrate conscious or unconscious bias which targets individuals or groups based on but not limited to their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, socioeconomic status or other social identities.


    What will the Bias Response Team do?

    Within two business days, a member of the response team will contact the individual(s) who filed a report. If this is an immediate emergency, contact Campus Safety at 610-526-7911.

    The Bias Response Team will:

    • Meet with you promptly
    • Treat you and your concern with respect and sensitivity
    • Facilitate access to campus and community resources and support
    • Discuss available courses of action, including both informal and formal options within the College
    • In cases of an alleged crime, engage the support of Lower Merion Township Police or other criminal justice authorities
    • Investigate the reported incident

    » Read More

Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Freedom of Speech and the Limits of Dissent

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: February 19, 2018

    Bryn Mawr’s commitment to the free expression of ideas extends to the expression of dissenting ideas; the College recognizes that the free representation of dissenting points of view is necessary to the climate of open and vigorous debate essential to its educational mission.

    » Read More

  • Confederate Flag in Dorm Roils Bryn Mawr Campus

    October 5, 2014

    By Susan Snyder at Two students at Bryn Mawr College tacked up a Confederate flag in their dormitory hall and taped a “Mason-Dixon line” across the floor – a move they said was merely a display of their Southern pride. But that display sent the small Main Line women’s college into an uproar, with cries of protest from the student NAACP group and others, who called the items symbols of white supremacy, slavery, and hate. “I shouldn’t have to walk past a Confederate flag on the way to my Black American Sociological Perspectives class, where we literally watch videos […]

    » Read More
  • Thought Reform 101

    March 1, 2000

    At Wake Forest University last fall, one of the few events designated as “mandatory” for freshman orientation was attendance at Blue Eyed, a filmed racism awareness workshop in which whites are abused, ridiculed, made to fail, and taught helpless passivity so that they can identify with “a person of color for a day.” In Swarthmore College’s dormitories, in the fall of 1998, first-year students were asked to line up by skin color, from lightest to darkest, and to step forward and talk about how they felt concerning their place in that line. Indeed, at almost all of our campuses, some […]

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  • At Bryn Mawr, Another Speech Code of the Month is Reformed

    July 8, 2010

    FIRE is pleased to announce that Bryn Mawr College has reformed its sexual harassment policy, which had been named our Speech Code of the Month for May 2010. FIRE wrote Bryn Mawr President Jane McAuliffe on June 2 to voice our concerns about the policy, which prohibited “offensive or degrading remarks” and listed “[n]egative or offensive comments, jokes or suggestions about another employee’s gender or sexuality, ethnicity or religion” as “specific examples of behavior that are inappropriate.” Samantha noted here on The Torch that the policy left students subject to discipline simply for “expressing their opinions on a wide range […]

    » Read More
  • Speech Code of the Month: Bryn Mawr College

    May 6, 2010

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for May 2010: Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. The harassment policy in Bryn Mawr’s student handbook states that “[i]t is the policy of Bryn Mawr College to maintain a work and academic environment free from discrimination and offensive or degrading remarks or conduct.” The policy also includes a list of “specific examples of behavior that are inappropriate” including “[n]egative or offensive comments, jokes or suggestions about another employee’s gender or sexuality, ethnicity or religion.” (While the language here refers to employees, the policy explicitly states that it applies to “all staff members […]

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  • On Freedom of Conscience, Bryn Mawr Gets It Right

    September 14, 2007

    Early this summer, FIRE received a case submission from a Bryn Mawr student worried about a proposal for a “Social Justice Pilot Program” gaining momentum on her campus. Conceived in the wake of a campus scandal involving racial slurs published on popular social networking site by a member of the school’s student government, student and faculty proponents of the Social Justice Pilot Program (SJPP) argued that the best way to address perceived intolerance at Bryn Mawr was through adding a “social justice requirement” to the curriculum. As support for the proposal coalesced, the Social Justice Pilot Program began to […]

    » Read More