California Institute of Technology

Location: Pasadena, California
Website: http://www.caltech.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit

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Speech Code Rating

California Institute of Technology 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 here.

Yellow Light Policies
  • Honor Code Handbook: Interpersonal Relations

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: January 24, 2018

    An action that places an unreasonable emotional burden on another person results in taking unfair advantage of that person. Actions which degrade an individual or group, promulgate damaging rumors, or place someone in a situation where he or she feels threatened, harassed, or victimized may also unfairly disadvantage members of the community.

    » Read More

  • Institute Policy on Unlawful Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 24, 2018

    Harassment is the creation of a hostile or intimidating environment in which inappropriate conduct, because of its severity and/or persistence, is likely to interfere significantly with an individual’s work or education, or affect adversely an individual’s living conditions.

    […]

    Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

    […]

    Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance.

    […]

    Some kinds of behavior that are clearly intended to harass, while inappropriate and not tolerated at Caltech, may not be unlawful. Behavior evidently intended to dishonor such characteristics as race, gender, gender expression or identity, national origin or ethnic group, religious belief, sexual orientation, age, or disability is contrary to the pursuit of inquiry and education and may be discriminatory harassment and violate the law. These types of behavior may be dealt with through the student disciplinary process or through supervisory intervention, including the Caltech progressive disciplinary process. …

    A single incident, if unusually severe, may constitute sexual harassment. Some examples of such behaviors that may constitute harassment: … A student tells racially offensive jokes within a study group session with other students.

    » Read More

  • Sexual Misconduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 24, 2018

    Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment by peers, coworkers, managers or third parties such as visitors, vendors, or contractors is a form of prohibited sex discrimination where the objectionable conduct creates a hostile educational or work environment. The determination of whether an environment is hostile is based on the totality of the circumstances, including but not limited to: (1) the frequency of the conduct; (2) the nature and severity of the conduct; (3) whether the conduct was physically threatening; (4) the effect of the conduct on the complainant’s mental or emotional state, with consideration of whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the complainant’s educational or work performance or educational programs or activities; (5) whether the conduct was directed at more than one person; (6) whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct; and (7) whether the conduct implicates concerns related to academic freedom or protected speech.

    […]

    Behavior of a harassing nature that does not rise to the level of unlawful harassment but is nevertheless determined to be inappropriate may subject the offender to disciplinary action.

    […]

    Gender-Based Harassment is harassment based on an individual’s actual or perceived sex, including harassing or bullying conduct based on the individual’s gender expression, gender identity, transgender status, gender transition, or nonconformity with sex stereotypes.

    Sexual Harassment is pervasive and/or severe unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other conduct of a sexual nature when: … Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

    The following are examples of conduct that, depending on the nature, frequency and severity, may constitute sexual or gender-based harassment:

    • Sending unwanted sexually-oriented jokes to a student or work group email list.
    • Displaying explicit sexual pictures in common areas of Institute housing or on a work computer station where others can view it.
    • Unauthorized sharing or posting sexually explicit photos of another, including a current or former partner.
    • Making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, or jokes of a gender-based or sexual nature.
    • Surreptitiously taking pictures or videos of individuals, especially of private or intimate areas of their body.
    • Observing, recording, viewing, distributing or allowing another to observe, record, view or distribute, intimate or sexual images of another individual without that individual’s consent.
    • Ostracizing individuals from group activities because of their sex, gender or gender identity, gender expression, or because they objected to harassing behavior.
    • Making unwelcome graphic comments about an individual’s body, using sexually degrading words to describe an individual.
    • Engaging in unwanted suggestive or obscene communications. ….

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • The Caltech Community’s Statement on Ethical Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: January 24, 2018

    We encourage curiosity in research, scholarship, and exploration, and we create the conditions where inquiry can flourish.

    » Read More

  • Institute Policy on Acceptable Use of Electronic Information Resources

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: January 24, 2018

    Examples of inappropriate or unauthorized use of the Institute’s electronic information resources include: … sending a communication or using electronic information resources, including web pages, that illegally discriminate against, harass, defame, or threaten individuals or organizations.

    » Read More


At present, FIRE does not maintain information on this school's policies.
  • FIRE alerts students to due process threats using campus newspapers

    February 23, 2018

    FIRE’s recent groundbreaking Spotlight on Due Process report found that the overwhelming majority of our nation’s top universities fail to provide students even the most basic elements of due process. Now, to make sure students know what they’re up against if they’re accused of serious misconduct, FIRE is running eye-catching ads in campus newspapers at the worst-offending schools across the country. FIRE bought full or half-page, full-color advertisements in eight campus newspapers running between December and February, detailing how — precisely — policies there fail to provide due process to students accused of both general misconduct and sexual misconduct. Grading […]

    » Read More
  • Speech Code Countdown: ‘U.S. News’ Top 25 College Rankings, Numbers 19-11

    October 6, 2016

    FIRE’s U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” Countdown continues today. We’re giving you a school-by-school analysis of just how well America’s “Best Colleges” do when it comes to protecting free speech on campus. Unfortunately, in today’s crop of top campuses, troubling speech codes abound. As part of FIRE’s fresh look at U.S. News’ top-ranked colleges, we used information from our Spotlight speech code database as well as information on other headline-making free speech news that applicants should know about before they apply to a given school. FIRE rates schools’ speech codes using a traffic light-inspired system. A “red light” […]

    » Read More
  • ‘California Watch’: No Free Speech at California Colleges

    January 7, 2011

    Free speech is not safe at California colleges—not by a long shot. That’s what investigative reporter Erica Perez found in FIRE’s 2011 speech code report, as she wrote yesterday for California Watch: A new report from a national free speech advocacy organization found most of the four-year universities it surveyed had speech codes that substantially limit students’ freedom of speech, including dozens of colleges in California. […] Of the 33 California universities the organization rated, 64 percent got a red light, including San Diego State University, UC Santa Cruz and Claremont McKenna College. About 36 percent got a yellow light, including UC Berkeley, Occidental College and San Jose State University. […]

    » Read More
  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Caltech

    May 27, 2009

    Throughout the spring semester, FIRE is drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Today we review policies at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which FIRE has given a red-light rating for maintaining policies that clearly and substantially restrict free expression on campus. Although Caltech is private, California has a law applying the First Amendment to private, secular colleges and universities. California’s “Leonard Law” (California Education Code § 94367, named for its author, former California State Senator Bill Leonard) provides that “No private postsecondary educational […]

    » Read More

Policies are rated on their inclusion of 10 due process safeguards. Each policy may receive 2 points for fully including that safeguard, 1 point for partial inclusion, and 0 points for no meaningful inclusion. Most, but not all, institutions have separate policies for sexual misconduct and all other misconduct. See FIRE’s Spotlight on Due Process report for more information.

Grades

Non-Sexual Misconduct

F
2/20
  • Presumption of innocence
  • Adequate and timely notice
  • Adequate time to prepare
  • Conflicts of interest prohibited
  • Right to challenge fact-finders
  • Access to all evidence
  • Right to face accuser and witness
  • Active participation of counsel
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Expulsion must be unanimous

Sexual Misconduct

F
2/20
  • Presumption of innocence
  • Adequate and timely notice
  • Adequate time to prepare
  • Conflicts of interest prohibited
  • Right to challenge fact-finders
  • Access to all evidence
  • Right to face accuser and witness
  • Active participation of counsel
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Expulsion must be unanimous