California Institute of Technology

Location: Pasadena, California
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit

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: March 10, 2017

    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.

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  • Institute Policy on Unlawful Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: March 9, 2017

    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.

    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.

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  • Institute Policy on Unlawful Harassment: Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: March 9, 2017

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

    Some examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment are: …

    * Making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, or jokes of a sexual nature. …

    *Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic comments about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, suggestive or obscene communications.

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Green Light Policies
At present, FIRE does not maintain information on this school's policies.
  • 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” […]

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  • ‘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. […]

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  • 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 […]

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