Christopher Newport University

Location: Newport News, Virginia
Website: http://www.cnu.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Tell Christopher Newport University to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Christopher Newport University 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.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.
Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Student Code of Conduct- Abusive Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: November 29, 2018

    Abusive Conduct is defined as actions against one’s self or others that cause physical injury, intimidate, harass, threaten, or otherwise interfere with another person’s rightful actions. This includes but is not limited to, verbal abuse, abuse via electronic means (e.g. cyber bullying), and physical battery.

    Harassment is defined as any words, gestures. or actions directed at an individual or group that may cause a reasonable person to experience fear or intimidation.

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  • Student Handbook: Student Code of Conduct- Obscene Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: November 29, 2018

    Obscene Conduct is defined as conduct or expression that is lewd or indecent that is not constitutionally protected speech.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Advertising & Posting

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: November 29, 2018

    Advertising and posting guidelines are established to aid in the distribution of information throughout campus. Advertising and Postings that violate these guidelines may result in the removal of the violating materials; suspension or termination of an organization’s recognition status; responsibility for cleanup/removal of materials in question; and/or referral to the Center for Honor Enrichment & Community Standards (CHECS).

    Postings by Anchor Organizations and RSOs, that are in good standing with the Office of Student Activities, do not need approval before hanging on approved bulletin boards on campus.

    Postings by individuals, regardless of university affiliation, must be approved by the Office of Scheduling, Event, and Conferences. This applies to academic, personal, or business solicitations.

    The following information should be included on every campus posting/advertisement:  Name(s) of the sponsoring organization(s).  Contact information for sponsoring organization(s).

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Freedom of Expression

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: November 29, 2018

    Individuals and organizations wishing to exercise their freedom of speech or “the right of the People peaceably to assemble,” must register with the Vice President of Student Affairs/Dean of Students at least 24 hours in advance. Standard space reservation procedures must be followed. If notice is given less than 24 hours in advance, the university will make every effort to grant such a request provided that safety and security issues and logistical concerns can be appropriately addressed.

    The location of the assembly will be determined by University Officials in consultation with the organizers and will be based on safety and security concerns.

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  • Student Handbook: Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, and Retaliation Policy and Procedures

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: November 29, 2018

    Harassment is a form of discrimination in which unwelcome verbal, written, or physical conduct is directed toward an individual on the basis of his or her protected characteristics or statuses (race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, veteran status, political affiliation, or any other status protected by law), by any member of the campus community. Harassment does not have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents.

    Harassment violates this policy when it creates a hostile environment, as defined below.

    Sexual Harassment is a form of discrimination based on sex. It is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature including: verbal (e.g., specific demands for sexual favors, sexual innuendoes, sexually suggestive comments, jokes of a sexual nature, sexual propositions, or sexual threats); non-verbal (e.g., sexually suggestive emails, other writings, articles or documents, objects or pictures, graphic commentaries, suggestive or insulting sounds or gestures, leering, whistling, or obscene gestures); or physical (e.g., touching, pinching, brushing the body, any unwelcome or coerced sexual activity, including sexual assault). Sexual harassment, including sexual assault, can involve persons of the same or different sexes.

    This policy prohibits the following types of sexual harassment:

    b. Hostile environment: Acts that create a hostile environment, as defined below.

    4. Hostile Environment may be conduct in any medium (e.g., oral, written, graphic, or physical) that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive and objectively offensive that it interferes with, limits or denies the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from educational programs, services, opportunities, or activities or the individual’s employment access, benefits or opportunities. Mere subjective offensiveness is not enough to create a hostile environment.

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Basic Rights

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: November 29, 2018

    Free inquiry, expression, and assembly are guaranteed to all students subject to the limitations of this document and other University regulations and policies, which are consistent with the provisions of the Constitutions and laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States of America.

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  • Student Handbook: Policies Regarding the Use of the University’s Computing and Communications Systems

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: November 29, 2018

    Any and all use of Christopher Newport’s communication and computing resources must at all times conform to state and federal law, and to all applicable University policies and codes of conduct. Any conduct that is prohibited generally, is prohibited equally when it is accomplished by or through use of University communication or computing resources. Prohibited conduct includes but is not limited to:

    Accessing, uploading, downloading, transmitting, printing, posting, or storing fraudulent, threatening, obscene, intimidating, defamatory, harassing, discriminatory, or otherwise unlawful messages or images;

    » Read More


  • Requiring a Red Flag

    July 10, 2015

    By Jake New at Inside Higher Ed Last month, New York became the second state to require colleges to note on a transcript if a student was suspended or dismissed for sexual assault. Though the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is sometimes erroneously cited by colleges as preventing them from sharing such details on a college transcript, no laws prevent colleges from doing so. Few colleges are required to, however. That’s starting to change, with growing state and federal interest in the requirement leading to laws like those recently — and easily — passed in New York and Virginia. […]

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  • Christopher Newport University releases “University Statement on Free Speech and Expression”

    December 5, 2018

    After gathering input from the campus community through discussion sessions and comment solicitation, Christopher Newport University has adopted its “University Statement on Free Speech and Expression.” The statement, which echoes the core values of the “Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression” at the University of Chicago (better known as the “Chicago Statement”), will serve as a set of guiding principles for the university.   CNU becomes the 53rd university or faculty body to adopt a statement that expressly endorses free expression and inquiry in the model of the Chicago Statement. A public university located in Newport News, Virginia, […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech: Christopher Newport University Revises Demonstration Policy

    September 26, 2012

    Last week, Christopher Newport University (CNU) censored student speech by preventing a student group, the Feminist Alliance, from protesting a campus appearance by Vice Presidential candidate Representative Paul Ryan. (Another group, the Gay-Straight Student Union, canceled its protest shortly thereafter.) Yesterday, in a welcome development, CNU President Paul Trible admitted his institution’s error and announced a dramatic revision of his university’s policies governing student expression. CNU University Counsel William Thro informed FIRE of the policy revision in a letter yesterday evening.   As described here on The Torch yesterday, the controversy over the university’s “Demonstration” policy began last week when […]

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  • FIRE Asks Christopher Newport University to Respect Student Protest, Repeal Free Speech Zone

    September 25, 2012

    In a letter sent yesterday, FIRE asked Christopher Newport University (CNU) President Paul Trible to immediately rescind restrictions on student demonstrations that prevented student groups from protesting a speech by Vice Presidential candidate Representative Paul Ryan last week. CNU’s indefensible decision silenced core political speech on a public university campus during election season—a deeply disappointing result.  Here are the facts, as outlined in our letter: On September 18, 2012, Representative Ryan spoke at a rally at CNU’s Ferguson Center for the Arts. According to The Daily Press, this visit was not publicly announced until Sunday, September 16. After learning of […]

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  • Democracy on a Ten-Day Delay?

    September 24, 2012

    As the presidential election season accelerates rapidly both on and off campus, yet another story provides ample evidence of the folly of over-regulating student speech. Last Tuesday, Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan visited the public Christopher Newport University (CNU) in Virginia to deliver an address. In the midst of a contentious campaign, one would think that a university would provide space for debate on all sides … right? Unfortunately, students who wished to protest Ryan’s speech were told that they had missed the 10-day window for registering their event and would be unable to demonstrate. According to the CNU Student […]

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