Clemson University

Location: Clemson, South Carolina
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

Clemson 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

Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 203 colleges ranked Read more
  • Student Code of Conduct: University Posting

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: January 13, 2021

    No student or student organization shall post flyers, posters, banners or any other material without prior approval from a University official. Read More
  • Student Code of Conduct: Computer Misuse

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: January 13, 2021

    No student shall send abusive, obscene or threatening messages by use of computing facilities and services … or send, without official University authorization, for-profit messages or other unsolicited communication. Read More
  • Student Code of Conduct: Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: November 15, 2019

    No student shall commit any act, verbal or physical, which has the intent or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s or group’s educational or work performance at Clemson University or which creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational, work or living environment. Read More
  • Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 14, 2021

    “Harassment” means unwelcome verbal or physical conduct directed toward a person or group of persons motivated by a protected characteristic that unreasonably interferes with the person’s work or educational performance or creates an intimidating or hostile work or educational environment. Examples may include, but ... Read More
  • Policy and Procedures Related to Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 14, 2021

    Clemson University prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. (See Non-Discrimination and AntiHarassment Policy.) Harassment means unwelcome verbal or physical conduct directed toward a person or group of persons motivated by a protected characteristic that unreaso... Read More
  • On-Campus Resources: Bias Incident Response

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: January 14, 2021

    Clemson University seeks to be an inclusive community that welcomes and respects all people. Every member of our community is expected to commit to maintaining a safe, respectful and welcoming community. Acts that are an affront to the core values of the institution, which are integrity, honesty and respect, are not... Read More
  • Student Code of Conduct: Purpose

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: January 13, 2021

    Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of students and the general well-being of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals. Read More
  • Facility Use Policy: Speech and Assembly

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: January 14, 2021

    Although prior registration of demonstrations and protests by students, faculty, or staff or affiliated groups is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended. Prior registration and planning ensures that the desired space will be available on the appropriate date and time. Prior registration should be handled in accor... Read More

FIRE surveyed roughly 44,000 students at 203 colleges and universities about the climate for free speech at their institutions. See the full report on FIRE’s 2022 College Free Speech Rankings for more information.


Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 54.59

Rankings / out of 203 colleges ranked

Overall Ranking 41
Openness 138
Tolerance (Liberals) 202
Tolerance (Conservatives) 11
Administrative Support 102
Comfort 185
Disruptive Conduct 9

Administrative Behavior

Supported Scholars 0
Sanctioned Scholars 0
Successful Disinvitations 0


Speech Climate AVERAGE
Speech Code YELLOW
  • Clemson University: Student Charged with Harassment and Disorderly Conduct for Single Email

    May 24, 2010

    Clemson student William Kirwan was charged with “Disorderly Conduct,” “Harassment,” “Failure to Comply with Official Request,” and “Computer Misuse” after he told Clemson administrator Laura McMaster via email that “I’m not going to let you bully the organization into doing the things you want us to do or perceive as important” with regard to his… Read more

  • Clemson University: Restrictions on Contacting Public Officials

    January 15, 2010

    On January 12, 2010, Clemson employees received an email telling them that they were prohibited from contacting public officials without prior arrangement of and notification by Clemson officials. FIRE contacted president James F. Barker on January 15, noting that the content of the email misrepresented Clemson’s “Contacting Public Officials” policy and violated employees’ First Amendment… Read more

  • Clemson University: Free Speech Zone Suspended

    November 13, 2006

    Clemson University vowed to review its “free speech zone” policy and, until new policy was instituted, opened its entire campus to free speech. Clemson also cleared the Clemson Conservatives student organization of its charges for violating the “free speech zone” policy. Clemson decided to reassess its restrictions on free assembly after FIRE, working with the… Read more

  • FIRE writes to six members of South Carolina congressional delegation regarding anti-critical race theory letter sent to state universities

    August 17, 2021

    Last week, FIRE wrote to six members of South Carolina’s congressional delegation regarding letters they sent to Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. The letter signed by Reps. Ralph Norman, Joe Wilson, William Timmons, Tom Rice, Nancy Mace, and Jeff Duncan, asked these institutions to restrict instruction and programs related to critical race… Read more

  • DOJ Findings Letter to UNM Exacerbates an Already Significant Problem with University Speech Codes

    April 28, 2016

    As has been covered extensively on The Torch by my colleagues, the Department of Justice (DOJ) significantly harmed free speech on college campuses recently with its findings letter to the University of New Mexico (UNM) concluding an investigation into the university’s policies and practices regarding sex discrimination. Unfortunately, DOJ’s letter doesn’t just create a new… Read more

  • Speech Code of the Month: Clemson University

    April 14, 2016

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for April 2016: Clemson University. At Clemson, sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” including “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature . . . .” This definition includes a vast amount… Read more

  • Faculty Focus: How Three Professors Banded Together to Beat Back a Free Speech Threat at Clemson

    December 28, 2015

    In late 2014, members of Clemson University’s Coalition of Concerned Students (CCS) were setting the stage for what would become a louder drumbeat of campus protests over allegedly racially insensitive behavior. Their list of demands, presented to Clemson administrators in an effort to rectify perceived racial inequality on campus, were among the first in the… Read more

  • Debate Over ‘Hateful’ Speech Heats Up at Clemson University

    January 30, 2015

    Motivated by recent race-related controversies on campus, a group of Clemson University students has issued a list of demands to the university administration. While dozens of professors have publicly supported the demands, other faculty and students strongly disagree that the university should take action against students for “hateful statements” or for participating in a gang-themed… Read more

  • Florida Atlantic University (Also) Demands Details of Students’ Sex Lives

    November 19, 2014

    Back in September, I wrote on The Torch about a Title IX training program for students developed by CampusClarity and adopted by nearly 200 colleges and universities nationwide that included questions about the details of students’ sex lives. Clemson University, where the program was mandatory, suspended its program soon after students and media outlets objected… Read more

  • Nearly 200 Colleges Use the Same Questionable Survey Clemson Did

    September 22, 2014

    It looks like Clemson University isn’t the only school demanding that students divulge the details of their sex lives. After Campus Reform’s Kaitlyn Schallhorn brought attention to some shockingly personal questions included in Clemson’s mandatory Title IX training course, Clemson suspended its program. (The survey included questions about how many times students had had sex… Read more

  • Clemson University Suspends Inquiry into Students’ Sex Lives

    September 18, 2014

    How many times have you had sex in the last three months? Just kidding—The Torch doesn’t want to know. But Clemson University did. Campus Reform’s Kaitlyn Schallhorn reported last night that the public South Carolina institution asked its students for this deeply personal information and other statistics of their sex lives as part of a… Read more

  • ‘Washington Post’ Writer Concurs With FIRE on Clemson Case

    June 2, 2010

    Washington Post education writer Valerie Strauss writes approvingly of FIRE’s recent victory for free speech at Clemson University at her Post blog The Answer Sheet, describing the incident sparking FIRE’s involvement as "another in a long list of overreactions by school officials to young people saying things in a way others would rather they didn’t."… Read more

  • Victory: Clemson Drops All Charges Against Student Accused of ‘Disorderly Conduct’ for E-Mail

    May 26, 2010

    CLEMSON, South Carolina, May 26, 2010—Clemson University has withdrawn “disorderly conduct,” “harassment,” and two other charges against a student who e-mailed an administrator using “language and tone” that another administrator found “unacceptable.” After undergraduate William Kirwan was charged with a variety of offenses in violation of his First Amendment rights, he turned to the Foundation… Read more

  • Clemson University Clarifies Ban on Freely Contacting Public Officials after FIRE Intervenes

    January 21, 2010

    After Clemson University told faculty members and all other employees that they could not contact public officials without prior arrangement by and notification of Clemson officials, FIRE wrote the public university a letter pointing out that this misguided regulation violated individuals’ First Amendment right to petition public officials. Following receipt of FIRE’s letter, the university… Read more

  • FIRE’s Shibley Speaks at Clemson

    March 2, 2007

    Clemson University’s student newspaper The Tiger reports this morning on FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley’s recent appearance on the Clemson campus. Robert addressed a group of Clemson students and administrators on Tuesday night, speaking about FIRE’s opposition to free speech zones at the university and larger concerns about freedom of speech on public campuses.  … Read more

  • Zoning Out Free Speech at Joliet Junior College

    January 4, 2007

    Last week, the Daily Southtown (Ill.) published an editorial criticizing the trustees of Joliet Junior College for adopting a new free speech zone policy. Although the new policy seems to be improved because it moves these zones closer to where students actually gather, the editorial board rightly questions why the policy wasn’t completely abolished. The… Read more

  • Victory at Clemson University

    November 29, 2006

    Yesterday’s press release highlights Clemson University’s recent decision to temporarily abandon its “free speech zone” policy, encoded within the Sales and Solicitation Policy, which quarantines student assembly to Cox Plaza and Hendrix Plaza, two areas of Clemson’s vast campus.   The Clemson Conservatives student group waged war against the “free speech zone” after they were… Read more

  • Victory for Free Speech: Clemson University Abandons ‘Free Speech Zone’ Policy

    November 28, 2006

    CLEMSON, S.C., November 28, 2006—Clemson University has vowed to review its “free speech zone” policy and, until a new policy is instituted, has opened its entire campus to free speech. Clemson has also cleared the Clemson Conservatives student organization of its charges for violating the “free speech zone” policy. Clemson decided to reassess its restrictions… Read more

  • An open letter to Clemson University

    October 13, 2006

    Dear Clemson: Today, I write to you in regards to an issue of the most supreme efficacy. You see, we as a University, residing in one of the last refuges of individual liberty-the great state of South Carolina-have an obligation to uphold the virtues of this legacy. While other states fall prey to progressive measures… Read more