Colby College

Location: Waterville, Maine
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

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Speech Code Rating

Colby 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: General College Policies and Procedures- Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: April 23, 2018

    Harassment based on any protected classification, including race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national or ethnic origin, or disability, results in loss of self-esteem for the victim and in the deterioration of the quality of the classroom, social, or workplace environment. Harassment includes conduct specifically directed at an individual or a small group of individuals and expresses hatred or contempt on the basis of stereotyped group characteristics or because of a person’s identification with a particular group. Harassment also includes any action or speech directed toward members of the protected classes that reasonably can be determined to be threatening in content or is spoken in a manner that suggests violence toward such persons is imminent. Harassment is deemed to have occurred when harassing conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent that it interferes with or limits a student’s or employee’s ability to participate in or gain the privileges of programs and services of the College.

    » Read More

Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: General College Policies and Procedures- Chalking

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: April 23, 2018

    On occasion, student organizations or individual(s) promote public awareness on issues and concerns by “chalking” various areas of the campus grounds.

    Chalking may be done on walkways or roads (not steps or buildings) provided the following guidelines are followed.

    • Hate speech, harassing messages, as well as messages that could be construed as threats of emotional or physical harm toward an individual or group are not permitted.
    • Individuals or groups who violate this policy are subject to disciplinary action, in addition to any fines imposed.

    The Dean of Students Office reserves the right to rescind the chalking policy at any time if abuses occur.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: General College Policies- Banners

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: April 23, 2018

    Banners may be displayed in select locations on campus with prior approval of content from the Office of Campus Life. Groups or individuals who violate this policy may be subject to fines and/or disciplinary action.

    » Read More

  • Bias Incident Prevention and Response Team: What is a Bias Incident?

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: April 20, 2018

    As expressed in Colby’s Student Handbook, “Colby stands for diversity, for respect for various lifestyles and beliefs, and for the protection of every individual against discrimination. In the classroom and outside, there is freedom to study, to think, to speak, to work, to learn, and to thrive in an environment that insists upon both civility and the free and open exchange of ideas and views.”  Moreover, “[t]he right of free speech and the open exchange of ideas and views are essential, especially in a learning environment, and Colby College upholds these freedoms vigorously.”

    Colby College recognizes, however, that expressions of bias (“bias incidents”) may be harmful to individuals, groups, and/or the campus as a whole–even if these expressions fall within our community standards of free speech, and regardless of whether or not they constitute a direct violation of Colby College’s code of conduct.

    A bias incident is characterized as a behavior or act – verbal, written, or physical – which is personally directed against or targets an individual or group based on perceived or actual characteristics such as race, color, religious belief, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, disability, veteran status, or age.   Bias incidents may be engaged in intentionally or unintentionally.  Sometimes, we may express unconscious bias in ways that are harmful to others without realizing that we are doing so.

    Expressions of bias, or bias incidents, can take many forms, including:

    • Using verbal or written slurs or epithets
    • Using hate symbols
    • Defacing posters or signs
    • Telling jokes based on identity-based stereotypes
    • Treating a person or a group of people in a way that is motivated/informed by identity-based stereotypes
    • Avoiding or excluding others because of their perceived identities
    • Imitating someone’s cultural norms or practices.
    • Imitating someone with a perceived physical, cognitive, or psychological difference

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Student Conduct Expectations

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: April 23, 2018

    Students are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the following fundamental code of conduct:

    Colby students will not lie, steal, cheat, engage in dishonest or unlawful behavior, or any behavior that inflicts physical or emotional harm on another person. Colby students must abide by College policies and rules, and comply with directions of any College officials acting in performance of their duties.

    Students are also expected to be considerate of one another, and respect the rights and property of others as well as the property of the College.

    » Read More

  • Code of Ethics for Information Technology at Colby College

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: April 20, 2018

    Examples of misuse include, but are not limited to, the following: … Sending threatening messages or other material intended to harass.

    » Read More

Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: General College Policies and Procedures- Free Expression

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: April 23, 2018

    The right of free expression — which does not include a right to harass, intimidate, injure or silence others — is essential in an academic community and will be vigorously upheld. Infringing upon the expression of views, either by interfering with a speaker, or by defacing or removing properly posted or distributed notices or materials, will not be tolerated. Because unattributed (anonymous) postings preclude dialogue on content, materials such as posters, banners and advertisements should, but are not required to, include the identity of the sponsors.

    The College may impose sanctions if there is interference with the free, open, civil exchange of ideas and views, including harassment or intimidation.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Sexual Misconduct Policy and Processes

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: April 23, 2018

    Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, graphic, physical or otherwise, when the conditions outlined in (1) and (2), below, are present.

    Gender-Based Harassment includes harassment based on a person’s actual or perceived gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or gender stereotypes which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal or non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature, when the conditions outlined in (1) and/or (2), below, are present.

    2. Such conduct creates a hostile environment. A “hostile environment” exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives an individual from participating in or benefiting from the College’s educational or employment programs and/or activities. Conduct must be deemed severe, persistent, or pervasive from both a subjective and an objective perspective.

    » Read More

  • College Tries to Block Public from Seeing its ‘Bias Incident Log,’ Fails Completely

    July 21, 2016

    By Staff at The College Fix Colby College tried to stop the public from reading campus reports of “bias incidents,” by password-protecting the “log” page… Read more here.

    » Read More
  • What Hillary Clinton and Colby College Have in Common

    July 21, 2016

    By George Leef at National Review Colby College has the dubious distinction of winning FIRE’s “Speech Code of the Month” award. Why? Read more here.

    » Read More
  • The AHA’s Double Standard on Academic Freedom

    March 1, 2006

    by David Beito, Ralph Luker, and Robert “K. C.” Johnson Perspectives (American Historical Association) Has the AHA turned its back on academic freedom? In January, members present at its business meeting rejected a resolution to condemn attacks on academic freedom, whether from the right or from the left. Instead, they passed a weaker resolution that selectively condemned only threats coming from the right.We weighed into this controversy as part of a three person “left/right” coalition for academic freedom. Our chances were slim and we knew it. Only in December did we learn that the AHA business meeting would consider a […]

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  • Trumping Moses and Matthew

    November 7, 2005

    By Suzanne Fields at What do the Bible and the “The Vagina Monologues” have in common? Not much. But surely we can all agree that both are covered by the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Well, that’s not so at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. At UWEC you can live in a dorm and watch a performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” but you can’t join a Bible studies group. Any resident assistant, or RA, as the live-in student counselors are called, can put on a performance of the play, and one has, but leading […]

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  • Consulting All Sides on “Speech Codes”

    May 1, 2005

    By David T. Beito, Ralph E. Luker, and Robert David Johnson, Organization of American Historians Newsletter Few controversies have polarized higher education more than that of Ward Churchill at the University of Colorado (CU). Many conservatives, including Governor Bill Owens of Colorado and Newt Gingrich, have demanded that Churchill be dismissed for characterizing the victims of 9/11 as “Little Eichmanns.” Professors and students at CU and elsewhere have responded with rallies and petitions to defend Churchill’s academic freedom. They emphasize that the health of the academy rests on the toleration of controversial, even repellant, ideas. Joining in, the faculty of […]

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  • Colby College president: ‘My responsibility is to foster an environment on campus that supports free inquiry’

    June 12, 2017

    In an email to the college community this past Friday, Colby College President David Greene responded publicly to students who asked Greene why he did not sign a letter criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. In his message, Greene took a strong stand in favor of free speech at Colby, explaining his belief that taking an institutional stance on political matters would have a negative impact on free and open debate on campus: My responsibility is to foster an environment on campus that supports free inquiry, a broad exchange of ideas, and scholarly and […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Colby College

    July 20, 2016

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for July 2016: Colby College in Maine. Colby’s Bias Incident Prevention and Response protocol encourages students to report on one another to the administration for a wide range of speech and expression. Not only that, but the college recently placed its previously-public “bias incident log” under password protection. When a college or university takes measures to hide information from the public, it usually means the school is doing something privately that it knows would not stand up to the glare of public scrutiny. Bias incident reporting systems have been around for years, […]

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  • The Retreat of the Public Intellectual

    September 22, 2006

    In the recent edition of the alumni magazine from my alma mater, Colby College, there’s an interesting article by government professor Paul Reisert about the cultural marginalization of academia. He writes, There was a time, not that long ago, when leading figures in higher education served as public intellectuals, addressing the vital issues of their day and receiving a respectful hearing from political leaders and the public at large. These days, if a professor from any field outside the hard sciences is being quoted in the media, odds are good that it’s for the purpose of ridicule. Reisert opines that […]

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