Colorado State University

Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

Colorado State 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 154 colleges surveyed Read more
  • Residence Life: Our Values- Commitment To Diversity

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: September 17, 2021

    Bigotry has no place within our community, nor does the denigration of other human beings on the basis of age, physical handicap, national origin, sexual orientation, race, gender, or religious affiliation. We do not tolerate verbal or written abuse, threats, intimidation, violence, or other forms of harassment agai... Read More
  • Student Conduct Code: Prohibited Conduct

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: September 17, 2021

    Threats, intimidation, coercion, or other unwelcome behavior, through any method of communication directed at an individual or individuals that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive such that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a person’s academic or work performance, or a person’s ability... Read More
  • CSU Policy 6-0160-001: Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking and Retaliation Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 17, 2021

    Harassment is a form of discrimination and is conduct based upon an individual’s race, age, creed, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or pregnancy that is unwelcome and sufficiently severe or p... Read More
  • CSU Policy 12-015-001: Title IX Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 17, 2021

    Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University’s education program or activity. Depending upon the behaviors, examples of such conduct may include, but are not limited to: a. Gender-based bul... Read More
  • Residence Hall Policies: Harassment & Hate Crimes

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: September 17, 2021

    Bias motivated incidents are non-criminal activities against a person or property that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against perceived or actual race, age, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, or ge... Read More
  • CSU Policy 5-1001-003: Free Speech and Right to Peaceful Assembly

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: September 17, 2021

    Public Forum: An area of the University recognized by the University as a traditional destination for public speech and assembly, and that may be reserved in advance for specific events or gatherings, subject to the provisions of this Policy. An example is the Lory Student Center Plaza. Student Forum: As applied to ... Read More
  • CSU Policy 5-1001-001: Freedom of Expression and Inquiry

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 17, 2021

    The policy of Colorado State University is to encourage members of the University community to engage in discussion, to exchange ideas and opinions, and to speak, write, and publish freely in accordance with the guarantees and limitations of our state and national constitutions. Read More
  • Campus Facility Use Policy and Procedure Manual: Large Event Guidelines

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Security Fee Policies
    Last updated: September 17, 2021

    6. CSUPD will conduct a security assessment based on information provided from the event organizers and such other information CSUPD may obtain. CSUPD, in consultation with the CSU Public Safety Team, will assess security needs based on objective and credible evidence of specific risks, and not on assessment of the ... Read More
  • Bias Reporting

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: September 17, 2021

    The Bias Reporting System is an effort to understand and assess the current state of bias-related incidents at Colorado State University in order to better meet the needs of our diverse community. It serves three core purposes: Support First and foremost, individuals who are targeted by perceived bias-related inci... Read More

FIRE surveyed roughly 37,000 students at 154 colleges and universities about the climate for free speech at their institutions. In 2021, FIRE released rankings of those schools, based on a number of factors, including openness, tolerance, self-expression, administrative support for free speech, and campus policies, scoring overall speech climate on a scale from 0-100. See the full report on FIRE’s 2021 College Free Speech Rankings for more information.



Overall Ranking 77/154
Ideological Diversity 44/159

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 59.5
Openness 9.26
Tolerance (Liberals) 9.82
Tolerance (Conservatives) 8.69
Administrative Support 6.04
Comfort 15.66
Disruptive Conduct 10.04
Speech Climate
Supported Scholars
Sanctioned Scholars
Successful Disinvitations
Speech Code YELLOW
  • Colorado State University: Student Editor on Trial for Protected Speech

    October 3, 2011

    The editor of a student newspaper ran an editorial that said “Taser this…FUCK BUSH” in response to the well-known tasering incident at the University of Florida, which had occurred four days earlier. The school admonished the editor, declaring the editorial “unethical and unprofessional,” but took no further action when they found the speech was protected… Read more

  • Colorado State University: Students Fight for Rights to Free Speech and Assembly

    March 12, 2007

    Colorado State University (CSU) completely revised three formerly unconstitutional speech codes. The changes came after student activists at CSU, with help from FIRE, pressured the university to uphold the constitutional rights of CSU students. Concerned CSU students requested help from FIRE in contesting several unconstitutional policies that restricted students’ expression and assembly on campus. FIRE… Read more

  • Language evolves, and we must understand that

    August 7, 2019

    I never think of Nazis when people say “hip hip hooray.” But according to Colorado State University’s Inclusive Language Guide, the association is intrinsic. “Hip hip hooray” is allegedly derived from the German phrase “hep hep.” German anti-Semites used “hep hep” during the “Hep-Hep” riots of 1819, and Nazis later used the phrase to round… Read more

  • What does stealing newspapers actually accomplish in 2019?

    May 10, 2019

    Readers might remember last month when FIRE wrote about how roughly 1,500 issues of Colorado State’s student newspaper, The Collegian, went missing from stands. Multiple eyewitnesses said they saw members of a student government campaign throwing out issues featuring stories that suggested the campaign misreported their funds. Now, a friend of one of the candidates… Read more

  • Colorado’s repealed newspaper theft law in spotlight after CSU student paper stolen

    April 11, 2019

    On Tuesday, Colorado State University’s student newspaper, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, reported “multiple eyewitnesses” saw members of a campaign team for student government presidential candidate Ben Amundson and his running mate Alexandra Farias removing and destroying copies of the paper early that morning. The cover story of Tuesday’s edition alleged the candidates had misreported their… Read more

  • Posting Policies Frequently Restrict Student Expression

    October 30, 2012

    This fall, FIRE is writing a blog series about how schools can reform their problematic speech codes and earn a "green light" rating from FIRE—a distinction currently awarded to just 16 of the more than 400 schools in our Spotlight database, but one we hope to be able to award to many more in the… Read more

  • CFN Member at Colorado State Slams Speech Codes, Calls for Reform

    November 18, 2009

    Last month, Colorado State University graduate student and CFN member Seth Anthony published two excellent columns in The Rocky Mountain Collegian on the problematic policies in place at Colorado State University (CSU). All Torch readers should be sure to check them out. In the first column, entitled “Free speech still at risk on campus,” Seth describes an… Read more

  • Colorado State U. Newspaper May Finally Gain Independence

    April 17, 2008

    Much has happened since we last reported on the case of the controversial editorial printed earlier this academic year by Colorado State University’s Rocky Mountain Collegian. In that case, the editors published an editorial reading “Taser this…FUCK Bush”, fully within the paper’s editorial and ethical guidelines. The paper’s editor, J. David McSwane, was threatened with… Read more

  • Victories for Free Speech at Colorado State University

    November 30, 2007

    Free speech advocates should be following the case of J. David McSwane, editor-in-chief of The Rocky Mountain Collegian at Colorado State University (CSU), whose paper ran a constitutionally protected staff editorial on September 21. The editorial included, in large print, an expletive. After complaints and calls for McSwane to be fired and the paper to… Read more

  • CSU Ruling on Student Editorial Respects First Amendment Limits on Government Action

    October 5, 2007

    Yesterday, Colorado State University’s (CSU’s) Board of Student Communications (BSC) issued a ruling admonishing J. David McSwane, editor of The Rocky Mountain Collegian, for violating the newspaper’s code of ethics by using an expletive in a September 21 editorial critical of President Bush. Specifically, the BSC wrote: The Board of Student Communications admonishes you for… Read more

  • FIRE Debates CSU Case on the Radio Today

    October 5, 2007

    The feedback from our involvement in the Colorado State University editorial case has been plentiful and thoughtful. Many FIRE readers wrote in with their thoughts on this case, and today there is an opportunity to hear more as FIRE President Greg Lukianoff debates radio host Mike Rosen on the Mike Rosen Show on 850 KOA… Read more

  • Colorado State University to Hold Hearing on Controversial Student Editorial

    October 4, 2007

    FORT COLLINS, Col., October 4, 2007—Colorado State University is set to hold a formal hearing today on charges against the editor of its student newspaper, who late last month ran an editorial that simply said, “Taser this…FUCK BUSH.” CSU’s Board of Student Communications (BSC) is considering firing Rocky Mountain Collegian editor J. David McSwane for… Read more

  • Hearing on Colorado State Editorial Still Set for Thursday; FIRE Weighs in for ‘Huffington Post’

    October 2, 2007

    As Thursday’s hearing for Colorado State University (CSU) student editor J. David McSwane draws near, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff spoke out against the school’s insistence on investigating McSwane in his latest entry on The Huffington Post. McSwane’s “crime” was printing an editorial in a recent issue of The Rocky Mountain Collegian that simply stated “Taser… Read more

  • Colorado State—Second Update

    October 1, 2007

    Colorado State University’s Board of Student Communications has decided to hold a formal, private hearing on October 4 to decide the fate of the paper’s editor, David McSwane, regarding his staff’s constitutionally protected editorial. Last week I pointed out that CSU’s Board of Student Communications and Student Media Bylaws respect the First Amendment rights of… Read more

  • CSU and ‘Conventions of Decency’

    October 1, 2007

    This Thursday, Colorado State University (CSU) junior J. David McSwane will be headed to a closed-door hearing to decide his future as editor-in-chief of the Rocky Mountain Collegian, CSU’s student newspaper. The offense? On September 21, McSwane’s paper ran a four word editorial, reading simply “Taser This: FUCK BUSH.” In response, complaints have streamed in… Read more

  • Colorado State Update

    September 27, 2007

    On Monday, FIRE’s Samantha Harris wrote about the reaction to the “FUCK BUSH” editorial by the Rocky Mountain Collegian staff at Colorado State University. Since then, the paper’s editor, J. David McSwane, has consulted with David Lane, known for having represented Ward Churchill in his well-known case. The Northern Colorado ACLU has weighed in on… Read more

  • Keeping an Eye on Free Speech at Colorado State

    September 24, 2007

    On Friday, Colorado State University’s student newspaper, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, published an editorial that stated, in large print, “FUCK BUSH.” While many students were likely surprised to open up their morning newspapers and find a large-print expletive, The Collegian’s pronouncement is entitled to First Amendment protection: in 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the… Read more

  • FIRE in the News for July

    August 1, 2007

    The lazy days of summer must have passed us over at FIRE, for one look at our media coverage for July reveals just how busy we’ve been. The latest effort in FIRE’s Speech Codes Litigation Project, a lawsuit filed against San Francisco State University, was the subject of a syndicated Associated Press article, a news… Read more

  • FIRE in the Media for Colorado Cases

    July 27, 2007

    Our recent involvement in two major cases in Colorado has caught the attention of local and national media. After Greg’s commentary on the Ward Churchill case appeared on The Torch, it was picked up by the widely read Huffington Post blog. He also expressed his expectations for the case in a story in the Daily… Read more

  • ‘Denver Post’ Editorial on Colorado State University Policy Revision

    July 25, 2007

    In an editorial in today’s Denver Post, columnist Al Knight comments on the recent revision of restrictive speech codes at Colorado State University, where FIRE teamed up with student activists to bring about changes in unconstitutional policies. When FIRE reports on speech codes that exist on campuses across the country, the reaction from the public… Read more

  • CSU Free Speech Activist Seth Anthony Speaks to Media

    July 20, 2007

    The Fort Collins Coloradoan has an article today about Colorado State University’s (CSU’s) policy changes, which we highlighted in a press release yesterday. The Coloradoan spoke with Seth Anthony, the CSU graduate student who led the successful charge for policy reform at CSU. Speaking about the revision of a policy that formerly banned “expressions of… Read more

  • Victory for Free Speech at Colorado State

    July 19, 2007

    FIRE’s press release today celebrates victory for freedom of speech at Colorado State University, where administrators have revised three formerly unconstitutional speech codes. Changes were made after CSU students, with help from FIRE, successfully pressured the university administration to rewrite its policies within constitutional strictures. As the press release describes, In February, concerned CSU students… Read more

  • Victory for Free Speech at Colorado State University

    July 19, 2007

    FORT COLLINS, Colo., July 19, 2007—In a resounding victory for freedom of speech, Colorado State University (CSU) has completely revised three formerly unconstitutional speech codes. The changes came after student activists at CSU, with help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), pressured the university to uphold the constitutional rights of CSU students…. Read more

  • Colorado State: Revised Policies Still Miss the Mark

    June 15, 2007

    Colorado State University (CSU) was poised to eliminate two unconstitutional speech codes after pressure from FIRE and student activists, but FIRE was disappointed to learn this week that unconstitutional language has found its way back into the final versions of those revised policies. FIRE is asking CSU to revert to the previous drafts of the… Read more

  • Rally for Student Rights at Colorado State

    April 11, 2007

    Right about now, the Campus Libertarians at Colorado State University are holding a rally in support of free speech on campus. As we announced in a press release today, Colorado State’s general counsel recently “clarified” that the university’s “Peaceful Assembly at CSU” policy does not actually restrict free expression on campus to one small free… Read more

  • Students Fight for Their First Amendment Rights at Colorado State University

    April 11, 2007

    FORT COLLINS, Colorado, April 11, 2007—Students at Colorado State University (CSU) are holding a rally today to celebrate their university’s clarification of a restrictive free speech zone policy. This rally comes after concerned students, with help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), successfully pressured the university to make clear that free speech… Read more

  • Kaminer: No Laughing Allowed

    November 27, 2006

    FIRE Board of Advisors member Wendy Kaminer writes an engaging and thoughtful op-ed in the December 2006/January 2007 issue of Free Inquiry magazine. Kaminer draws attention to former FIRE Speech Codes of the Month, including Drexel University (September 2006) and Colorado State University (August 2006), writing: Speech codes that prohibit people from insulting each other… Read more

  • Speech Code of the Month: Colorado State University

    August 3, 2006

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for August 2006: Colorado State University. Colorado State University’s Residence Hall Handbook bans “hate incidents,” which it defines as: [E]xpressions of hostility against a person or property because of a person’s race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, ability, age, gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Expressions… Read more