Davidson College

Location: Davidson, North Carolina
Website: http://www.davidson.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Davidson 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

  • Dean of Students: Definition of Sexual Misconduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 21, 2015

    “Sexual Harassment” is defined as conduct that has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a person’s work or educational opportunity; creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment; or otherwise negatively affects a person’s work or educational opportunities.  Sexual harassment denies an individual dignity and respect and may take on different forms.  It includes, but is not limited to:

    Unwelcome verbal, written, or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of that individual’s gender (or that of an individual’s relatives, friends, or associates);

    Unwelcome threats, derogatory comments, jokes, innuendos, insults, slurs, epithets, negative stereotyping, and other similar conduct that relates to gender; or

    The placement, dissemination, or circulation on campus of any unwelcome written or graphic material (in hard copy or electronic form) that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of gender.

    Sexual harassment may further include unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature where: … The conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.

    » Read More

  • Student Life: Difference Between a Hate Crime and a Bias Incident

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: December 21, 2015

    A bias incident is also an offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or gender identity BUT may not rise to the level of a crime. Bias incidents include hostile environments and harassing behavior that is severe, persistent or pervasive to the point that it threatens an individual or limits the ability of the individual to work, study, or participate in College life. Bias incidents committed by students are considered violations of the student code of responsibility (Section V). Bias incidents committed by staff on staff may violate the College’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and will be handled by Human Resources.


    1. Racial and Ethnic Stereotype Theme Parties – Student organizations and Greek letter organizations that host theme parties or Halloween parties that encourage people to wear costumes and act out in ways that reinforce stereotypes create a campus climate that is hostile to racial and ethnic minority groups.
    2. Bias in the Classroom – Professors who make pejorative comments or stereotypes about a protected class of people, i.e. females, religious minorities, racial minority groups, or people with disabilities are also guilty of commiting a bias incident. Because of the power dynamics that exist between students and professors, students may be reluctant about confronting the professor about the offense fearing that it may negatively affect their grade in the class.

    » Read More

Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: The Code of Responsibility- Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 21, 2015

    Harassment is unwanted behavior that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a person’s or a group of persons’ educational, work, social or living activities. Harassment can take many forms. Types of harassment include:

    • Peer harassment involves persistent, intentional degradation, intimidation, or abuse of another person.
    • Quid pro quo harassment involves abuse of one’s power, authority, or position such that,
      • a. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s education or employment; or
      • b. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting the individual’s welfare.
    • Hostile environment harassment involves conduct that substantially interferes with an individual’s educational, work, social, or living environment.
    • Discriminatory harassment involves conduct of an offensive, demeaning, intimidating or hostile nature based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, orientation, age or disability.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: The Code of Responsibility- Social Responsibility

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: December 21, 2015

    Students are expected to develop social skills and relations which are mutually beneficial and which lead to personal maturity. Social conduct is therefore to be based upon concern for others and must conform to high standards of courtesy and propriety.

    » Read More

Green Light Policies
  • About Davidson

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: December 21, 2015

    We nurture these values in a community founded on trust as articulated by the Honor Code and on free, unfettered inquiry.

    » Read More

  • Today’s College Campuses: Political Correctness Gone Too Far? (Rebroadcast)

    November 6, 2015

    By Charlotte Talks Staff at WFAE 90.7 Something is happening on college campuses across the country. There seems to be an increased sensitivity to issues that some view as painful or offensive. It has caused some comedians who used to consider college audiences their bread and butter to stop playing the college circuit. Worse, it is beginning to intrude on what’s being taught. We hear more about “The Coddling of the American Mind.” Guests Greg Lukianoff – constitutional lawyer and president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and co-author of the article “The Coddling of the […]

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  • Unlearning Liberty

    October 23, 2012

    Author’s Note: On Wednesday, October 24th, I will be debating liberal Rick Perlstein and libertarian Jim Harper at NC State University in Raleigh. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 6 pm in Dabney Hall. Despite their feigned interest in tolerance, college campuses are among the most punitive and stifling environments in the country. Students are routinely punished for “offenses” ranging from penning mild satire to holding the wrong opinions on important social and political issues. One book, Unlearning Liberty, by Greg Lukianoff, documents these abuses better than any other that has been written since I joined the […]

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  • How about telepathy?

    March 12, 2006

    The Case for Zero Tolerance of Modern School Administrators (cont’d): The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (www.the fire.org) reports that the Sexual Harassment Policy at Davidson College in North Carolina prohibits “inquiries about dating.”

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  • Davidson Student Told to Remove Rainbow Flag from Window Per Unwritten Policy

    December 19, 2013

    In Davidson College student newspaper The Davidsonian, student Max Feinstein recounts how, earlier this fall, he was asked by a college administrator to remove a rainbow flag hanging from his dorm room window, citing a new college policy. After some questions, Feinstein discovered that the policy was unwritten: When I asked about this new policy, I requested to see it in writing. I was surprised to learn it does not exist in any RLO guidelines; nonetheless, it is apparently something I should follow unquestioningly. However, the Director of Residence Life ensures it will next year. Additionally, Davidson has no precedence for […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Davidson College

    March 1, 2006

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for March 2006: Davidson College. Attention, theater majors at Davidson: you’d better think twice before putting on a production of Guys and Dolls or Funny Girl. That’s because Davidson’s Sexual Harassment Policy prohibits the use of “patronizing remarks” such as “referring to an adult as ‘girl,’ ‘boy,’ ‘hunk,’ ‘doll,’ ‘honey,’” or “sweetie.” I also hope that Davidson students are prepared for four years of romantic solitude, since that same policy prohibits “comments or inquiries about dating.” Good luck finding a date without making a comment or inquiry about dating. Also prohibited, among […]

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