Drexel University

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Website: http://www.drexel.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 3rd Circuit

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Speech Code Rating

Drexel University 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.

  • Drexel University: Professor Faces Investigation for Controversial Tweets

    June 6, 2017

    On Christmas Eve 2016, Drexel University Associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher posted a message to his Twitter account reading, “All I Want For Christmas is White Genocide.” Ciccariello-Maher posted a follow-up tweet the next day reading, “To clarify: when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed.” The tweets prompted condemnation by the university and the promise of an investigation into Ciccariello-Maher’s actions. In April 2017, controversy sprung up once again when Ciccariello-Maher tweeted, “Some guy in first class gave up his seat for a uniformed soldier. People are thanking him. I’m trying not to […]

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Red Light Policies

  • Policy IT-7: Email Policy

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 7, 2017

    Abuse of Email Privileges

    Use of email is a privilege, not a right. This privilege can be revoked. Unacceptable behavior includes, but is not limited to:

    2. Use of offensive language

    Penalties for unacceptable behavior range from de-activation of the account (for minor first offenses) through university judicial action or referral to law enforcement authorities.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Policy OED-3: Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Misconduct Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 7, 2017

    Sexual Harassment:Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual or gender-based nature when: … Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning, or sexually offensive working, academic or social environment. The effect will be evaluated based on the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of a Complainant.

    Examples of behavior that might be considered sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct include, but are not limited to:

    • Unwanted or inappropriate sexual innuendo, propositions, sexual attention or suggestive comments; humor and jokes about sex or gender-specific traits; sexual slurs or derogatory language directed at another person’s sexuality or gender; insults and threats based on sex or gender; and other verbal, written or electronic communications of a sexual nature that an individual communicates is unwanted and unwelcome;
    • Non-academic display or circulation of written materials or pictures degrading to an individual(s) or gender group (It is expected that instructors will offer appropriate warning regarding the introduction of explicit and triggering materials used in the classroom.) …
    • Engaging in demeaning verbal and other expressive behavior of a sexual or gendered nature in instructional settings.

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  • Policy OED-1: Equality and Non-Discrimination Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 7, 2017

    Sexual Harassment: unwelcome physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature that can include sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and offensive sexual behavior or comments.

    Hostile Environment Harassment: verbal or physical conduct based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, status as a veteran or disabled veteran, gender identity or expression, retaliation, and any other characteristic prohibited by law (i.e., creed, marital status, citizenship status) that is severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, threatening, or abusive environment.

    Examples of behaviors that may constitute hostile environment harassment include, but are not limited to:

    • intimidating or hostile acts
    • epithets
    • slurs
    • unwelcome touching or hugging
    • denigrating jokes
    • display or circulation of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group.

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  • Code of Conduct: Posting

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: September 7, 2017

    Fliers and posters may only be hung throughout the campus on approved posting locations. All materials for posting must be stamped prior to distribution.


    Any materials of an obscene nature are prohibited as well as language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for Drexel University, sexual or excretory organs or activities.

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Green Light Policies
  • Policy IT-1: Acceptable Use Policy

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 7, 2017

    The following activities are specifically prohibited:

    Users may not possess, distribute or send unlawful communications of any kind, including but not limited to threats of violence, obscenity, child pornography and/or harassing communications (as defined by law), or participate or facilitate communications in furtherance of other illegal activities.

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  • Drexel Lets Controversial Professor Teach Online

    October 23, 2017

    From Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed. Drexel University, which this month placed a controversial professor on leave and barred him from teaching his courses, now says he can teach them online… Read more here.

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  • Drexel, Twitter and Academic Freedom

    December 29, 2016

    By Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed Drexel University and one of its professors faced an onslaught of criticism for his Christmas Eve tweet that “all I want for Christmas is white genocide.” And on Christmas Day, Drexel issued a statement strongly condemning the tweet… Read more here.

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  • Several Colleges Require Faculty to Use Trigger Warnings – Just Not Explicitly

    August 31, 2016

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix Think the University of Chicago was overreacting when it told incoming students that “we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’” and that it’s actually an infringement of academic freedom to tell professors they can’t use them in class (which UChicago did not in fact do)?… Read more here.

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  • Critics of U. Chicago Say Trigger Warnings Aren’t Mandatory. Here’s Proof They’re Wrong.

    August 31, 2016

    By Robby Soave at Reason The University of Chicago’s statement to incoming students decrying trigger warnings, safe spaces, and speaker dis-invitations generated much praise from supporters of free expression on campus—but also significant criticism from those who say trigger warnings just aren’t that big of a deal… Read more here.

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  • Drexel, West Chester weak on free-speech protection

    December 20, 2007

    A report issued by a Philadelphia-based civil liberties organization shows 75 percent of U.S. colleges and universities have policies restricting the free speech rights of students on campus. The report, which was published by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), surveyed 346 institutions of higher education. “With increased resources and enhanced research techniques, FIRE was able to unearth even more of these unlawful and pervasive policies than those included in last year’s report,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. Last year FIRE conducted it first nationwide investigation into speech codes, surveying 360 universities, and found 68 percent restricted speech […]

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  • Campus Alert: Don’t laugh too hard

    May 21, 2007

    How would you feel if you got in trouble not for telling an off-color joke, but simply for laughing at one? Sounds inconceivable, right? Not at Drexel University in Philadelphia, where school policy prohibits not only “inconsiderate jokes” but also “inappropriately directed laughter.” Not only won’t they let you tell certain jokes, they promise to punish you for finding them funny. Drexel is not alone in its prohibition of what can only be described as typical college student interaction. Northeastern University in Boston, apparently the self-appointed arbiter of good taste, prohibits sending any e-mail message “which in the sole judgment […]

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  • Drexel professor resigns after months-long investigation, exile from campus

    December 29, 2017

    Yesterday, Associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher announced that he would no longer teach at Drexel University, bringing an unfortunate end to Drexel’s months-long investigation of his tweets — an investigation FIRE has repeatedly called on Drexel to abandon. The trouble for Ciccariello-Maher began last Christmas Eve, when he tweeted “All I Want For Christmas is White Genocide.” As the Associated Press reported at the time, the professor explained “he was mocking what he called the ‘imaginary concept’ of white genocide, which he says was invented by white supremacists.”  The next day, Ciccariello-Maher tweeted again, writing: “To clarify: when the whites were […]

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  • Drexel University avoids transparency about why it barred professor from campus, as criticism piles up

    December 4, 2017

    Ten months ago, Drexel University embarked on an investigation into the “extremely damaging conduct” of Professor George Ciccariello-Maher in making a joke lampooning a white nationalist theory — a Twitter joke that went viral due, in part, to a Russian Twitter account. In October, Drexel barred Ciccariello-Maher from its campus, citing threats from people outraged about his political views. He remains banned, and Drexel refuses to share basic information that would substantiate its claims that security compels his exile. As Drexel’s student newspaper reports, Ciccariello-Maher’s absence has made teaching difficult: Ciccariello-Maher’s absence from campus has resulted in remote class sessions, […]

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  • Russia-linked Twitter account helped Drexel professor’s ‘White Genocide’ tweet go viral, prompting university investigation

    October 20, 2017

    Last week, Drexel University placed political science professor George Ciccariello-Maher on involuntary leave and barred him from campus, citing a “growing number of threats” directed at him over his personal political views. (As of yesterday, he was allowed to resume teaching his undergraduate courses — but only by “synchronous online instruction.” In other words, via video.) Ciccariello-Maher’s suspension was the culmination of months of outrage over his tweets, beginning with a tweet that first drew anger from white nationalists before the mainstream media picked it up — with, apparently, help from @TEN_GOP, the “Unofficial Twitter of Tennessee Republicans,” which, it […]

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  • Drexel publicly promised professor freedom of expression, but privately pursues investigation

    June 6, 2017

    Drexel University Associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher is no stranger to controversy. Last Christmas Eve, he posted a tweet to his private Twitter account that read: “All I Want for Christmas is White Genocide,” pillorying the notion advanced by some white nationalists that miscegenation and low fertility rates will bring about the end of white people. The next day, Ciccariello-Maher followed up, tweeting: “To clarify: when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed.” Public outcry ensued, and, as FIRE noted back in December, Drexel responded with a six-tweet-long message and a press release stating: Drexel became […]

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  • Christmas Eve Tweet Results in Trouble for Drexel Professor [UPDATED]

    December 27, 2016

    On Christmas Eve, Drexel University Associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher posted a satirical tweet, which read: “All I Want for Christmas is White Genocide.” On Christmas Day, Ciccariello-Maher posted a follow-up tweet: “To clarify: when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed.” Ciccariello-Maher has since made his Twitter account private; however, the tweets have been quoted extensively in online media. Breitbart and The Daily Caller became aware of the tweets and published stories about them and Ciccariello-Maher. These stories led to tweets calling for Ciccariello-Maher to be terminated. On Christmas Day, the university responded […]

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  • Mandatory Trigger Warnings, Part Two

    September 1, 2016

    Yesterday, I reported on several university Title IX/sexual misconduct policies I found that appear to require professors to use trigger warnings. This discovery runs contrary to the assertion—made in the wake of the University of Chicago’s recent denunciation of trigger warnings—that no university has ever mandated their use. Specifically, language in force at Drexel University and several other institutions states that “[i]t is expected that instructors will offer appropriate warning and accommodation regarding the introduction of explicit and triggering materials used.” City University of New York (CUNY) professor Angus Johnston disagrees that this language is mandatory. Johnston suggests that in […]

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  • Think Trigger Warnings Are Never Mandatory on Campus? Think Again.

    August 31, 2016

    Last week, the University of Chicago (UChicago) sent a letter to incoming students affirming the university’s commitment to robust and even uncomfortable dialogue and debate on campus. While many—including FIRE—lauded the university’s statement, some critics argued that the letter’s statement that it does not support “so-called ‘trigger warnings’” was unnecessary since no universities actually mandate trigger warnings. For example, the New Republic’s Jeet Heer accused UChicago of “attacking academic freedom,” quoting a tweet from City University of New York professor Angus Johnston: A professor’s use of trigger warnings isn’t a threat to academic freedom. It’s a MANIFESTATION of academic freedom. […]

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  • FIRE’s Azhar Majeed Urges Drexel and Temple to Abolish Speech Codes in ‘Philadelphia Inquirer’

    August 19, 2015

    Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer features an op-ed co-authored by FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program Director Azhar Majeed, identifying unconstitutional and illiberal speech codes at Temple University and Drexel University and calling on university administrators to abolish them. Azhar and co-author Max Levy (a Drexel alum) write that despite the universities’ location in freedom-loving Philadelphia, “both Drexel and Temple have missed the mark for years” when it comes to restricting student speech through speech codes: These codes prevent students from speaking freely, cast a chill over campus discussion and dialogue, and threaten disciplinary action for speech and expressive activity that should […]

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  • Drexel Student Calls On Administration to Rescind Speech Codes

    October 26, 2009

    Drexel Student Liberty Front is an active libertarian student organization at Drexel University in Philadelphia. During the last week of September, the Student Liberty Front hosted three FIRE speakers for “Students Rights Week” and passed out FIRE’s Guides to Student Rights on Campus. The group continues to advocate for students’ rights. Last week, Student Liberty Front Vice President Stacy Litz published an op-ed in The Triangle, the Drexel student paper, which was critical of the university’s speech codes. In her column, she calls on the university to rescind its illiberal policies and join the eleven other colleges and universities in […]

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  • Slow Progress Toward Free Speech at Drexel University: Speech Code of the Month Revised, but Concerns Remain

    November 20, 2008

    In a positive development for free speech, Drexel University has revised its much-maligned student harassment policy. The policy, which prohibited “the use of derogatory names” as well as “inconsiderate jokes,” was named FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month back in September 2006. We publicized the policy in the media and on The Torch, and also featured it in our video FIRE on Campus: An Introduction to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. With its revised policy, Drexel no longer receives FIRE’s worst, red-light rating for suppressing student speech; it now receives a yellow light. However, Drexel still has some […]

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  • ‘The Bulletin’ on Speech Code Report

    December 21, 2007

    Philadelphia newspaper The Bulletin has an article about FIRE’s 2007 speech codes report, Spotlight on Speech Codes 2007: The State of Free Speech on our Nation’s Campuses. The article focuses on Philadelphia-area schools in particular, noting that both Drexel University and West Chester University get poor, “red light” ratings for suppressing student speech. Drexel, Torch readers may remember, has a particularly egregious speech code, banning both “inconsiderate jokes” and “inappropriately directed laughter” (whatever that means). Thanks to The Bulletin for helping bring these ridiculous policies to the public’s attention.

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  • Today’s ‘Campus Alert’: Don’t Laugh Too Hard

    May 21, 2007

    Our weekly Campus Alert column in the New York Post focuses today on speech codes at Drexel University, Northeastern University, and Johns Hopkins University—all of which have been named FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month for banning constitutionally protected expression on their respective campuses.   Drexel, which was given the dubious honor of being recognized as FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month for September 2006, prohibits not only “inconsiderate jokes,” but also “inappropriately directed laughter.” So students can be punished not only for telling a joke some may find offensive, but also merely for laughing at one. Not so funny […]

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  • Speech Codes of the Year: 2006

    December 29, 2006

    As Torch readers know, each month FIRE singles out a particularly egregious speech code for our Speech Code of the Month award. While all twelve Speech Codes of the Month for 2006 were both tragic and laughable, I would like to highlight a few that deserve special mention as our Speech Codes of the Year: Jacksonville State University in Alabama. The student code of conduct at Jacksonville State provides that “No student shall threaten, offend, or degrade anyone on University owned or operated property.” Got that? You may not offend anyone on University property. Barnard College in New York City. […]

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  • 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 have been widely and rightly ridiculed, but they continue to proliferate, enforcing particular notions of diversity, equality, and tolerance. Consider Colorado State University’s speech code, recently derided by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) as speech code of the month. At Colorado State, […]

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  • ‘Ned Flanders, Marty McFly unwelcome at Drexel University’

    October 9, 2006

    Check out FIRE’s own Luke Sheahan’s op ed in The Triangle Online, the web edition of Drexel University’s student newspaper. Drexel had the dubious distinction of being September’s Speech Code of the Month.  Its policies ban “the use of derogatory names,” “inconsiderate jokes” and “inappropriately directed laughter.”  As Luke points out: What is an “inconsiderate joke”? Pretty much any joke that is funny. Jokes make light of someone or something. So at Drexel, not only can you not tell a joke (since it would almost always be considered inconsiderate by someone, somewhere), but you can’t laugh at one either (since […]

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  • Ned Flanders, Marty McFly unwelcome at Drexel University

    October 6, 2006

    “You’re an ugly, hate-filled man,” said Ned Flanders to Moe on The Simpsons. It was a good thing Ned was speaking on television rather than at Drexel University; if he had been speaking at Drexel, he would be a harasser! Flanders would have violated Drexel’s harassment policy by referring to the ugly, hate-filled Springfield bar owner as, well, ugly and hate-filled. Drexel’s wildly overbroad harassment policy prohibits such things as “the use of derogatory names,” “inconsiderate jokes” and “inappropriately directed laughter.” This ridiculous overreach is why Drexel University’s harassment policy was given the dubious distinction of September’s Speech Code of […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Drexel University

    September 1, 2006

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for September 2006: Drexel University. There are some trends that, once they go out of style the first time, should never be revived. But some people won’t learn. In the fashion world, for example, leggings and high-waisted, tapered-leg “mom jeans” have (to my horror) regained popularity. And in the world of academia, Drexel University has resurrected an old University of Connecticut speech code from 1989 that has long been skewered as a prime example of political correctness run amok. Drexel University’s harassment policy bans “inconsiderate jokes” and “inappropriately directed laughter.” (I don’t […]

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