Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Federal Circuit: 3rd Circuit
Drexel 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 here.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual 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 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.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
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.
Examples of behaviors that may constitute hostile environment harassment include, but are not limited to:
- intimidating or hostile acts
- 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.
Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
All materials for posting must be stamped prior to distribution. The “Approved for Posting” stamp is maintained at the Creese Student Center Information Desk and the Residential Living Office for the residence halls.
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.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
The following activities are specifically prohibited: … Users may not 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).
November 30, 2012
In 2007, Keith John Sampson, a middle-aged student working his way through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as a janitor, was declared guilty of racial harassment. Without granting Sampson a hearing, the university administration — acting as prosecutor, judge and jury — convicted him of “openly reading [a] book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject.” “Openly.” “Related to.” Good grief. The book, “Notre Dame vs. the Klan,” celebrated the 1924 defeat of the Ku Klux Klan in a fight with Notre Dame students. But some of Sampson’s co-workers disliked the book’s cover, which featured a black-and-white photograph of a Klan […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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.» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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. […]» Read More
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, […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More