Duke University

Location: Durham, North Carolina
Type: Private
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Speech Code Rating

Duke University has been given the speech code rating Green. Green light institutions are those colleges and universities whose policies nominally protect free speech. Read more

Due Process Rating

Non-Sexual Misconduct

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Sexual Misconduct

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  • A-Z Policies: Pickets, Protests, and Demonstrations

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: January 25, 2019

    Duke University respects the right of all members of the academic community to explore and to discuss questions which interest them, to express opinions publicly and privately, and to join together to demonstrate their concern by orderly means. It is the policy of the university to protect the right of voluntary ass... Read More
  • Bias Response Advisory Committee

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: January 25, 2019

    What is a bias incident? A bias incident is an act or behavior motivated by the offender’s bias against the identity of an individual or community. Bias occurs whether the act is intentional or unintentional and may be directed toward an individual or group. A bias incident may take the form of a verbal interaction,... Read More

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 25, 2019

    One form of harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on sex that, because of its severity, persistence, and/or pervasiveness, creates a hostile environment by interfering significantly with an individual’s work or education, or adversely affecting an individual’s living conditions. … The conduc... Read More
  • A-Z Policies: Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 25, 2019

    Harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct that, because of its severity, pervasiveness, and/or persistence, interferes significantly with an individual’s work or education, or adversely affects an individual’s living conditions. Read More
  • A-Z Policies: Academic Freedom

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: January 25, 2019

    Freedom of inquiry and the free exchange of ideas are essential for the fulfillment of the university’s mission. Academic freedom is a right and responsibility of students as well as faculty. Read More
  • A-Z Policies: Computing and Electronic Communications

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: January 25, 2019

    In making acceptable use of resources you must not: … Use mail or messaging services to harass another person. Read More

Policies are rated on their inclusion of 10 due process safeguards. Each policy may receive 2 points for fully including that safeguard, 1 point for partial inclusion, and 0 points for no meaningful inclusion. Most, but not all, institutions have separate policies for sexual misconduct and all other misconduct. See FIRE’s Spotlight on Due Process report for more information.


Non-Sexual Misconduct

  • Presumption of innocence
  • Adequate and timely notice
  • Adequate time to prepare
  • Conflicts of interest prohibited
  • Right to challenge fact-finders
  • Access to all evidence
  • Right to face accuser and witness
  • Active participation of counsel
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Expulsion must be unanimous

Sexual Misconduct

  • Presumption of innocence
  • Adequate and timely notice
  • Adequate time to prepare
  • Conflicts of interest prohibited
  • Right to challenge fact-finders
  • Access to all evidence
  • Right to face accuser and witness
  • Active participation of counsel
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Expulsion must be unanimous
  • REPORT: North Carolina is home to some of America’s best colleges for free speech

    September 24, 2018

    Eight colleges in North Carolina earn FIRE’s highest rating for free speech — more than in any other state — but 17 still maintain policies that substantially restrict student expression. PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 24, 2018 — A new report finds that North Carolina’s colleges and universities lead the way nationally for protecting student free speech. The… Read more

  • Surrendering Power: Duke Students Speak Out Against Free Speech

    June 28, 2016

    More than 50 years ago, the student-led Free Speech Movement took place at the University of California, Berkeley. This movement remains one of the greatest examples of students’ recognition that the right to free speech is what gives them the ability to challenge the status quo and make their opinions heard. After all, as the… Read more

  • Salman Rushdie Champions Free Speech, Chides Coddled Students at ‘Chicago Tribune’ Award Ceremony

    November 10, 2015

    Acclaimed writer Salman Rushdie used his platform as the winner of 2015’s Chicago Tribune Literary Award for lifetime achievement on Saturday to warn of the dangers of censorship on college campuses. The Tribune reports Rushdie’s comments about his writing drew raucous laughter from the sold-out crowd of 1,800 at Chicago’s UIC Forum, but discussion of… Read more

  • Look, Another Example of Students Demanding Intellectual Comfort

    August 27, 2015

    As August closes, students and faculty nationwide are returning to their colleges and universities amidst an ongoing national debate about the state of free expression on campus. Sparked by the cover story of the current issue of The Atlantic, co-authored by FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff and New York University professor and social psychologist… Read more

  • Duke Recognizes Prof’s Freedom of Speech on Racial Issues

    May 18, 2015

    Duke University professor Jerry Hough has faced criticism in recent days following his comment on a New York Times editorial published on May 10 that some readers characterized as racist. FIRE is glad to see that—despite another race-related controversy just last month—Duke has apparently not taken action against Hough. But the university still seems not… Read more

  • Greg Laments an ‘Unfortunate Renaissance in Campus Speech-Policing’ on College Campuses

    May 18, 2015

    Freedom of speech on college campuses seems to ebb and flow—periods of rampant censorship are followed by movements for truly open discourse, which in turn are followed by attempts to silence “offensive” speech. Unfortunately, as FIRE President Greg Lukianoff writes for Minding the Campus today, colleges and universities are now home to a “renaissance in… Read more

  • Colleges Rush to Violate Free Speech, Due Process in Response to Speech Controversies

    April 9, 2015

    PHILADELPHIA, April 9, 2015—In the wake of the University of Oklahoma’s unconstitutional decision to summarily expel students involved in a racist fraternity chant, colleges and universities across the country are in a “race to the bottom” to violate the rights of students at the center of campus controversies involving speech deemed offensive, heedless of either… Read more

  • Amended Complaint Alleges Striking Due Process Problems at Duke

    January 5, 2015

    In May 2014, former Duke University student Lewis McLeod sued the university for breach of contract, alleging serious errors and omissions in the investigation and hearing that led to his expulsion for sexual assault. According to McLeod’s complaint, Duke failed to follow several of its own policies in adjudicating the case. A Durham County Superior… Read more

  • Presumed Guilty: Due Process Lessons of the Duke Lacrosse Case (VIDEO)

    June 6, 2014

    In this new FIRE video, Professor KC Johnson recounts the Duke lacrosse rape case of 2006 and explains its lessons about the importance of due process in cases of crime in higher education.

  • Duke ‘Chronicle’ Editorial Advocates for Due Process

    February 26, 2014

    Earlier this week, the editorial board of Duke University’s student newspaper The Chronicle detailed some of the many ways Duke fails to provide due process to its students accused of campus violations.

  • Duke vs. Freedom

    March 5, 2013

    As Torch readers (and lots of Americans generally) know, Duke University’s conduct during the Duke Lacrosse rape hoax scandal was, shall we say, subpar. But many may not know that the fallout from the scandal continues to this day, with Duke’s lawyers doing everything they can to extricate the university from a mess of its… Read more

  • Problems with University Bias Policies and Attempts to Improve Campus Climate

    November 19, 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 us—a distinction currently awarded to just 15 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

  • Misunderstanding ‘Harassment’

    October 16, 2012

    Last week, FIRE kicked off a blog series about how schools can reform problematic speech codes with a discussion of why mandating “civility“ is inconsistent with students’ right to free speech. This week, we are tackling another trouble spot for free speech: the harassment policy. As an initial matter, campus harassment policies can be divided… Read more

  • The Problem with Stanford’s Definition of ‘Intoxication’

    July 21, 2011

    I want to take a few moments today to discuss a particular aspect of FIRE’s recent work regarding due process protections for those accused of sexual misconduct. Specifically, I want to focus on the issues of consent and intoxication. Because many cases of sexual misconduct involve intoxicated students and questions of consent, precisely how a… Read more

  • FIRE’s Case at Duke Gets National Attention in ‘Boston Globe,’ ‘Washington Times,’ ‘The Atlantic’

    April 15, 2010

    FIRE’s exposé of Duke University’s unjust sexual misconduct policy—a policy that transmogrifies students into unwitting rapists—is drawing the attention of some of America’s best-known publications. In The Boston Globe, Cathy Young brings analysis and an original perspective to Duke’s policy, while FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley has a column of his own in today’s Washington… Read more

  • In Pages of ‘Washington Times,’ FIRE’s Robert Shibley Takes Apart Duke’s Outrageous Sexual Misconduct Policy

    April 15, 2010

    Much ink has been rightly spilled in recent days over Duke University’s new sexual misconduct policy. Indeed, as FIRE and others have documented, the policy blurs the idea of consent in any sexual encounter, deprives students accused of sexual misconduct of basic due process, and threatens to turn many students on Duke’s campus into unknowing… Read more

  • Cathy Young in ‘The Boston Globe’ on Duke’s Unjust Sexual Misconduct Policy

    April 14, 2010

    Columnist and Reason contributing editor Cathy Young pens an excellent editorial in The Boston Globe today about Duke University’s shockingly unjust and intrusive sexual misconduct policy. The entire column is well worth a read, as Young details the many infirmities of Duke’s policy. Young also brings a fresh perspective to the table: About 15 years ago, as… Read more

  • Wendy Kaminer Pillories Duke’s Sexual Misconduct Policy in ‘The Atlantic’

    April 13, 2010

    Celibacy is probably not a feasible option for most undergraduates, but students at Duke University may want to consider it anyway. Such is the assessment of author, lawyer, and FIRE Board of Advisors member Wendy Kaminer in her most recent blog entry for The Atlantic. Kaminer is ridiculing Duke University’s troubling sexual misconduct policy, and… Read more

  • Duke and the Art of Not Answering Questions

    April 9, 2010

    Lawyers often specialize in the art of answering questions without actually answering questions. Here’s a great example: the letter we received today from Duke University lawyer Kate Hendricks. Hendricks was personally very pleasant to me when I had a non-substantive conversation with her on March 25, as I mentioned in my previous blog entry and… Read more

  • FIRE’s Free Speech Victory at Duke Highlighted in ‘Morning Call’

    April 8, 2010

    The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) ran an op-ed last Saturday highlighting FIRE’s successful work defending freedom of expression against censorship by the Women’s Center at Duke University and in other cases. Charles D. Snelling writes: I belong to an organization called FIRE — Foundation for Individual Rights in Education — that is a vitally needed defender… Read more

  • Robert Shibley Appearing on ‘The David Boze Show’ Tonight

    April 7, 2010

    FIRE’s Vice President Robert Shibley will be discussing our latest case at Duke University on The David Boze Show tonight, a daily talk radio program on 770 KTTH AM. If you are in the Seattle area, tune in at 4:10 p.m. East Coasters can listen online at 7:10 p.m.

  • New Duke Policy Renders Students Unwitting Rapists

    April 7, 2010

    I didn’t want to write that headline. Not because it isn’t true—it is—but because FIRE works very hard not to overstate our cases.  But the closer you look at this case, the more you realize that there’s no way around that headline. At Duke University, you can be a rapist and not even know it…. Read more

  • New Duke Policy Renders Students Unwitting Rapists; Removes Protections for Those Accused of Sexual Misconduct

    April 7, 2010

    DURHAM, N.C., April 7, 2010—Duke University has instituted a new “sexual misconduct” policy that can render a student guilty of non-consensual sex simply because he or she is considered “powerful” on campus. The policy claims that “perceived power differentials may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion.” Duke’s new policy transforms students of both sexes into… Read more

  • Victory for Free Speech: Duke Pro-Life Group’s Free Speech Rights Restored

    March 30, 2010

    Duke University’s Women’s Center has reversed a decision that prohibited the Duke Students for Life (DSFL) student group from holding a discussion on student motherhood at a Women’s Center venue during the group’s "Week for Life" event. Only hours after FIRE exposed Duke’s decision to public scrutiny yesterday, Women’s Center Director Ada Gregory wrote to the… Read more

  • Victory for Free Speech at Duke: Pro-Life Group’s Rights Restored

    March 30, 2010

    DURHAM, N.C., March 30, 2010—Duke University has reversed a decision by its Women’s Center that prohibited the Duke Students for Life (DSFL) student group from holding a discussion on student motherhood at a Women’s Center venue during the group’s “Week for Life” event. The group’s president turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education… Read more

  • Duke Keeps Pro-Life Group Out of Women’s Center During ‘Week for Life’

    March 29, 2010

    Duke University’s Women’s Center has canceled an event about motherhood because the sponsor was engaging in pro-life expression elsewhere on campus. A Women’s Center representative told Duke Students for Life (DSFL) that "we have a problem" and an ideological "conflict" with the event, which was supposedly canceled to protect Duke women from encountering the event… Read more

  • Duke Keeps Pro-Life Group Out of Women’s Center During ‘Week for Life’

    March 29, 2010

    DURHAM, N.C., March 29, 2010—Duke University’s Women’s Center has canceled an event about motherhood because the sponsor was engaging in pro-life expression elsewhere on campus. A Women’s Center representative told Duke Students for Life (DSFL) that “we have a problem” and an ideological “conflict” with the event, which was supposedly canceled to protect Duke women from… Read more

  • FIRE Letter to Duke University President Richard Brodhead

    March 26, 2010

    March 26, 2010 President Richard H. Brodhead Office of the President Duke University 207 Allen Building Box 90001 Durham, North Carolina 27708-0001 Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (919-684-3050) Dear President Brodhead: It is with great disappointment that FIRE writes you for the second time within a single month about the unfair treatment of Duke… Read more

  • Duke Professor Finishes Yale’s Job, Prints Mohammed Images in New Book; FIRE Co-signs Statement of Principle

    November 9, 2009

    Duke University Professor Gary Hull has just published Muhammad: The "Banned" Images, which dares to publish images that Yale University and Yale University Press censored from Jytte Klausen’s The Cartoons that Shook the World earlier this year. Hull calls the book "a statement of defiance against censors, terror-mongers, and their Western appeasers." FIRE joined with the National Coalition Against… Read more

  • Duke, Private Universities and Student Rights

    May 11, 2009

    Brooklyn College Professor KC Johnson, co-author of Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustice of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, has written an informative post on private universities and their legal obligations. He criticizes Duke for claiming, in the civil suit pertaining to Duke’s dismal treatment of the falsely accused Duke lacrosse players,… Read more

  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Duke University

    May 6, 2009

    Throughout the spring semester, FIRE is drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Today we review policies at Duke University, which FIRE has given a yellow-light rating for maintaining at least one policy that could too easily be used… Read more

  • Rights in the News: A Good Week for FIRE at Virginia Tech

    April 17, 2009

    I blogged on Wednesday on the press generated by FIRE’s successful effort to get Virginia Tech President Charles Steger to shelve a requirement that would have more deeply ensconced a "diversity" requirement for tenure and promotion for the university’s arts and sciences faculty. FIRE’s efforts and success at Virginia Tech were reported by The Chronicle… Read more

  • More Shameful Behavior at Duke University

    December 18, 2007

    FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate is quoted in a recent article written by University of North Carolina–Wilmington Professor Christopher Halkides on the Duke University lacrosse case. The article, which is available here, discusses Duke Professor Steven Baldwin’s travails as a rare voice of reason among the school’s faculty. In the fall of 2006, at the height… Read more

  • The ‘Group of 88’ and Richard Brodhead

    November 20, 2007

    I’ve posted a few times on Stuart Taylor Jr.’s and KC Johnson’s wonderful and frightening book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. FIRE friends need no introduction to the disregard for due process and common decency permeating the academy, but let the following serve as yet… Read more

  • In Response to Pressure, Duke President Richard Brodhead Folds Like a Lawn Chair

    October 29, 2007

    This week, we continue the exploration begun last week (here and here) of Duke President Richard Brodhead’s deplorable actions in violation of his students’ rights and welfare in the Duke lacrosse rape case. These stories are taken from KC Johnson’s and Stuart Taylor’s book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the… Read more

  • More on Duke Lacrosse Case

    October 18, 2007

    Yesterday, we announced that we would be exploring more aspects and details of the Duke University lacrosse case as recorded by KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor in their book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. As I mentioned, disgraced DA Mike Nifong’s actions were effective largely… Read more

  • ‘Until Proven Innocent’ Demonstrates Duke Administration’s Failures

    October 17, 2007

    HBO announced a couple of weeks ago that it will make a movie based on KC Johnson’s and Stuart Taylor’s excellent book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. The book is a comprehensive review of the frightening abuses of due process by Durham’s District Attorney Mike… Read more

  • Professor, Examine Thyself

    October 8, 2007

    Check out Peter Berkowitz’s op ed, “Ethics 101,” in today’s Wall Street Journal. In his article, Berkowitz points out that, while centers to study ethics exist at many campuses across the country, including some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, few spend much time examining ethical issues relating to higher education. He writes: Celebrating its… Read more

  • ‘Until Proven Innocent’ and Duke’s President

    September 21, 2007

    FIRE’s Luke Sheahan and I had the pleasure of traveling to New York last night for the launch of MindingTheCampus.com, the Manhattan Institute’s new web journal and a great source of information about what’s going on in academia today with regard to issues like free speech and academic freedom. The guests of honor at the… Read more

  • KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor in ‘The Washington Post’

    September 7, 2007

    As a Duke alumnus, I followed the developments in the Duke Lacrosse “rape” case with a good deal of interest and no small amount of embarrassment. Today, Professor KC Johnson (a good friend of FIRE) and National Journal reporter Stuart Taylor Jr., authors of the new book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful… Read more

  • Duke Student Government President Wants to Exclude Illegal Evidence

    June 4, 2007

    With the exoneration of the accused Duke lacrosse players, many are now taking a hard look at the procedures that were used to drag them through over a year of utterly unjustified litigation. FIRE friend Professor KC Johnson has done an invaluable service to our society by chronicling the whole sad story of the case… Read more

  • Liberty in the Balance in North Carolina

    February 1, 2006

    The number of battles FIRE has had to fight in North Carolina is staggering. Even before our recent (and victorious) headline-grabbing case at UNC Greensboro, we have defended embattled professors at UNC Wilmington, Shaw University, Forsyth Technical Community College, and Duke University; two Christian groups at UNC Chapel Hill; a student newspaper under attack at… Read more

  • K. C. Johnson Strikes Again

    August 26, 2005

    The invaluable K. C. Johnson has an excellent op-ed in today’s Inside Higher Ed. K. C. does a wonderful job of collecting evidence that much of the ideological uniformity in higher education is not so much the result of “self-selection” but instead the product of an academic culture that uses ideology as a stand-in for… Read more