East Carolina University

Location: Greenville, North Carolina
Website: http://www.ecu.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

East Carolina 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 here.

  • East Carolina University: Student Newspaper Adviser Fired After Publication of Streaker Photo

    January 6, 2012

    On November 8, 2011, independent student newspaper The East Carolinian published an uncensored photo of a streaker at an East Carolina University (ECU) football game. A university administrator warned The East Carolinian’s editor in chief that the newspaper would “face consequences” for the decision to run the photo. On January 4, 2012, ECU fired Paul Isom, the newspaper’s adviser. On January 6, FIRE warned ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard that by firing Isom in retaliation for the newspaper’s editorial decision, ECU had violated the free speech rights of its students. On April 20, 2012, Isom and ECU released a joint statement […]

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  • East Carolina University: Viewpoint Discrimination Against Student Organization

    April 21, 2011

    The student group Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) at ECU submitted a request to ECU’s Student Government Association to receive funding for its “Hemp Fest” event, which included a request of $150 for the purchase of legal hemp products for display and demonstration. SGA refused to fund this portion of the event, however, saying that it was “combustible” and that it would “not risk tarnishing SGA” in doing so–a clear violation of SGA’s obligation to be viewpoint-neutral in distributing funds allocated from mandatory student fees. After FIRE contacted ECU and reminded its student government of its obligation to uphold YAL’s […]

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  • University of North Carolina System: State of the First Amendment

    January 10, 2006

    FIRE teamed up with the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy to release the Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System. The Report notes that UNC System’s many speech codes and illiberal restrictions on religious groups would likely not survive a legal challenge. It also reveals that “13 out of the 16 schools in the UNC System have at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”

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Green Light Policies
  • REG 11.30.01: Student Conduct Process- 2.4. Harassment, Threats, Bullying or Intimidation

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 27, 2017

    2.4. Harassment, Threats, Bullying or Intimidation: Directing action toward a particular individual or group in a manner which is unwelcome and, under the totality of the circumstances, is so severe or pervasive, and objectively offensive that it undermines and/or detracts from the target’s academic pursuits, participation in University-sponsored activities, or employment effectively denying equal access to University resources and opportunities.

    2.4.2. East Carolina University will also enforce the University of North Carolina Policy 700.4.2, which states:

    2.4.2.1. No student shall threaten, coerce, harass or intimidate another person or identifiable group of persons, in a manner that is unlawful or in violation of a constitutionally valid University policy, while on University premises or at University-sponsored activities based upon the person’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender-identity, creed, disability, or veteran status.

    2.4.2.2. No student shall engage in unlawful harassment leading to a hostile environment. Unlawful harassment includes conduct that creates a hostile environment by meeting the following criteria. It is: a. directed toward a particular person or persons; b. based upon the person’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender-identity, creed, disability, or veteran status; c. unwelcome; d. severe or pervasive; e. objectively offensive; and f. so unreasonably interferes with the target person’s employment, academic pursuits, or participation in University-sponsored activities as to effectively deny equal access to the University’s resources and opportunities.

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  • RUL 08.05.04: University Student and Employee Computer Use Policy

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: June 27, 2017

    Employees and students may access these technologies for personal use, subject to the following restrictions: …The use does not conflict the rights and privacy of others or violate any UNC or University policy, regulation or rule, or any state or federal law.

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  • POL 05.25.02: Notice of Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 27, 2017

    Harassment – a form of discrimination. Harassment is unwelcome conduct based on a Protected Class, as defined in Section 1.1 above, which creates either quid pro quo harassment or a hostile environment, as defined in Section 4.2.1 and Section 4.2.2, below.

    […]

    Hostile Environment Harassment – A “hostile environment” exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives an individual from participating in or benefitting from the University’s education or employment programs and/or activities. Conduct must be deemed severe, persistent, or pervasive from both a subjective and an objective perspective.

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  • REG 11.30.01: Student Conduct Process- 1.3. Scope of the Student Conduct Process

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: June 27, 2017

    The University embraces and strives to uphold the freedoms of expression and speech guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the North Carolina Constitution.

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  • Dean of Students: The East Carolina Creed

    Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience
    Last updated: June 27, 2017

    In the pursuit of educational excellence, responsible stewardship, and intellectual freedom, the community of scholars at East Carolina University is committed to learning at the highest level. Founded in the tradition of service and leadership, members of our academic society exemplify high standards of professional and personal conduct at all times. Therefore, we aspire to the following:

    As an East Carolinian,

    I will carry out personal and academic integrity.

    I will respect and appreciate the diversity of our people, ideas, and opinions.

    I will be thoughtful and responsible in my words and actions.

    I will engage in purposeful citizenship by serving as a positive role model.

    By striving to meet these aspirations on and off campus, our individual freedom to learn and a pledge to serve will be preserved.

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  • REG 06.40.03: Regulation on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 27, 2017

    Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome sexual conduct, request for sexual favors, or other unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, when … Such conduct creates a hostile environment. A “hostile environment” exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives an individual from participating in or benefitting from the University’s education or employment programs and/or activities. Conduct must be deemed severe, persistent, or pervasive from both a subjective and an objective perspective.

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  • REG 07.30.06: Freedom of Expression Regulation – Interim

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: June 27, 2017

    East Carolina University recognizes its responsibility, not only to foster the right of free expression, but also to refrain from unnecessary restriction of that right.

    The diverse ideas and opinions of members of the University Community will sometimes conflict. However, it is that very conflict which gives rise to the theories and concepts that drive our society forward, and which must not be suppressed solely because they are thought by others to be offensive, unwise, immoral, disagreeable or wrongheaded.

    Any University Regulations, Rules and SOP’s regarding use of University Facilities are hereby nullified to the extent they restrict Expressive Activity to a greater extent than this Regulation. The University may issue, amend or keep in place, as applicable, those Regulations, Rules and SOP’s regarding use of its facilities and grounds that do not restrict Expressive Activity to a greater extent than this Regulation.

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  • REG 07.30.06: Freedom of Expression Regulation – Interim

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: June 27, 2017

    2.8.“Expressive Activity Area” (“EAA”) means, for purposes of the East Campus, the Mall, the Brickyard, the Common Areas of the Student Center, and those out-of-doors areas that have been consistently open to the Expressive Activity of Members of the University Community by tradition or by administrative approval.

    4.1.Prior Notice Generally Not Required for Expressive Activity in an EEA by a Member of the University Community or Guest of that Member. Although generally not required, Members of the University Community and Guests planning to engage in Expressive Activity in the Expressive Activity Areas (“EAA’s”) of Campus are strongly encouraged to contact the Central Reservations Office (“CRO”) preferably before, or at least during, an Expressive Activity. The CRO offers guidance in scheduling and planning, and works with the campus facilities and service providers to help ensure a successful and safe event. The CRO may also be helpful in identifying alternative space if an area is already reserved or in use.

    4.1.1.Exceptions Requiring Prior Notice. Members of the University Community and Guests, must, however, contact the CRO at least two business days prior to the start of a planned Expressive Activity in an EAA in those instances where the Activity is reasonably expected to meet one or more of the three criteria below:

    4.1.1.1.If more than 100 people are expected to attend;

    4.1.1.2.If the Expressive Activity was planned more than two business days in advance of its anticipated start time; or

    4.1.1.3.If the Expressive Activity will include placement of any of the following on Campus: stages, podiums, chairs, tables, vehicles, trailers or any object that will pierce or be driven into any of the Campus grounds or buildings.

    4.1.2.Where an Expressive Activity in an EAA by a Member or Guest was not initially expected to meet any of the above three criteria, but evolves to meet one or more of those criteria, the responsible Member and/or Guest, as applicable, shall make reasonable efforts to inform the CRO of the Activity with as much lead time as possible under the circumstances.

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  • East Carolina University Strikes Down Band Protests During National Anthem

    October 6, 2016

    By Butter Bracco at The Global Dispatch Athletes from the NFL to the WNBA to our colleges and high schools have taken a knee during The Star-Spangled Banner as a form of protest against alleged racism and outrage over shootings across the country… Read more here.

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  • Taking a Knee ‘Will Not Be Tolerated’

    October 5, 2016

    By Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed Since athletes and others have been taking a knee during the national anthem, the leaders of public colleges and universities have offered a variety of views on whether the protests are wise. Even so, they have defended the protests as a form of speech protected by the First Amendment and traditions of free expression in higher education… Read more here.

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  • Our Opinion: ECU’s Campus Speech Codes Hamstring Students’ Growth

    August 9, 2016

    By Staff at The Wilson Times Students at East Carolina University are having a rough time transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, with many finding themselves ill-equipped for the rigors of undergrad life… Read more here.

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  • Free speech gets the ‘green light’ at East Carolina University

    June 27, 2017

    ECU is North Carolina’s fourth university in two months to earn FIRE’s highest rating for free speech. North Carolina now has six institutions with this rating — more than any other state. GREENVILLE, N.C., June 27, 2017 — East Carolina University has earned the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) highest, “green light” rating after changing four campus policies to meet First Amendment standards. The state of North Carolina now has six institutions with this rating, more than any other state. “ECU is the latest university to tell students and faculty that free speech and open debate are welcome […]

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  • Playboy’s ‘Smoking Jacket’ Covers Censorship on Campus

    December 2, 2013

    In a new article, Playboy’s website The Smoking Jacket highlights memorable examples of censorship of sexually themed speech on college campuses. The (safe-for-work!) article features eight examples from American universities and an example from an Australian university, including several from FIRE’s archives. Who could forget the 2011 incident at East Carolina University where the school fired a student newspaper advisor after the paper published an uncensored photo of a streaker? Or Hampton University’s 2006 denial of recognition to an LGBT student group? Or last year’s case from Tufts University, where several members of the men’s crew team were suspended for wearing suggestive T-shirts? Check out The Smoking Jacket for the full […]

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  • ‘East Carolinian’ on N.C. Students’ Rights to an Attorney

    October 11, 2013

    When North Carolina passed the Students & Administration Equality Act (SAE Act) in August, it became the first state in the country to guarantee the right of its public college students and student organizations to be represented by an attorney in non-academic campus disciplinary hearings. Yesterday, in East Carolina University’s (ECU’s) student newspaper The East Carolinian, writer Ryan Clancy reported on the new law, including statements of support from FIRE’s Robert Shibley and remarks from ECU Dean of Students Lynn Roeder, who has reservations about it. According to Roeder, ECU students accused of university violations often had student advocates with them even before the […]

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  • FIRE’s Top 3 Free Press Cases

    January 31, 2013

    Over the years, FIRE has repeatedly gone to bat for student newspapers and student journalists faced with censorship. That censorship came in many forms, ranging from newspaper theft, reduced support from student activity funds, and the firing of faculty advisors, to prior review and editorial control of content. Since it’s Free Press Week, here, in no particular order, are three of the most egregious examples of free press violations from FIRE’s case archives. 1. Prior Restraint at Quinnipiac University Prior restraint was the censorship tool of choice for administrators at Quinnipiac University (QU) from 2007 through much of 2008. Back […]

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  • Free Speech Victory at East Carolina University: $31,200 Settlement for Newspaper Advisor

    April 23, 2012

    In a victory for freedom of the press, East Carolina University (ECU) has agreed to pay former student newspaper advisor Paul Isom $31,200 after firing him because the newspaper printed photos of a streaker. FIRE and groups including the Student Press Law Center had helped Isom defend free speech on campus.  As FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley commented to the North Carolina press, “It’s been obvious from the beginning that East Carolina University fired Isom because of the photos, and the university has failed to provide the public with a scrap of evidence to the contrary. It’s unfortunate that […]

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  • Free Speech Victory at East Carolina University: $31,200 Settlement for Newspaper Advisor

    April 23, 2012

    GREENVILLE, N.C., Apr. 23, 2012—In a victory for freedom of the press, East Carolina University has agreed to pay former student newspaper advisor Paul Isom $31,200 after firing him because the newspaper printed photos of a streaker. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) worked with Isom in defense of free speech. “It’s been obvious from the beginning that East Carolina University fired Isom because of the photos, and the university has failed to provide the public with a scrap of evidence to the contrary,” said FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley. “It’s unfortunate that the taxpayers of North […]

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  • Weeks Later, No Answers from East Carolina University on Firing of Newspaper Advisor

    February 15, 2012

    For weeks now, East Carolina University (ECU) has been under pressure from FIRE, the media, and the general public after its firing of Paul Isom, adviser to The East Carolinian student newspaper, after controversial photos of a streaker appeared in the paper’s front pages.  ECU has been torched in the press and deservedly so, given its ham-fisted handling of the case in addition to the firing itself. ECU’s public statements have only fanned the flames, and Adam has appropriately dissected them in a pair of blog posts—the first, on ECU’s statement essentially telling the public, “trust us, we’ve got this”; […]

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  • Media Hammers East Carolina University for Adviser’s Firing

    January 20, 2012

    Here on The Torch, we last posted about East Carolina University’s indefensible firing of student media adviser Paul Isom a week ago, as Adam took ECU to task for the school’s embarrassing attempts at damage control. In the week since, we’ve been focused on our recent victories at Syracuse University and the University of Florida, but we certainly haven’t forgotten about ECU’s First Amendment violation—and the press hasn’t, either.  Let’s start with the student media. Admirably defending the free press rights of their peer publications, editors at The Spinnaker of the University of North Florida penned an editorial last week […]

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  • East Carolina University Digs Deeper Hole with Second Public Statement in 2 Days

    January 12, 2012

    Yesterday I deconstructed East Carolina University’s pitiful public statement invoking the “just trust us” defense after it fired the adviser to The East Carolinian because the independent student newspaper (like it or not) published uncensored photos of a streaker at an ECU football game. Today, I repeat: Whoever does damage control over at East Carolina University has been doing a pretty poor job. This is because ECU put out another public statement yesterday, basically claiming that if it only could release confidential information about fired adviser Paul Isom, everyone would know that ECU has been right all along. What’s so […]

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  • East Carolina University’s Pitiful Statement About Firing Advisor

    January 11, 2012

    Whoever does damage control over at East Carolina University has been doing a pretty poor job. Not only has the university embarrassed itself nationally and locally (Channel 3, Channel 9, Channel 17 …), but now ECU has put out a statement basically saying, “trust us,” as though this will make all those pesky journalists and groups like FIRE, the Student Press Law Center, the National Press Photographers Association, and College Media Advisers go away.  ECU has given the public not a single reason to trust it, having warned the student newspaper, The East Carolinian, that there would be “consequences” for […]

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  • National Press Photographers Association Criticizes ECU Firing of Newspaper Adviser

    January 11, 2012

    The National Press Photographers Association has joined FIRE, the Student Press Law Center, and the numerous others who have criticized East Carolina University (ECU) for its firing of newspaper adviser Paul Isom. As has now been widely reported, Isom was fired by ECU following the publication of unedited photos of a streaker at an ECU football game published by The East Carolinian, for which Isom served as adviser. FIRE quickly responded to this blatant assault on the newspaper’s rights with a letter to ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard last Friday.  NPPA President Sean D. Elliot writes in the NPPA’s letter: It is […]

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  • Firing of ECU Media Adviser Sparks Widespread Response

    January 10, 2012

    East Carolina University’s decision to fire its Director of Student Media last week has sparked a widespread response.  For those new to this case, Isom’s termination comes in the wake of a decision by the editorial board of student newspaper The East Carolinian to run uncensored photos of a streaker at an ECU game on the front page of their issue on November 8, 2011. As Jaclyn wrote on January 6, ECU’s Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy called the decision to run the photos “in very poor taste,” and noted that ECU officials did not support the decision […]

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  • UCLA Urged to Prioritize Academic Freedom in Search for Public Health Dean

    January 10, 2012

    At the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Health (SPH), a search is underway for a new dean to lead the school. Of the many important qualities UCLA will be considering as it assesses potential candidates, it is respect for academic freedom that will ensure the best environment for innovative research the public can trust. FIRE made this point last week in a letter to search committee chair Judy Olian (who is also dean of the UCLA Anderson School of Management).  It is a little sad that FIRE even needs to remind UCLA about respect for academic […]

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  • Groups challenge adviser’s firing

    January 10, 2012

    by Jackie Drake The Reflector   National advocacy organizations are challenging East Carolina University’s decision to fire the adviser of the student newspaper. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent a letter to Chancellor Steve Ballard on Friday asking the university to reinstate Paul Isom, who was fired Wednesday from his position as student media adviser. The decision came two months after the student-run East Carolinian printed unaltered photos of a nude streaker at a Nov. 5 football game. The university did not publicly release a reason for the dismissal and will not comment further, citing personnel confidentiality. The […]

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  • FIRE Intervenes after East Carolina University Fires Newspaper’s Adviser over Streaker Photo

    January 9, 2012

    On Friday, Jaclyn wrote about East Carolina University’s ill-advised decision to fire Paul Isom, adviser to student newspaper The East Carolinian, after the newspaper printed an uncensored photo of a man who streaked at a football game. The East Carolinian and the Student Press Law Center had already run stories on the case, and the Chronicle of Higher Education had a story on it by the afternoon. By Friday night, FIRE had intervened with a letter to East Carolina University (ECU) Chancellor Steve Ballard, explaining that the university had violated the First Amendment when it fired Isom. FIRE’s letter pointed […]

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  • Following Publication of Streaker Photos, Student Newspaper Adviser Fired

    January 6, 2012

    The East Carolinian and the Student Press Law Center both reported yesterday that Paul Isom, Director of Student Media at Eastern Carolina University (ECU), was fired on Wednesday. Isom’s advising portfolio included the campus radio station, television station, yearbook, and several student magazines. But it was a student editorial decision by The East Carolinian, the independent campus newspaper, that apparently landed him in hot water with ECU administrators.  On November 8, 2011, The East Carolinian published uncensored photos—including a sort-of-full-frontal shot—to accompany an article about a streaker at an ECU football game. The pictures prompted some outcry, and copies of […]

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  • Will East Carolina University’s and UC Santa Barbara’s Student Governments Keep Discriminating on the Basis of Viewpoint?

    May 6, 2011

    FIRE has asked East Carolina University Student Government Association President Tremayne Smith (or his successor—the university’s term is ending imminently) to make it clear that SGA will no longer discriminate on the basis of viewpoint when allocating student activity fee funds. As Peter wrote last month, SGA abused its discretion when it denied most of the funding that the student group Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) had requested for a Hemp Fest event. SGA Treasurer Justin Davis told YAL: [T]he nature of the event is combustible insofar as the Student Government Association’s reputation is concerned.  Appropriations will not risk tarnishing SGA by […]

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  • Despite Viewpoint Discrimination by SGA, Young Americans for Liberty Carries on With ‘Hemp Fest’ at ECU

    April 20, 2011

    Today at East Carolina University (ECU), the student group Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is raising awareness about American drug policy, as well as about the practical uses of legal hemp products. They’re doing so with a little First Amendment help from FIRE, but not much from ECU’s student government. I say “not much” because, indeed, ECU’s Student Government Association (SGA)—despite its obligation to uphold viewpoint neutrality in distributing student fees for student group events—decided that protecting its public image was more important than funding a “combustible” event that they apparently believe glorifies drug culture. On March 14, YAL requested […]

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