East Tennessee State University

Location: Johnson City, Tennessee
Website: http://www.etsu.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

East Tennessee State 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.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.
Yellow Light Policies
  • ETSU Violence Free: Definitions- Cyber-Stalking

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

    Cyber-stalking: A particular form of stalking in which electronic media such as the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts, or other similar devices or forms of contact are used to pursue, harass, or to make unwelcomed contact with another person in an unsolicited fashion. Some examples of cyber-stalking include, but are not limited to, unwelcomed or unsolicited emails, instant messages, and messages on on-line bulletin boards. It also includes, but is not limited to, unsolicited communications about a person, their family, friends, or co-workers, or sending or posting unwelcomed and unsolicited messages with another username.

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  • East Tennessee State University Policy on Use of Campus Property and Facilities

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

    The University has designated two areas that may be used as a limited space for ad hoc meetings, rallies, protests, demonstrations by affiliated entities, and/or individuals. These areas may also be used by Non-Affiliated Entities, and/or individuals under the same regulations. The two areas identified for this purpose are (1) the Amphitheatre and upper Pridewalk lawn area and (2) designated areas within the Sherrod Library Borchuck Plaza, specifically excluding the Sherrod Library steps and the fountain structure. The time frame in which these areas are available is between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm daily. The same entity may use one of these areas up to four (4) times per four (4) week period. The university will consider the request for more than four (4) uses in a four (4) week period by Affiliated Groups and entities. If ETSU public safety determines that barriers are necessary for crowd control purposes, a sectioned off area may be created for the user.

    No assembly, meeting, demonstration or other activity will be authorized or permitted on any property or in any building or facility without a Request for Use of Facility. Any attempt to hold an assembly, meeting, demonstration or other activity without a valid, approved Request for Use of Facility form will result in participating individuals being asked to leave University property.

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  • ETSU Violence Free: Definitions- Harassment

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

    Harassment is conduct that is based on a person’s race, color, religion, creed, ethic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age (as applicable), status as a covered veteran, genetic information, or any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law, that Adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education,   participation in an institution’s activities or living environment:

    Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive or abusive environment of the individual; or is used as a basis for or a factor in decisions that tangibly affect that individual’s employment, education, participation in an institution’s activities or living environment. Not every act that might be offensive to an individual or a group will be considered harassment.

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  • ETSU Violence Free: Definitions- Sexual Harassment

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

    Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when one of the following criteria is met: submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly as a term or condition of the individual’s employment or of the individual’s status in a program, course, or activity; submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions, a criterion for evaluation, or a basis for academic or other decisions affecting such individual; such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or educational experience, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.

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Green Light Policies
  • Catalog: Policies and Procedures- Disciplinary Offenses

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

    Conduct Dangerous to Self or Others. Causing physical harm to any person (including oneself); endangering the health or safety of any person (including oneself); engaging in conduct that causes a reasonable person to fear harm to his/her health or safety; or making an oral or written statement that an objectively reasonable person hearing or reading the statement would interpret as a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.

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  • Student Arrested By East Tennessee State University Police for ‘Civil Rights Intimidation’

    October 3, 2016

    Last week, East Tennessee State University (ETSU) freshman Tristan Rettke was arrested by campus police and charged with a felony under Tennessee’s Civil Rights Intimidation statute after confronting peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters in the ETSU free speech area. Rettke’s act—dressing in a gorilla mask and attempting to hand bananas to the protesters in an attempt to “provoke” them—has to have been intended to be offensive. But, as the ACLU of Tennessee’s executive director observes, the First Amendment precludes the criminal charge against Rettke. It likewise would have precluded ETSU from formally disciplining Rettke had he not voluntarily withdrawn from […]

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  • Tennessee Bill to Punish UT for Sex Week Becomes Law

    May 23, 2016

    For several years, the Tennessee legislature has threatened to take action against the University of Tennessee (UT) for allowing students to conduct an annual “Sex Week” on campus. Now the state legislature has followed through on its misguided threat by passing HB 2248, which states: State funds shall not be expended by the University of Tennessee to promote the use of gender neutral pronouns, to promote or inhibit the celebration of religious holidays, or to fund or support sex week. In addition to prohibiting the use of state funds to support Sex Week, the bill also cuts the budget of […]

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  • ETSU, Brute?

    June 8, 2012

    Okay, it’s a terrible Shakespearean pun. But as bad a pun as this blog post’s title is, it’s still nowhere near as disappointing as the state of free speech at East Tennessee State University (ETSU).   The basic story is that as part of a “civility week,” the Student Government Association created T-shirts with various slurs on the front and the message “I am more than a label. Think. Live. Respect.” on the back. The T-shirt campaign was quite clearly a campaign to combat stereotyping. Nevertheless, the ETSU administration wasn’t so thrilled with the shirts, and quickly imposed heavy-handed censorship. […]

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