Florida Atlantic University

Location: Boca Raton, Florida
Website: http://www.fau.edu/
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 11th Circuit

Tell Florida Atlantic University to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Florida Atlantic 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
  • University Regulation 4.007: Student Code of Conduct- Violations of the Code of Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 22, 2018

    Sexual Harassment: means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

    a. Submission to such conduct or request is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment;

    b. Submission to such conduct or request is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of academic achievement;

    c. Submission to or rejection of such conduct or request by an individual is used as the basis for an employment or academic decision affecting such individual; or

    d. Such conduct or request unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance or creates an objectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for working or learning.

    » Read More

  • University Regulation 5.010: Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Regulation

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 22, 2018

    (d) For the purposes of this Regulation, examples of conduct that fall into the definition of harassment include, but are not limited to:

    1. Verbal and/or physical conduct based on a protected characteristic that: (A) has the purpose or effect of creating an objectively intimidating, hostile or offensive work or educational environment; (B) has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or learning performance; or (C) otherwise unreasonably adversely affects an individual’s employment or educational opportunities.

    2. Examples of the foregoing verbal and/or physical conduct that may constitute harassment could include making “jokes” based on a protected characteristic, objectionable epithets/slurs, threatened or actual physical harm or abuse, the display of hostile symbols/objects, and other intimidating or insulting conduct directed against the individual because of their protected characteristic or membership.

    Gender-based harassment may be a form of sexual harassment prohibited under Title IX. Gender-based harassment includes acts of verbal, nonverbal or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

    » Read More

  • Student Organization Manual: Advertising Policies on the Boca Raton Campus

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: January 11, 2019

    Registered Student Organizations MUST register their program(s) with the Student Union in order to obtain stamp approval for any program advertisements, such as flyers, posters, signs and/or notices.

    Registered Student Organizations agree to following requirements when they get flyers, signs, posters and notices stamped:
    1. All flyers must have the name of the sponsoring organization of the flyer with contact information.
    2. Flyers will be approved on a case by case basis.
    3. Alcohol cannot be advertised on any way on the flyer

    » Read More

Green Light Policies
  • University Policy 1.15: Prohibited Sexual Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 22, 2018

    Sex discrimination is conduct of a physical, verbal, or electronic nature based on an
    individual’s sex which interferes with that individual’s education environment (admission,
    academic standing, grades, assignments), work environment (hiring, advancement,
    assignment), participation in University programs or activities or legitimately requested
    services(disability or religious accommodations) thereby creating hostile environment
    harassment or quid pro quo harassment as defined below:

    1. Hostile Environment
    A hostile environment is established when conduct based on a protected class is
    so severe, persistent or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education,
    employment or participation in a University program or activity, thus creating an
    environment that a reasonable person in similar circumstances would find hostile,
    intimidating or abusive.

    » Read More

  • University Regulation 4.007: Student Code of Conduct- Violations of the Code of Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: June 22, 2018

    Bullying: means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students and may involve: teasing; social exclusion; threat; intimidation; stalking; physical violence; theft; sexual, religious or racial harassment; public humiliation or destruction of property.

    » Read More

  • University Policy 4.2.2: Campus Free Speech

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: June 22, 2018

    Organizations and persons may organize, conduct, or participate in demonstrations and other exercises of free speech and assembly on University grounds, except:

    a. Grounds immediately adjacent to residential facilities;

    b. Grounds associated with the Baldwin House;

    c. Athletic and recreational fields, including any facilities operated by Campus Recreation;

    d. Grounds immediately adjacent to University buildings where such use could impair entrance to or exit from the building or interfere with activities within the buildings;

    e. Grounds within 200 feet of the University operated child care centers, elementary schools, middle schools, or high schools; and

    f. University streets and roadways.


    In order that demonstrations and other exercises of free speech and assembly not materially
    and substantially disrupt the operation of the University or the rights of others, any person or organization organizing, conducting, leading, or participating in a demonstration, assembly, or activity using University grounds or other facilities shall not:

    a. Obstruct vehicular, bicycle, pedestrian traffic;
    b. Obstruct entrances or exits to buildings or driveways or impede entry to or
    exit from any building or parking lot or vehicular path;
    c. Interfere with educational, research or administrative activities inside or
    outside any building;
    d. Violate a law, rule, regulation, ordinance, or University policy;
    e. Engage in physically abusive or threatening conduct towards any person;
    f. Obstruct, disrupt, or attempt or physically force the cancellation or
    continuance of a speaker;
    g. Interfere with scheduled University ceremonies or events;
    h. Damage property;
    i. Utilize sound amplification;
    j. Occupy space overnight;
    k. Occupy any gated or limited access areas after permitted access hours;
    l. Erect permanent or semi-permanent structures; or
    m. Create a safety hazard.

    » Read More

  • Office of the General Counsel: Handbook of Free Speech Issues

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: June 22, 2018

    As a state institution, Florida Atlantic University “FAU” or “University”) must uphold the protections guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Constitution of the State of Florida. Free speech, free expression, and peaceable assembly are basic to the exchange of ideas and beliefs on campus. Academic progress and freedom flourish when the rights of free expression are assured through public debate and discourse on public affairs and social issues.

    » Read More

  • University Policy 4.2.4: Distribution of Printed Material

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: January 11, 2019

    The distribution of printed material, including newspapers, handbills, leaflets, pamphlets, magazines, and printed paper(s) shall only be permitted on University property in a manner that does not materially and substantially disrupt University programs, classes, and studies of its faculty, staff, and students, the safety of University students, faculty, and staff, and the protection of the property of the University and its students, faculty, and staff, as provided below. University property should be free from excessive and abusive commercial and promotional materials, which deface and depreciate the value of our grounds, facilities, and campuses.

    Any individual, group or organization desiring to distribute printed material on University property may distribute such materials in those areas permissible for assembly pursuant to the University’s policies on campus free speech …

    » Read More

  • University Regulation 4.007: Student Code of Conduct- Violations of the Code of Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 22, 2018

    Acts of verbal, written (including electronic communications or internet activity) or physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion, or other conduct, the foregoing of which threaten the health, safety or welfare of any person.

    » Read More

  • University Fires Professor Who Says Sandy Hook Was a Hoax

    January 6, 2016

    By Susan Svrluga at The Washington Post James Tracy, a professor who wrote that the mass killing of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School was an elaborate, staged hoax designed to pass gun-control legislation, has been fired from his job at Florida Atlantic University. University officials began the termination process last month after Lenny and Veronique Pozner, parents of one of the Sandy Hook victims, wrote an opinion piece in the Sun-Sentinel: “It’s been three years since we last embraced our precious little boy, Noah. At six-years-old, he was the youngest child murdered at the Sandy Hook Elementary School…. “… to our […]

    » Read More
  • Annual report shows most colleges remain anti-free speech hellholes

    January 21, 2014

    by Eric Owens The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released its 2014 report on campus speech codes over the weekend. The results show that school administrators across the country continue to inflict unconstitutional limits on campus speech. Of the 427 U.S. colleges and universities analyzed, FIRE staffers found that 59 percent maintain speech codes that seriously infringe on students’ constitutionally-protected speech rights. A large number of these schools are public schools funded by taxpayers, controlled by state employees and obviously bound by the First Amendment. All — or virtually all — of the private schools rake in millions of […]

    » Read More
  • Free speech on college campus is worth the price

    August 23, 2013

    When it comes to speech, Florida’s university campuses are some of the most oppressive places in this state.Administrators have become increasingly tyrannical in their interpretations of the First Amendment.There appears to be more concern over protecting delicate sensibilities on campus than looking after students’ and faculty’s basic rights.Look at some of the campus assaults on free speech in Florida so far this year:•At Santa Fe College in Gainesville campus police tried to block a group of students in February from staging an "empty holster" protest in favor of gun rights. •A Florida Atlantic University professor asked students in March to step on a piece of […]

    » Read More
  • Florida university gets ‘red light’ for new speech code policy

    August 12, 2013

    The new “free speech” policy adopted by a Florida university does just the opposite: it prohibits free speech and punishes students for exercising their First Amendment rights. Florida Atlantic University’s “Free Speech and Campus Civility” policy, in part, bans “religiously intolerant” speech, says David Hacker of Alliance Defending Freedom.The school is located in Boca Raton, Florida.Hacker says the biggest problem with this policy is its ambiguity, citing restrictions of “religiously intolerant" speech and “racist speech.”“Even speech that’s ‘degrading’ to others. What does that mean?” Hacker asks. “It’s simply a policy that’s enforced on a completely subjective basis.”After the school introduced this new […]

    » Read More
  • Florida becomes ninth state to ban restrictive campus free speech zones

    March 12, 2018

    Florida State, University of West Florida, Florida Atlantic, and other schools must change speech policies TALLAHASSEE, Mar. 12, 2018 — Yesterday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law SB 4, a broad higher education bill, which was amended to include free speech protections at the state’s public colleges and universities. The new law prohibits Florida public colleges and universities from quarantining student expression into small, misleadingly labeled “free speech zones.” The campus free speech provisions are based on the CAFE Act model legislation from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “Students at public colleges and universities in Florida should […]

    » Read More
  • Florida Atlantic University Student Newspaper Trashed After Reporting on Alleged Sexual Assault at Party

    April 6, 2016

    Despite the fact that the Internet exists and that news can be read online, there are still people who believe they can make a story disappear by throwing away copies of the newspaper that printed it. This appears to be the case at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), where 850 copies of the University Press’ March 29 edition were thrown in the trash, likely in response to the student paper’s coverage of a party where a student alleged she had been raped. Writing for New Times Broward-Palm Beach last week, FAU student and University Press editor-in-chief Emily Bloch said she believed […]

    » Read More
  • Florida Atlantic University (Also) Demands Details of Students’ Sex Lives

    November 19, 2014

    Back in September, I wrote on The Torch about a Title IX training program for students developed by CampusClarity and adopted by nearly 200 colleges and universities nationwide that included questions about the details of students’ sex lives. Clemson University, where the program was mandatory, suspended its program soon after students and media outlets objected to this invasion of privacy. Now students at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) are speaking out against the same survey, which they must complete before registering for classes. WPTV (West Palm Beach, Fla.) relayed some of the questions included in the survey: How many times have […]

    » Read More
  • Florida Atlantic University Revises ‘Speech Code of the Month’

    September 3, 2013

    For the third month in a row, the university named as having FIRE’s “Speech Code of the Month” has revised the offending policy within weeks of receiving the dishonorable mention.August’s Speech Code of the Month was a new civility policy at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) that prohibited “racist” or “religiously intolerant” speech. On August 13, FAU posted an updated version of the policy that no longer contains the unconstitutional prohibitions. Rather than being proscriptive, the policy is now an aspirational statement of how FAU hopes its students will treat one another:[W]e encourage everyone to rise to the challenge of civility […]

    » Read More
  • ‘Red Light’ Florida Atlantic University Promises to Promote Free Speech

    August 13, 2013

    Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has been called “quite obviously the worst place in the United States to attend college.” While that is certainly a subject for (free and open) debate, FIRE has rated FAU as a “red light” school for its abysmal speech codes. FAU, however, appears to be ready for a change. FAU, embroiled in controversy and possibly wishing to eliminate potentially offensive debate, recently enacted a ban on “racist” and “religiously intolerant” speech. This new policy on “Free Speech and Campus Civility” (PDF) earned recognition as FIRE’s August Speech Code of the Month. This is, of course, nothing to be […]

    » Read More
  • Speech Code of the Month: Florida Atlantic University

    August 2, 2013

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for August 2013: Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Perhaps in response to some of the recent controversy at the university, FAU—a public university—has adopted a new policy on “Free Speech and Campus Civility” (PDF). That policy states, in relevant part: Here at FAU, we encourage our campus community to exercise this cherished freedom in lively debate. In fact, we protect and promote that right. What we do insist on, however, is that everyone in the FAU community behave and speak to and about one another in ways that are not racist, religiously intolerant […]

    » Read More
  • Florida Atlantic U. Students and Faculty Demonstrate in Support of Academic Freedom

    April 10, 2013

    Yesterday, students and faculty gathered on the campus of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) to demonstrate in support of academic freedom and Professor Deandre Poole, who has been placed on a highly suspect “administrative leave” after conducting an in-class exercise where he asked students to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper and then step on the paper. According to an email received by FIRE, a major purpose of the demonstration, which was organized by a group calling itself “Academic Freedom at FAU,” was to convey the message that for many students and faculty on campus, the “FAU Administration does not […]

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  • Florida Atlantic ‘Jesus Stomp’ Case: A Screwup from Start to Finish

    April 1, 2013

    I hope I am wrong, but bald-faced institutional self-interest is the only force I can think of that explains the weird series of decisions that Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has made since student Ryan Rotela publicly complained about being made to stomp on the word “Jesus” in his Intercultural Communications class. Let’s take a look at why that is: 1. FAU maintains a speech code that can be used to punish protected speech. We have already written to Florida Governor Rick Scott about the speech codes prevalent at FAU and other Florida public colleges, but the FAU policy at issue […]

    » Read More
  • Media Frenzy Erupts After FAU Student Told To ‘Stomp On Jesus’

    March 29, 2013

    by Allison Goodman WLRN   Sometimes people stand up for their beliefs by refusing to stand on them. Ryan Rotela, a junior at Florida Atlantic University and devout Mormon, claims he was thrown out of class by his instructor after refusing to step on the name of Jesus as part of a classroom exercise. Then the governor heard about it, according to the News Service of Florida: Gov. Rick Scott wants a detailed report from state university system Chancellor Frank Brogan regarding an incident in which a Florida Atlantic University student claimed he was suspended from class for refusing to stomp on a piece of […]

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  • FIRE Writes Florida Gov. Rick Scott over Speech Codes in ‘Jesus Stomp’ Case

    March 29, 2013

    FIRE sent a letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott today in response to his call for an investigation into how Florida Atlantic University handled the complaints of a student who refused to stomp on a piece of paper with “Jesus” written on it for a class assignment. FIRE recommends that Governor Scott investigate FAU’s unconstitutional enforcement of a speech code against the student for his complaints, and points out that many Florida universities have similar or even more severe speech codes that could lead to campus censorship.  FIRE is generally wary of governmental intrusions into academic questions, and we have […]

    » Read More
  • FAU College Student Who Didn’t Want To Stomp On ‘Jesus’ Runs Afoul of Speech Code

    March 26, 2013

    by Greg Lukianoff Forbes.com   Would you stomp on a piece of paper with the name Jesus written on it as part of a classroom assignment? Ryan Rotela, a devout Mormon student at Florida Atlantic University, had to make this bizarre decision in his Intercultural Communications class. The incident ignited a firestorm of national outrage when Rotela told local news sources, last week, that he was being punished for refusing to complete the assignment. What happened? How could a professor possibly think this assignment was a good idea? FAU’s culture war flare-up arose when Rotela’s instructor reportedly assigned his students the following […]

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  • Newspaper Thefts at Florida Atlantic Turn Out to Be Honest Mistake

    February 22, 2012

    The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) reports that an episode of missing newspapers at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has a somewhat benign ending.  As it turns out, no one was stealing or destroying copies of the University Press student newspaper because of their disagreement with the paper’s content. Rather, the papers were nabbed by students in an engineering class: Mariam Aldhahi, editor in chief of the University Press student newspaper, said they discovered Jan. 30 that students took the 2,600 papers for a class project. The class was required to build bridges out of newspaper to withstand certain amounts of […]

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  • Theft of Student Newspapers Carries Real Consequences at Florida Atlantic University

    December 1, 2010

    Attention, those of you who still think that stealing collegiate newspapers is in any way legitimate: please take a moment to consider the case of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) student Yona Rabinowitz. As the University Press (UP) first reported November 19: FAU police arrested student Yona Rabinowitz yesterday in connection with the theft of nearly 2,000 UP newspapers on the Boca campus on Nov. 10. Rabinowitz, a philosophy major according to his Facebook profile, is currently in county jail on a $3,000 bail, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. He was charged with grand theft, trespassing and resisting […]

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  • FAU President Stands up for Newspaper’s First Amendment Rights

    June 22, 2010

    Recently I wrote about Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU’s) threats against its student-run newspaper, the University Press, which had continued to accept the voluntary services of its former advisor after he was dismissed by the university from his advisory position. Torch readers may remember that FAU had told UP editor-in-chief Karla Bowsher that she was considered an employee of FAU, and that as an employee she was violating university policy by accepting the voluntary services of a non-employee. This was a clear violation of Bowsher’s and the UP‘s First Amendment right of freedom of association—and both the Student Press Law Center and the […]

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  • Florida Atlantic University Threatens Student Paper Over Advisor’s Voluntary Service

    June 11, 2010

    Call me crazy, but if I ran a collegiate newspaper and a veteran professional journalist with years of experience in the field were willing to give free advice to my colleagues and me, I would take him or her up on the offer. Such was the situation at the University Press at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), where advisor Michael Koretzky has continued his service to the paper in a voluntary capacity after he was recently dismissed from his advisory position after 12 years of service. Alas, FAU has rained on the parade by threatening disciplinary sanctions against the paper’s editor-in chief if […]

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  • Celebration of Constitution Day Emphasizes First Amendment Rights

    September 20, 2006

    The Palm Beach Post reported yesterday that the Student Press Law Center, the College Media Advisers, the Society of Professional Journalists and the University Press held an interesting event at Florida Atlantic University to celebrate Constitution Day and teach students about the importance of First Amendment freedoms. Students were given free food and an enlightening experience in the “Kingdom of the Socialist States of the People’s Republic of Boca Raton,” a section of campus representing a country without the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and freedom of association. Gangs of club-wielding fraternity members patrolled the area to enforce the […]

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