Location: Framingham, Massachusetts
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit
Framingham 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.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome verbal, non-verbal and/or physical behavior of a sexual nature when: … such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or professional performance or creating a sexually intimidating, hostile or offensive employment, educational or living environment.
Behaviors that, either alone or in combination, may constitute sexual harassment under this Policy include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. verbal harassment or abuse on the basis of sex;
2. direct or indirect propositions of a sexual nature;
3. repeated unsolicited propositions for dates and/or sexual intercourse;
4. demands for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats or that submission to sexual advances may favorably affect employment, work status, promotion, grades, or letters of recommendation, or that rejection of sexual advances may produce a negative effect;
5. subtle pressure for sexual activity, one element of which may be conduct such as repeated or unwanted staring;
6. sexual slurs, sexual innuendos, and other comments about an individual or group’s clothing, body, weight, body shape, size or figure;
7. continuous idle chatter of a sexual nature and graphic sexual descriptions;
8. discussing one’s sexual activities, practices or experiences;
9. asking another person about their sexual activities, practices or experiences;
10. offensive and persistent “risqué” jokes or jesting and kidding about sex or gender-specific traits;
11. suggestive or insulting sounds such as whistling, wolf-calls, or kissing sounds;
12. sexually provocative compliments about a person’s clothes or the way their clothes fit;
13. comments or questions about the sensuality, sexuality, gender identity or sexual orientation of a person, or his or her spouse or significant other;
14. pseudo-medical advice such as “you might be feeling bad because you didn’t get enough;”
15. telephone calls of a sexual nature;
16. “staged whispers” or mimicking of a sexual nature about the way a person walks, talks, sits, etc.;
17. distribution or display of objects, written or graphic materials that are of a sexual nature, such as cartoons, pictorial erotica, nude photographs or posters (such as a nude magazine centerfolds) for no legitimate academic purpose;
18. invading another’s “personal space;”
19. sexual looks such as leering and ogling with suggestive overtones;
20. lewd gestures, such as hand or sign language to denote sexual activity, licking lips or teeth, or holding or eating food provocatively;
21. continuous “pet” name calling, such as “baby,” “sweetie” or “honey”;
22. referring to men in general as “dogs” or “swine” or to women as “bitches” or “chicks;”
23. persistent and unwelcome flirting;
24. attempted or actual kissing or fondling;
25. unnecessary touching, patting, pinching or physical touching of any kind that is sexual in nature; and/or
26. physical sexual assault, coerced sexual intercourse, attempted rape, rape or other forms of sexual violence.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Harassment and/or abusive behavior toward persons. This includes, but is not limited to:
a. Intimidation, invasion of privacy, verbal abuse, or any conduct constituting harassment, abuse or threats to the well-being of a person or group, including but not limited to communication via electronic means.
b. Harassment and/or intimidation of persons involved in a campus disciplinary hearing, and of persons of authority who are in the process of discharging their responsibilities.
c. The use of “fighting words” to harass any person is prohibited.
“Fighting words” are those personally abusive epithets which, when directly addressed to any ordinary person, in the context used and as a matter of common knowledge, are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction, whether or not they actually do so. Such words include, but are not limited to those terms widely recognized to be derogatory references to race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and other personal characteristics.
Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
1. All students, undergraduate and graduate, have a right to demonstrate on University premises provided, however, that no such demonstration shall be permissible, which for any reason of time, place, or type of behavior, materially disrupts class work or other University business, or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others.
2. Campus buildings are for University business. Any form of demonstration that interferes with University business in office or classroom spaces is a violation of this Code.
3. Students are prohibited from blocking free entry to or free exit from buildings, interfering with free movement, or presenting obstacles to regular University activities. “Interfering with free movement” is defined as any physical denial or restriction of a person’s ability to freely reach or leave a given geographical area, or harassment as defined in the Code of Student Conduct. “Obstacles” are defined as physical devices, bodies, or signs which cause interferences with free movement, or sounds which prevent normal communication.
4. There shall be no interference with demonstrations on the grounds of content of speech, except for any speech or demonstration which incites immediate, violent action and represents a clear and present danger to the campus community, which shall be a violation of the Code.
5. No student shall intentionally and substantially interfere with the freedom of expression of another person on University premises or at University sponsored activities.
6. Failure to cease any activity in violation of the Code immediately following either written or oral notice by a University official shall also be a violation of this Code.
7. Any violation of the Code may subject a student to expulsion from the University or such lesser sanction(s) as may be deemed appropriate by the University.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of the whole student, and the betterment of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals.
January 4, 2013
by Azhar Majeed Policymic Students at our nation’s colleges and universities won a number of important victories for freedom of speech and the First Amendment over the past year. They vindicated their core expressive rights, fought back against repressive university practices, and taught us all valuable lessons about living in a free society. The victories on campus weren’t limited to instances where student speech was censored or punished in application, however. At a number of institutions, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, where I work) convinced the administration to proactively protect free speech by reforming illiberal and unconstitutional policies before they […]» Read More
Framingham State U. Police to Student: Facebooking About Halloween Costume ‘Goes Beyond … Freedom of Speech’
November 21, 2014
According to Framingham State University’s (FSU’s) student newspaper The Gatepost, campus police officers questioned several FSU students over their public comments about two of their peers’ Halloween costumes depicting domestic violence. Gatepost editors aptly pointed out that such questioning is not acceptable at FSU, a public university in Massachusetts bound by the First Amendment. FSU junior Victoria Dansereau is already speaking with the American Civil Liberties Union and considering taking legal action after she was interrogated on cyberbullying charges for a post she made to Facebook. In response to an Instagram photo of a female student with a fake black […]» Read More
May 2, 2012
FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for May 2012: Framingham State University. This public university has a student policy on “Freedom of Expression” which provides that Recognized student clubs or organizations desiring to sponsor a religious display must consider the following: such displays may not promote or hinder one religion over another, must be secular in purpose, and may not intertwine University affairs with religious promotion. This policy confuses the university’s institutional obligation not to promote religion with the expressive rights of individual students and student groups, in a way that completely ignores binding Supreme Court precedent and […]» Read More
May 11, 2007
Some students at Framingham State College are finding out the hard way that newspaper theft and censorship don’t pay off in the end. According to The Boston Globe, seven students attended a lacrosse match with letters of a friend’s name painted across their midriffs to show support for him. A student reporter saw these women and thought it would make an excellent picture for the next edition of the campus paper. The editors must have agreed and decided to run the picture on the front page. After the paper was distributed on campus, two of the students in the picture […]» Read More