Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Federal Circuit: 11th Circuit
Georgia Institute of Technology has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.
Red Light Policies
Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
Each member of our community must be committed to the creation of a harmonious climate because one cannot be neutral to this challenge. Those who are committed to it strengthen Georgia Tech and themselves. Individuals who choose not to commit to the challenge, via acts of intolerance, jeopardize their continued affiliation with the Institute. Those acts may be defined as attempts to injure, harm, malign, or harass a person because of race, religious belief, color, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, or gender.
The Institute is committed to maintaining academic and working environments free of objectionable conduct and communication that would be construed as sexual harassment. The determination of what constitutes sexual harassment will vary with particular circumstances, but it can be described as unwanted sexual behavior, such as physical contact or verbal comments that adversely affect the environment of an individual.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other written, verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: …
c) Such conduct has the purpose or effect:
- i. of unreasonably interfering with the individual’s work or education performance;
- ii. of creating an objectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive working and/or learning/living environment; or
- iii. of unreasonably interfering with or limiting one’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity.
Examples of unwanted behavior that may constitute sexual harassment (a, b or c above) include, but are not limited to:
- Massaging a person’s neck or shoulders
- Touching a person’s clothing, hair, or body
- Hugging, kissing, patting, or stroking a person’s body
- Making sexual gestures with hands or body movements, touching or rubbing oneself in a sexual manner around, or in the view of another person
- Brushing up against another person
- Tearing, pulling, or yanking a person’s clothing
- Sexual flirtation, advances or propositions for sexual activity, or repeatedly asking for a date from a person who has indicated he or she is not interested
- Discussing or about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history
- Verbal abuse of a sexual nature
- Suggestive comments and sexually explicit jokes, or turning discussions at work or in academic or living settings to sexual topics when not legitimately related to an academic matter
- Stating, indicating, or implying in any manner that benefits will be gained or lost based on response to sexual advances
- Staring repeatedly at someone; repeatedly watching someone from afar
- Blocking another person’s path or otherwise restricting their movements, particularly when in conjunction with other acts or comments
- Invading a person’s personal body space, such as standing closer than appropriate
- Looking a person up and down in a suggestive or intimidating manner
- Making sounds such as smacking or licking lips, making kissing sounds, or whistling
- Letters, gifts, or materials of a sexual nature, including but not limited to typed or handwritten notes, email, instant messages, text messages, online postings, etc.
Sexual harassment does not need to be related to sexual or amorous behavior. Behavior based on gender stereotypes or derogatory comments based on sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation may also constitute sexual harassment.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
Prohibited materials include fraudulent, harassing, obscene, threatening, or other messages or material that are in violation of applicable law or Institute policy.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Harassing another person including, but not limited to: Placing another person in reasonable fear of his/her personal safety through words or actions directed at that person, or substantially interfering with the working, learning, or living environment of the person.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
Georgia Tech holds the first amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the right to assemble peaceably as an essential cornerstone to the advancement of knowledge and the right of a free people.
Students, faculty, staff, and Institute affiliates are supported in their right to assemble. They can publicly assemble on campus in any place where, at the time of the assembly, the persons assembling are permitted to be.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Discriminatory harassment – unwelcome verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct directed against any person or group, based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status that has the purpose or effect of creating an objectively hostile working or academic environment. A hostile environment is created when harassment is so severe, pervasive, or persistent as to unreasonably interfere with or limit an individual’s employment or educational opportunities.
November 13, 2013
by Peter Bonilla CBS Atlanta’s Jeff Chirico reports a disturbing story from Georgia: the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG), which has the authority to review appeals of employee terminations and student expulsions, may have been systematically shirking this duty for a decade or more. This is eyebrow-raising for several reasons, starting with USG’s sheer size. The system consists of 31 public institutions, including major institutions like the University of Georgia (UGA) and Georgia Tech, enrolling more than 300,000 students. The system also includes tens of thousands of academic and non-academic staff; UGA alone employs 9,874. For students, faculty, and […]» Read More
May 1, 2006
It’s time for this column to announce its Sheldon Award, given annually to the university president who does the most to look the other way when free speech is under assault on campus. As all Sheldon fans know, the prize is a statuette that looks something like the Oscar, except that the Oscar shows a man with no face looking straight ahead, whereas the Sheldon shows a man with no spine looking the other way. The award is named for Sheldon Hackney, former president of the University of Pennsylvania and a modern legend in looking the other way. College presidents, […]» Read More
December 30, 2008
Over at Phi Beta Cons, former FIRE President David French, recently back from a tour of duty in Iraq, reports that Georgia Tech has been ordered to pay $203,734.14 in attorneys’ fees and expenses for violating its students’ freedom of religion. Here’s how David describes the case in his blog entry: In March 2006 two brave Georgia Tech students, Orit Sklar and Ruth Malhotra, launched a challenge to several unconstitutional policies at the school. These policies included a speech code, a restrictive speech zone, discriminatory student-fee regulations, and a program of state religious indoctrination called “Safe Space” that explicitly compared […]» Read More
August 16, 2006
Faced with a federal lawsuit, Georgia Tech recently decided to drop its unconstitutional speech code. The policy, which banned “hate-based conduct” and “denigrating written/verbal communications,” has been rescinded and Georgia Tech will need the permission of the court if it desires to change its speech policy in the next five years. This is very similar to what happened at Penn State, which also recently avoided federal court by dropping its speech code in an out-of-court settlement. Why did these universities buckle so quickly? Maybe university lawyers are no longer willing to attempt to defend the indefensible and recognize that […]» Read More
April 17, 2006
As Robert noted previously, Georgia Tech is facing an Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) lawsuit over its unconstitutional speech code. On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times editorialized on the suit and placed it in precisely the appropriate historical context, mentioning the well-chronicled rise of campus speech codes in the 1980s and 1990s—and the way courts struck such codes down. As FIRE’s Spotlight database shows, the age of speech codes is not over—universities have just decided to trample the First Amendment a little more sneakily, by way of sticking illiberal provisions in things like harassment and tolerance policies. Regarding ADF’s more recent […]» Read More
April 7, 2006
One of the latest institutions to be sued over an unconstitutional speech code is Georgia Tech, which was sued in March by former FIRE president and current Legal Network member David French and the Alliance Defense Fund. Georgia Tech’s speech code, which earned a “red light” rating on FIRE’s Spotlight, has some serious constitutional problems. For instance, “acts of intolerance” such as “[d]enigrating written/verbal communications (including the use of telephones, emails and computers) directed toward an individual because of their characteristics or beliefs” can result in disciplinary action. Such a rule is far too vague to be consistently enforced and […]» Read More