Georgia Southern University

Location: , Georgia
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 11th Circuit

Tell Georgia Southern University to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Georgia Southern University 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.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.

Red Light Policies

  • Georgia Southern University Policy Prohibiting Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 20, 2017

    Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Such conduct may include sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Conduct that is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work or academic environment constitutes one type of sexual harassment.  Depending on the severity, it is possible for a single incident to be sufficient to constitute a hostile environment. … Students should and employees must report any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature regardless of severity or the number of occurrences so that Georgia Southern can take steps to address harassment before it creates a hostile environment.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Assembly and Demonstrations

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: October 20, 2017

    Students, faculty, staff, and their registered student organizations may assemble and/or demonstrate anywhere on university grounds between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., Monday through Sunday as long as the assembly and/or demonstration adheres to the provisions of Item 1 and a properly submitted Free Speech Area Request Form has been approved. … Requests to reserve campus grounds for an assembly and/or demonstration must be made at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the activity. This advance notice allows the University the opportunity to avoid the problem of simultaneous and/or competing assemblies or demonstrations and to arrange for adequate security.

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  • Multicultural Student Center: Bias Incident Report

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: October 20, 2017

    Bias Incident Reporting

    There are times when this environment may be compromised when a biased or hate-related incident occurs. You can report a bias or hate-related incident as a witness or a victim by completing the Student Complaint Report.  Although it is helpful to tell us who you are, reports can be made anonymously.

    What is a Bias Incident?

    Non-criminal activity committed against a person or property that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, color, creed, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age or religion, veteran status or any combination of these or related factors. Bias incidents are instances of verbal and non-verbal conduct or behavior that is threatening, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory, hostile or damaging to property by known or unknown perpetrators that occurs on Georgia Southern University campus or within an area that impacts the Georgia Southern University community.

    • Bias Incident – any act directed against a person or property that includes the use of slurs or epithets expressing bias on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression.

    Hate Speech and Free Speech

    An area of concern, but one which is particularly difficult for universities to deal with, is the area of “Hate Speech.” This area is difficult because of the nation’s deep commitment to free speech and all universities’ particular focus on free speech as a major component in the university learning environment. We believe that we can both maintain respect for free speech and engage a fruitful concern for “hate speech.” With this in mind, we define Hate Speech as:

    Hate speech is speech, text, images (written/spoken) presented in public that are designed to incite hatred, violence, contempt, or severe ridicule towards, or to intimidate or create terror or fear among members of racial, religious, or other groups (such as sexual minorities).

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  • Student Conduct Code: Honor Pledge

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: October 20, 2017

    On my honor, I pledge …  to create a campus environment that is characterized by individual responsibility, civility, and integrity.

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Conduct Code: Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 20, 2017

    a) speech or other expression (words, pictures, symbols) that constitutes fighting words and is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere, limit, or deny one’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program. Fighting words may include, but are not limited to, words, pictures or symbols that:
    b) are directed to an individual or individuals based on that person’s race, color, sex, religion, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, veteran status or national origin, and
    c) threaten violence, tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace or provoke a violent response.
    d) In the context of this policy, fighting words are those which are commonly understood to convey direct and visceral hated or contempt for human beings. When determining whether speech is such as would provoke a violent response or incite an immediate breach of the peace, it is not necessary to show that that the person(s) addressed by the speech was or were actually incited to violence or hostile action. Conduct will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, considering all circumstances involved.
    e) following, placing under surveillance, or contacting (in person, by phone, electronically, or by any other means) another person without his or her permission for the purpose of harassing or intimidating that person. Harassing or intimidating means a knowing and willful course of conduct that serves no legitimate purpose and causes emotional distress by placing another person in reasonable fear for the safety of him/herself or others.

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  • College’s Speech Violation Based On Gov’t Instruction

    January 22, 2015

    By Bob Kellogg at OneNewsNow The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has announced its Speech Code of the Month goes to Georgia Southern University for adopting an unconstitutional speech policy. Robert Shibley of FIRE says in 2013 the U.S. Department of Education issued a blueprint for sexual harassment policies. Schools are told sexual harassment should be more broadly defined. “What the recommendation amounts to is urging a national speech code,” Shibley tells OneNewsNow. “And unfortunately Georgia Southern has fallen into that trap and passed an unconstitutional speech code at the behest of the federal government.” He says the DOE coerces […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Georgia Southern University

    January 14, 2015

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for January 2015: Georgia Southern University (GSU). As we begin a new year, we want to keep the focus squarely on the incursions on free speech by the federal government—specifically, by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Last month, we highlighted a policy change at Pennsylvania State University that tracks the recommendations made by OCR in its May 2013 agreement with the University of Montana, which OCR described as a “blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country to protect students from sexual harassment and assault.” In the […]

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  • A Year Later, Impact of Feds’ ‘Blueprint’ Comes into Focus

    August 28, 2014

    Last summer, FIRE sounded the alarm about a shockingly broad definition of sexual harassment being pushed by the Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ) as a “blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country.” Announced at the conclusion of a year-long investigation into the University of Montana’s sexual assault policies and practices, the resolution agreement and findings letter the feds labeled a “blueprint” defined sexual harassment as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” including “verbal conduct” (i.e., speech). And this all-encompassing definition wasn’t just a general characterization of sexual harassment; rather, it was the exact policy language that ED and DOJ were requiring the University of Montana to adopt verbatim.

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