Hamilton College

Location: Clinton, New York
Website: http://www.hamilton.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 2nd Circuit

Tell Hamilton College to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Hamilton College 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.

Yellow Light Policies
  • Sexual Misconduct Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: February 7, 2018

    Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome action, language or visual representation of a sexual nature that has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or that creates a hostile working, educational, or living environment.

    Sexual harassment also includes gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal or physical aggression or hostility based on gender, sexuality or sex- or gender-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

    Examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment include:


    Verbal conduct:
    • making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs or humor, not pedagogically appropriate
    • verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, suggestive or obscene letters, notes or invitations, not pedagogically appropriate
    • objectively offensive comments of a sexual nature, including persistent or pervasive sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes, which a reasonable peer would find offensive and which are not pedagogically appropriate
    Visual conduct:
    • leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of suggestive objects or pictures, cartoon or posters in a public space or forum, not pedagogically appropriate
    • severe, persistent or pervasive visual displays of suggestive, erotic or degrading sexually oriented images, not pedagogically appropriate
    Written conduct:
    • letters, notes or electronic communications containing comments, words or images described above, not pedagogically appropriate

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  • Housing Guide for New Students and Parents: Building Community at Hamilton College

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: February 7, 2018

    We promote an environment that is free from harassment, where differences are celebrated, and independent opinions are supported and respected. However, when these opinions threaten others, we will act swiftly to ensure the safety and well being of the community.

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  • Student Handbook: Code of Student Conduct- Prohibited Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: February 7, 2018

    Physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion and/or other conduct that recklessly or intentionally threatens or endangers the mental or physical health and safety of any person.

    Hamilton College reserves the right to suspend for an interim period any student whose presence on the campus is, in the sole judgment of the College, detrimental to the best interests of the College.

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  • Student Handbook: Information Technology Services- Appropriate Use of Email

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: February 7, 2018

    College policy prohibits certain types of e-mail. These include mail that may be perceived as harassment, political campaigning, or commercial solicitation. Chain mail is also prohibited.

    » Read More

Green Light Policies
  • Dean of Students: Bias Incident and Hate Crimes

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: February 7, 2018

    Please note:

    • The reporting system does not create a new category of prohibited behavior or a new process for members of the Hamilton community to be disciplined or sanctioned.
    • The BIR Team has no authority to discipline any student or member of the faculty or staff.
    • Reported conduct that may be a violation of college policy will be referred for action through existing disciplinary or judicial procedures.
    What is a bias incident?
    A bias incident is an action that violates college policy and is motivated, in whole or in part, by the perpetrator’s bias or attitude against an individual or group based on perceived or actual personal characteristics, including age, gender or gender identity, race, color, national origin, sexual and affectional orientation/association, military or veterans status, marital status, mental/physical disability, genetic information, ethnic origin, or religion. Examples of bias incidents include harassment, intimidating or threatening comments or messages, vandalism of personal or college property, and defacing posters or signs. Bias incidents affect not only the individual victim or target of a specific action, but often make an entire group or community feel vulnerable and unwelcome. This is unacceptable at Hamilton College and will be treated as a serious offense that could include separation from the College.

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  • Student Handbook: Code of Student Conduct- Guiding Principles

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: February 7, 2018

    The right to express opinions may not be abridged, provided that public safety and the rights of individuals are not compromised. The College protects and encourages controversy and dissent.

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  • Student Handbook: Harassment and Discrimination Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: February 7, 2018

    Discriminatory Harassment, including any action, language or visual representation, based on any characteristic protected by law other than gender (as noted above, gender based harassment is covered under the Sexual Misconduct Policy), including race, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, veteran status, that is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it has the effect of unreasonably interfering with that person’s work or academic performance, or that creates a hostile working, educational, or living environment is prohibited by this Policy, and is referenced herein as Discriminatory Harassment.

    Other forms of Harassment include other harassing action, language or visual representation, which is not based on a characteristic protected by law, that has the effect of unreasonably interfering with that person’s work or academic performance, or that creates a hostile working, educational, or living environment, and is also prohibited by this Policy and are referenced herein as Harassment.

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  • Student Handbook: Freedom of Expression/Maintenance of Public Order at Hamilton College

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: February 7, 2018

    Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of those goals to which Hamilton College is dedicated.

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  • Jefferson Muzzles go to 50 Colleges and Universities

    April 20, 2016

    By Eugene Volokh at The Washington Post The Thomas Jefferson Center (with which I’m involved as a member of the board of trustees) has just released its yearlyJefferson Muzzles, so I thought I’d pass along the center’s explanation of who the “winners” are this year. Note that the Ccnter supports academic freedom and free speech broadly, and not just those aspects that are legally protected by the First Amendment; so you’ll see many private institutions mentioned here, even though the First Amendment as such does not restrict private entities, as well as the public institutions to which the First Amendment applies… Read […]

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  • This side of the overpass

    October 12, 2010

    Years ago, when I was applying for a job at a local nonprofit, one of the members of the hiring committee pulled out a column I had written for this newspaper and asked me if I really believed that we lived in a rape culture. “Well, yes,” I stammered, “men rape women in order to demonstrate how easily women can be controlled.” I tried to tie my analysis of rape to the social justice concerns of the non-profit. “The threat of rape is not unlike the threat of nuclear weapons,” I suggested. “A man doesn’t have to actually rape for […]

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  • Renegades Shake Up Trustee Elections

    March 10, 2006

    Private-college officials are accustomed to dealing with alumni who are fervent about protecting the reputations or traditions of their alma maters. But they are not used to dealing with the sort of alumni uprisings that took place at Dartmouth and Hamilton Colleges last year. At both institutions, former students waged feisty campaigns for the designated alumni seats on the colleges’ governing boards, which are normally allotted to alumni-association leaders or other vetted nominees. The outsider candidates drew the support of conservative bloggers and pundits around the nation, who praised them as insurgents against higher education’s status quo. … To read […]

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  • Insurgents Lose Bid to Become Hamilton College Trustees

    September 2, 2005

    Four alumni lost bids to become Hamilton College trustees in a rare contested election that followed two politicized controversies on the campus in upstate New York. The campaigns of three of the four defeated candidates, all of whom had petitioned to appear on the ballot, grew out of their participation in Hamilton College Alumni for Governance Reform, a small group of alumni that has criticized administrators for their handling of the high-profile controversies. The candidates who were selected through the conventional process, overseen by the college’s Alumni Council, won the three open seats on the board, receiving roughly double the […]

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  • Hamilton College Alumni Challenge Official Candidates for Board of Trustees

    July 29, 2005

    Hamilton College alumni received a ballot in the mail last week for the first contested election in 30 years for slots on the upstate New York institution’s Board of Trustees. The rules of the election have drawn criticism from a group of alumni and two national organizations involved in academic-freedom issues. The groups argue that the college is trying to stifle the campaigns of four alumni who successfully petitioned to appear on the ballot alongside three candidates who were nominated by the college’s Alumni Council. The campaigns of three of the petition candidates grew out of their involvement with Hamilton […]

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  • Churchill Wars Continue

    March 28, 2005

    Both Ward Churchill and one of his legislative critics compared the University of Colorado to an asylum this weekend — showing that the debate over the controversial professor has not been put to rest by a university review released Thursday. Churchill says that the new investigation requested by the review — this time an inquiry into whether he engaged in plagiarism and other forms of research misconduct — is unfair. In a speech in San Francisco Friday night, he said that the new investigation at Colorado, which will examine among other things his claims of being an American Indian, was […]

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  • Fighting Words 101

    March 14, 2005

    Colorado legislator Bob Hagedorn admits that when he proposed Senate Bill 85 in December, he was thinking of himself. In the wake of last fall’s polarizing race for the White House, Hagedorn, a Democrat who is also a political-science professor at Metropolitan State College in Denver, grew more and more worried about saying the wrong thing as his students debated contentious issues like George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind initiative and the teaching of creationism in schools. Earlier in the year, students had filed bias complaints against a colleague who had criticized Republicans. “I’m thinking ‘My God, we don’t […]

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  • Academic Freedom For Some

    March 4, 2005

    When it comes to the basic protections of due process and academic freedom, it often appears that students and professors live in two worlds – one world for those who follow the current academic political orthodoxy and another for those who dissent.  Take for example, two untenured professors at major universities, Joseph Massad of Columbia and Thomas Klocek of Depaul. Many FrontPage readers are undoubtedly familiar with Professor Massad.  Extensively discussed in the documentary “Columbia Unbecoming” and in national media reports, Professor Massad has been quoted as comparing Israelis to Nazis and Prime Minister Sharon’s cultural views to those of […]

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  • Hamilton Students Condemn Theft of Campus Publication

    February 20, 2015

    Last week, Hamilton College student newspaper The Spectator reported that almost all issues of another Hamilton student publication, Enquiry, were removed en masse from their distribution spots on the private institution’s New York campus. The Spectator hypothesized that the theft was intended to shield readers from an article on “radical feminism” that had already generated criticism on social media. Both The Spectator and Hamilton’s Student Assembly denounced the act and urged students to engage in counter-speech rather than censorship. On Wednesday, my colleague Sarah McLaughlin explained the problem of newspaper theft in the context of stolen issues of the University […]

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  • This Week in the News: Whistleblowing UCLA Professor Still Making Headlines and Hamilton College Wins Muzzle Award

    April 15, 2011

    UCLA’s gross violation of the rights of Dr. Enstrom, the whisteblowing professor fighting for his job after being told he did not fit his department’s “mission,” continued to elicit outrage in the media this week. Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle published both a column (reprinted in Townhall.com) and a shorter blog post (containing Reason.tv’s video on the case) criticizing the university’s actions. Also don’t miss Adam’s excellent interview about the case with Mike Slater of The Mike Slater Show. Up north, Hamilton College earned a Muzzle Award for forcing all first-year male students to attend “She Fears You,” […]

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  • Thomas Jefferson Center Awards 2011 ‘Muzzle’ to Hamilton College’s Mandatory ‘Intervention’ for Freshman Males

    April 13, 2011

    “She Fears You,” Hamilton College’s mandatory and coercive orientation program for freshman males last fall, received a 2011 Muzzle Award today from the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. “She Fears You” is based on the theory that men need a “combined emotional and cognitive intervention” to reform their deeply ingrained rape-supportive beliefs about gender and sexuality. The Muzzle Awards draw attention to “egregious or ridiculous affronts to free expression” by universities, local and national politicians, and even judges. The dubious distinctions have been awarded annually on or near April 13, Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, since 1992. Torch […]

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  • ‘Chapin’s Inferno’ Torches Keith Edwards and Hamilton College

    November 8, 2010

    Readers of The Torch may remember that in late September, Hamilton College (HC) told all of its first-year male students that they were required to attend “She Fears You,” an “intervention” program by Keith Edwards that is designed to make the men acknowledge their personal complicity in a “rape culture” and change their “rape-supportive” beliefs and attitudes. (HC made the event seem optional minutes before its commencement by not scanning student IDs after all.)  On Saturday, Bernard Chapin of “Chapin’s Inferno,” a colorful YouTube video series described as a “wandering cauldron of politically incorrect commentary,” used many of FIRE’s arguments in a video […]

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  • Hamilton College Won’t Talk about ‘She Fears You,’ but Keith Edwards Will

    October 14, 2010

    More than two weeks have passed since Keith Edwards delivered his “She Fears You” presentation at Hamilton College, yet Hamilton has still not responded to FIRE’s letter requesting that attendance be made voluntary. Nor has Hamilton made any public statement about the event. (The event also wasn’t filmed, so non-attendees will never know exactly what Edwards said that night.)  We may never know whether Hamilton is too embarrassed to explain whether it really believes there is a “rape culture” on campus, or whether Hamilton is so arrogant as to choose not to engage its critics. But thanks to Managing Editor […]

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  • Attendance Not Logged at ‘Required’ Hamilton College ‘Rape Culture’ Event, but Fundamental Freedoms Still at Risk

    October 1, 2010

    Amidst heated debate, Keith Edwards’ “She Fears You” presentation went forward Monday evening at Hamilton College. FIRE argued that this event, which claims to be a “cognitive and emotional intervention” aiming to teach that certain views about masculinity will be “no longer acceptable in any way,” should not have been mandatory for freshman males. Two senior faculty members also expressed their dismay over the mandatory nature of the program. One of them, in an e-mail to Dean of Students Nancy Thompson, argued: Especially in light of our proclaimed devotion to the “open curriculum,” I see no reason why this one […]

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  • Hamilton Requires First-Year Men to Attend Presentation on Campus ‘Rape Culture’; Female Applicants Not Forewarned of Dangers of Attending Hamilton

    September 27, 2010

    Tonight at 7 p.m., first-year men at Hamilton College will be attending a mandatory presentation of “She Fears You,” a program at which they will be pressed to acknowledge their personal complicity in a “rape culture” on Hamilton’s campus and to change their “rape-supportive” beliefs and attitudes. First-year men were informed via e-mail that attendance was required and that they needed to bring their ID cards. “She Fears You” will be presented by Keith Edwards, “a national speaker and trainer on diversity and social justice and college men’s issues.” “She Fears You” is based on the theory that men need […]

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  • Outside Input Unwanted: A Brief History of Petition Candidacies in University Governance

    March 24, 2009

    In cases of campus speech restrictions, the path to censorship is paved with seemingly benign intent: see, for instance, bans on “rude, disrespectful behavior,” as in the case of Johns Hopkins University (covered extensively yesterday by Samantha). Yet the inherent conflict between free speech and open inquiry on one hand and enforcing “civility” on the other is unmistakably clear—those with the power to define “civility” also define an orthodoxy of conduct. Hopkins is not the only university with a wrongheaded (and at public universities, legally questionable) civility provision. To pick just two examples, Bergen Community College and the University at […]

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  • The Hamilton Insurgency Continues

    January 27, 2006

    While the American Association of University Women’s extremely misguided sexual harassment report might give you reason to believe otherwise, all the news this week has not been bad. Specifically, FIRE has heard good tidings out of New York State, where fresh trustee elections are going on at Hamilton College. To get some context, check out what then–FIRE President David French wrote last July: Like Dartmouth, Hamilton has a mechanism for open trustee elections, and, for the first time in many years, those elections are contested. Several alumni have formed a group called Hamilton College Alumni for Governance Reform and have […]

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  • The Hamilton Insurgency: Hopefully Not Over

    August 19, 2005

    Hamilton College Alumni for Governance Reform, Inside Higher Ed, and Erin O’Connor are all reporting that the insurgent trustee candidates at Hamilton have lost. This is of course bad news, but it’s not necessarily the end of the line. The candidates faced extremely formidable obstacles in communicating their positions to the alumni who were voting, so they have a point that the 34-or-so percent of the vote they drew was really not all that bad. And there are other ways to, say, fight Hamilton’s ridiculous speech code than winning a trustee election. Anyone who wants to join the much-needed fight […]

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  • The Hamilton Insurgency?

    July 28, 2005

    During FIRE’s most recent speech code victory, my friend Duncan Currie at the Weekly Standard called Peter Robinson and Todd Zywicki’s free-speech-loving trustee campaign “The Dartmouth Insurgency.” And the more I read about what’s going on at Hamilton College, the more I think the answer to the question David posed here before (“Is Hamilton the Next Dartmouth?”) might be a resounding “yes.” A statement just published on the Hamilton College Alumni for Governance Reform blog by trustee candidate Brendan McCormick, for example, includes lots of statements that might as well have been taken out of FIRE literature. In discussing how […]

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  • Levitt Fellow Lindsay Martin ’07 Studying Free Speech Issues at Colleges

    July 25, 2005

    In light of recent speech issues on college campuses throughout the nation, Hamilton student and Levitt Fellow Lindsay Martin ’07 (Covington, LA), has chosen to devote 10 weeks of her summer to delving into speech codes and issues of free speech at institutions of higher education. “I’ve always been interested in and passionate about issues of free speech,” Martin explained. “In the fall of 2003, I attended a philosophy conference, where the founder of FIRE (The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), spoke. FIRE is a legal organization that litigates against institutions of higher education that restrict students’ free speech […]

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  • Is Hamilton the Next Dartmouth?

    July 11, 2005

    In the last twelve months, New York’s Hamilton College has not exactly covered itself in glory. First, it made national news after it hired Susan Rosenberg, a convicted terrorist, to teach a course entitled “Resistance Memoirs: Writing, Identity, and Change.” Then it became the epicenter of the Ward Churchill controversy when his speech at the college was first scheduled then canceled after the college became concerned about alleged “threats.” To those on the right, Hamilton (particularly its Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society, and Culture, the campus entity responsible for hiring Rosenberg and initially inviting Churchill) has become […]

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  • Is Learning (A)Political?

    February 18, 2005

    One of our readers sent us the following excerpt from Robert Kimball’s January 31, 2005, post on The New Criterion’s weblog: Colleges and Universities do not exist to promote free speech. They exist to pursue and teach the truth…. This is not a novel idea. But it is one that Hamilton’s president, Joan Hinde Stewart, has difficulty in wrapping her mind around. In an open letter to the Hamilton community about the controversy, Stewart began with some clichés about Hamilton’s belief that “open-ended and free inquiry is essential to educational growth.” Well, fine. But surely a college president should understand […]

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  • Learning from Malcolm X

    February 16, 2005

    Maurice Isserman, history professor and chairman of the American Studies program at Hamilton College, wrote an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education last week that I felt really resonated with my post yesterday, and my general thoughts on free speech and transformational human experience over time. The title of his article was “In Ward Churchill Case, Who Defines ‘Acceptable’ Speech?” Here’s an excerpt: I also wonder what would have happened if one of my faculty predecessors at Hamilton College had invited Malcolm X to speak back in the days when he was still alive—say, right after he made his […]

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  • Hamilton Builds a Fence

    February 14, 2005

    After canceling Ward Churchill’s speaking appearance, Hamilton College has cracked down on the Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society, and Culture, the campus division that not only invited Ward Churchill but also hired a convicted terrorist to teach a writing course entitled “Resistance Memoirs: Writing, Identity, and Change.” According to new guidelines issued by Joan Hinde Stewart, the college’s president, any allocations from the Center’s budget for the remainder of the year “require the signature of the dean.” In justifying this restriction, Stewart stated: “We must have speakers who are thought-provoking and not merely provocative, who challenge us […]

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  • More on Mob Rule

    February 3, 2005

    One of the difficulties in persuading angry and indignant people to cease their demands for censorship is that you are frequently countering their concrete grievance with a seemingly abstract hypothetical argument. To someone who is furious at actual speech uttered by a real person, it is often not persuasive to say, “But this kind of censorship might be used against you or people you like.”  We human beings tend to be persuaded more by experience than by argument. Yesterday, I condemned Hamilton College for canceling Ward Churchill’s speech in response to unspecified threats. To conservatives who might be tempted to […]

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  • The ‘Other’ Churchill

    February 2, 2005

    No, I’m not referring to Winston but to the most famous Churchill since the legendary and heroic British prime minister passed into history — Professor Ward Churchill. After making numerous outrageous comments about the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Professor Churchill has resigned from his position as the Chair of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Department of Ethnic Studies. Yesterday, we learned that Hamilton College in New York has now cancelled a planned speech by Professor Churchill, citing numerous “death threats.” There are several aspects of this case that merit comment. First, Professor Churchill’s speech was constitutionally […]

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