Howard University

Location: Washington, District Of Columbia
Website: http://www.howard.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Howard 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

  • Student Code of Conduct: Prohibited Behaviors

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    14. Harassment

    Harassment is engaging in verbal, electronic, visual, written or physical behavior directed at an individual or group that, in the view of a reasonable person, is likely to provoke or otherwise result in a negative or injurious response, mental or emotional distress, or related reaction or consequence. This behavior may include, but is not limited to:

    A. Making an expressed or implied threat of an action that will affect another person’s academic pursuits, University employment, or participation in academic or extracurricular activities sponsored by either the University or organizations or groups related to the University.

    B. Engaging in unwelcomed and unwarranted obstruction or interference with respect to a person’s participation in educational, athletic or on-campus activity, personal pursuits, or employment, which includes but is not limited to behaviors or communications which detract from or interfere with: an instructor’s ability to provide instruction in the classroom, laboratory, clinical practicum or clerkship; any activity directly related to teaching, instruction or academic advisement and counseling; or provision or use of any and all academic support services provided throughout the University Community.

    C. Creating an intimidating, demeaning or hostile situation or environment or inflicting personal, social, academic, psychological or emotional harm, or undue stress.

    » Read More


Yellow Light Policies
  • Title IX (Student) Policy on Prohibited Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Discrimination

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    Sexual harassment: unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

    (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a basis for any decision affecting the terms or conditions of participation in any such program or activity or status in an academic course; or

    2) such conduct has the purpose or affect of unreasonably interfering with a student’s educational right, privilege, advantage, or opportunity; or

    (3) such conduct is so pervasive or severe that it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for learning and has no reasonable relationship to the subject matter of the relevant course of instruction.

    Examples of Sexual Harassment — The following examples are illustrative of conduct that, if proven, may be considered by the University to establish sexual harassment in an academic setting:

    a. unsolicited, unwelcomed flirtations, advances, and/or propositions of a sexual nature;

    b. insults, jokes, or anecdotes that belittle or demean an individual or a group’s sexuality or gender;

    c. unwelcomed sexually-oriented gestures, verbal expressions, or comments of a sexual nature about an individual’s body, clothing, or sexual experience;

    d. inappropriate displays of sexually suggestive objects or pictures ….

    » Read More

  • Student Code of Conduct: Prohibited Behaviors

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    Discrimination:

    A. Engaging in verbal or physical behavior that, according to a person of reasonable sensibilities, is likely to create an intimidating or demeaning environment that infringes upon the ability of other students, faculty and/or staff to access or receive the educational benefits available to them as a member of the University Community. The University prohibits such behavior directed at an individual or group based upon a protected class. Protected classes include: national origin, race, color, age, gender, ethnicity, disability, creed, religious beliefs, political affiliation, personal appearance, family status sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The Code also prohibits hate crimes, as defined in the District of Columbia Code.

    B. Wearing articles of clothing with derogatory, racist, discriminatory, patently offensive, profane, sexually explicit, or graphic messages either in words or pictures, which demonstrate bias or discrimination against any individual or group within the University Community.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Guidelines for Posting and Distribution of Posters/Flyers/Materials at Howard University

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    Before displaying any advertisement, including signs, posters or placards on the bulletin boards or other display spaces at Howard University, the University employee, organization, department or recognized student organization must obtain authorization from the scheduling office. The name(s) of the sponsoring organization(s)/entity must appear on all advertisements. Requests for permission to distribute handbills, flyers or publications must be made directly to the Scheduling Office for authorization for posting and/or distribution of the materials.

    The University prohibits the posting of advertisements, announcements that it considers lewd, indecent, or vulgar, or that reflect the commission or attempted commission of any crime. Failure to conform to this requirement may result in withdrawal of approval to use the University facility.

    » Read More

  • Student Code of Conduct: Prohibited Behaviors

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    D. Bullying

    Unwanted, aggressive and/or hostile behavior, from an individual or group that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and that is intended to humiliate, mentally or physically injure or intimidate and/or control another individual or group of individuals. Bullying can be one single act or can be repeated behavior that occurs over the course of time. Bullying includes, but is not limited to, actions such as making verbal or written threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally and marginalizing and/or excluding someone from a group, event or activity.

    E. Cyberbullying

    Unwanted, aggressive and/or hostile behavior, from an individual or group that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and that is intended to humiliate, mentally or physically injure or intimidate and/or control another individual or group of individuals. Bullying can be one single act or can be repeated behavior that occurs over the course of time. Cyberbullying includes the use of technology, social networking sites, text and voicemail messages, emails, instant messages, personal websites and other forms of technology to make verbal or written threats, spread rumors, attack someone or marginalize and/or exclude someone from a group, event or activity. It is also the use of the above-mentioned mediums to support deliberate and hostile behavior that is intended to harm others.

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • Acceptable Use Policy for Computer and Network Systems

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    Unlawful Messages
    Use of electronic communication facilities (such as e-mail, instant messaging, talk, chat rooms, threaded discussions or systems with similar functions) to send fraudulent, harassing, obscene, threatening, or other messages that are a violation of applicable federal, state or other law or University policy is prohibited.

    » Read More

  • Student Code of Conduct: Student Rights, Freedoms, and Responsibilities

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    As members of the University Community, all students are guaranteed freedom of expression, inquiry and assembly; the right to form a student government; the right to organize groups; the right to join associations in support of any cause or common interest; and the right to peacefully protest, provided that such activity is conducted in a reasonable manner, does not abridge the rights of others and is carried out in accordance with local and/or Federal law as well as University rules and regulations.

    » Read More


  • Obama Slams Intolerant Liberals in Howard U Commencement Address

    May 9, 2016

    By Michael Gryboski at The Christian Post President Barack Obama told the graduating students of Howard University they should not engage in the practice of disinviting controversial speakers or disrupting political rallies… Read more here.

    » Read More
  • College Protests Lack Right Solutions

    November 19, 2015

    By Tallahassee Democrat at News-Press.com The mess at the University of Missouri recently is sending ripples of racial unrest through university campuses nationwide, with some significant long-term implications for American education and politics — as well as the news media. In a little more than 36 hours, thousands of students protesting what they consider the University of Missouri administration’s insensitivity to some ugly racist provocations forced university President Tim Wolfe to resign. The university chancellor also announced plans to quit soon, and Wolfe was replaced on an interim basis by Michael Middleton, a black man who was the deputy chancellor, as well […]

    » Read More
  • Our opinion: Free speech 101: Don’t stifle it

    November 15, 2015

    By Staff at Tallahassee Democrat The mess at Mizzou is sending ripples of racial unrest through university campuses nationwide, with some significant long-term implications for American education and politics — as well as the news media. In a little more than 36 hours early last week, thousands of students protesting what they consider the University of Missouri administration’s insensitivity to some ugly racist provocations forced university President Tim Wolfe to resign. The university chancellor also announced plans to quit soon, and Wolfe was replaced on an interim basis by Michael Middleton, a black man who was the deputy chancellor, as […]

    » Read More
  • Examiner Local Editorial: Muzzling free speech on campus

    January 2, 2013

    One New Year’s resolution we’d like to see in 2013 is a renewed effort to uphold the First Amendment on college campuses. According to a new report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, 62 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities “maintain severely restrictive speech codes … that clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech.” FIRE noted that the overwhelming majority of speech is protected. But narrow exceptions (such as “fighting words,” obscenity and defamation) “are often misused and abused by universities to punish constitutionally protected speech.” Restrictions intended to protect students from harassment or bullying have been […]

    » Read More
  • President Obama’s Howard Commencement Address: “Let Them Talk” (VIDEO)

    May 9, 2016

    On Saturday, President Obama spoke to Howard University’s graduating class of 2016. Over the years, the historic institution, which was established by the Freedmen’s Bureau after President Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation, has provided a platform for an array of voices, including artists, doctors, and civil rights activists. It’s therefore only natural that President Obama would choose to reflect on free speech during his commencement address there. After reflecting on improvements in race relations since his own college days, the president offered the class of 2016 advice. “In particular, it requires listening to those with whom you disagree, and being […]

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  • Passion to Action: Howard U. Students Speak Out Against Sexual Assault

    April 11, 2016

    At the end of the 2015 fall semester, FIRE (and the nation) began to see a wide range of student activism, from the protests at the University of Missouri to advocacy for free speech rights at the University of South Carolina. As FIRE’s communication coordinator, I have had a few opportunities to travel to college campuses to witness how student activists are taking advantage of free speech and the First Amendment. This is an inaugural post that I hope will become a series in which I interview students from across the country about how they’re using free speech. Since I […]

    » Read More