Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

Location: Kutztown, Pennsylvania
Website: http://www.kutztown.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 3rd Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania 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.

  • Pennsylvania House of Representatives Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom

    September 19, 2005

    The Pennsylvania House of Representatives brought together a committee to examine allegations that Pennsylvania’s public universities were plagued by liberal ideology and indoctrination. David A. French, at the time president of FIRE, served as a legal adviser to the panel. FIRE released FIRE Report on the First Amendment Responsibilities of Pennsylvania State-Funded Colleges and Universities, explaining that Pennsylvania universities are bound to follow the strictures of the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions, notably to respect the expressive rights of students and faculty members, to protect religious liberty on campus, and to protect freedom of conscience on campus.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Anti-Harassment Policy and Procedures

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 5, 2016

    Harassment, a specific form of discrimination, is defined as any type of behavior based on gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or veteran status that is so severe or pervasive that it interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or academic environment. Harassment, whether verbal, physical or visual, that is based on a person’s protected class status, includes conduct affecting tangible job or academic benefits, interfering unreasonably with an individual’s work or academic performance, or creating what a reasonable person would sense is an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or academic environment.

    Harassment, when directed at an individual because of his/her gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or veteran status, may include, but is not limited to: unwanted physical contact; use of epithets, inappropriate jokes, comments or innuendos; obscene or harassing telephone calls, e-mails, letters, notes or other forms of communication; and, any conduct that may create a hostile working or academic environment.

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  • Acceptable Use Policy

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: October 5, 2016

    Use of the university information technology resources to transmit abusive, threatening, or harassing material, chain letters, spam, or other communications prohibited by state or federal law ….

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  • Student Handbook: Outdoor Posting and Chalking Policy

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: October 5, 2016

    All individuals and organizations posting materials of any kind are expected to design and display their materials in a manner respectful of the diverse beliefs, opinions, and attitudes that exist in an institution of higher learning.

    Materials for posting may not include any reference to alcohol ….

    Materials that advertise activities, events or groups that do any of the following are prohibited: a. interfere with or be incompatible with the University’s statement on non-discrimination, as stated in the introduction to the University’s Undergraduate Catalog ….

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  • Student Handbook: Solicitation and Public Demonstration

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: October 5, 2016

    Solicitation refers to such activities as recruitment, distribution of information materials, events promotion and other similar activities which do not include the sale of goods or services or solicitation of funds. … Solicitation may take place outdoors. The Director of Public Safety and Police Services, together with the Director for Student Involvement, will determine where the solicitation may occur. Exceptions to this requirement can only be made by the President of the University or designee.

    Any group or organization planning to schedule a public demonstration or rally must meet with the Director of Public Safety and Police Services, or designee to describe the activity and seek permission.

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  • Student Handbook: Student Code of Conduct- Harm to Others

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 5, 2016

    Harassment, or a pattern of behavior that involves verbal abuse or harassment, threats, intimidation, bullying, coercion, stalking, and/or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health and safety of another person or another person’s property.

    Bullying or the repeated and intentional harassment that has the effect of intimidating another person.

    Use of the Internet (including social media, email, text messaging, etc.) interactive, and/or digital technologies to harass, bully, retaliate and/or stalk another person that has the effect of intimidating another person.

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Document on Student Rights and Welfare

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: October 5, 2016

    University students have the same constitutional freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, and right of petition as other citizens enjoy and are subject to the same civil laws and due process as other citizens.

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  • Student Handbook: Sexual Harassment Policies and Procedures

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 5, 2016

    Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct that is pervasive or severe may constitute sexual harassment when: … such conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment.

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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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  • Legal Experts Divided on Whether Kutztown University Can Ban Confederate Flags

    December 15, 2015

    By Christina Tatu at The Morning Call Can Kutztown University bar students from displaying “distasteful and demeaning” decorations such as Confederate flags and swastikas in residence halls and common areas? Legal experts are divided on the question. Here are the opinions of three experts who spoke to The Morning Call in the wake of Kutztown’s decision to halt its new policy banning such displays for further legal review. •”To institute such invasive rules in a student’s own living space is particularly galling and inappropriate,” said Ari Cohn, senior program officer for legal and public advocacy at the Foundation for Individual […]

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  • Kutztown Withdraws Policy Prohibiting Display of Confederate Flag and Swastikas in Student Dorms

    December 15, 2015

    By Christina Tatu at The Morning Call KUTZTOWN — Citing concerns over First Amendment rights, Kutztown University abruptly halted a new policy prohibiting students from displaying “distasteful and demeaning” decorations, such as Confederate flags and swastikas, in residence halls and common areas. University officials withdrew their proposed “decorations policy” just one week after it was announced in a campus-wide email. On Tuesday, university officials said their lawyers are reviewing the constitutionality of the policy. As a result of the legal review, “references to any specific content, such as symbols, will be removed from the policy,” university officials said in a prepared […]

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  • Courageous, rational leadership at university

    March 1, 2006

    My hearty congratulations to Kutztown University President F. Javier Cevallos. When radical leftists demanded free speech suppression of the College Republicans on his campus (The Morning Call, Feb. 24), he launched a principled defense of the individual right of free speech. Adhering to the best, classical-liberal tradition of open, honest debate, Cevallos arranged for a rational discussion of the controversial issue of affirmative action. Radical leftist university administrators and faculty frequently assault free speech on campuses across America. The methods used include: speech codes, political correctness, ”dispositions theory” expulsion of non-leftist students, grading down of non-leftist students, and ”I’m offended” […]

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  • Free speech: Can’t have cake and eat it, too

    February 28, 2006

    by Ralph De La Cruz Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) Sometimes it’s good to be at the end of a peninsula. You’re separated and insulated. Which can be uncomfortable when the craziness is close at hand (see: Elian Gonzalez and the 2000 presidential elections). But a real blessing when you realize how screwed up things can be up there, in the rest of the United States. Today’s a good day to be on the peninsula. I say that after hearing about a bizarre expression of free speech on college campuses: bake sales. You probably haven’t heard about affirmative action bake sales […]

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  • ‘Affirmative Action Bake Sale’ leaves sour taste

    February 26, 2006

    by Spencer Soper and Genevieve Marshall Baltimore Sun Kutztown, Pa.—When Ahmirah Cottman walked into the student center at Kutztown University this month, she was appalled by the insinuations she thought were being made by members of the college Republican club standing behind a table with cookies, brownies and cupcakes. Prices at the so-called “Affirmative Action Bake Sale,” which was actually against affirmative action, varied depending on the race of the customer, with whites paying more than minorities. “The sign said $1 for whites, 25 cents for blacks and women got a 25-cent credit, so they told me, ‘Go ahead and […]

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  • Fired for Making Waves, Kutztown University Professor Takes Case to Federal Court

    May 27, 2011

    Until being fired in October 2009, Will Plouffe had been a tenure track professor in the Criminal Justice Department at Pennsylvania’s Kutztown University for just under two years. Transitioning into academia from his previous career as an attorney, Plouffe was seemingly well-suited for a long, successful career. So what happened? In Plouffe’s telling, the answer is depressing, and Plouffe’s fate now lies in the hands of a federal district court in Pennsylvania. Plouffe’s story begins during his first semester teaching at Kutztown, in the spring of 2008, when he was approached by the department chair with an unethical proposition. According […]

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  • Is Kutztown Slipping?

    March 3, 2006

    In a February 10 post, Charles lauded administrators at Kutztown University for their reaction to and treatment of the College Republicans’ affirmative action bake sale. Charles wrote, “Not only was the bake sale there not shut down, but university officials told the media that ‘they hope the bake sale promotes healthy debate on campus.’” Since then, students have pressured the administration to punish the College Republicans for the bake sale. Approximately 100 students protested last week, expressing their dissatisfaction with the administration’s response. On Tuesday, administrators held a “Facts Matter” forum, which they reportedly said would be a conversation about […]

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  • DePaul, Meet Kutztown

    February 10, 2006

    DePaul University, a private institution that proudly bills itself as the nation’s largest Catholic university, could learn a few lessons from Pennsylvania’s little-known Kutztown University. Earlier this week, the College Republicans at Kutztown did exactly what the DePaul Conservative Alliance tried to do—that is, they had an “affirmative action bake sale.” As FIRE’s recent press release on DePaul noted: Affirmative action bake sales are a widely used form of satirical protest against affirmative action. Organizers display a menu on which black and Hispanic students are charged lower prices than Asian and white students for the same items. The bake sales […]

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