Marshall University

Location: Huntington, West Virginia
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Marshall University 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.

  • Marshall University: Racially Restricted Orientation Classes

    November 4, 2006

    When FIRE learned that Marshall University had limited enrollment in several “University Studies 101” courses to “African American Students Only,” it letter to University President Stephen J. Kopp explaining that racially segregated courses are both unlawful and misguided. In Kopp’s response, he claimed that the courses were open to both white and African American students. FIRE noted that the course description effectively enforced segregation, regardless of the official status of the courses. In response to FIRE’s objections, Marshall has changed the course description for UNI 101, so that several sections in fall of 2007 will focused on “African American Student […]

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Board of Governors Policy SA-03: The Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 22, 2016

    Standard 3: Marshall University students and student groups respect and honor the human rights, and dignity of other persons, groups, and organizations. Violations of this standard include but are not limited to:

    3. A. Harassment/Bullying: Any action or behavior directed towards another person, including but not limited to, physical force or conduct, intimidation, stalking, hazing, or degradation that results in the intent or actuality to physically or mentally harm another person, which threatens or violates an individual’s personal safety and/or well-being. This includes but is not limited to racial, sexual, cyber, or peer harassment. (EX)

    3. A.1. Cyber bullying/Harassment, includes any language that can serve as a hindrance, interfere with another students educational activity or potentially result in another student feeling tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed that is generated from the internet, interactive and digital technology, mobile phones or personal electronic devices regardless of origin network. (EX)

    3. B. Unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, color, national origin, religion, political affiliation, handicap, age, or sexual orientation. (EX)

    3. C. Commitment of any other violation in this code for the purposes of harassing and/or discriminating on the basis of race, sex, gender, color, national origin, religion, political affiliation, handicap, age, or sexual orientation. (EX)

    3. D. Complicity with others in violation of this standard. (EX)

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  • Student Affairs: Demonstrations & Mass Gatherings

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: September 22, 2016

    The following special provisions apply to all rallies and/or demonstrations (subject to approval/revision by appropriate University committees):

    1. Registration of a mass gathering must be made forty-eight (48) hours prior to the event in office of Student Activities or with the Dean of Student Affairs. The appropriate form must be filled out at that time. The purpose of the proposed rally or demonstration and the route of all moving demonstrations, rallies, or parades must be discussed and approved in advance by the Dean of Students, or his/her designee.
    2. Reservations for space use must be confirmed with the appropriate University Department.

    6. In all instances, those holding rallies and demonstrations are responsible for making      the necessary provisions to maintain the peaceful demeanor of the rally.

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  • Residence Hall Guide: Communication

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 22, 2016

    Any form of bigotry, harassment, intimidation or threat that occurs as a result of use of any Internet service is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, comments, user profiles and user messages made on Instant Messenger, websites, Facebook, blogs.

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  • Student Handbook: Marshall University Creed

    Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience
    Last updated: September 22, 2016

    We are:

    • A Civil Community treating all individuals and groups with consideration, decency, and respect, and expressing disagreements in rational ways;
    • A Responsible Community accepting obligations and following behavioral guidelines designed to support the common good; …
    • A Pluralistic Community celebrating and learning from our diversity; …
    • A Socially Conscious Community acting as citizens of the world and seeking to contribute to the betterment of people and their environments;
    • A Judicious Community remaining alert to the threats posed by hatred, intolerance and other injustices and ever-prepared to correct them.

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  • Board of Governors Policy IT-01: Acceptable Use Policy

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 22, 2016

    [T]his section outlines some of the more common forms of violations that occur. … Sending abusive, harassing, or obscene messages. Viewing or listening to objectionable, obscene, pornographic, or harassing material in public areas.

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  • Senators Seek Law to Boost College Sexual Assault Reporting

    April 26, 2016

    By Andrea Billups at AMI Newswire A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday called for a new law governing how colleges and universities report and handle campus sexual assault claims and hearings… Read more here.

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  • Charles McElwee: Beware of Campus ‘Speech Codes’

    March 29, 2015

    By Charles McElwee at The Charleston Gazette The mission of FIRE, an acronym of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities. It “defines a ‘speech code’ as any university regulation or policy that prohibits expression that would be protected by the First Amendment in society at large.” FIRE has a Speech Code Rating System which expresses the degree to which free speech is curtailed at a particular institution. The system uses traffic light colors — red, yellow and green. A “‘red light’ institution has at least one policy that both […]

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  • Marshall looks at free speech policies

    February 1, 2011

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Marshall University plans to take a “hard look” at its speech policies after a Philadelphia-based foundation criticized the school for having outdated, restrictive rules. Last month, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, gave Marshall its “Speech Code of the Month” designation for what foundation official Samantha Harris says are restrictive speech codes that prohibit a “staggering amount of constitutionally protected speech.” The organization’s mission is to defend free speech rights, legal equality, religious freedom and due process rights on American college campuses, according to its website. Last week, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff named Marshall […]

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  • Marshall rated as one of worst schools for free speech

    January 28, 2011

    HUNTINGTON — Marshall University has distinguished itself in athletics, academics and even the entertainment industry in the past decade. This week the school earned a new distinction that ranked it with the likes of Yale, Syracuse and Johns Hopkins University — as one of the twelve worst schools for free speech in the country. The list was compiled by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, and schools on the list were shown to have a “particular hostility to freedom of speech” Greg Lukianoff, FIRE president said. “Some schools have earned this distinction by refusing to undo punishments […]

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  • Nothing Better to Do? Juicy Campus Mostly Trash Speaking Dud

    November 29, 2008

    Don’t have a life? Spend your time surfing Juicy Campus, which recently added Marshall University to its 500 institutions. A survey reveals word “tags” and a few comments (and retorts) about a fraternity, sorority, or individual. Unlike a “forum” the site seeks “gossip” and it’s unfiltered. So, this site allows a point / counterpoint structure with some posts written as if they came from Judd Apatow’s “Superbad” or “Pineapple Express.” Call it an inferior attempt at re-inventing Facebook before it hit mainstream. An article in the Charleston Gazette partly misrepresents concern hype.   Surveying there is just not enough topics […]

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  • FIRE lauds Marshall’s dropping of race-based course restrictions

    August 17, 2006

    by Jim Brown Agape Press A campus watchdog has convinced Marshall University in West Virginia to stop offering racially segregated classes. The school had been limiting several freshman orientation classes to “African American students only.” The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) wrote a letter to Marshall’s President Stephen Kopp, protesting the racially segregated classes, after which the university changed the course descriptions, dropping the race-based restrictions. This fall, several sections of the school’s University Studies 101 course will focus on “African American student issues,” but will now be open to all students, regardless of race or ancestry, and […]

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  • Marshall-Race Orientation

    August 10, 2006

    Marshall University has dropped the words African-American students only from a listing on its fall schedule, following an educational foundation’s warning that it could be violating state and federal law. In the Fall 2005 course schedule, the racially restrictive phrase appeared on the comment line for three orientation classes. This year, the phrase has been removed, though the one-credit elective course continues to be offered. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent Marshall a letter in November 2005 asking them to drop the language. The Philadelphia-based nonpartisan, nonprofit group cited court decisions dating back to Brown versus Board of […]

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  • Marshall drops ‘African-American students only’ from course list

    August 9, 2006

    by Shaya Tayefe Mohajer Wilkes Barre Times-Leader   Marshall University has dropped the words “African-American students only” from an orientation class listing on its fall schedule, following a warning from an educational foundation that it could be violating state and federal law. In the Fall 2005 course schedule, the racially restrictive phrase appeared on the comment line for three UNI 101 orientation classes. This year, the phrase has been removed, though the one-credit elective course continues to be offered. “In the case of Marshall, which is a public college, they did the right thing by taking action and dropping this […]

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  • Changing Campus ‘Civility’ Policies: Q&A with Caitlin Grimes

    June 11, 2015

    Caitlin Grimes is a graduate of Marshall University in West Virginia, where she worked to reform the school’s speech codes. Like many universities, Marshall maintains policies that sacrifice free speech in the name of “civility.” Its policies on harassment and intolerance contain language so vague that nearly everyone on campus could be found guilty of an infraction. Caitlin worked with administrators behind the scenes and helped to cultivate a culture of free speech in the student body. While dealing with bureaucracy was a challenge, she said that fighting for free speech has its rewards as well. “The most exciting thing […]

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  • FIRE’s Will Creeley Speaking at Marshall University This Evening

    February 17, 2014

    Students and FIRE supporters in the Huntington, West Virginia, area are invited to hear FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley speak at Marshall University tonight at 7 p.m. in Corbly Hall, 117. Marshall University currently has a “red light” rating in FIRE’s Spotlight database, but the president of Young Americans for Liberty’s Marshall chapter, Caitlin Grimes, is working to change that. Caitlin, who was featured last month in FIRE’s Student Spotlight, said, “I made it my mission to change this before I graduate so as to ensure that Marshall will grow to become an even greater university.” […]

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  • Students Create Free Speech Walls to Celebrate First Amendment

    September 27, 2013

    Students at colleges across the country are encouraging their peers to exercise their right to free speech by building “free speech walls” on their campuses—displays where students can write or draw whatever they want.  Free speech walls are a great way for students to share ideas in a public way. For example, student group Dorm Room Diplomacy at Binghamton University in New York set up a wall last week that was filled with everything “from animal drawings to political statements,” according to Pipe Dream, the school’s student newspaper. Pipe Dream reported: Although most of the postings on the wall were […]

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  • This Week in the News: Greg’s Dirty Dozen Causes Big Vibrations, and Syracuse Drops Investigation of Alleged Blogger

    February 4, 2011

    This has been quite the week for FIRE. No less than 21 articles mentioned our involvement in defending free speech on campus! Greg’s Huffington Post article, “The 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech,” was noted by numerous news sources across the country. Marshall University garnered the most numerous citations by far. Davin White, writing for the Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.), quotes Robert’s and Sam’s opinions on the dangers of Marshall’s speech codes, while mentioning the university’s plans to discuss changing the speech codes. Tony Rutherford of quotes Greg’s explanation of how schools made the “dirty dozen” list, cites Sam’s […]

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  • Numerous Unconstitutional Speech Codes Place Marshall University on Our List of ’12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech’

    February 3, 2011

    Marshall University stands out from the other institutions on Greg’s list of the “12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech” in The Huffington Post in that its policies alone, rather than specific cases of First Amendment violations, put it on the list. This distinction has not gone unnoticed, with the writers of an editorial in The Parthenon, Marshall’s student newspaper, as well as the Charleston Daily Mail, wondering why Marshall was placed on the same list as blatant free speech abusers like Syracuse University (which wisely dropped its investigation of alleged SUCOLitis blogger Len Audaer this week) and Michigan State University. As we […]

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  • FIRE in ‘The Huffington Post’ on America’s 12 Worst Schools for Free Speech

    January 27, 2011

    Today, The Huffington Post published FIRE’s list of America’s 12 Worst Schools for Free Speech. An expansion of FIRE’s Red Alert List of the “worst of the worst” schools for student and faculty rights, this “dirty dozen” slideshow includes the schools that come onto FIRE’s radar screen again and again for their repeated and egregious violations of fundamental rights, as well as schools whose policies are so bad that they simply had to be included. For longtime Torch readers, the presence of most of these schools on our list won’t come as a surprise. But we don’t want to give it all away here. Is […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Marshall University

    January 3, 2011

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for January 2011: Marshall University. This public university in West Virginia has so many restrictive speech codes that it is difficult to choose just one for our Speech Code of the Month. But for now, we concern ourselves with Standard 3 of Marshall’s Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Standard 3 asserts, generally, that “Marshall University students and student groups respect and honor the human rights and dignity of other persons, groups and organizations.” Following this is a list of specific violations of Standard 3, which include: “Committing, conspiring to commit, or […]

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  • Associated Press Covers Marshall Victory

    August 11, 2006

    The Associated Press reported on FIRE’s victory at Marshall University, where the school offered three orientation courses for “African-American students only.” Marshall dropped the racially exclusive language after FIRE sent the university a letter warning that such classes violated state and federal law, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The article reports that Marshall defended the policy as an effort by black faculty members to help African-American students “form a bond” in a “predominantly white community.” Regardless of intention, separate but equal was done away with in 1954 when the Supreme Court decided Brown vs. Board of Education.

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  • Marshall University Dissolves Racially Restricted Orientation Classes

    August 9, 2006

    HUNTINGTON, W.Va., August 9, 2006—Marshall University has taken the advice of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and removed racial restrictions from an orientation course for first-year students. Last year’s listing for University Studies 101 (UNI 101) stated that certain sections were limited to “African American Students Only.” Thanks to FIRE’s intervention, several sections of UNI 101 this coming fall will focus on “African American Student Issues,” but will not exclude any student based upon race or ancestry. “FIRE is pleased that Marshall has changed the enrollment requirements for UNI 101,” stated FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “Students’ rights […]

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