Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Location: North Adams, Massachusetts
Website: http://www.mcla.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 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.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.
Yellow Light Policies
  • Resident Student Handbook: Solicitation, Posting Policy & Private Enterprise

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: June 28, 2016

    The Director of RPS reserves the right to refuse permission to advertise events or services that promote the use of alcohol or are insensitive to members of the campus community.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Advertising Policy

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: June 28, 2016

    Advertisements that promote the sale or use of alcohol or contain material that is deemed inappropriate or offensive to the campus community will not be approved for posting.

    » Read More

  • Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Affirmative Action Plan

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 28, 2016

    Discriminatory harassment. A form of unlawful discrimination including verbal and/or physical conduct based on legally protected characteristics and/or membership in a protected class that:

    1. has the purpose or effect of creating an objectively intimidating, hostile or offensive work or educational environment;

    2. has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educational opportunities; or

    3. otherwise unreasonably adversely affects an individual’s employment or educational opportunities.

    For purposes of this Plan, unwelcome conduct constitutes hostile environment harassment when:

    it is targeted against a person on the basis of his/her membership in a protected class;

    AND

    it is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education or employment and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive; OR

    submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education; OR

    submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual.

    The determination of whether an environment is “hostile” is based on the totality of the circumstances. These circumstances could include the frequency of the conduct, its severity, and whether it is threatening or humiliating. Simple teasing, offhand comments and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not amount to hostile environment harassment under this Plan.

    Examples of discriminatory harassment, all of which are prohibited by this Policy, include, but are not limited to:

    • Physically harassing another individual or group because of that person’s or persons’ membership in a protected class by assaulting, touching, patting, pinching, grabbing, staring, leering at them, making lewd gestures, invading their personal space, blocking their normal movement, or other physical interference.
    • Encouraging others to physically or verbally abuse an individual (or group of individuals) because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
    • Threatening to harm an individual or group because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
    • Directing epithets, slurs, derogatory comments, unwelcome jokes or stories at an individual or group because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
    • Displaying hostile, derogatory and/or intimidating symbols/objects, such as offensive posters, cartoons, bulletins, drawings, photographs, magazines, written articles or stories, screen savers, or electronic communications, to an individual or group because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.

    CONDUCT THAT IS NOT PROHIBITED

    The Universities are committed to protecting, maintaining and encouraging both freedom of expression and full academic freedom of inquiry, teaching, service, and research. Nothing in this Policy shall be construed to penalize a member of the University community for expressing an opinion, theory, or idea in the process of responsible teaching and learning. Accordingly, any form of speech or conduct that is protected by the principles of academic freedom or the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is not subject to this Policy.

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Special Behavioral Standards for Students at MCLA

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 28, 2016

    Conduct less than a physical attack or contact, which is so severe or pervasive that it interferes with a person’s employment, academic performance or participation in College programs or activities, and creates a working, learning, program or activity environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Free Speech and Assembly

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: June 28, 2016

    All students have a right to demonstrate on College premises provided no such demonstration shall materially disrupt class, work or other College business or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others.

    There shall be no interference with a demonstration on the grounds of content of speech, except for any speech or demonstration that incites immediate violent actions, represents a clear and present danger to the campus community, is motivated by hate or bias and may constitute a violation of state law.

    » Read More


At present, FIRE does not maintain information on this school's policies.
  • ‘Speech Code of the Month’ in ‘The FIRE Quarterly’

    May 25, 2007

    As Torch readers know, each month, FIRE features a college or university with a particularly egregious speech code as its Speech Code of the Month. We use Speech Code of the Month to educate the public about the ever-present problem of speech codes on campus, but the feature also helps put public pressure on these schools to encourage revisions of these repressive policies. An article in our new issue of The FIRE Quarterly discusses the changes in policies FIRE has witnessed in four institutions that have been named Speech Code of the Month in the past. Since June 2005, Albertson […]

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  • New Speech Code of the Month Website Feature

    April 13, 2007

    FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month program has been an important vehicle for change. Since June 2005, five universities—Albertson College of Idaho, the University of Nevada at Reno, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Jacksonville State University, and the University of Mississippi—have changed their policies after being named Speech Code of the Month. In addition, the president of Western Michigan University has stated that his institution will revise a policy that was named FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month for March 2007. Thanks to a new feature, visitors to FIRE’s website can now see our Speech Codes of the Month together […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

    January 16, 2007

    Students at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts are much freer today than they were a year ago, thanks to a significant revision in university policy. Since being named FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month in January 2006, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has dramatically changed its policies. This victory for free expression follows a similar turn of events just over a year ago at Albertson College of Idaho.   In January 2006, FIRE featured MCLA’s Picketing Policy as our Speech Code of the Month. The policy in effect at that time provided that: There shall be no interference with […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

    January 3, 2006

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for January 2006: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. The Student Handbook at Massachusetts College for Liberal Arts (MCLA), a public institution bound by the First Amendment, contains a Picketing Policy that provides as follows: “There shall be no interference with a demonstration on the grounds of content of speech, except for any speech or demonstration, which…victimizes others because the speech contains offensive language and/or is motivated by hate or bias.” That’s right: MCLA will not interfere with a student demonstration unless it offends somebody. This policy is both absurd and unconstitutional. The […]

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