New York University

Location: New York, New York
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 2nd Circuit

Speech Code Rating

New York 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.

  • New York University: Suppression of Discussion of Mohammed Cartoons

    March 28, 2006

    In violation of its own policies, New York University (NYU) refused to allow a student group to show the Danish cartoons of Mohammed at a public event. Even though the purpose of the event was to show and discuss the cartoons, an administrator suddenly ordered the students either not to display them or to exclude 150 off-campus guests from attending. The NYU Objectivist Club decided to hold a panel discussion entitled “Free Speech and the Danish Cartoons,” at which the cartoons would be displayed. The event, like previous Objectivist Club events, was open to the public. NYU Director of Student […]

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  • Mohammed Cartoon Controversy: FIRE Response to Intimidation and Newspaper Disputes

    February 22, 2006

    As a result of worldwide controversy regarding caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, first published in a Danish newspaper, free speech was being openly disregarded on American college campuses. In the weeks following the printing of the cartoon, students, professors, and student publications not only reprinted the controversial cartoons but even created their own satirical cartoons depicting Mohammed. Chilling of speech in relation to the cartoon was found at Century College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and New York University, amongst others.

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Red Light Policies

  • Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedures for Students

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 17, 2017

    Prohibited harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on race, gender and/or gender identity or expression, color, religion, age, national origin, ethnicity, disability, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, marital status, or citizenship status. Prohibited harassment includes conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive academic or residential environment or otherwise adversely affects academic opportunities or participation in an NYU activity or benefit. Prohibited harassment also includes any conduct that constitutes illegal discrimination under the law of the jurisdiction in which the conduct occurs.

    Examples of actions that constitute prohibited harassment may include, but are not limited to:

    • Verbal abuse or hostile behavior, which could include insulting, teasing, mocking, degrading, or ridiculing another person or group;
    • Inappropriate physical contact, comments, questions, advances, jokes, epithets, or demands;
    • Physical assault or stalking; or
    • Displays or electronic transmission of derogatory, demeaning, or hostile materials.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Bullying, Threatening, and Other Disruptive Behavior Guidelines

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: August 17, 2017

    Examples of disruptive behavior (collectively “Disruptive Behavior”) include, but are not limited to,
    the following: …

    Behaviors that, by virtue of their intensity and/or repetitiveness, interfere with the effective delivery of administrative programs or services, or create a foreseeable risk of material and substantial disruption of NYU’s programs or services, such as: persistently or obstructively talking, yelling, screaming, or making noises; speaking in an abusive or derogatory manner; maliciously or inappropriately mocking or ridiculing persons who provide or use/seek to use the program/service; or engaging in acts of physical aggression (e.g., causing or threatening injury, physical or verbal intimidation, damaging personal/University property, throwing items); or refusing to adhere to the established procedures associated with the delivery of such programs or services.

    Behaviors that, by virtue of their intensity and/or repetitiveness, compromise the health, safety or well-being of an individual student or of the general University community, that interfere with the maintenance of public order on campus, or that disrupt the effective continuation of the academic/educational process for individual students or for the general University community by virtue of their severity, pervasiveness, or persistence, such as: a pattern of bullying, threatening, tormenting, mocking, defaming, intimidating, stalking, exploiting known psychological or physical vulnerabilities or impairments; actions that jeopardize another person’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being; acts of aggression (e.g., causing or threatening injury to one’s person or property, physical or verbal intimidation, damaging personal/University property); conduct that unreasonably interferes with a person’s academic or work performance; inciting or attempting to incite violence, harassment, or disruption by others; or behavior that compromises the ability of administrators to manage situations in accordance with their role and authority.

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  • Policy on Responsible Use of NYU Computers and Data

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: August 17, 2017

    Acceptance of authorization to use NYU computer and data resources establishes an obligation to: … behave with civil regard for other members of the NYU community and of the wider community on the Internet.

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  • Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 17, 2017

    Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment: Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, when one or more of the following conditions are present: …  (iii) Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s learning, working, or living environment; in other words, it is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent as to create an intimidating, hostile or offensive learning, working, or living environment under both an objective – a reasonable person’s view – and subjective – the Complainant’s view – standard (hostile environment).

    Gender-Based Harassment includes harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal or non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature. Examples of conduct that may constitute Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment include but are not limited to: …

    • Verbal conduct, including lewd or sexually suggestive comments, jokes, or innuendoes or unwelcome comments about an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity; or
    • Written conduct, including letters, notes, or electronic communications containing comments, words, jokes, or images that are lewd or sexually suggestive or relate in an unwelcome manner to an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

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  • Bias Response Line: Frequently Asked Questions

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: August 17, 2017

    What can I share or report to the Bias Response Line (BRL)? 

    You can share or report instances of bias, discrimination, and/or harassment perpetrated against members of the University community. Those instances do not need to specifically relate to one of NYU’s existing policies, such as the University’s Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policies and Complaint Procedures for Employees and for Students, or the University’s Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking Policy ….

    Can the Bias Response Line (BRL) take remedial action?

    No. The BRL intakes and tracks concerns and reports brought to its attention, and where appropriate refers the matter to the applicable office/unit for further assessment. The applicable office/unit may be other members of the OEO or elsewhere in the University.

    Please take note, however, that the office/unit to which the BRL refers a given matter may take remedial action in accordance with University policy.


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Green Light Policies
  • University Policy on Student Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: August 17, 2017

    The University is a community where the means of seeking to establish truth are open discussion and free discourse. It thrives on debate and dissent. Free inquiry, free expression, and free association are indispensable to the purposes of the University, and must be protected as a matter of academic freedom within the University, quite apart from the question of constitutional rights.

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  • Guidelines Regarding Protest and Dissent

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: August 17, 2017

    New York University is committed to maintaining an environment where open, vigorous debate and speech can occur.

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  • ‘Deplorable’ NYU Prof on Leave

    November 1, 2016

    By Colleen Flaherty at Inside Higher Ed An untenured professor of liberal studies at New York University who blasted academic liberals, safe spaces and trigger warnings on an anonymous Twitter account is on paid leave. Both the professor and the university have said the leave is voluntary, but the professor says the university “strongly suggested” he take the leave. And the timing of the move – just days after a university diversity committee published an op-ed criticizing the professor in the student newspaper – is attracting interest in the case… Read more here.

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  • Milo Yiannopoulos Events at Two Universities Canceled Over Security Concerns – For Very Different Reasons

    October 23, 2016

    By Don Crothers at Inquisitr Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart writer, alt-right pundit, and still banned from Twitter, recently had the rug pulled out from under two American university appearances… Read more here.

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  • NYU Cancels Milo Yiannopoulos, Feared ‘Attacks’ on Islamic and Gay Students

    October 23, 2016

    By Robby Soave at Reason New York University will not allow the College Republicans to bring Milo Yiannopoulos to campus because the venue for his speech was located near the Islamic and LGBTQ Centers, and students who belong to those communities are “subjects of Mr. Yiannopoulos’s attacks.”… Read more here.

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  • Some Students Frustrated After NYU Cancels Milo Yiannopoulos Speech

    October 21, 2016

    By Zolan Kanno-Youngs at The Wall Street Journal Conservative and some liberal students at New York University were dismayed last week after school officials, citing security concerns, canceled an event headlining controversial blogger Milo Yiannopoulos… Read more here.

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  • University’s China Campus Has Less Censorship than its U.S. Campus, American Student Says

    July 19, 2016

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix New York University student Ella Reider had to go to China to find the freedom to debate things she’d never be allowed to say or hear in Manhattan… Read more here.

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  • Connecticut’s New Sex-Consent Law Fails to Define ‘Sexual Activity’

    June 24, 2016

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix A surefire way to get your legislation in front of a judge is write it so poorly no one can figure out what it means… Read more here.

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  • Hate Speech is Free Speech

    June 10, 2016

    By Staff at Spiked The internet is a place for free speech, not hate speech.’ So said Vera Jourová, the EU commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, as she unveiled a new EU code to tackle illegal ‘hate speech’ on the internet. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft have all lined up with the EU to remove hate speech from the web, with a particular focus on racism and xenophobia… Read more here.

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  • Dershowitz and Other Professors Decry ‘Pervasive and Severe Infringement’ of Student Rights

    May 18, 2016

    By Jacob Gershman at The Wall Street Journal A group of law professors are accusing the civil rights office of the U.S. Education Department of taking “unlawful actions” that have led to “pervasive and severe infringements” of speech rights and due-process protections on college campuses… Read more here.

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  • Why Bashing ‘Politically Correct’ Campuses Is Hurting Conservatism

    January 18, 2016

    By Jim Sleeper at Alternet Look Who’s Complaining Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising — undirected by students, professors or deans but scripted, funded and promoted by people off-campus — that blames liberals for trying to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Speech codes. Trigger warnings. Safe spaces. We’ve all read and heard disturbing accounts of such measures’ ubiquity and oppressiveness on campus after campus, their students depicted as demanding them en masse and administrators as rushing to establish them. … Read more here.

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  • Roses and Thorns: NAS’s Top 10 List for 2015

    December 22, 2015

    By Ashley Thorns at National Association of Scholars The Chronicle of Higher Education has published a list of its top 10 “influencers” in higher education this year. It includes an advocate for trigger warnings, an activist for women in science, and the University of Missouri students who forced Tim Wolfe to resign. We at the National Association of Scholars have a somewhat different lay of the land of higher education. Our list overlaps in one case (Laura Kipnis) with that of the Chronicle but pays attention to other aspects of higher education: the student movement to get colleges to divest from […]

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  • New Threat to Campus Speech: Department of Education’s Plans for Racial Harassment, Report Says

    December 11, 2015

    By Peter Maxwell at The College Fix Fear that agency’s guidance could ‘parallel’ broad sexual-harassment rules Despite a plunge this year in the number of universities with severe restrictions on free speech, new threats are on the horizon thanks to outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s recent statements on racial issues, according to a new report. For the first time since the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education started tracking speech codes on college campuses, less than half of American colleges it has rated maintain “red light” policies, FIRE’s annual “Spotlight” report said. Between September 2014 and September 2015, FIRE downgraded 10 universities […]

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  • Today’s Students are Anything but Coddled

    December 3, 2015

    By Tom Cutterham at Times Higher Education For a couple of years now, commentators in both the US and the UK have complained that students in higher education are becoming worryingly fragile. Coddled and hypersensitive, they allegedly spend their college years hiding from scary ideas. In a recent article in The Atlantic, Greg Lukianoff, president and chief executive of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley professor of ethical leadership at New York University, say that this approach is putting students’ education, and even their mental health, at risk. For their own good, the commentators […]

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  • NYU Students Are Baffled By New Affirmative Consent Laws [VIDEO]

    October 29, 2015

    By Blake Neff at The Daily Caller A newly-released video shows that New York students remain confused about the implications of a new affirmative consent law that dramatically changes how they are expected to act in sexual situations. Under a New York law enacted last summer at the urging of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, all colleges receiving state funds are required to handle sexual assault complaints using the standard of “affirmative consent.” This standard, also known as “yes means yes,” means that a student commits sexual assault if they do not receive explicit approval for every sexual act they engage in, from […]

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  • Most campuses restrict free speech, report finds

    December 7, 2007

    Columbia and New York University, as well as Barnard College and the State University of New York, are schools on high alert for restricting free speech on campus, according to a new report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. In a review of 345 American colleges and universities, FIRE found that 75% of campuses instituted public policies that restricted speech protected by the First Amendment, according to the report, “Spotlight on Speech Codes.” At NYU, “teasing, mocking, degrading, or ridiculing” another person or group is prohibited on campus. At Columbia University, sexual harassment is defined as “any unwanted […]

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  • NYU’s red light: Why we need offensive speech, too

    March 6, 2007

    It’s a rare soul that can traverse a university campus without the term “freedom of speech” ringing in his ears. Still, intricate tomes of well-meaning restrictions on certain types of offensive speech and expression are found on many college campuses, making an ironic mockery of the most celebrated of the First Amendment’s five provisions. Pretty much anything that could offend anyone on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and religion is fair game for censorship in the name of the melting pot. Michigan State University, for example, pushes the nanny envelope with its political correctness, forcing offending students […]

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  • Speech on Campus After 9/11: Less Free than It Used to Be?

    May 25, 2006

    Universities have traditionally been places where debate and the free exchange of ideas have been welcomed. But after 9/11, that may be changing — as some recent, troubling incidents suggest. In this column, I’ll survey some recent incidents suggesting free speech on campus is in peril, and discuss the extent to which the First Amendment protects student and faculty speech Cracking Down on Student Demonstrators and Controversial Student Speech Recently, students at the University of Miami (a private school, but one with a stated policy of fostering free speech) demonstrated alongside striking maintenance workers to show solidarity. Now, they face […]

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  • ‘Free speech’ cries ring hollow on college campuses and beyond

    April 19, 2006

    by Nat Hentoff USA Today   Karen Murdock is an adjunct professor of geography and earth science at Century College, a two-year community college in White Bear Lake, Minn.She often posts news articles and blank comment sheets on a faculty bulletin board that she says she hopes students read and argue about — and thereby think beyond White Bear Lake into the world.In February, she posted an array of the inflammatory cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that offended not only Muslim students but also college administrators. Murdock’s exercise of free speech was eventually silenced, yet her cause echoes well beyond […]

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  • N.Y.U. bans Danish cartoons’ display at campus talk

    April 12, 2006

    Plans for a presentation at New York University about a Danish newspaper’s decision to publish cartoons considered blasphemous veered off course last Wednesday night, when university administrators prohibited students from displaying the cartoons at the heart of the debate. The decision touched off a dispute at the university about the limits of free speech. “This wasn’t just a knee-jerk reaction,” said James Devitt, an N.Y.U. spokesperson. “As a university and a community, we have a number of interests to protect and we must try and respect everyone’s sensitivities.” N.Y.U.’s chapter of the Objectivist Club sponsored the event, “Free Speech and […]

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  • Admin caves on cartoons

    April 3, 2006

    The NYU administration was presented with a perfect chance to defend the integrity of the academic community about which President Sexton gushes so lovingly, and they failed. Last week, the Objectivist Club at NYU held a panel discussion about the cartoons published a few months ago in a prominent Danish daily newspaper and the violent reaction to them in parts of the Muslim world. They were planning to display the cartoons in the background at the discussion, but were in effect barred from doing so by the administration at the request of the NYU Islamic Center. I received two e-mails […]

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  • NYU on Mohammed Cartoons: Discuss, but Don’t Look

    April 3, 2006

    by Nathan Burchfiel Cybercast News Service New York University administrators on March 29 banned the display of cartoons satirizing the Muslim prophet Mohammed but did so during a forum held to discuss the controversy over the cartoons. As a result, the president of a free speech advocacy group calls the decision to censor the cartoons “one of the most frustrating” arguments he has ever heard. Leaders of the university’s Objectivist Club organized the forum to discuss the Danish cartoons that had depicted Mohammed, for example, with a fuse in his turban. The cartoons offended Muslims because Islam forbids any depictions […]

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  • NYU Knuckles

    April 2, 2006

    For all the charges by the left that the First Amendment is under siege in America, the far bigger threat to free expression today is what’s rightly been labeled “the heckler’s veto.” Meaning the thuggish tack of squelching speech with a violent threat – and a demonstration of the will to carry it out. The world saw the heckler’s veto at work in the worldwide protests over those Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad: People died because rampaging rent-a-mobs declared the drawings “offensive.” Around the world, governments and many publications blinked before the threats. Though the chanting and the protests […]

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  • Cartoons Discussed But Not Shown At NYU Event

    March 30, 2006

    A student group at New York University last night bowed to what they said was pressure from administrators and decided not to display the controversial Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed at a panel discussion on the often-violent worldwide reaction to the cartoons. Four blank pedestals were left behind the speakers to symbolize what one member of NYU’s Objectivist Club, Ryan Puzycki, called “a hijab on free speech.” The Objectivist Club is devoted to the philosophy of the author Ayn Rand. The university denied the group’s allegation, saying it had asked the Objectivists to be sensitive to the NYU Muslim […]

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  • Pariahs, Martyrs — and Fighters Back

    October 24, 2005

    At the start of the last school year, activists at DePaul University set up a pair of tables along a student thoroughfare and distributed literature to passers-by. They caught the eye of faculty member Thomas Klocek, who took one of their handouts and read about Israel’s “brutal and murderous occupation” of “Palestine” as well as its “apartheid violence” in the West Bank and Gaza. This was provocative stuff — but nothing out of the ordinary for the two groups behind it all, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and United Muslims Moving Ahead (UMMA). Engaging the students in a discussion […]

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  • Sexton Takes On Issues of Tenure, Academic Freedom

    December 3, 2004

    Proving to be one of the most outspoken university presidents in the nation, John Sexton of New York University has seized upon two hotly debated issues in higher education: tenure and academic freedom. As he presses forward with a plan to create a cadre of full-time teachers who would be ineligible for permanent faculty appointments, Mr. Sexton, former dean of NYU’s law school, is redefining the traditional notion of tenure at research universities – in a way that has alarmed some advocates of the tenure system. In re-examining tenure, Mr. Sexton, 62, has also issued a comprehensive assessment of academic […]

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  • Judge Rules New York University Faculty Handbook a Binding Legal Contract

    December 20, 2016

    A New York appellate court recently held that two New York University (NYU) professors’ claims can proceed against the school on the theory that its faculty handbook is a legally binding document. The decision sends a message to educational institutions that they must uphold the promises they make in faculty handbooks in and other written policies. The one-page decision from the Appellate Division, First Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the case of Monaco v. New York University & New York University School of Medicine overturned a lower court’s ruling that NYU’s faculty handbook […]

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  • ‘So to Speak’ Podcast: NYU Professor Stephen Solomon’s ‘Revolutionary Dissent’

    November 3, 2016

    The time of America’s founding was full of raucous debate and widespread dissent. Americans built effigies, wrote pamphlets, sang songs, and gathered at liberty trees to protest British rule. But while citizens of the 13 colonies, and later the United States, might have acted like they had a right to express themselves in the myriad ways that they did, the spectre of seditious libel—illegal statements criticizing the government—often hung over their heads. In Revolutionary Dissent: How the Founding Generation Created the Freedom of Speech, New York University journalism professor Stephen D. Solomon chronicles how early Americans such as Paul Revere, […]

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  • Climate at NYU Shanghai Offers Surprising Contrast with U.S. Campus

    July 15, 2016

    In the months leading up to my time studying abroad in Shanghai, China, I received many questions. Friends and family asked how I would handle living in a country known for its suppression of free speech and due process. I, too, wondered how my year would be living within an American university community in the People’s Republic of China. However, contrary to what I expected, I found New York University (NYU) Shanghai to be an oasis for free speech within Chinese society. This is quite different from NYU New York’s campus, which feels increasingly—and surprisingly—more hostile to political views that […]

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  • New York’s Affirmative Consent Law Affirmatively Confuses Students (VIDEO)

    October 28, 2015

    In an effort to address sexual assault on college campuses, New York became the second state to pass an affirmative consent—or “yes means yes”—law this summer, putting college students at risk of punishment if they cannot demonstrate that they received “clear permission” to engage in “sexual activity.” But how many students know about the new law they’re required to follow? What kinds of actions constitute sexual activity? And how exactly can they demonstrate or get consent? FIRE’s Shelby Emmett went looking for answers from students at New York University in New York City. What she found, though, were more questions. […]

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  • NYU Prof at United Arab Emirates Campus Barred from Country After Criticism

    March 20, 2015

    FIRE has written before about the difficulties that American universities have encountered in upholding their commitments to freedom of expression on satellite campuses operated in countries that restrict speech. Often, it seems that American institutions advertise American-style academic freedom abroad, but deliver only what their host countries will allow—which is, in many cases, not much. The United Arab Emirates’ recent denial of entry to New York University (NYU) professor Andrew Ross is just the latest example of this kind of failure on foreign campuses, and it demonstrates that institutions of higher education need to be more forthcoming about what they […]

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  • NYU Dental Student Expelled Without Even a Veneer of Due Process: Part II

    December 14, 2012

    This is part two of a blog series detailing the saga of Katie Kickertz, an expelled New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry student. Part one can be found here, and her recent court victory can be found here: In re Katie Kickertz v. New York University, 952 N.Y.S.2d 147 (N.Y. App. Div. 2012). You can and should read part one for a more detailed account of the ridiculous situation in which Kickertz found herself in May 2009. Briefly, 15 minutes before graduation, Kickertz was alerted that she was deficient by about 2,000 dollars in a clinical income-generation requirement called […]

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  • Rotten! NYU Dental Drills Student: Chiseled, Kicked Out (Part I)

    December 12, 2012

    Let anyone who claims that student due process rights in higher education don’t matter stand witness to Katie Kickertz, who came within 15 minutes of graduating from dental school before being effectively extorted and expelled, and who earned a second dental degree while her lawsuit was pending. We see many awful cases here at FIRE—cases where students or professors are treated so badly that it’s hard not to get angry. Today, however, we have a case so awful that it gives the infamous Hayden Barnes case a run for its money. It involves the expulsion of a dental student at […]

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  • N.Y.’s ivory towers vs. free speech

    November 11, 2012

    by Greg Lukianoff NY Daily News   When politicians talk about college, their thrusts are usually about getting more people to attend or helping more families afford it. Now and then, we discuss what students are actually learning.   But there’s another profoundly important concern that far too often falls off our radar screen: the frequently poisonous culture of our campuses, which discourages free thought and debate.   It is shockingly easy for college students to be punished just for saying the “wrong” thing. As a First Amendment lawyer and the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, […]

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  • When in Rome, Don’t Censor Yourself

    July 11, 2012

    Renowned civil libertarian and FIRE Board of Advisors member Nat Hentoff has an article in the Village Voice excoriating New York University (NYU) President John Sexton for kowtowing to censorship on NYU’s foreign campuses. Here’s a bit of what Nat has to say:  This is how NYU president Sexton responded when Human Rights Watch asked: “Is NYU going to advertise the magnificence of studying in Abu Dhabi while the government persecuted an academic for his political beliefs?” Did Sexton, a scholar of our First Amendment, answer by quoting back Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo’s classic definition of our identity as […]

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  • NYU Journal of Law and Liberty Examines Issue of Off-Campus Student Speech

    February 28, 2012

    The New York University Journal of Law and Liberty’s Law and Liberty Bulletin blog has an overview of the split among federal circuit courts concerning school regulation of off-campus student speech. The Supreme Court of the United States denied certioriari earlier this year in three cases that together might have settled the issue. An excerpt: [D]iscordant rulings have left school administrators in a confounded state, not knowing whether they can respond to off-campus student speech made online addressing school officials or students. As the principal in the [one of the cases] exclaimed, “If it happens again, what do I do?” […]

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  • Speech Codes of the Year: 2009

    December 23, 2009

    As Torch readers know, each month FIRE singles out a particularly reprehensible speech code for our Speech Code of the Month award. While all 12 Speech Codes of the Month in 2009 flagrantly violated students’ right to free expression, three were so egregious that they deserve special mention as 2009’s Speech Codes of the Year. New York University. NYU’s Anti-Harassment Policy prohibits “insulting,” “teasing,” and even “inappropriate jokes” based on categories such as race and religion. Although NYU is private, its policies purport to protect the right to free speech, providing that “[f]ree inquiry, free expression, and free association are […]

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  • June 2009: New York University

    June 4, 2009

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for June 2009: New York University. NYU’s Anti-Harassment Policy explicitly prohibits “insulting,” “teasing,” and even “inappropriate jokes” when they are based on a legally protected status such as race, gender, or religion. Specifically, the policy provides that Examples of such prohibited conduct when based upon a legally protected status include, but are not limited to: Verbal abuse or hostile behavior such as insulting, teasing, mocking, degrading or ridiculing another person or group; Unwelcome or inappropriate physical contact, comments, questions, advances, jokes, epithets or demands; … Displays or electronic transmission of derogatory, demeaning […]

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  • Civil Disobedience and Due Process at NYU

    February 26, 2009

    Last week, approximately 60 student activists at New York University staged an occupation of a cafeteria in the university’s student center. Although their numbers dwindled as the protest wore on, the student activists—members of Take Back NYU!, a coalition of student groups on campus—held the cafeteria for approximately 40 hours until NYU security guards cleared barricades and physically removed the remaining students Friday afternoon. During the occupation, a security guard was injured and NYU property was damaged. A usefully thorough timeline of the occupation is available here. According to reports, the occupation ended when some students left the cafeteria, believing […]

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  • At NYU, Blogging About Journalism Class Draws Rebuke and Raises Issues of Student Speech, Privacy

    September 18, 2008

    I was interviewed earlier this week by Mark Glaser, author of PBS’s MediaShift blog, about an interesting situation involving an “embedded” student blogger at New York University, my alma mater. Because the case involves the intersection of new media (like blogs and Twittering) and classroom speech, I thought it would be useful to briefly examine here on The Torch. First, here’s the story. Prior to the start of fall classes, Glaser asked NYU undergrad Alana Taylor if she would be interested in writing reports for MediaShift about her experiences taking new media classes in NYU’s Journalism Department. Taylor agreed, and […]

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  • Cathy Young on SFSU and Censorship Masquerading as ‘Tolerance’

    April 10, 2007

    In Reason Online yesterday, the ever-reasonable Cathy Young discussed a string of FIRE cases involving students punished for expressing hostility toward Islam. Young notes that there is a disturbing trend afoot involving college administrators acting hastily, often with disciplinary action, against students who have been seen as blaspheming Islam. Of course there is the SFSU case, in which students were put on trial for desecrating not just the flags of terrorist organizations, but the name “Allah.” Young ties SFSU’s actions in with the Mohammed cartoon controversy and even Michigan State University’s recent attempt to make the Young Americans for Freedom […]

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  • NYU Student Blows the Whistle on Speech Codes

    March 6, 2007

    New York University’s (NYU’s) main student newspaper, the Washington Square Times, featured a great article today by Anthony Marek entitled “NYU’s red light: Why we need offensive speech, too.” Marek discusses NYU’s dismal “red light” speech code rating on FIRE’s Spotlight speech codes database, saying: It’s a rare soul that can traverse a university campus without the term “freedom of speech” ringing in his ears. Still, intricate tomes of well-meaning restrictions on certain types of offensive speech and expression are found on many college campuses, making an ironic mockery of the most celebrated of the First Amendment’s five provisions. Pretty […]

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  • Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee of Censorship Agree: We Hate FIRE!

    December 18, 2006

    Some say that you can judge a man by the enemies he makes. I don’t know if that holds true for organizations like FIRE, really, but if it does, I feel like we’re doing pretty well after reading this article from the December 12 New York Sun. The article, by Gabrielle Birkner, covers an “armchair discussion” between Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and New York University President John Sexton at an Upper West Side Orthodox Jewish synagogue. Titled “Academic Integrity, the Middle East & the State of the Academy,” the meeting apparently focused not so much on the Middle East […]

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  • NYU President John Sexton: Free Speech Hypocrite

    December 11, 2006

    Inside Higher Ed carried a short blurb on Friday stating that NYU President John Sexton had been interviewed on the Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report.” FIRE had its own run-in with Sexton earlier this year, when NYU became the best-known college to censor a discussion of the Mohammed cartoons that roiled the world last spring. On the show, a clip of which can be found here, Sexton talks about how knowledge depends on “really allowing people to address the problems of the day, the real problems of the day, creatively, not with slogans,” and opines that we are not […]

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  • ‘Know Before You Go’

    September 7, 2006

    With students heading back to school, the busy season for FIRE has started once again. This year, FIRE has more resources than ever before to help students and professors combat censorship and oppression on college campuses. From an expanded Spotlight, to the Guides to Student Rights on Campus, to our individual rights defense work, FIRE is here to ensure that liberty on campus is protected.   One of the challenging things about dealing with college students is that every few years or so you get an entirely new cohort of students who might not be familiar with their rights or […]

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  • Correction to August 28, 2006 FIRE Update

    August 30, 2006

    In Monday’s FIRE Update, we erroneously stated that NYU President John Sexton had repeatedly denied FIRE’s claims that the NYU administration’s actions in the Mohammed cartoon controversy constituted censorship. While spokespeople for NYU had publicly defended the university’s actions, even going so far as to compare the cartoons to a live smallpox virus, President Sexton himself did not respond to any of FIRE’s repeated entreaties until after we wrote to NYU’s Board of Trustees. The statements attributed to President Sexton in the FIRE Update are contained in his August 15, 2006 letter to FIRE, and were not made by him […]

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  • NYU Continues to Defend Wrongdoing in Mohammed Cartoon Controversy

    August 29, 2006

    New York University President John Sexton has written FIRE to defend NYU’s decision to force its Objectivist Club not to show the controversial Danish Mohammed Cartoons at a discussion about those very cartoons. In response to FIRE’s letter to NYU’s Board of Trustees, Sexton claimed that the student organizers decided on their own not to show the cartoons. Sexton glosses over the fact that it was NYU’s administration that told the students that they could not show the cartoons if they opened the discussion to New Yorkers unaffiliated with NYU, dozens of whom had already registered to attend. FIRE is […]

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  • NYU Denies Any Wrongdoing

    August 25, 2006

    Over the past few months FIRE has been petitioning NYU to acknowledge that it was wrong to place a stranglehold on free speech during the Objectivist Club’s event on the Mohammed cartoons last April. You will remember that the Objectivist Club, supported by the Ayn Rand Institute, planned an event to show and discuss the cartoons. The event was open to all NYU students and 75 non-NYU guests were specifically invited, while even more had registered to attend—which was well within the rules governing campus events. But at the last minute, NYU officials gave the Objectivists an ultimatum—if they showed […]

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  • Silence Speaks Volumes at NYU

    May 24, 2006

    New York University prides itself on being a “private university in the public service,” but talk is cheap—that is, when it isn’t silenced altogether. Despite the lofty aspirations of the school’s motto, in late March NYU decided that certain types of speech on campus just aren’t entitled to the core First Amendment protections relied upon by every American with something to say. On March 30, a panel discussion entitled “Free Speech and the Danish Cartoons,” hosted by NYU’s Objectivist Club, was censored by NYU officials, who refused to allow the event to proceed as planned (and be open to the […]

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  • FIRE Asks NYU to Repudiate Its Censorship of the Mohammed Cartoons

    April 18, 2006

    Yesterday we sent a letter asking NYU to repudiate its actions censoring the public display of the Mohammed cartoons at an event at which I was a panelist on March 29th. The letter opens: As you know, I participated in the NYU Objectivist Club’s March 29 panel discussion of the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Two days prior to the event, your administration gave the Objectivist Club’s officers an ultimatum—if they wished to show the cartoons that were the subject of the event, they had to un-invite nearly 150 off-campus guests who had registered to attend. Meanwhile, your administration did nothing […]

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  • South Park Mirrors Life

    April 13, 2006

    It’s official: Comedy Central prevented South Park from showing an image of Mohammed last night. For the uninitiated, part of the plot of last night’s show (continued from last week) included Fox attempting to air an episode of Family Guy including an image of Mohammed. One of the main characters of the show—Eric Cartman—pointed a gun at Fox’s president and ordered him to pull the episode. Meanwhile, another boy gave an impassioned speech (watch it) reminding the Fox chief that giving in to the threat of violence from the least tolerant members of society (the heckler’s veto) is not acceptable. […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of Speech at the University of Southern California

    April 10, 2006

    LOS ANGELES, April 10, 2006—The University of Southern California (USC) has publicly reaffirmed its commitment to freedom of speech and repudiated two instances of censorship. USC’s renewed embrace of liberty came after the intervention of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “We are impressed with USC’s response,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “While we would prefer that universities not censor their students in the first place, a real willingness to address and repudiate censorship will go a long way toward restoring liberty on our campuses.” The trouble at USC began in January when George Weiss Vando performed his […]

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  • Eugene Volokh on NYU and the Cartoon Shame

    April 4, 2006

    If you haven’t been keeping up, check out Eugene Volokh’s thoughts on the NYU Mohammed cartoon controversy over at the Volokh Conspiracy. As always, Eugene is as prolific as he is brilliant, with over half a dozen insightful posts on the topic so far. His post “NYU President Sexton on Academic Freedom” is perhaps my favorite. In it he concludes that NYU President Sexton’s unwillingness to stand up for principle has resulted in “[a] sad day for elite American higher education; a sad day for NYU; and a sad day for the Sexton presidency and the Sexton legacy.” I recommend […]

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  • ‘The Image of Hypocrisy’

    March 31, 2006

    Check out FIRE cofounder Harvey Silverglate’s recent column in the Boston Phoenix. Silverglate deftly calls into question the New York Times’ stated rationale for not publishing the infamous Danish Mohammed cartoons: The 8″-by-10″ photograph was hard to miss. Appearing on page A-3 of the Sunday New York Times on March 19, the black-and-white image of Erno Nussenzweig—a retired New Jersey diamond merchant and a member of the orthodox-Jewish Hasidic sect—stared out at readers just cracking open the morning paper. Taken in Times Square in 1999 by artist Philip-Lorca diCorcia, the picture hung in a well-received 2002 exhibition of diCorcia’s work […]

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  • Censors Win at NYU

    March 30, 2006

    As FIRE announced yesterday, administrators at New York University (NYU) were attempting to squelch a panel discussion on the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Leaders of the NYU Objectivist Club, which organized the panel, were told to choose one of two unacceptable options. They could either exclude the over 150 off-campus guests who had registered to attend the event or agree not to show the Danish cartoons. E-mails from NYU administrator Robert Butler on March 27 and 28 substantiating this ultimatum are available on FIRE’s website. Today, FIRE has the unfortunate duty of reporting that NYU succeeded in muzzling the Objectivist […]

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  • NYU’s Shame

    March 29, 2006

    FIRE revealed in this morning’s press release the sorry state of affairs at New York University: Earlier this month, the NYU Objectivist Club decided to hold a panel discussion entitled “Free Speech and the Danish Cartoons,” at which the cartoons will be displayed. Similar events, sponsored by the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), have taken place on several other campuses. Like previous NYU Objectivist Club events, the discussion was to be open to the public. However, on Monday afternoon, NYU Director of Student Activities Robert Butler sent an e-mail requesting a meeting with the leaders of the Objectivist Club the next […]

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  • NYU Surrenders to the Heckler’s Veto in Mohammed Cartoon Dispute

    March 29, 2006

    NEW YORK, March 29, 2006—In violation of its own policies, New York University (NYU) is refusing to allow a student group to show the Danish cartoons of Mohammed at a public event tonight. Even though the purpose of the event is to show and discuss the cartoons, an administrator has suddenly ordered the students either not to display them or to exclude 150 off-campus guests from attending. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is urging NYU’s president to reverse course and stand up for freedom of speech. “NYU’s actions are inexcusable,” declared FIRE President Greg Lukianoff, who is […]

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