Norfolk State University

Location: Norfolk, Virginia
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Norfolk State 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.

This school does not have any cases at this time.
FIRE Speech Code Memorandum for Norfolk State University

Red Light Policies

  • Acceptable Use of Technological Resources

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: November 11, 2015

    Users must never act in an improper, inappropriate, indecent, or injurious manner when using the technological resources of the University. Prohibited activities include, but are not limited to:

    1. Using University technological resources for personal gain or to further personal views, religious or political causes, soliciting or marketing of commercial ventures, or performing other non-job related solicitations; …

    3. Intentionally downloading and/or transmitting fraudulent, threatening, obscene, intimidating, defamatory, harassing, discriminatory, or otherwise unlawful or inappropriate messages or images …

    [T]he University does try to eliminate access to offensive websites….

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Yellow Light Policies
  • BOV Policy # 05 (2015) Title IX: Sexual Violence, Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: November 11, 2015

    Harassment: A form of discrimination in which unwelcome verbal, written, or physical conduct is directed toward an individual on the basis of his or her protected characteristics or statuses, by any member of the campus community. Harassment does not have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents (see sexual harassment).

    Hostile environment: An environment created by oral, written (including but not limited to electronic or social media messages, etc.), graphic or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive, and objectively offensive that it interferes with, limits or denies the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from (a) educational programs, services, opportunities, or (b) access to employment-related opportunities. Mere subjective offensiveness is not enough to create a hostile environment. In determining whether conduct is severe, persistent or pervasive, and thus creates a hostile environment, the following factors will be considered: (a) the degree to which the conduct affected one or more individuals’ education or employment; (b) the nature, scope, frequency, duration, and location of the incident(s); (c) the identity, number, and relationships of persons involved; (d) the perspective of a “reasonable person” in the same situation as the person subjected to the conduct, and (e) the nature of higher education.

    Sexual harassment: A form of discrimination based on sex. It is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature including: verbal (e.g., specific demands for sexual favors, sexual innuendoes, sexually suggestive comments, jokes of a sexual nature, sexual propositions, or sexual threats); non-verbal (e.g., sexually suggestive emails, other writings, articles or documents, objects or pictures, graphic commentaries, suggestive or insulting sounds or gestures, leering, whistling, or obscene gestures); or physical (e.g., touching, pinching, brushing the body, any unwelcome or coerced sexual activity, including sexual assault). Sexual harassment, including sexual assault, can involve persons of the same or different sexes. Sexual harassment may also include sex-based harassment directed toward stereotypical notions of what is female/feminine vs. male/masculine or a failure to conform to those gender stereotypes.

    This policy prohibits the following types of sexual harassment:

    • Quid Pro Quo: This type of sexual harassment occurs when the terms or conditions of employment, educational benefits, academic grades or opportunities, living environment or participation in a University activity are conditioned upon, either explicitly or implicitly, submission to or rejection of unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or such submission or rejection is a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a University program or activity.
    • Hostile environment: Acts that create a hostile environment, as defined above.


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  • Student Handbook: Free Speech and Peaceful Assemblies

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: November 11, 2015

    Free Speech and Peaceful Assemblies: NSU students are encouraged to exercise freedom of speech and peaceful assemblies in an effort to preserve, celebrate and broaden freedom of expression. Students and student organizations are free to discuss questions of interest and to express opinions publicly and privately without penalty. Subsequently, the University serves as an academic community that must maintain a safe and orderly educational environment. Students and student organizations may assemble anywhere on the campus, except inside University buildings, as long as they do not disrupt normal University operations or infringe on the rights of others. Acts of expression may not block entry into University buildings and/or interfere with vehicular or pedestrian traffic. The University does not permit unprotected speech to include defamation, fighting words, obscenity, and speech that causes incitement of disruption and breach of peace.

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Green Light Policies
  • Code of Student Conduct: Violations

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: November 11, 2015

    The following are violations of the Code of Student Conduct: …

    Harassment is conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively prevents the victim’s access to educational opportunity or benefit. …

    Threatening behavior whether written or verbal, towards any member of the University community that causes an expectation of injury or implies a threat to cause fear.

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  • Community Standards & Expectations Guide for Residential Living

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: November 11, 2015

    Harassing any person in such a way as to seriously or repeatedly interfere with that person’s academic pursuits, sleep, and/or other personal pursuits.

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This school does not have any media coverage at this time.
  • Speech Code of the Month: Norfolk State University

    November 7, 2012

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for November 2012: Norfolk State University in Virginia. Norfolk State, a public university in Virginia, maintains an Acceptable Use of Technological Resources policy (PDF) that unlawfully restricts protected expression in a number of different ways. The policy defines “technological resources” quite broadly to include “information systems; computer hardware and software; network and telecommunications systems and services; and Internet access.” The policy contains an extensive list of “prohibited activities” for users of the university’s technological resources, including using those resources “to further personal views” or “religious or political causes.” It also prohibits downloading […]

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