Northern Illinois University

Location: Dekalb, Illinois
Type: Public
Tell Northern Illinois University to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Northern Illinois 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

This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech.
  • Non-Discrimination/Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedures for Employees and Students

    Speech Code Rating: Red
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 30, 2018

    Policy Violation on the basis of Race – occurs when differences in employment/academic decisions are based upon the employee’s/student’s race. Conduct prohibited by this policy includes, but is not limited to, the use of racial slurs, graffiti, or ethnic jokes that create a hostile or abusive worki... Read More
  • Housing Handbook: Room Information- Decorating Rooms

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: November 1, 2019

    The outside of the room door and the window facing outward are considered public display areas. University staff may deem a posting inappropriate if it violates the law, falsely defames an individual, or unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests. Any posting that is seen as racist, sexis... Read More
  • Freedom of Expression at NIU: Frequently Asked Questions

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: November 1, 2019

    I used to be able to avoid the MLK green zone when offensive and hateful speakers were present. Now these speakers can be wherever they want including in front of my residence hall, cafeteria, academic buildings, etc. Why isn’t the university working to protect me? Our new free speech policy stresses tha... Read More
  • Bias Reporting

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech, Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: November 1, 2019

    Northern Illinois University (NIU) strives to create a welcoming, inclusive and equitable community where all people are treated with dignity and respect. We are committed to safeguarding individual’s constitutional rights to free speech and assembly and addressing incidents of bias that may negatively affect indivi... Read More
  • Housing Handbook: Standards of Accountability- Discrimination and Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: November 1, 2019

    Harassment of individuals, especially based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability will not be tolerated in university residence halls or by the university in general. Such harassment is defined as acting or communicating in a manner that intentionally harasses, coerces, intimidates,... Read More
  • Student Code of Conduct: Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: November 1, 2019

    Acts of harassment include the use of words or actions that persistently and wrongfully attack another person. Harassment may be in-person, online, or via written correspondence. The unwanted communication must be objectively offensive to a reasonable person before it may be considered actionable harassment. Read More
  • Title IX/Sexual Misconduct Policy and Complaint Procedures for Employees and Students

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 30, 2018

    Gender-based Harassment or Discrimination: acts of a verbal or nonverbal nature or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based upon sex/gender or sex/gender-stereotyping (even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature) that is sufficiently serious to limit or deny the ability to participate i... Read More
  • Freedom of Expression at NIU

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: November 1, 2019

    Northern Illinois University is committed to freedom of expression and open discussion in all matters of public interest and is further committed to assuring all members of the University community have the broad latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. Read More
  • Student Code of Conduct: Abuse (Verbal and Threats)

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: November 1, 2019

    Persistent, severe, and/or pervasive abuse, threats, intimidation, coercion, bullying and/or other conduct which threatens or endangers the mental or physical health or safety of any person or causes reasonable apprehension of such harm. Read More
  • Procedures for Facilitating Policy Concerning Freedom of Expression

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: November 1, 2019

    All publicly accessible areas of campus, (“exterior space(s)”) may be used for expression by members of the university community. … In order to provide necessary resources to support the exercise of one’s constitutional rights, members of the university community and the public are encouraged to register. &... Read More
  • Northern Illinois University: Unequal Treatment of Political and Religious Student Organizations

    November 18, 2010

    The Student Association Senate at Northern Illinois University twice denied recognition to the NIU chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) because of the group’s viewpoint, its alleged “political” activities, and failing to show sufficient “respect” for the Senate. Following the first denial of recognition, the Senate made matters much worse by defining “political”… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • Dear Universities, If You’re Embarrassed to Enforce Your Free Speech Zone on Camera, Why Have It at All?

    September 28, 2015

    As far as FIRE can tell, Constitution Day 2015 went smoothly on college campuses across the country. Students passed out copies of the Constitution and university administrators largely left them alone, even if the distribution occurred outside of the school’s designated, and misnamed, “free speech zone.” Peter Fricke of Campus Reform reported on two exceptions… Read more

  • Northern Illinois U. Commits to Rescinding Overbroad Internet Restrictions

    September 2, 2014

    Northern Illinois University’s (NIU’s) student newspaper the Northern Star reported last week that after significant media criticism, the university will revise and clarify its Acceptable Use Policy for information technology resources.

  • Students Return to Campus Censorship, But Fight Back with FIRE

    September 2, 2014

    PHILADELPHIA, September 2, 2014—As millions of college students arrive on campus this fall—many for the first time—few of them realize that nearly 59 percent of our nation’s colleges maintain policies that clearly and substantially restrict speech protected by the First Amendment. Too many students will realize that the rights they took for granted as Americans… Read more

  • Coverage of NIU’s Response to Filtering Controversy Reveals Fundamental First Amendment Mistakes

    August 27, 2014

    Last week, we reported on the unacceptably broad network use policy adopted by Northern Illinois University (NIU) and implemented via heavy-handed filtering that was reportedly tripped even by certain Wikipedia pages, including the entry on the Westboro Baptist Church. The displayed warning message, which referenced the network use policy’s prohibition on visiting “unethical” websites, was fairly unambiguous in conveying that the restrictions were based on the content of those websites, and ominously warned that the “violation” would be logged and reviewed.

  • Northern Illinois U. Attempts to Defend Content-Based Internet Restrictions

    August 21, 2014

    Yesterday, the Internet got wind of Northern Illinois University’s (NIU’s) Acceptable Use Policy for “information technology resources,” which lists prohibited uses of NIU’s network and hardware. As I explained here on The Torch last night, the policy became news after a NIU student posted a bizarre warning notice he reportedly received while trying to use NIU’s network to access the Wikipedia page for the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). The warning tagged the page as “Illegal or Unethical” and informed the student that the page had been “recorded for review.” Most chillingly, the notice stated that unless the student was attempting to visit the page for “legitimate business purposes,” it was “highly probable that the access would violate the Northern Illinois Acceptable Use Policy.”

  • Northern Illinois U. Blocks Access to ‘Unethical’ Websites

    August 20, 2014

    Northern Illinois University (NIU) has enacted a stunningly restrictive network use policy and is enforcing it through a filter that blocks or tags websites based on content—including speech clearly protected by the First Amendment.

  • Liberty Requires Tough Choices: The Student Funding Dilemma

    July 31, 2013

    Kanisha Parthasarathy is a FIRE summer intern. Allocating money to student groups is a tricky game. For many colleges, the amount of money given to groups is not increasing at the same rate as the number of student groups vying for recognition and funding. Funding boards usually solve this problem by creating guidelines to determine how… Read more

  • Victory for Freedom of Speech and Religious Liberty at Northern Illinois U; Political and Religious Organizations Finally Get Equal Treatment

    April 28, 2011

    DEKALB, Ill., April 28, 2011—After months of delay, Northern Illinois University (NIU) has finally given political and religious organizations access to student activity fee funding. In 2010, NIU’s Student Association brazenly flouted Supreme Court precedent by discriminating against all such groups, maintaining extensive double standards, and denying recognition to NIU Students for Sensible Drug Policy… Read more

  • Under Pressure from FIRE, Northern Illinois U. Finally Recognizes ‘Students for Sensible Drug Policy,’ But Double Standards and Other First Amendment Violations Persist

    December 10, 2010

    Today’s press release announces that Northern Illinois University (NIU) has finally given full recognition to NIU Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) after the Student Association Senate twice denied the group any recognition, which had prevented SSDP from meeting or posting flyers on campus. But Senate policy still denies funding to all "political" and "religious"… Read more

  • NIU Recognizes Students for Sensible Drug Policy

    December 10, 2010

    Today John R. Jones III, associate vice president of Northern Illinois University, informed Jeremy Orbach, president of the school’s chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, that NIU’s administration is stepping in to recognize SSDP as a “social justice, advocacy, and support organization,” which means it can use campus facilities and is eligible for activity… Read more

  • Take Action: Tell NIU to Meet Its First Amendment Obligations

    December 6, 2010

    Do you have something to say about the many violations of the First Amendment over at Northern Illinois University (NIU), as exposed in today’s press release? Use our Take Action page to give NIU President John G. Peters your opinion. We have offered some suggested language for you to consider. Here’s a letter from Kenyon… Read more

  • Northern Illinois U. Kicks ‘Students for Sensible Drug Policy’ off Campus for Its Views; Campus Policy Attempts to Overrule 5 out of 5 Rights in the First Amendment

    December 6, 2010

    DEKALB, Ill., Dec. 6, 2010—Last night, the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Student Association Senate denied recognition for the second time to NIU Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). As a result, SSDP may not meet on campus, post flyers, or reapply for recognition for two years. The Senate also denies funding to all “political” and… Read more

  • Greg Lukianoff on ‘The Vicki McKenna Show’

    December 6, 2010

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will appear this afternoon on The Vicki McKenna Show to discuss FIRE’s case at Northern Illinois University at 4:35 PM ET. Tune in to hear Greg on WISN in Milwaukee and WIBA in Madison. You also can listen live online.

  • Speech Code of the Month: Northern Illinois University

    August 5, 2009

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for August 2009: Northern Illinois University (NIU). In the NIU Student Code of Conduct, “harassment” is defined as the “Intentional and wrongful use of words, gestures and actions to annoy, alarm, abuse, embarrass, coerce, intimidate or threaten another person.” (Emphasis added.) NIU is a public university, which… Read more