Northern Kentucky University

Location: Newport, Kentucky
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit

Tell Northern Kentucky University to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Northern Kentucky 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.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.

Red Light Policies

  • Acceptable Use Policy

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: June 18, 2018

    Users may NOT do the following: … Engage in activities that harass, degrade, intimidate, demean, slander, defame, interfere with, or threaten others.

    » Read More

Yellow Light Policies
  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Sexual Misconduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 18, 2018

    Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome, gender-based verbal or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, denies or limits someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational program and/or activities or work environment, and is based on power differentials, the creation of a hostile environment or retaliation. All forms of sexual misconduct identified in this policy are also prohibited forms of sexual harassment.

    There are three (3) types of sexual harassment.

    A. Hostile Environment – Includes any situation in which there is harassing conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent that it interferes with or denies educational benefits or opportunities or creates an intimidating hostile or offensive work environment. The determination of whether an environment is “hostile” must be based on the totality of the circumstances.

    The circumstances that contribute to creating a hostile environment include:

    •    Frequency of contact;
    •    Nature and severity of conduct;
    •    Whether the conduct was physically threatening;
    •    Whether the conduct was humiliating;
    •    The effect of the conduct on the alleged victim’s mental or emotional state;
    •    Whether the conduct was directed at more than one person;
    •    Whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct;
    •    Whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the alleged victim’s educational or work performance;
    •    Whether the statement is a mere utterance of an epithet which engenders offense or offends by mere discourtesy or rudeness;

    Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to: …

    •    Gender-based bullying
    •    Display or sharing of sexually graphic material, jokes or slurs

    » Read More

  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Offenses Against Persons

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: June 18, 2018

    Offenses against persons include but are not limited to:

    a. Intentionally or recklessly causing physical or emotional harm to any person, including self, on University property or at University-sponsored activities off campus, and includes intentionally or recklessly causing reasonable apprehension of such harm.

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Green Light Policies
  • Free Expression Policy

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: June 18, 2018

    Individuals or groups who desire to use campus areas for protests, rallies or demonstrations are strongly encouraged to reserve a specific area(s) in advance to ensure the availability of space. Without a reservation, the University allows campus areas to be utilized on a first‐come, first‐served basis. Protests, rallies or demonstrations whose numbers exceed 50 individuals may represent a reasonable concern for safety, security or reasonable access to campus, and may be restricted in size and to specific locations.

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    March 24, 2014

    Editorial at WND Education A recent rampage by a feminist porn professor who allegedly destroyed a pro-life sign and assaulted a student was just the latest in a long list of campus attacks on free speech, according to an organization defending First Amendment rights. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said the incident at the University of California at Santa Barbara was among many “in which students and faculty members have taken it upon themselves to silence ideological opponents, particularly those with socially conservative views.” Police are investigating the alleged attack by Mireille Miller-Young, who teaches feminist studies such as pornography, queer theory […]

    » Read More
  • New speech policy proposals positive for NKU

    January 31, 2007

    How much does it take to get free speech? Apparently decades, because it has taken nearly two of them for Northern Kentucky University to review its free-expression policy. I was astounded to hear that a review, done by Student Affairs and Legal Affairs, showed a 17-year gap in the revision of the policy. Seventeen years—that’s how long it’s been since NKU’s free-expression policy was last updated. I was also troubled to find out that NKU’s speech code rating on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Web site is still a blaring red, but so are many of the colleges […]

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  • Schools discipline students over Internet content

    February 22, 2006

    Four Syracuse University students punished for trashing their teacher on joined the growing number of students nationally whose school has held them accountable for what they put on the Internet. “Criticism can be considered a matter of free speech. In this particular situation it was the content, and the content was considered as being reviewable as a possible violation of the university code of student conduct,” said Kevin Morrow, speaking for SU. “The language and the phrasing of these Facebook postings were extreme.” Some students use as their personal diary. They post pictures and information such as their […]

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  • When Campus Intolerance Means Free Speech Gets Torn Up and Run Over, Literally

    March 21, 2014

    Being offended is what happens when you have your deepest beliefs challenged. And if you make it through four years of college without having your deepest beliefs challenged, you should demand your money back. I have been saying that line in speeches on campus for more than a decade. Even though it often gets a laugh, the idea that students have an overarching “right not to be offended” seems more entrenched on campus than ever.

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  • KFC: Kentucky Foolish Censorship

    May 1, 2012

    “Forget about fraternity rush, spring break, and cramming for exams,” FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley writes this week in The Daily Caller. “The students and faculty of Northern Kentucky University (NKU) have brought a disturbing new tradition to campus: justifying the destruction of pro-life displays as ‘freedom of speech.’” Robert notes that since at least 2006, pro-life student organization Northern Right to Life has had its public displays vandalized by vigilante censors. In 2006, a professor actually encouraged her students to express their views against the display by becoming destructive vandals. This year, a student followed suit after he […]

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  • Northern Kentucky Students Arrested for Vandalizing Pro-Life Display

    April 18, 2012

    Hopefully the experiences of four Northern Kentucky University students arrested for vandalizing the display of a pro-life student group will serve as another useful lesson to those on campus who still think that destroying the expression of other students is a legitimate act of First Amendment expression. The student group in question here is Northern Right to Life, which according to set up a display which “consisted of baby clothes on a line with a red ‘x’ through every fourth one.” A spokesperson for the student group said the “x” was supposed to represent “that every fourth baby is […]

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  • Dearth of Critical Thinking on Display as NKU Library Removes Anti-Klan Artwork

    April 1, 2011

    A recent article in The Northerner, of Northern Kentucky University (NKU), reports that an art display has been moved from its place in an NKU library after administrators received complaints over its depiction of a member of the Ku Klux Klan. More specifically, the work is an award-winning triptych of images by NKU professor Hanz Schellhas titled “First Class, Second Class,” which the professor created during his days as a student at NKU as a critique of modern race relations. An NKU website describes the motivation and methodology of the piece: Based on his own experience working for social justice in Cincinnati, […]

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  • NKU Dean to Students: ‘That’s the problem with free speech, guys’

    January 26, 2011

    When discussing the possibility of increased restrictions on the rights of uninvited, non-college-affiliated speakers at Northern Kentucky University (NKU), Dean of Students Jeffrey Waple told student government officials, “[t]hat’s the problem with free speech, guys.” According to the The Northerner, an independent student newspaper at NKU, Waple was responding to concerns some students had expressed about the potentially offensive nature of others’ speech. The Northerner reports that Waple “said that, although that speech may be offensive to some listeners, the speaker is probably entitled to say it and the university cannot usually engage in censoring the content of a visitor’s speech.” […]

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  • NKU Student Thanks FIRE

    May 10, 2007

    We mentioned last week here on The Torch that Northern Kentucky University (NKU) had revised its free expression policies at the behest of committed students like Alex Kindell. Alex played a crucial role in organizing NKU students, raising awareness about the importance of free expression on campus, and galvanizing student support.   Since Alex’s experience is exactly the kind of change we’d like FIRE’s recently launched Campus Freedom Network (CFN) to help students recreate at universities across the country, we thought it would be appropriate to ask her for her thoughts after the stunning success she helped bring about at […]

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  • Students’ Protest Leads to New Expression Policy at NKU

    May 4, 2007

    The Cincinnati Post reported this week that Northern Kentucky University (NKU) has adopted a new freedom of expression policy in response to student protest against proposed revisions. The news comes as a welcome and well-earned victory to the NKU students who had rallied for change on campus.   Two months ago, NKU students had been upset that the school’s proposal for a new freedom of expression policy would have forbade chalking and indoor demonstrations. In response, students held protests and meetings, eventually persuading NKU administrators to gather more student input and delay a scheduled vote on the proposed revisions. Revisions […]

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  • NKU under FIRE: Red-light for speech code

    October 11, 2006

    The right to free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but outside agencies believe this right for students at Northern Kentucky University is being compromised. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), an organization whose mission, according to its Web site, is to stand up for individual rights of college students, rated NKU as a “red-light university.” On FIRE’s site, it says a red-light university is one that has codes that “both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” In NKU’s Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, under the “Disciplinary Regulations” section, it states […]

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  • NKU Update: Mediation for Jacobsen

    May 25, 2006

    Remember Sally Jacobsen? As previously flagged by FIRE, Jacobsen is the recently retired Northern Kentucky University professor facing theft and criminal mischief charges for allegedly dismantling a campus anti-abortion display. Yesterday, as reported in the Cincinnati Post, a judge offered Jacobsen the opportunity to have her charges dismissed if she completes mediation with representatives from NKU, its student government, and the school’s Right to Life chapter. Jacobsen’s comments to the Post speak volumes to how she got herself into so much trouble. But her comments also demonstrate a faulty and dangerous mindset pervading all too many students, faculty, and administrators on university campuses. […]

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  • Heckler’s Veto Has Serious Consequences for NKU Professor

    May 15, 2006

    As we reported on the Torch last month, Sally Jacobsen, then a professor at Northern Kentucky University (NKU), turned the concept of free speech on its head by encouraging students in one of her classes to “express their freedom-of-speech rights” by destroying an anti-abortion display erected by an NKU student group. NKU responded quickly to Professor Jacobsen’s appalling act of censorship by placing her on leave from the university. Now, things have gotten even worse for Jacobsen. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported yesterday that Jacobsen has been charged with criminal solicitation for encouraging her students to commit criminal mischief and theft […]

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  • Are Pictures of Abortion ‘Hate Speech?’

    May 11, 2006

    Last week, Phi Beta Cons noted a story in the Bellingham (Wash.) Herald describing yet another instance of vandalism of a pro-life display. According to the Herald, Western Washington University student David Janus Zhang was so enraged by a “display showing pictures of aborted fetuses next to images of genocide” that he jumped over a fence and tried to destroy it. Zhang inflicted $2,700 worth of damage in the course of what a university police officer called “a rampage.” He was arrested and jailed; he now faces charges of malicious mischief and disorderly conduct charges.   Now, in response to […]

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  • NKU Punishes Vigilante Censorship, but Its Speech Code Remains

    April 19, 2006

    The president of Northern Kentucky University has acted commendably in response to a serious threat to the free speech rights of students. Last week, NKU professor Sally Jacobsen encouraged a group of her students to destroy an anti-abortion display erected by the university’s right-to-life student organization. Photographs published by local media indicate that Professor Jacobsen actually took part in the destruction as well. In a public statement, university president James Votruba announced today that “Professor Jacobsen has been removed from her remaining classes and placed on leave from the University.” He stated that Jacobsen’s “actions were inconsistent with Northern Kentucky […]

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  • The Media Condemn Censorship at NKU

    April 17, 2006

    Today, the Cincinnati Enquirer published an editorial concerning an incident at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) where a professor invited a class “to express their freedom-of-speech rights” to destroy a “Cemetery of Innocents,” an anti-abortion display consisting of 400 crosses and a sign explaining its purpose. The editorial is right on point in saying: Northern Kentucky University professor Sally Jacobsen overstepped her own rights and arrogantly stomped on the First Amendment rights of others when she invited students in her class to demolish an approved anti-abortion display on campus. As a teacher she has much to learn. Her own “outrage” at […]

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  • Vigilante Censorship Alive and Well in Kentucky

    April 14, 2006

    After nearly five years of dealing with all the terrible and often absurd abuses of free speech in higher education, I am a hard person to shock, but hats off to professor Sally Jacobsen of Northern Kentucky University (NKU) for showing me the most perverted inversion of the concept of free speech I have seen in a long time. Jacobsen, a professor at NKU, invited students in one of her classes to “to express their freedom-of-speech rights to destroy [an anti-abortion] display if they wished to.” The anti-abortion display had been erected by an NKU student group with permission from […]

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