Northern Michigan University

Location: Marquette, Michigan
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit

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

Speech Code Rating

Northern Michigan University 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.

Yellow Light Policies
  • Posting Materials Policy

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: September 6, 2018

    Notices and Posters:  All notices, posters, signs, and banners must be registered for posting at the Center for Student Enrichment (University Center) or the Communications and Marketing office (Cohodas Hall) before they are displayed (except as provided in 2I and 7A-D below). Materials which are not registered according to this procedure may not be posted.

    » Read More

  • Policies for Organizations: Written Materials Policy

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: September 6, 2018

    Northern Michigan University believes in the freedom of students to express opinions and communicate ideas through writing, publishing and distributing student publications and other written materials.  In order to provide that freedom within an orderly framework, the following regulations are established for the distribution or sale of materials which are written, edited, published or distributed by Northern Michigan University students.

    Distribution requires written permission for distribution or sale with more specific information requested including the name of the individual or organization that will be distributing or selling the materials, the title or description of items being distributed, the name and telephone number of a contact person, and the desired dates, times, and locations for distribution or sale.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Student Code- Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 6, 2018

    No students shall harass any member of the University community. Harassment for the purposes of this regulation shall be defined as verbal, physical, or written behavior which intimidates individuals or groups on any basis including ancestry, race, ethnicity, color, religion or creed, sex or gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, national origin, age, height, weight, marital status, familial status, handicap/disability, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, and interferes with an individual’s participation in the curricular or extracurricular activities of the University.

    » Read More

  • Sexual Misconduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 6, 2018

    Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or visual communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: … Such conduct or communication has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing; or creating an intimidating or hostile environment in employment, public accommodations, public services, education, or housing.

    There are two main types of sexual harassment:  quid pro quo harassment and hostile environment. … Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when verbal, non-verbal and/or physical conduct is:

    • sexual and/or based on sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation (actual or perceived),
    • unwelcome, and
    • sufficiently severe and pervasive to interfere with a person’s work/learning/program performance or to create a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment.

    In addition, when a complainant has communicated, verbally or in writing, that a behavior of a sexual nature is unwelcome, any repetition of that behavior or similar behavior will be considered unwelcome and is considered sexual harassment.  No additional communication should be necessary for one to understand that his/her behavior is unwelcome.

    » Read More

Green Light Policies
  • NMU’s Policy and Resource Database: 07.00 Improper Use Of Electronic Devices

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 6, 2018

    No person shall use any language that, as defined by applicable case law, constitutes fighting words, obscenity, defamation, or has the effect or likelihood of inciting imminent unlawful action over any form of electronic media.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Student Rights and Responsibilities- Rights and Freedoms Outside the Classroom

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 6, 2018

    University students are both citizens and members of the academic community. As citizens, students should enjoy the same freedom of speech, right of peaceful assembly, and right of petition that other citizens enjoy, and, as members of the academic community.

    Students and student organizations shall be free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them, and to express opinions publicly and privately.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Student Code- Personal Abuse

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 6, 2018

    No students shall verbally abuse, threaten, intimidate, harass, coerce, bully, or exhibit conduct which threatens or endangers the mental or physical health/safety of any person or causes reasonable apprehension of such harm.  Personal abuse shall be defined as behavior that is persistent, severe, and/or pervasive.

    » Read More

  • DOJ’s investigation of Northern Michigan University’s self-harm policies leads to settlement

    October 30, 2018

    A United States Department of Justice investigation of Northern Michigan University’s policies and practices on student self-harm — which included the cruel practice of forbidding students from discussing thoughts of self-harm with other students — ended in a settlement agreement this month.  Under that agreement, NMU will split a $173,500 financial settlement among four of the DOJ complainants, who are among an unknown number of students impacted by the policies over the years. NMU will also be subject to ongoing monitoring by the DOJ. The DOJ investigation was initiated following a July 2016 complaint filed on behalf of a student […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE Announces America’s 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2017

    February 22, 2017

    PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 22, 2017—More than 92 percent of American colleges maintain speech codes that either clearly restrict—or could too easily be used to restrict—free speech. Each year, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) takes a closer look at campus censorship to identify America’s 10 worst colleges for free speech. The 2017 list of the 10 worst colleges for free speech—published today with detailed descriptions at The Huffington Post—includes both public and private institutions. Public colleges and universities are bound by the First Amendment. Private colleges on this list are not required by the Constitution to respect student and […]

    » Read More
  • DOJ Opens Investigation into Northern Michigan University Self-Harm Policies

    December 21, 2016

    Northern Michigan University’s (NMU’s) policies on self-harm have once again brought scrutiny down on the Upper Peninsula school. In September of this year, FIRE reported on NMU’s practice of forbidding students from discussing thoughts of self-harm with other students. In response to a national outcry, the administration publicly announced an end to the practice of telling students suspected of having suicidal thoughts that discussing those thoughts with others would result in disciplinary action (although NMU has failed to remove related policies from its student handbook). Now, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Civil Rights Division has opened an investigation into […]

    » Read More
  • Victory: Northern Michigan U. Publicly Tells Students They Can Discuss Self-Harm

    September 30, 2016

    MARQUETTE, Mich., September 30, 2016—On Monday, Northern Michigan University (NMU) finally stated publicly that it will discontinue its long-standing practice of forbidding students from discussing thoughts of self-harm with others. NMU’s announcement came just days after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) issued a national press release calling on the university to end this unconstitutional practice. “NMU has finally done what we asked them to do in a private letter over a month ago,” said FIRE Senior Program Officer Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon. “It’s disappointing that it took public pressure for NMU to simply tell its students it will […]

    » Read More
  • As Northern Michigan U. Responds to National Criticism, Serious Questions Remain

    September 23, 2016

    In response to a FIRE press release yesterday, Northern Michigan University (NMU) is now publicly addressing widespread concern about its policy of threatening to punish students who discuss thoughts of suicide or self-harm with their peers. However, their response has been woefully inadequate and, with respect to FIRE’s involvement, inaccurate. After ignoring FIRE’s August 25 letter inquiring about the practice, NMU responded to our press release by posting a notice announcing—apparently for the first time—changes to how it communicates with students with thoughts of self-harm. The notice reads in part: Questions concerning the NMU communication to students with self-harm inclinations […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE to Northern Michigan U.: End Ban on Students Discussing Self-Harm

    September 22, 2016

    MARQUETTE, Mich., Sept. 22, 2016—When Northern Michigan University (NMU) students most need to be heard, administrators violate their First Amendment rights. Last month, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) wrote to NMU asking the university to announce that it will no longer prohibit students from discussing thoughts of self-harm with other students. NMU failed to respond to FIRE’s request, leaving students unclear as to whether they will face disciplinary action for reaching out to their peers during difficult times. “NMU is imposing a gag order on students at a time when a conversation with a friend may be […]

    » Read More
  • Is Northern Michigan University Targeting Campus Paper Due to Its Reporting?

    April 10, 2015

    Too often, college administrators forget that student newspapers exist to provide real news to the campus community, not just to write stories that portray their college in a good light. For example, the Collegian, the University of Tulsa’s student newspaper, recently faced threats from administrators after it published a critical report of the university’s unfair suspension of a student. Now, a Northern Michigan University (NMU) administrator may be punishing The North Wind, which has alleged that it faced intimidation for its reporting, for its public records requests and investigations regarding NMU’s business contracts. According to Student Representative and The North Wind […]

    » Read More
  • Hurt Feelings Lead to ‘Personal Abuse’ Charge for Northern Michigan University Student President

    April 16, 2010

    Nearly two centuries ago, a brief respite in partisan bickering among our major national political parties led a journalist to coin the phrase the Era of Good Feelings to describe the early years of President James Monroe’s administration. I open with this nod to our early history because the administration at Northern Michigan University (NMU) seems bent on forcing a similar aura to emanate from its student government. And if the students can’t get it on their own, then darn it, NMU will do it by force, with threats and intimidation. NMU’s current controversy began with an April 1 letter authored by […]

    » Read More