Ohio University

Location: Athens, Ohio
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

Ohio 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

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.
  • Policy 23.050: Posting of Material for Advertisement or Notification

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2020

    University departments, registered student organizations, and other individuals are allowed to post printed materials for advertisement and notification purposes on general bulletin boards designated for such postings as may be provided and maintained by the University. … 4. Materials posted must indicate the ... Read More
  • Policy 03.004: Sexual Harassment and Other Sexual Misconduct- Sexual Harassment under University Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2020

    Sexual Harassment under University Policy: a. Physical or verbal conduct, b. of a sexual nature, c. that is unwelcome, and d. sufficiently severe, or e. pervasive, f. from both a subjective (the complainant’s), and g. an objective (reasonable person’s) viewpoint, where: h. such conduct has the purpose or effect of u... Read More
  • Office for Institutional Equity: Sexual Misconduct FAQs

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2020

    What is sexual harassment? Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or verbal/physical conduct of a sexual nature when: Accepting the conduct is a term or condition of employment, student status or participation in university activities (directly or indirectly); or The conduct... Read More
  • Policy 01.040: Statement of Commitment to Free Expression

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 28, 2020

    Freedom of expression is the foundation of an Ohio university education. Open debate and deliberation, the critique of beliefs and theories, and uncensored academic inquiry are all essential to our shared mission of discovery and dissemination of knowledge. … At times, our community members will encounter argu... Read More
  • Policy 01.044: Use of Outdoor Spaces

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2020

    Outdoor spaces are generally available for use by the university community and the public, with or without advance reservation or notification, in accordance with this policy. Determinations regarding reservations must be made without reference to the content of any expression associated with the activity. Read More
  • Policy 03.004: Sexual Harassment and Other Sexual Misconduct- Sexual Harassment under Title IX

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2020

    Sexual Harassment under Title IX: Unwelcome conduct, determined by a reasonable person, to be so severe, and pervasive, and, objectively offensive, that it effectively denies a person equal access to Ohio university’s education program or activity. Read More
  • Policy 01.044: Use of Outdoor Spaces- Literature, petitions, and signs

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2020

    Users may distribute literature, circulate petitions, and carry signs in outdoor spaces, so long as these activities are consistent with other provisions of this policy. Read More
  • Policy 91.003: Acceptable Usage

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2020

    Users may not distribute or send unlawful communications of any kind. This provision applies to any electronic communication distributed or sent within the Ohio network or to other networks while using the Ohio network. … Users may not use Ohio systems to violate any laws, regulations, or ordinances. Read More
  • Student Code of Conduct: Harmful Behavior

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2020

    6. Harmful Behavior a. Physical harm or threat of physical harm to any person. b. Harassment: Unwelcome conduct (including written or electronic communication) that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it substantially interferes with the ability of a person to work, learn, live or participate in,... Read More
  • Ohio University: Ban on Student Group Gatherings and Social Media Communications

    November 13, 2019

    In response to hazing allegations in the fall of 2019, Ohio University sent cease and desist letters to 14 student groups, instructing group members not to “meet in any capacity, officially or unofficially” or “communicat[e] with and among the group via any social media platform or application.” OU also told the fraternities and sororities members… Read more

  • Ohio University – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit

    July 1, 2014

    Smith and his fellow Students Defending Students members were ordered by OU administrators not to wear an SDS T-shirt featuring the phrase “We get you off for free.”

  • Ohio University: Political Flyers Censored in Dorms

    September 28, 2012

    In September 2012, Ohio University student Jillyann Burns posted a flyer on the door to her residence hall room, criticizing the policy positions of President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. Shortly after Burns posted her flyer, a resident assistant warned residents that “NO political posters/flyers should be hung in the hallways or on you[r]… Read more

  • Ohio University reverses unconstitutional directive muzzling fraternity members

    November 26, 2019

    OU administrator: “To reiterate, I expect there to be no other communication with your members, unless it is pre-approved by me.” ATHENS, Ohio, Nov. 26, 2019 — Ohio University dropped an unconstitutional directive banning members of more than a dozen student organizations from any meetings and other communication unless “pre-approved” by an administrator, after the… Read more

  • Ohio University orders student groups to stop meeting and talking over social media; promises arbitrary enforcement of ban

    November 13, 2019

    In response to hazing allegations reported earlier this fall, Ohio University banned 14 student groups from hosting gatherings and communicating via social media. The directive, which is still partially in effect, severely limits students’ freedoms of association and expression — a violation of OU’s obligations as a public university bound by the First Amendment. The… Read more

  • Ohio University implements new speech policies, reaffirms commitment to students’ First Amendment rights

    August 2, 2018

    After months of feedback from university governance bodies, students, faculty, staff, and community members, Ohio University announced last Friday the implementation of three new policies related to free expression on campus. In doing so, OU reaffirmed its commitment to the expressive rights of its students on campus, indoors and out. OU’s new Statement of Commitment… Read more

  • Shouting down speakers doesn’t work

    October 24, 2017

    Our nation’s commitment to the principles and ideals of free speech is most often tested in the face of expression that many people reject as repugnant and harmful. So it was when the federal government attempted to stifle communist expression during the Red Scare and the Cold War. So it was in the 1970s, when… Read more

  • Meet FIRE’s new Campus Coordinator, Sam Flannery

    July 25, 2017

    Sam Flannery has joined FIRE’s staff as our new Campus Coordinator. A former FIRE summer intern and recent Ohio University graduate, Sam brings substantial experience in the student-rights arena to his new role at FIRE. At Ohio University, Sam was the director of Students Defending Students, an organization dedicated to guiding students through the school’s… Read more

  • Student Defender Profile: Sam Flannery, director of Ohio University’s Students Defending Students

    July 19, 2017

    For this week’s debut of FIRE’s new Student Defenders program, we’re profiling students already helping peers accused of conduct violations navigate their school’s often confusing disciplinary systems. Today, we feature an interview with Ohio University’s Sam Flannery, the outgoing director OU’s Students Defending Students. (Since graduating in April, Sam has joined FIRE as a full-time… Read more

  • Students absolved of both criminal charges and school sanctions after Ohio University protest

    March 31, 2017

    In a free speech victory, Ohio University students arrested last month for protesting in the school’s Baker University Center rotunda will not face further criminal prosecution or be subject to school sanctions. The string of announcements came after Michael Mayberry, a student arrested for his participation in the Feb. 1 protest, was found not guilty of… Read more

  • Learning Firsthand About the Disadvantages International Students Face in Campus Disciplinary Proceedings

    June 23, 2016

    Last fall, I was elected director of Ohio University’s Students Defending Students (SDS), a campus organization where students represent fellow students in university disciplinary proceedings and ensure they receive due process. Having been a part of SDS since my sophomore year, I’ve had the rare opportunity to sit in on many student disciplinary proceedings. My… Read more

  • FIRE Student Network: Molly’s Story

    May 11, 2015

    Today, Molly Nocheck is a program officer for campus outreach here at FIRE. But before she joined our team, she was an activist for student rights at her alma mater, Ohio University (OU). As a member of the student organization Students Defending Students (SDS), Molly worked to ensure that student due process rights were protected… Read more

  • Stand Up For Speech Plaintiff: ‘Code of Conduct Change Could Not Have Happened Without Lawsuit’

    February 6, 2015

    Following a fourth victory for FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project Monday, news outlets across the country reported on Ohio University’s (OU’s) agreement to revise its speech codes in order to comply with the First Amendment. Among them, an editorial from Ohio University’s student newspaper, The Post, stood out—and warranted a response from student-plaintiff… Read more

  • FIRE’s Victory at Ohio U. Makes Headlines

    February 4, 2015

    On Monday, FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project tallied yet another victory for free speech on college campuses. Ohio University agreed to settle a First Amendment lawsuit filed by student Isaac Smith last July after administrators censored his student group’s T-shirts. As Torch readers may recall, Smith’s organization, Students Defending Students, which helps students… Read more

  • Students, FIRE Go Four-for-Four as Ohio U. Settles Speech Code Lawsuit

    February 2, 2015

    ATHENS, Ohio, February 2, 2015—In a settlement signed today, Ohio University (OU) agreed to revise several policies that restricted free speech on campus rather than fight a student-led First Amendment lawsuit in court. This marks the fourth victory in a row for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project…. Read more

  • ‘Columbus Dispatch’ and Student Press Law Center Investigate ‘Campus Insecurity’

    November 26, 2014

    The Columbus Dispatch has teamed up with the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) to take a thorough look at how colleges and universities are struggling to handle allegations of sexual assault and other violent crimes. Problems abound, and the articles published as part of the “Campus Insecurity” series are shedding light on several troubling trends… Read more

  • Center for Constitutional Rights and Allies Write to Universities About Problems with Mandating ‘Civility’

    November 19, 2014

    Colleges and universities too often attempt to censor or chill expression by calling for “civility,” demanding that speakers exercise restraint in a way that is inconsistent with First Amendment principles. Earlier this month, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) joined Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, the National Lawyers Guild, and… Read more

  • This Fourth of July, Students and Faculty Are ‘Retracing the Steps to Free Speech’

    July 4, 2014

    We learn in grade school that freedom of speech is the hallmark of a free nation and the cornerstone of democracy. Yet the urge to censor seems almost irresistible, no matter who wields authority. As FIRE followers know all too well, public colleges and universities routinely restrict and punish constitutionally protected expression. In academia, where First Amendment freedoms are most precious, they are at serious risk. Nearly 60 percent of the 427 institutions that FIRE has surveyed maintain policies that clearly and substantially infringe upon freedom of speech.

  • FIRE’s Shibley in ‘Washington Post’: Lawsuits ‘About to Become a Lot More Common’

    July 2, 2014

    Following yesterday’s launch of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley takes to The Washington Post today to explain why litigation is necessary:

  • Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project Makes Media Splash

    July 2, 2014

    Yesterday, FIRE launched our new Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, a national effort to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes through targeted First Amendment lawsuits. Within minutes of the announcement, major media outlets were spreading the word, and over the past 24 hours, the nation’s top newspapers have reported on this big step in the fight for free speech on campus. Here is some of yesterday’s and today’s news coverage of Stand Up For Speech and the four lawsuits FIRE brought yesterday with the help of law firm Davis Wright Tremaine:

  • FIRE Brings Four Free Speech Lawsuits in One Day

    July 1, 2014

    WASHINGTON, July 1, 2014—This morning, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) coordinated the filing of lawsuits against Ohio University, Chicago State University, Iowa State University, and Citrus College (Calif.). The filings launch FIRE’s new Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, a national effort to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes through targeted First Amendment lawsuits…. Read more

  • What’s ‘Out of Proportion’ About Defending the First Amendment?

    October 15, 2012

    As we publicized last week, Ohio University (OU) found itself in a constitutional pickle after it censored a political flyer that student Jillyann Burns had put on her dorm room door. Fortunately, OU corrected its error quickly, and FIRE commended the university for doing so.  Unfortunately, despite its quick action, OU is also apparently claiming… Read more

  • With Election Day Close, Ohio University Ends Political Censorship in Dorms

    October 9, 2012

    Here’s today’s press release:  ATHENS, Ohio, October 9, 2012—Ohio University dorms are no longer censoring students’ political speech, freeing students to make their voices heard in the final weeks before Election Day. After student Jillyann Burns was ordered to remove a flyer criticizing both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney from her residence hall… Read more

  • With Election Day Close, Ohio University Ends Political Censorship in Dorms

    October 9, 2012

    ATHENS, Ohio, October 9, 2012—Ohio University dorms are no longer censoring students’ political speech, freeing students to make their voices heard in the final weeks before Election Day. After student Jillyann Burns was ordered to remove a flyer criticizing both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney from her residence hall door, she turned to… Read more

  • Ohio University Newspaper Writes Against Speech Codes

    January 18, 2010

    Rebecca McKinsey’s excellent article on Ohio University’s (OU’s) speech codes, appearing recently in OU student newspaper The Post, seems to have called her fellow students to attention. Shortly after the article appeared, The Post ran a staff editorial coming out against the codes in effect at their university. Citing FIRE’s current Spotlight on Speech Codes report as well as McKinsey’s article, the editorial calls FIRE’s assessment of… Read more

  • Rights in the News: Yale and Minnesota Still in Headlines as FIRE Eyes 2010 Campaign

    January 8, 2010

    Even during the supposedly slow Christmas-to-New-Year’s stretch, FIRE’s cases continued to captivate the media, none more so than the recent brouhaha at Yale over a censored F. Scott Fitzgerald-quoting t-shirt calling Harvard men "sissies." Following Greg’s earlier writings in The Huffington Post, Robert wrote on the case for Pajamas Media. (Knowing such PC nonsense when… Read more

  • Ohio University Student Reporter Exposes Administrators’ Selective Memories

    January 7, 2010

    Ohio University (OU) student reporter Rebecca McKinsey does my home state proud with an excellent article in the university’s student newspaper, The Post, about FIRE’s red-light rating of Ohio University and its comparable ratings of other Ohio schools. Most noteworthy is the research that McKinsey evidently did for the article, which produced some very interesting… Read more

  • Rights in the News: Harvey’s Harvard Candidacy Continues to Grab Headlines

    February 27, 2009

    As April’s election for Harvard University’s Board of Overseers draws nearer, the candidacy of FIRE co-founder and chairman Harvey Silverglate continues to attract attention and enthusiasm. Scot Lehigh’s excellent column in The Boston Globe is just the latest testament to this, as Adam wrote earlier for The Torch (and as the Cato Institute’s Cato @… Read more

  • Students Oppose Protest Restrictions at Ohio University

    October 9, 2007

    The Post, a student newspaper at Ohio University, published a staff editorial today opposing the university’s use of “free speech zones.” According to the editorial, Ohio University has designated 22 spaces on campus as free speech zones—a decently large number—but requires students and student groups to reserve those spaces in advance in order to hold… Read more

  • At Ohio University, Student Group Takes Shot at Speech Zones

    January 19, 2007

    Students at Ohio University (OU) are organizing protests against the school’s designated “free speech zones,” according to an article published in yesterday’s Athens News. According to the students, OU officials attempted to disband an anti-war rally held by other student groups on November 3. Over winter break, some students received letters informing them that they… Read more

  • Why Ohio University Is a ‘Red Light’ School

    May 24, 2005

    Today, our newest program officer, Samantha Harris, received an email from a student at Ohio University. The student wanted to know exactly what policies earned Ohio University a “red light” rating from our speechcodes.org website. Ohio University’s red-light status is well-earned. I was shocked enough by it that I mentioned part of OU’s code in… Read more