Plymouth State University

Location: Plymouth, New Hampshire
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

Thank Plymouth State University for its commitment to free speech.

Speech Code Rating

Plymouth State University has been given the speech code rating Green. Green light institutions are those colleges and universities whose policies nominally protect free speech. Read more here.

Green Light Policies
  • Office of the Dean of Students: General Student Rights

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: August 28, 2018

    Plymouth State University students, as individuals, enjoy the same rights that are guaranteed to every citizen of the United States and the State of New Hampshire.  The University affirms the right of students to freedom of expression, conscience, political and religious belief, and peaceful assembly and association.

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  • Student Rights and Code of Conduct: Conduct Rules and Regulations

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 28, 2018

    Any student found to have committed or to have attempted to commit the following misconduct is subject to the disciplinary sanctions outlined in Student Conduct Code Procedures: …

    3. Acts of a threatening or harmful nature, including but not limited to the following:
    Sexual assault, sexual violence, and/or sexual harassment (see Sexual Conduct Policy and Conduct Process).
    physical assault, threats, intimidation, and/or harassment.

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  • Student Rights and Code of Conduct: Bias Incidents

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: August 28, 2018

    The University defines a “bias complaint” as “any report of a threat or act of harassment or intimidation – verbal, written or physical – which is personally directed against or targets a Plymouth State University community member because of that student’s age, color, disability, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status or family medical or genetic information.”

    Although the expression of an idea or point of view may be offensive or inflammatory to some, it is not necessarily a violation of law or University policy. The University values and embraces the ideals of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression, all of which must be vitally sustained in a community of scholars. While these freedoms protect controversial ideas and differing views, and sometimes even offensive and hurtful words, they do not protect personal threats or acts of misconduct, which violate criminal law or University policy.

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  • Student Rights and Code of Conduct: Freedom of Expression and Assembly

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: August 28, 2018

    To facilitate robust debate and the free exchange of ideas, the University has established high visibility areas on campus as “Speakers Corners” that may be used by any person, including non-students and other campus guests, for expressive activities and related conduct, including the distribution of literature. This use may be without permission from the University so long as the area has not been previously reserved or scheduled for a particular function, no sound amplification is used, and the participants do not violate other University policies.

    Designated Speakers Corners include:

    1. The areas shaded green on THIS diagram of the Alumni Green,  adjacent to the Hartman Union Building; and
    2. The area between Harold E. Hyde Hall and Geneva Smith Hall.

    Although it is not necessary for a person using one of the designated Speakers Corners to obtain prior permission from the University, the University encourages such persons to contact the Office of Student Life for scheduling purposes to minimize possible conflicts.

    Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as limiting the right of student expression elsewhere on the campus so long as the expressive activities or related student conduct, including the distribution of literature, does not violate any other applicable University policies.

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  • Student Rights and Code of Conduct: Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 28, 2018

    In the educational environment, for conduct to constitute harassment under this policy, it must include more than the mere expression of views, words, symbols, or thoughts that another person finds offensive. The conduct must be: (1) unwelcome; (2) discriminatory on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, genetic information, veteran’s status, or other protected class under federal or state law; (3) directed at an individual; and (4) so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive (i.e., it would be offensive to a reasonable person in the victim’s position, considering all of the circumstances), and so undermine and detract from the victim’s educational experience, that the victim is effectively denied equal access to the University’s resources and opportunities. This type of harassment is traditionally referred to as “hostile environment” harassment.

    Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature (i.e., sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature) that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to violate this policy (as described above) constitutes sexual harassment.

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  • Information Technology Services: Email Use Policy

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: August 28, 2018

    This policy covers the use of any email sent from a PSU email address and also applies to vendors, and agents operating on behalf of the University.

    Persons may not use email in violation of USNH or PSU policies, or local, state or federal laws. This includes, but is not limited to:

    A. Stalking, harassment (including sexual harassment), or other unlawful activity.

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  • Speaking Freely at UNH: No Speech Codes on Campus

    December 27, 2015

    By Staff at Union Leader Should the University System of New Hampshire challenge students, and expose them to controversial and sometimes uncomfortable ideas? Or should it give these vulnerable young adults a safe space, free from potentially offensive speech? That depends on whether or not the university system expects its students to learn anything. Columnist George Will recently highlighted efforts by Purdue University to promote free speech on its campus. A freshman New Hampshire lawmaker is hoping to do the same here. Republican Frank Edelblut, who is also running for governor, has introduced a bill based on model legislation from […]

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  • Plymouth State Earns ‘Green Light’ Rating for Campus Speech

    September 16, 2014

    By Mallory Noe-Payne at WGBH Students and faculty at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire enjoy some of the least restrictive speech rights in the country, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The school was recently awarded a “green light” free-speech rating from the FIRE, an organization that monitors individual rights on college campuses. The rating is awarded to colleges and universities whose policies support, rather than restrict, student or faculty speech while on campus. FIRE offers a database of college speech policies and gives all of America’s higher ed institutions a rating of either red, yellow or green. Plymouth State joins […]

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  • FIRE calls on Plymouth State University to rescind faculty punishment over participation in criminal trial

    September 13, 2018

    Last week, FIRE wrote to Plymouth State University, calling on the university to reverse adverse actions taken against two PSU professors for participating in a criminal prosecution and offering support for a criminal defendant during her sentencing. This summer, PSU professor emeritus Michael Fischler and adjunct professor Nancy Strapko weighed in on the trial of former Exeter High School guidance counselor Kristie Torbick, who pled guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student. Fischler sent a letter to the court asking for leniency, and Strapko served as a paid expert witness for Torbick. This did not sit well with PSU administrators, […]

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  • Plymouth State University Earns FIRE’s Highest Rating for Free Speech

    September 12, 2014

    PLYMOUTH, N.H., September 12, 2014—Plymouth State University (PSU) has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). After working with FIRE to ensure its policies comply with the First Amendment, PSU has become the 20th institution nationwide—and the second institution in just two months—to earn FIRE’s most favorable rating for free speech on campus. “Plymouth State is to be commended for its commitment to free speech,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “As one of only 20 schools to earn a green light rating from FIRE, Plymouth State is […]

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