Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Location: Troy, New York
Type: Private
Tell Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 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

Due Process Rating

Code of Conduct

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F

Non-Sexual Misconduct

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F

Sexual Misconduct

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F

  • Student Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures

    Speech Code Rating: Red
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: April 20, 2020

    Sexual Harassment is defined as unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: … Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with work performance or participation in an academic program, or creating an intimidating, h... Read More
  • Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights & Responsibilities: Rules for Maintenance of Public Order

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: April 20, 2020

    No person or persons shall use, in public, language or gestures which are unreasonably abusive or obscene. Read More
  • Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights & Responsibilities: Sign Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: April 20, 2020

    This policy was developed to regulate the style, content, and posting of signs and posters as a means of reducing the litter and visual clutter on campus. … A. The Institute reserves the right to remove signs deemed to be graphically inappropriate, profane, libelous, in unsightly condition, or outdated informa... Read More
  • Rensselaer Student Living and Learning Policies: Signs and Advertising

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: April 20, 2020

    Signs must not contain anything that maligns any person or group as determined by the Institute. … The name of the group or person posting the sign must be on each sign. Read More
  • Cyber Citizenship Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: April 20, 2020

    Appropriate use should always be ethical, reflect academic integrity and other community standards, show restraint in the consumption of shared resources, and be in compliance with Rensselaer’s policies and government laws and regulation. It should demonstrate respect for intellectual property; ownership of data; sy... Read More
  • Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights & Responsibilities: Rules for Maintenance of Public Order

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: April 20, 2020

    Only peaceful demonstrations are appropriate in an academic community and the Trustees are confident that no member or group of the Institute community will go beyond the bounds set by these regulations. In order to maintain the safety and to safeguard the interests of all members of the Institute community, any gro... Read More
  • Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights & Responsibilities: Solicitation and Distribution

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: April 20, 2020

    Only Institute administrative unit or departments, and recognized student organizations with express permission, may conduct fundraising or solicitation activities on the Rensselaer campus, or distribute materials on campus property, including but not limited to the residence halls. No outside organization or person... Read More
  • Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights & Responsibilities: Rules for Maintenance of Public Order

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: April 20, 2020

    When a speaker is the object of protest or controversy, no unauthorized person or persons shall take any sign or other demonstration impediments into the building where the speech is to take place. Read More
  • Bias Assessment and Response

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: April 20, 2020

    The Bias Assessment and Response Team (BART) is a nimble, far-reaching, comprehensive committee with the necessary specialties, talent, and knowledge to respond to the emergent needs of the Rensselaer student community as it relates to incidents of bias, hate, or other marginalizing acts. […] R... Read More
  • Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights & Responsibilities: Rules for Maintenance of Public Order

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: April 20, 2020

    Academic freedom is essential to a university community. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are essential to academic freedom. Read More
  • Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights & Responsibilities: Student Bill of Rights

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: April 20, 2020

    The student is a citizen of the nation at large, and the Institute shall not impede or obstruct students in the exercise of their fundamental rights as citizens. Read More

Policies are rated on their inclusion of 10 due process safeguards. Each policy may receive 2 points for fully including that safeguard, 1 point for partial inclusion, and 0 points for no meaningful inclusion. Most, but not all, institutions have separate policies for sexual misconduct and all other misconduct. See FIRE’s Spotlight on Due Process report for more information.

Grades

Code of Conduct

F
2/20
  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence

Non-Sexual Misconduct

F
3/20
  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence

Sexual Misconduct

F
4/20
  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence
  • FIRE names America’s 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2020

    January 29, 2020

    These 10 colleges represent the worst campus censors over the last year Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute receives Lifetime Censorship Award PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 29, 2020 — Who are the worst campus censors? The competition is stiff, but today the nonpartisan Foundation for Individual Rights in Education released its annual list of America’s 10 Worst Colleges for Free… Read more

  • 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2020

    January 29, 2020

    Since 2011, FIRE has named and shamed 65 individual colleges and universities as America’s worst for free speech. Some — we’re looking at you Harvard, DePaul, and Syracuse — are regulars and have appeared four or five times. Others have slunk away in embarrassment after being listed. But all have one thing in common: They… Read more

  • November 2019 Speech Code of the Month: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

    November 7, 2019

     At a recent town hall meeting, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute president Shirley Ann Jackson claimed that her administration applies a “fairly light hand” when regulating expression on campus. RPI’s free speech track record, as well as its many speech codes, tell a different story.  For just one example, RPI’s “Sign Policy” allows the administration to… Read more

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ignores concerns about new policy

    October 18, 2019

    Last month, FIRE wrote a letter to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where administrators created a new policy requiring students to get permission before sharing a flyer or letter on campus.  RPI has a long practice of using its policies to burden critics of its administration, even claiming that its policies require students to get permission before… Read more

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute enforced a non-existent policy to suppress student critics, then wrote the policy

    September 24, 2019

    Over the past several years, the administration of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — a private institution in upstate New York — has been criticized for suppressing student detractors who say the administration has been wresting control of a long-running student union. That criticism has come not only from FIRE and RPI students and faculty, but also… Read more

  • Due process rights at private universities? New York court rules on RPI’s “constitutional” infringement

    July 2, 2019

    In cases involving a university’s disciplinary actions against a student accused of sexual misconduct, courts have generally differentiated between public and private institutions. The former, as instruments of the state, are bound by the Constitution and must grant students due process rights to the extent required by the Fourteenth Amendment. Complaints against private colleges, on… Read more

  • 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2019

    February 12, 2019

    Every January, FIRE staffers convene to compile our list of the previous year’s worst colleges for free speech. Reviewing the lowlights of the year reminds each of us that campus censors can be pretty creative. Just when you think you’ve seen everything — and over FIRE’s 20-year history, we’ve seen a lot — some enterprising… Read more

  • City of Troy stonewalls over police department’s relationship with RPI

    October 1, 2018

    The City of Troy, in upstate New York, prefers the silent treatment to sharing records that might reveal how its police department came to videotape peaceful student demonstrators, and then share their tape with a private college’s administrators. It’s been almost a year since FIRE was first alerted to the fact that peaceful RPI student… Read more

  • Troy Police Department videotaped student demonstrators at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a private institution

    March 27, 2018

    Last fall, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute went to great lengths to suppress its students’ peaceful demonstrations — criticizing the institute’s administration — outside of a black-tie fundraiser. RPI administrators denied students’ request for permission to hold a peaceful demonstration (and not for the first time), built a fence to keep students far away from the fundraiser,… Read more

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: We want a ‘controlled environment’ for student speech

    March 26, 2018

    In February, students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute stood on a sidewalk outside of a hockey game, passing out buttons and flyers critical of the administration — until private security guards stopped them, claiming they had “eminent domain” over what the students reasonably believed to be a public sidewalk. In a town hall last week (full… Read more

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute doubles down on sidewalk censorship

    March 15, 2018

    Last month, private security guards at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute booted two students from a sidewalk as they passed out flyers and buttons critical of the administration outside of a hockey game. When the students pointed out that the sidewalk appeared to be a public sidewalk — as opposed to the property of the private institution… Read more

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute security officers block students from passing out literature on public sidewalk, claiming “eminent domain”

    March 5, 2018

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a private institution in upstate New York, recently earned a spot on FIRE’s list of the ten worst colleges for free speech, due in large part to its ongoing suppression of the student-led “Save the Union” campaign. Those students, critical of what they see as RPI administrators’ attempts to wrest control of… Read more

  • The state of free speech at RPI: Not good

    February 28, 2018

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has a long history of censoring anything controversial, from criticism of the Iraq War to critics of that criticism. Over the past year, RPI continued that tradition, working (literally) day and night to censor students. The target? Students who criticized what they perceive to be RPI administrators’ attempts to take over the… Read more

  • The 10 worst colleges for free speech: 2018

    February 12, 2018

    Every year, FIRE chooses the 10 worst colleges for free speech — and unfortunately, 2017 left us with plenty of options: Campuses were rocked by violent mob censorship, monitored by bias response teams, plagued by free speech zones, and beset by far too many disinvitation attempts. Although the number of colleges with the most restrictive… Read more

  • FIRE names America’s 10 worst colleges for free speech: 2018

    February 12, 2018

    PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 12, 2018 — Each year, colleges across the country find dubious ways to silence student and faculty expression. In the last year, administrators became embroiled in litigation for telling a student he couldn’t hand out Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution outside a free speech zone, continued a years-long effort to ban a… Read more

  • New York Civil Liberties Union questions Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s invocation of “non-existent” policies

    December 28, 2017

    In the wake of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s repeated attempts to stifle student supporters of the “Save the Union” campaign, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has now weighed in with a letter of its own, sharing its “grave concerns about credible reports that the Institute has been violating its own policies on free expression… Read more

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute drops charges against “Save the Union” protesters

    December 21, 2017

    This fall, students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) advocating for the preservation of a student-governed Union found themselves subject to audacious efforts to stifle criticism of the Institute’s administration: employees caught on camera tearing down flyers before dawn, and the erection of a fence across a significant part of the campus in order to keep… Read more

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute thinks you’re subject to its student conduct policy even if you’re not a student

    November 21, 2017

    If you think you’ve read a lot about Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in this space lately, you’re right: This is the sixth time this fall that FIRE is writing about RPI. We’ve also sent the school three letters this year. Unfortunately, we can’t promise this will be the last time, either — RPI seems hellbent on violating… Read more

  • As Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute threatens more students with punishment, student body president highlights RPI’s missed opportunity

    November 17, 2017

    On Monday, we shared a letter we sent to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a private institution in Troy, New York, where students are engaged in a long-running dispute with administrators about control of the Rensselaer Union. That quarrel has already seen RPI’s administration tearing down posters (on video), denying students’ requests for permission to demonstrate, and… Read more

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students face sanctions for protesting president’s black-tie fundraiser

    November 13, 2017

    TROY, N.Y., Nov. 13, 2017 — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute administrators are doubling down on their crusade to stamp out student criticism. The school is bringing disciplinary charges against students who participated in a peaceful demonstration last month, even accusing one student of “operating a business” because he distributed a flyer criticizing Rensselaer’s administration. Today, the… Read more

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s commitment to freedom of expression remains doubtful

    November 8, 2017

    Last month, FIRE raised concerns about whether Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is truly committed to its students’ freedom of expression — a right the private institution promises to uphold — due to the school’s repeated refusals to allow students to hold peaceful demonstrations critical of the administration. Unfortunately, RPI refused to substantively respond to our criticism… Read more

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute president (literally) fences out free speech

    October 12, 2017

    TROY, N.Y., Oct. 12, 2017 — In the latest salvo fired in a long-running dispute over control of the student union, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute administrators have again banned student demonstrations — this time forbidding dissent during this weekend’s homecoming celebration. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education wrote to the private university earlier this week to… Read more

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute denies students permission to protest administration — again

    October 9, 2017

    Last year, we told you about how students and faculty at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) were denied permission to hold a demonstration in support of their “Save the Union” campaign, and defied the administration by holding their demonstration anyway, cleverly labeling it a “class” about peaceful demonstrations. Now, RPI is once again denying students permission… Read more

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Cynical Attempt to Shut Down Protest Fails Spectacularly

    April 1, 2016

    The practice of university administrators providing absurd justifications for prohibiting student demonstrations is alive and well at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York. Administrators there cited a biannual speech by RPI President Shirley Ann Jackson as the reason why students couldn’t hold a “peaceful demonstration” outside the event, because the demonstration might be “disruptive… Read more

  • This Time, We’re Failing to Talk About ‘American Sniper’

    April 20, 2015

    Every so often, a cultural touchstone descends on college campuses, with the effect of putting campus discourse under the microscope for all to see. The results, frequently, are discouraging. Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster film American Sniper, adapted from deceased Navy sniper Chris Kyle’s memoir, is the latest exhibit. That American Sniper is a controversial movie is… Read more

  • FIRE Awaits Supreme Court Ruling on Content Neutrality

    March 18, 2015

    About five years ago, when I was a graduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), I tried to start a student group for nontheistic students (atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, and so forth) called the Secular Student Alliance (SSA). I quickly discovered that RPI had a policy of denying funding to political and religious student groups… Read more