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

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
  • Presumption of innocence
  • Adequate and timely notice
  • Adequate time to prepare
  • Conflicts of interest prohibited
  • Right to challenge fact-finders
  • Access to all evidence
  • Right to face accuser and witness
  • Active participation of counsel
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Expulsion must be unanimous

Non-Sexual Misconduct

F
3/20
  • Presumption of innocence
  • Adequate and timely notice
  • Adequate time to prepare
  • Conflicts of interest prohibited
  • Right to challenge fact-finders
  • Access to all evidence
  • Right to face accuser and witness
  • Active participation of counsel
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Expulsion must be unanimous

Sexual Misconduct

F
1/20
  • Presumption of innocence
  • Adequate and timely notice
  • Adequate time to prepare
  • Conflicts of interest prohibited
  • Right to challenge fact-finders
  • Access to all evidence
  • Right to face accuser and witness
  • Active participation of counsel
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Expulsion must be unanimous
  • 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