Rhode Island College

Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

Rhode Island College 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
  • Nondiscrimination Policy and Complaint Procedures

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 12, 2021

    Harassment prohibited under this Policy is defined as verbal or physical conduct (including conduct using technology) directed toward an individual because of their membership in a protected class (or a perception that someone is a member of a protected class) that has the purpose or effect of substantially interfer... Read More
  • Student Handbook: Residence Hall Policies & Procedures

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: October 12, 2021

    RESPECT FOR THE RIGHTS AND CONCERNS OF OTHERS The Office of Residential Life & Housing expects that in all relationships with each other, residents will be guided by a mutual concern for each other’s feelings, integrity, and the need to live in an environment conducive to academic and personal achievement. Th... Read More
  • Student Handbook: Student Conduct Code- Prohibited Behavior

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: October 12, 2021

    Students may be subject to discipline if found to have committed, to have attempted to commit, or to have threatened to commit, or aided and abetted another person to commit the following: 1. Violence, including physical abuse, fighting, verbal abuse, bullying or cyberbullying, threats of violence, intimidation, har... Read More
  • Office of Student Life: Student Bill of Rights

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: October 12, 2021

    Rhode Island College students possess and retain the inalienable rights granted to them by the United States Constitution. Attendance at Rhode Island College does not revoke any of these rights. Read More
  • Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 12, 2021

    “Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment” is unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person access to the Covered Entity’s Education Programs or Activities. Read More
  • Rhode Island College: Violation of Student’s Freedom of Conscience

    January 28, 2005

    At Rhode Island College, graduate student Bill Felkner was asked to publicly advocate “progressive” social changes that he did not believe in. Social work professor Jim Ryczek suggested to Felkner in an e-mail that if he did not agree with the school’s political philosophy, he should consider leaving or finding another line of work. Shortly… Read more

  • Rhode Island College: Punishment of Professor for Refusal to Censor Speech

    August 2, 2004

    At Rhode Island College, Dr. Lisa Church was threatened with disciplinary action after refusing to punish two mothers for making constitutionally protected comments that offended another mother at RIC’s cooperative preschool, of which Professor Church is the coordinator. The offended mother filed a “discrimination” complaint with RIC asking for “some action to be taken” against… Read more

  • Rhode Island Supreme Court rules former grad student’s First Amendment case should go to trial

    March 19, 2019

    The Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled Monday that a former graduate student who accused Rhode Island College of violating his constitutional rights more than a decade ago — by requiring him to advocate for progressive policies with which he disagreed — will finally have his day in court. FIRE, along with the Cato Institute and… Read more

  • Joined by Cato and NAS, FIRE Files Brief in Support of Student Compelled to Lobby State Lawmakers

    December 30, 2016

    Earlier this month, FIRE filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Rhode Island Supreme Court in the case of Felkner v. Rhode Island College, et al. on behalf of William Felkner, a former student of social work at Rhode Island College (RIC). The brief, submitted jointly with the Cato Institute and the National Association of Scholars,… Read more

  • Speech Codes of the Year: 2009

    December 23, 2009

    As Torch readers know, each month FIRE singles out a particularly reprehensible speech code for our Speech Code of the Month award. While all 12 Speech Codes of the Month in 2009 flagrantly violated students’ right to free expression, three were so egregious that they deserve special mention as 2009’s Speech Codes of the Year…. Read more

  • Speech Code of the Month: Rhode Island College

    July 6, 2009

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for July 2009: Rhode Island College. Rhode Island College, a public college, has so many restrictive policies that it could be our Speech Code of the Month several times over. One policy in particular, however, really takes the cake—the Code of Social Responsibility for the college’s residence… Read more

  • This Month in FIRE History: Victory for Freedom of Conscience at Citrus College; Coerced Student Anti-War Letters Repudiated by Administration

    March 13, 2009

    As we at FIRE often say, as dangerous as it is to tell citizens what they can and cannot say, it is far worse to tell them what they must say and, worse still—what they must believe. Unfortunately, we have far too many examples of colleges doing exactly that. In February of 2003, Citrus College… Read more

  • FOX News Reports on FIRE Case at Rhode Island College

    December 17, 2008

    FOX News reported yesterday on student William Felkner’s lawsuit against Rhode Island College’s (RIC’s) School of Social Work for denying him a master’s degree in social work for his conservative views: Felkner said his problems with his professors began in his first semester, in the fall of 2004, when he objected in an e-mail to… Read more

  • Rhode Island College Settles Student Group Lawsuit Over Posting Signs on Campus

    September 27, 2007

    Earlier this week, Rhode Island College (RIC) settled a First Amendment lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island (ACLU) on behalf of an RIC student group, the Women’s Studies Organization (WSO). The settlement—which ends a dispute dating back to December 2005 over signs posted by the WSO and removed by RIC—requires… Read more

  • RI Board of Governors to RIC Lawyers: Knock It Off!

    February 8, 2007

    Yesterday, Rhode Island College’s (RIC’s) lawyers made the shocking argument that a First Amendment challenge to the school’s sign policy should be dismissed because the school was not a state actor and therefore not bound by the Constitution. As I discussed yesterday, this incredible argument relied on a narrow line of reasoning imported from a… Read more

  • Rhode Island College: Not a Public School?

    February 7, 2007

    Back in early December, I wrote about a federal lawsuit brought by the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union (RI ACLU) against Rhode Island College (RIC) alleging a violation of the First Amendment rights of the Women’s Studies Organization (WSO), a student group at RIC. The suit claims that RIC removed signs communicating support for… Read more

  • ACLU Brings Suit Against Rhode Island College

    December 4, 2006

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Rhode Island today announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against Rhode Island College (RIC), contending that the school’s sign policy is unconstitutional. Specifically, the suit alleges that the college violated the First Amendment rights of the Women’s Studies Organization (WSO), a student group at RIC. According to… Read more

  • (Re)Introducing Will Creeley

    September 8, 2006

    Those of you who have followed FIRE’s work closely are probably already familiar with our new Senior Program Officer, Will Creeley. He has been working with FIRE since the summer of 2004, and in the spring of this year—while he was getting ready to graduate from NYU and take the bar exam—he began working part-time… Read more

  • Daphne Patai on ‘Dispositions’

    December 20, 2005

    The invaluable Daphne Patai, who serves on FIRE’s Board of Directors, recently sent me some interesting thoughts on the abuse of “dispositions” and other vague, political standards in the modern academy. As loyal Torch readers know, students like Ed Swan at Washington State University and Bill Felkner at Rhode Island College have been the victims… Read more

  • Art and the Myth of the ‘Right Not to Be Offended’

    October 21, 2005

    Check out the fascinating story (“Censoring Art or Protecting Workers?”) about censored artwork in Inside Higher Ed. Apparently the University of Michigan at Flint is demanding that a graphic drawing called Hermaphrodite be removed from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center because it is creating a “hostile environment” for workers. Anyone who pays attention… Read more

  • This Month in FIRE History: Victory at RIC, Part 1

    September 13, 2005

    It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year, but last September we announced our victory in Professor Lisa Church’s case at Rhode Island College: PROVIDENCE, R.I., September 10, 2004—Rhode Island College (RIC) Associate Dean Scott Kane stated in a decision released yesterday that he believes no “further formal action” is required in the college’s… Read more

  • Nontraditional Students

    August 18, 2005

    One of the more interesting aspects of our case submissions is that a disproportionately high number come from “nontraditional” students—those students who are older, married, or often have substantial work experience. Many of our more sensational and egregious cases—including the recent ban on showing The Passion of the Christ at a college in Florida, Scott… Read more

  • This Month in FIRE History: Rhode Island College, Round 1

    August 12, 2005

    Well, it’s August again, and apparently that means it’s time for FIRE and Rhode Island College to have it out.   This time last year, FIRE was engaged in a public battle for the rights of RIC professor Lisa Church, who faced a trial for not punishing two adults for making “offensive” comments she did… Read more

  • Censorship as an Act of Civil Disobedience?

    May 27, 2005

    Despite spending much of my professional life defending students who are victims of the totalitarian academic culture, I can still be surprised by the stunning self-righteousness underlying much of the censorship on campus. Campus administrators and many faculty members know that they have all the right answers regarding issues of race, gender, sexuality, poverty, war,… Read more

  • Rhode Island College Continues Campaign Against Conservative Social Work Student

    May 26, 2005

    PROVIDENCE, R.I., May 26, 2005—Rhode Island College’s (RIC’s) School of Social Work is requiring a conservative master’s student to publicly advocate for “progressive” social changes if he wants to continue pursuing a degree in social work policy. RIC’s appalling disregard for student Bill Felkner’s freedom of conscience is the latest in an ongoing string of… Read more

  • ‘Lyle’ Portends Life Without Freedom, ‘Friends,’ ‘Seinfeld’

    March 10, 2005

    Every year when I attend a national conference of administrators for America’s colleges and universities, one message comes through loud and clear: claims of harassment, sexual or otherwise, are out of control. At this conference, experts review harassment case law, recent suits and settlements from across the country. They also tell horror stories of absurd… Read more

  • Occidental College’s Ongoing Shame: Part 1

    March 1, 2005

    One year ago this month, Occidental College radio show host Jason Antebi hosted his popular radio show Rant and Rave for the very last time. In this last show he mocked two student representatives who had previously tried to have him impeached from his student government position. The student representatives filed sexual harassment charges against… Read more

  • Are Things Getting Worse?

    February 25, 2005

    A FIRE supporter writes with an interesting question: Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that your two latest cases (and some of your other more recent reports from other campuses) almost seem to indicate a “ratcheting up” on the part of those who wish to squelch free speech on campus. The brazenness of their… Read more

  • Reveling in Bias

    February 24, 2005

    Daphne Patai, a member of FIRE’s Board of Directors and a brilliant teacher and scholar herself, has the following observations about FIRE’s case against Rhode Island College: What is most upsetting about cases such as that at Rhode Island College, as Professor Ryczek’s comments make clear, is the apparent failure of professors and schools to… Read more

  • RIC Is Not the Only One

    February 24, 2005

    A FIRE supporter has written us and noted that forced lobbying is “quite common, and apparently accepted, in Social Work schools.” He goes on to say: At Washington University Social Work students also engaged in school-directed lobbying of the state legislature on behalf of University-approved positions as part of a course for credit. Since Washington… Read more

  • Rhode Island College vs. Freedom—Again

    February 23, 2005

    FIRE unfortunately often deals with colleges and universities that repeatedly violate the fundamental rights of students or faculty members. The shining example of this is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which keeps trampling on its students’ rights in almost the same way, confirming my suspicion as a Duke alumnus that UNC is… Read more

  • Rhode Island College Violates Freedom of Conscience

    February 23, 2005

    PROVIDENCE, R.I., February 23, 2005—The School of Social Work at Rhode Island College (RIC) has threatened to reduce a student’s grades if he chooses not to lobby the Rhode Island legislature for policies with which he disagrees.  Last fall, master’s student Bill Felkner received a failing grade after protesting a professor’s admitted bias in class… Read more

  • The Censors’ Favorite Team

    February 4, 2005

    Tens of millions of people across America will watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX this Sunday night. In a gesture of magnanimity before the big game, those of us at FIRE’s headquarters here in Philadelphia would like to tip our hat to all the New England college administrators… Read more

  • Rhode Island College Union Files Free Speech Grievance

    October 1, 2004

    PROVIDENCE, R.I., October 1, 2004—In a welcome development for free speech on America’s campuses, the faculty union at Rhode Island College (RIC) has filed a grievance challenging RIC’s unconstitutional speech codes. Professor Jason Blank, president of the RIC/AFT Local 1819, filed the grievance in the wake of RIC’s decision to subject Professor Lisa Church to… Read more

  • Breaking the Silence

    September 29, 2004

    Editor’s note: Last month, we ran an article entitled, “Backlash 101,” by GNN contributor Joshua Holland, editor of USC’s progressive paper, The Trojan Horse. Holland argued that heavily-funded conservative groups were taking advantage of an anti-political correctness backlash to make political gains among impressionable college students across the country. Not everyone agreed with Holland’s analysis…. Read more

  • Freedom of speech: RIC ends the inquisition, not the debate

    September 22, 2004

    BROOKLYN, N.Y. ON SEPT. 9, Rhode Island College tried to weasel out of an embarrassing free-speech controversy, in which it had tried a professor for doing nothing more than refusing to violate the First Amendment. And though RIC’s decision not to proceed with “further formal action” against the professor was welcome, it did nothing to… Read more

  • Free Speech Victory at Rhode Island College

    September 10, 2004

    PROVIDENCE, R.I., September 10, 2004—Rhode Island College (RIC) Associate Dean Scott Kane stated in a decision released yesterday that he believes no “further formal action” is required in the college’s trial of Dr. Lisa Church, a professor who refused to censor constitutionally protected speech. “While the decision is welcome news for Professor Church and her… Read more

  • An Open Letter to President John Nazarian and Rhode Island College

    September 3, 2004

    Dear President Nazarian and the Rhode Island College Community:   Today marks the deadline for Professor Lisa Church to set up a meeting with Rhode Island College officials about her handling of an incident that has been much in the news in recent days. As you know, Dr. Church refused a request to punish two… Read more

  • Rhode Island College to Try Professor for Refusing to Punish Protected Speech

    August 24, 2004

    PROVIDENCE, R.I., August 24, 2004—Rhode Island College (RIC), a public college in Providence, is planning a hearing this week to determine whether a professor violated college policies banning “hostile environment racism” and “intimidation” for refusing to punish speech protected by the First Amendment.   Professor Lisa B. Church, who was a coordinator for RIC’s cooperative… Read more