Rice University

Location: Houston, Texas
Type: Private
Tell Rice University to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Rice University 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

Non-Sexual Misconduct

Read more
F

Sexual Misconduct

Read more
F

  • University Policies: General Policies- Rice University Policy on Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

    Speech Code Rating: Red
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: May 18, 2020

    Harassment.  Harassment is unwelcome conduct (whether physical, verbal, written, or via technology) that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, ancestry, age, disability, veteran status, or other protected categories under the law. Moreover, harassing behavior not based on any of the above discriminatory factors that creates a hostile educational or workplace environment also is unacceptable and subject to corrective action.

    Harassment has the purpose or potential effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or educational participation. Harassment violates this policy and is subject to disciplinary action when 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continuing in or receiving benefits in one’s employment or educational program, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work or educational environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

    Sexual Harassment.  Sexual harassment is a particular form of harassment that constitutes illegal employment discrimination or educational discrimination under Federal and State law. It encompasses unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical behavior of a sexual or gendered nature. It can include such behaviors as unwanted touching or unwelcome conduct (whether physical, verbal, written, or via technology) of a sexual or gendered nature. Sexual harassment occurs when:… such conduct is reasonably regarded as offensive and has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s work performance or educational participation, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or working environment.

    Go to Policy | Get the Full Text PDF
  • Code of Student Conduct: Proscribed Conduct

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: May 18, 2020

    a. Mental or Bodily Harm, Reckless Action or Disregard: Intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict mental or bodily harm on any person, including on the charged student; taking any reckless action, or showing reckless disregard, from which mental or bodily harm could result to any person, including to the charged student. This includes, but is not limited to, actual or attempted behavior that includes

    i. physical abuse of all types, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion,

    ii. sexual assault, other forms of sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking, and sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based misconduct,

    Go to Policy | Get the Full Text PDF
  • Code of Student Conduct: Proscribed Conduct

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: May 18, 2020

    Misuse or Abuse of Computational Facilities, including: … use of computational facilities to send obscene, abusive, harassing or threatening messages or to engage in stalking behavior or to repeatedly send unwanted email to individuals;

    Go to Policy | Get the Full Text PDF
  • University Policies: General Policies- Campus Demonstrations, Protests and Organized Expressions of Opinion

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: May 18, 2020

    Those wishing to organize or stage activities covered by this policy on any University property are required to contact the Rice University Police Department (RUPD) at least 48 hours in advance of the activity to request permission to hold the activity. Because RUPD is open at all hours and also plays a central role in safeguarding Rice’s community and property, it is the office designated by this policy to consult other appropriate Rice offices to discuss an event request and communicate the University’s decision on permission. Requests can be emailed to rupd@rice.edu. In the event of extraordinary circumstances, organizers of an activity covered by this policy may request permission to hold the event within the 48-hour notice window, but failure to provide the required notice at least 48 hours in advance may increase the probability that the activity may not be approved due to lack of sufficient time for necessary planning.

    Go to Policy | Get the Full Text PDF
  • University Policies: General Policies- Appropriate Use of Information Technology

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: May 18, 2020

    Prohibited Uses … Individuals should not use University technological resources for partisan political purposes.

    Go to Policy | Get the Full Text PDF
  • University Policies: General Policies- Rice University Policy on Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: May 18, 2020

    Rice expects all members of the University community to:

    1. Be respectful of everyone and demonstrate civility toward all, regardless of position or office.
    Go to Policy | Get the Full Text PDF
  • General Announcements: Student Responsibility

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes
    Last updated: May 18, 2020

    The university … reserves the right to insist on the withdrawal of any student whose conduct it judges to be clearly detrimental to the best interests of either the student or the university. The appropriate authorities take such action only after careful consideration.

    Go to Policy | Get the Full Text PDF
  • Faculty Handbook: Faculty Rights, Privileges, and Responsibilities

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: May 18, 2020

    The law recognizes in academic freedom a principal means of safeguarding free expression throughout society. In Keyishian, Justice Brennan put academic freedom at the very core of First Amendment protections. Two other justices, Felix Frankfurter in Sweezy v. New Hampshire (1957) and Lewis Powell in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), saw fit to incorporate into their opinions a still more expansive definition of academic freedom, the “Statement of Remonstrance” addressed to the government of South Africa by senior scholars at the Open Universities of Cape Town and Witwaterstrand. “A university ceases to be true to its own nature,” they wrote, “if it becomes the tool of Church or State or any sectional interest. A university is characterized by the spirit of free inquiry, its ideal being that of Socrates — to follow the argument where it leads… . It is the business of a university to provide that atmosphere which is most conducive to speculation, experiment, and creation. It is an atmosphere in which there prevail the four essential freedoms of a university — to determine for itself on academic grounds who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study.”

    Quite apart from its value to society at large, freedom of expression is the enabling precondition of the academic enterprise, for where people hesitate to speak their mind, critical thinking has no purchase and the university cannot even begin to carry out its mission. That is why academic freedom and its material complement, tenure, have become defining features of university life. But because free expression can be deeply disturbing, none of us, whether inside or outside of the academy, is immune to the temptation to suppress offensive speech by force, censorship, or intimidation. It is accordingly incumbent on each individual associated with the university — whether as student, teacher, administrator or trustee — to exercise the vigilance and self-restraint without which freedom of expression cannot flourish. In the university, even more than in democratic society at large, the principle of free thought must prevail, not just “free thought for those who agree with us,” as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. warned in U.S. v. Schwimmer (1928), but “freedom for the thought we hate.”

    The best response to offensive speech is neither silence nor censorship, but more speech, preferably cast in the form of arguments exposing the inadequacies of that which offends. Of all the institutions of society, the university is the one most deeply committed to the sublimation of conflict into reasoned argumentation. Far from being a scene of indiscriminate toleration where “freedom of expression” degenerates into “anything goes,” Rice University, like other universities, is properly a forum for judgment and mutual criticism, in which all opinions are entitled to a respectful hearing, none is exempt from criticism, and only those that earn acceptance on their intellectual merits remain in circulation.

    Go to Policy | Get the Full Text PDF
  • University Policies: General Policies- Campus Demonstrations, Protests and Organized Expressions of Opinion

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: May 18, 2020

    One of the University’s functions is to provide its community of students, faculty and staff members a forum for the safe, non-disruptive expression and discussion of diverse points of view, even when those expressions or discussions are controversial.

    Go to Policy | Get the Full Text PDF

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

Non-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

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
At present, FIRE has not been publicly involved in any cases at this school.
  • Speech Code Countdown: ‘U.S. News’ Top 25 College Rankings, Numbers 19-11

    October 6, 2016

    FIRE’s U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” Countdown continues today. We’re giving you a school-by-school analysis of just how well America’s “Best Colleges” do when it comes to protecting free speech on campus. Unfortunately, in today’s crop of top campuses, troubling speech codes abound. As part of FIRE’s fresh look at U.S. News’ top-ranked… Read more

  • Rice University Student Stands Up for Free Speech in ‘The Rice Thresher’

    November 22, 2011

    Pro tip: If your speech silences someone else’s speech, there’s a good chance that your speech is no longer protected. That is the subject of an op-ed last week in The Rice Thresher by Rice University student Anthony Lauriello, titled "Eric Cantor protests at Rice University an affront to open discourse and free speech." According… Read more

  • Rice Editorial Misses the Point on Free Speech

    March 27, 2009

    An editorial in Rice University’s student newspaper, The Rice Thresher, recently took FIRE to task for giving Rice a "red-light" rating for maintaining policies that censor student speech. As FIRE explained in the blog post that drew the Thresher‘s attention, Rice’s red-light rating is because of its policy on Appropriate Use of Information Technology Resources…. Read more

  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Rice University

    March 9, 2009

    Throughout the spring semester, FIRE is drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Today we review policies at Rice University, which FIRE has given a red-light rating for maintaining a policy that clearly and substantially restricts free expression on… Read more