Saginaw Valley State University

Location: University Center, Michigan
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Saginaw Valley State University 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 here.

Yellow Light Policies
  • Internet and Network Resources Acceptable Use Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Users must not promote … material that negatively affects the University, or distribute copyrighted, pornographic or licensed software or material.

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  • Student Handbook: Code of Conduct- Demonstrations and Assemblages 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    Students have the right to assemble lawfully and express their concerns in ways that do not interfere with others or with the normal functions of the university. Demonstrations and assemblages on the campus must be held in such a place and manner so that the public peace of the campus is maintained. The Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, or the University Police, is authorized by the university to advise an assemblage or demonstration that they are violating the public peace of the campus.

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  • SVSU General Posting Policies 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies

    Flyers and posters are temporary advertising and communication tools used by students, registered student organizations, University departments and other approved groups at Saginaw Valley State University for non-commercial purposes. Approval must be obtained by Student Life by submitting a General Posting Request Form. Student Life staff will approve and post all materials.

    … Guidelines for Fliers and Poster Boards: … • Must be in good taste, free from profanity, nudity, or sexually suggestive graphics/phrasing. • Cannot promote the consumption of alcohol (such as, but not limited to drink specials, pictures suggesting alcoholic beverages, or mention of a “bar”) • Cannot include discriminatory or derogatory statements or graphics ….

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  • Student Handbook: Code of Conduct- Assault-Verbal 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    No student shall engage in verbal assaultive behavior or communicate the intent to engage in assaultive behaviors (including written or electronic transmissions), verbal threats, self-destructive behaviors or gestures or other conduct to cause danger to the personal, mental or physical health, safety or welfare of members of the University community or visitors to the campus.

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  • Student Handbook: Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    The law defines “sexual harassment” as unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (a) submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment, education, housing or participation in any University activity; or (b) such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment, education, housing or participation in any University activity by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive environment. It is the University’s policy to vigorously enforce these prohibitions.

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Green Light Policies
  • SVSU defends decision to prohibit profanity-bearing posters

    December 23, 2012

    A Saginaw Valley State University student whose profanity-laced posters were not allowed to be posted on campus bulletin boards is claiming the school is violating his First Amendment rights. Daniel Chapman, who is involved in student government at SVSU, has attempted to display posters that use profanity to protest a new policy at the university that requires all postings to meet the approval of the Student Life Office. The policy states that postings must be in good taste, free from profanity, nudity or sexually suggestive graphics/phrasing and not include discriminatory or derogatory statements or graphics. Chapman, citing a 1971 Supreme […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Wake Forest University

    May 5, 2014

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for May 2014: Wake Forest University. Wake Forest’s “Campus Posting” policy explicitly restricts student postings on the basis of their viewpoint. Not only does the policy ban any postings subjectively deemed “sexist,” “racist,” “derogatory,” or not in “good taste,” but it threatens violators with fines and disciplinary action. With this policy, Wake Forest places an impermissibly heavy burden on students wishing to express controversial political or social opinions on campus.

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  • ‘techdirt’ on Saginaw Valley State U’s Censorship of Anti-Censorship Posters

    December 27, 2012

    In an article titled “University Utilizing Faulty Irony Detector Censors Flyer Protesting Its Censorship Policy” published today on popular technology blog techdirt, Tim Cushing comments on FIRE’s ongoing case at Saginaw Valley State University. Cushing points out the continuing oddity of higher education’s insistence on treating adult students as “overly sensitive children who need to be kept in a protective, non-offensive bubble during their stay on campus.” The whole article is worth a read (warning, some “swear words” are used), as it makes many of the same points FIRE President Greg Lukianoff makes in his book Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship […]

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  • ‘(Bleep) Censorship’ posters not OK on Saginaw Valley State billboards, prompting legal challenge

    December 7, 2012

    by Lindsay Knake MLive   KOCHVILLE TOWNSHIP, MI — A Saginaw Valley State University student says the school is inhibiting his freedom of speech, but university officials say otherwise. Daniel Chapman wants to put up a sign with a two-word slogan; the first word is an expletive and the second is “censorship.” According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit organization Chapman contacted for help, he’s protesting a university policy that states the Student Life office must review and approve all materials posted throughout the university. “SVSU is using its unlawful censorship policy to censor student criticism of its […]

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  • Saginaw Valley State’s Scofflaw Administrators Ignore First Amendment

    December 7, 2012

    DETROIT, December 7, 2012—Blatantly ignoring the First Amendment, administrators at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) in Michigan’s Tri-Cities area have repeatedly censored a student’s posters—ironically, posters that protest a new, unconstitutional SVSU policy that allows the school to censor student postings. SVSU student Daniel Chapman has come to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “You read that right: SVSU is using its unlawful censorship policy to censor student criticism of its unlawful censorship policy,” said FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley. “SVSU administrators have displayed no understanding of the First Amendment or why free speech is […]

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  • Watchdog organization gives SVSU an “E” in free speech

    February 25, 2008

    SVSU has received the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE) most severe rating for its speech code. On its Web site,, FIRE says that the University has “at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” Last November, FIRE included SVSU’s speech policy as its “Speech Code of the Month.” Its mission statement on the site states, “The mission of FIRE is to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience.” The foundation has taken issue […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Saginaw Valley State University

    November 6, 2007

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for November 2007: Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU). SVSU, a public university in Michigan with approximately 8,000 undergraduates, maintains a Policy on Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Racial Harassment that provides: Physical acts or threats or verbal slurs, invectives or epithets, taunting or verbal abuse, degrading comments or jokes referring to an individual’s race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital or familial status, color, height, weight, handicap or disability are strictly prohibited. (Emphasis added). As Speech Code of the Month readers no doubt know by now, “harassment” is an exacting legal […]

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