San Francisco State University

Location: San Francisco, California
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

San Francisco 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
  • Free speech and double standards at San Francisco State University

    July 3, 2017

    Late last month, a group of Jewish students and community members filed a federal lawsuit against San Francisco State University. The lawsuit alleges that SFSU has, for years, turned a blind eye toward the censorship and harassment of Jewish students and their allies. As I wrote in Reason last week, the complaint is a mixed… Read more

  • San Francisco State Student Protesters Disrupt Speech by Jerusalem Mayor

    April 8, 2016

    Student demonstrators at San Francisco State University (SFSU) disrupted a speech by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Wednesday. The demonstrators, who were reportedly associated with the SFSU chapter of the General Union of Palestine Students and several other student organizations, chanted for almost an hour, frustrating Barkat’s attempts to speak to those in attendance who… Read more

  • Speech Code of the Month: Arkansas State University

    August 4, 2014

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for August 2014: Arkansas State University.

  • The Pitt Promise: A Commitment to Civility over Constitutionality

    July 23, 2014

    One needs only to flip five pages into the University of Pittsburgh’s Student Code of Conduct and Judicial Procedures to find “The Pitt Promise: A Commitment to Civility” (the “Pitt Promise,” or “the Promise”)—a list of pedagogical principles and values to which students are expected to adhere. In principle, the pledge is morally sound and perhaps desirable, but, as FIRE has explained, mandating civility clauses infringes on students’ First Amendment rights. As a current student at the University of Pittsburgh, a public institution of higher education that is bound by the Constitution, it concerns me that the university has enacted a policy that so clearly infringes on its students’ rights.

  • Compelling ‘Civility’

    June 1, 2012

    Earlier this week, an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) discussed the growing popularity on college campuses of programs aimed at promoting civility. While one might reasonably ask whether there is a connection between exorbitant tuition rates, administrative bloat, and programs such as the "transformational, saturation approach" civility projects discussed in the… Read more

  • This Month in FIRE History: San Francisco State University Investigates Students for Anti-Terrorism Protest

    February 17, 2012

    Five years ago this month, FIRE first publicized a case at San Francisco State University (SFSU) that ignited public attention and eventually led to a significant legal victory for student rights.  In October 2006, the College Republicans at San Francisco State University held an anti-terrorism rally on campus, during which they stepped on makeshift Hezbollah… Read more

  • ADF’s David Hacker on Civility Codes as Speech Codes

    August 12, 2010

    Last week in The Christian Post, Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) Legal Counsel David J. Hacker took aim at an August 5, 2010, article titled "Rude Democracy" in Inside Higher Ed, written by Susan Herbst. Herbst discusses the perceived lack of civility in contemporary American discourse, both in the larger society and on university campuses, and argues that… Read more

  • SFSU Policy Change Just Another in a Long Line of Free Speech Zone Reversals

    April 7, 2010

    Sam reported last week that San Francisco State University (SFSU) has revised its “Use of Buildings and Grounds” policy, which previously limited campus demonstrations and other expressive activities, such as distributing literature, to specified free speech zones. SFSU’s revised policy allows students to distribute literature anywhere in the university’s outdoor spaces so long as pedestrian… Read more

  • SFSU Eliminates Free Speech Zones

    April 2, 2010

    There is good news for students at San Francisco State University: pursuant to the university’s revised policy on the Use of Buildings and Grounds, demonstrations and other expressive activities are no longer restricted to free speech zones. Under the old policy, “rallies and demonstrations” at SFSU—a university of more than 30,000 students—were restricted to “Public… Read more

  • Universities’ Compliance with Speech Code Decisions Leaves Much to Be Desired

    September 24, 2009

    FIRE’s newest Justice Robert H. Jackson Legal Fellow is Erica Goldberg. Erica is a graduate of Tufts University, where she was editor-in-chief of Tufts’ weekly newspaper, and of Stanford Law School, where she was a member of the moot court board. She also served as a law clerk to the Honorable Ronald L. Gilman on… Read more

  • Rights in the News: Harvey’s Harvard Candidacy Continues to Grab Headlines

    February 27, 2009

    As April’s election for Harvard University’s Board of Overseers draws nearer, the candidacy of FIRE co-founder and chairman Harvey Silverglate continues to attract attention and enthusiasm. Scot Lehigh’s excellent column in The Boston Globe is just the latest testament to this, as Adam wrote earlier for The Torch (and as the Cato Institute’s Cato @… Read more

  • Anti-Hamas Rally Stirs Controversy, Calls for Punishment at SFSU

    February 16, 2009

    The College Republicans at San Francisco State University (SFSU) held an anti-Hamas rally on Wednesday at which at least one group member stepped on a Hamas flag, apparently leading offended students to call for the group’s punishment. No, we haven’t accidentally re-posted our "This Month in FIRE History" blog—believe it or not, these events just… Read more

  • This Month in FIRE History: San Francisco State University Investigates Students for Anti-Terrorism Protest

    February 13, 2009

    As documented in our video FIRE on Campus: An Introduction to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, one of FIRE’s most shocking February cases over our ten-year history began two years ago at San Francisco State University, when the university administration responded to FIRE defending its decision to investigate the College Republicans for an… Read more

  • Remembering September 11 and the Freedoms that Make Us Americans

    September 11, 2008

    On the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our nation, FIRE joins the rest of the country in remembering those who were lost. As we look back on that day, it is important that we also remind ourselves of the importance of the freedoms that make this country what it is, and that… Read more

  • Victory at San Francisco State, But Serious Concerns Remain

    September 9, 2008

    Yesterday, I reported about the Outdoor Event Request Form policy at San Francisco State University (SFSU) barring all student groups from holding outdoor events. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) wrote to SFSU on behalf of the College Republicans demanding that SFSU respect its students’ First Amendment rights and change the policy. We are happy to… Read more

  • San Francisco State University Puts Indefinite Hold on Outdoor Protests

    September 8, 2008

    San Francisco State University is at it again. SFSU has posted a statement on its website suspending all outdoor protests. The statement reads: The Outdoor Reservation Request Process for Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 events has been postponed until further notice per University Administration. The postponement will be in effect until completion of a review… Read more

  • Victory over San Francisco State University’s Unconstitutional Speech Codes

    March 4, 2008

    Chalk up another victory for FIRE’s Speech Codes Litigation Project. Today’s press release discusses the settlement of the lawsuit against San Francisco State University (SFSU), challenging the school’s unconstitutional speech codes. The press release explains: SFSU’s speech codes had banned expression clearly protected by the United States Constitution. For example, the college’s sexual harassment policy… Read more

  • Victory over Unconstitutional Speech Codes: San Francisco State University Settles Lawsuit with College Republicans in Favor of Free Speech

    March 4, 2008

    SAN FRANCISCO, March 4, 2008—Yesterday, San Francisco State University (SFSU) settled a lawsuit challenging its speech codes by agreeing to modify several unconstitutional policies to make them consistent with the First Amendment. The settlement also requires SFSU to pay damages to members of the university’s College Republicans as well as to pay the College Republicans’… Read more

  • Speech Restrictions and the Law in 2007

    December 24, 2007

    When it comes to speech restrictions and the law in 2007, perhaps the fairest thing that can be said is that this was a “complicated” year for advocates of free speech on campus. As many people know, the Supreme Court took on a student speech case this year, Morse v. Frederick—but the catch is that… Read more

  • The Difference the First Amendment Makes

    December 18, 2007

    The New York Post reports today that Canadian author Mark Steyn is facing charges in Canada for the opinions expressed in his book America Alone: After the Canadian general-interest magazine Maclean’s reprinted a chapter from the book, five Muslim law-school students, acting through the auspices of the Canadian Islamic Congress, demanded that the magazine be… Read more

  • An Appropriately Narrow Conception of Intimidation and Harassment

    November 26, 2007

    In a significant victory for speech rights on campus, U.S. Magistrate Judge Wayne Brazil ruled earlier this month that the plaintiffs in the San Francisco State University (SFSU) speech codes litigation were entitled to a preliminary injunction with respect to the University’s requirement that students be “civil” toward one another and its provision allowing student… Read more

  • A Devastating Blow to Campus Censors

    November 20, 2007

    Earlier this month, U.S. Magistrate Judge Wayne Brazil partially granted plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction in the San Francisco State University (SFSU) speech codes litigation. Yesterday, Judge Brazil issued his written opinion on the motion, and in so doing struck a devastating blow against speech codes at universities in California and hopefully—to the extent… Read more

  • ‘Thou Shalt Be Civil, Or Else….’

    November 12, 2007

    Check out FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate’s blog post over at The Free For All about our recent victory over San Francisco State University’s speech code. Harvey concludes:    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with civility, but, like much that is virtuous, it must be the product of voluntary self-restraint, not orders barked by an intrusive (and… Read more

  • SFSU: Another Speech Code Falls

    November 8, 2007

    As we announced in our press release today, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting San Francisco State University (SFSU) and the California State University (CSU) System as a whole from enforcing several unconstitutional speech codes. The codes were challenged in a lawsuit filed by attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) in cooperation… Read more

  • Federal Court Orders San Francisco State University, California State University System Not to Enforce Unconstitutional Speech Codes

    November 8, 2007

    SAN FRANCISCO, November 8, 2007—In a crucial victory for free speech, a federal judge has ordered San Francisco State University (SFSU) and the California State University System (CSU) to stop enforcing several unconstitutional speech codes. The codes were challenged in a lawsuit filed by attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) in cooperation with the… Read more

  • Federal Judge Prohibits SFSU from Enforcing Speech Codes

    November 2, 2007

    This has been a truly fantastic week for freedom on campus. Not only did the University of Delaware end its program of mandatory thought reform, but on Wednesday, a federal judge in California enjoined the enforcement of several unconstitutional speech codes at San Francisco State University (SFSU). The lawsuit—part of FIRE’s Speech Codes Litigation Project—was… Read more

  • Oral Arguments Today in SFSU Case

    October 31, 2007

    Oral arguments in the San Francisco State University (SFSU) College Republicans’ lawsuit against the university will be taking place today at 1:30 PT (4:30 ET) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division. The College Republicans are asking the court to enjoin SFSU from enforcing several unconstitutional speech codes on… Read more

  • Speech Codes Don’t Get Enforced?

    October 15, 2007

    As Will discussed earlier, Florida International University professor Stanley Fish argues in his latest “Think Again” column for The New York Times that campus speech codes do not present as much of a problem for students as one might think. In the process of reviewing filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney’s Indoctrinate U, Fish argues that any… Read more

  • FIRE in the News for July

    August 1, 2007

    The lazy days of summer must have passed us over at FIRE, for one look at our media coverage for July reveals just how busy we’ve been. The latest effort in FIRE’s Speech Codes Litigation Project, a lawsuit filed against San Francisco State University, was the subject of a syndicated Associated Press article, a news… Read more

  • ‘The Evening Bulletin’ Covers SFSU Lawsuit

    July 19, 2007

    An article in The Evening Bulletin yesterday highlights FIRE’s latest case in its highly successful speech codes litigation project, an effort to rid universities of unconstitutional speech regulations. Organized by FIRE, the Alliance Defense Fund and the San Francisco State University (SFSU) College Republicans are suing SFSU for a violation of the College Republicans’ First… Read more

  • Today’s ‘Campus Alert’: When Hezbollah Trumps Old Glory

    July 16, 2007

    This week, Campus Alert—FIRE’s weekly column in the New York Post—focuses on the situation at San Francisco State University (SFSU), where the school’s College Republicans filed a federal lawsuit last week alleging that SFSU administrators violated the group’s First Amendment rights by staging a five-month investigation into the group’s activities at an anti-terrorism rally. Specifically,… Read more

  • Media Turns Attention to SFSU Lawsuit

    July 11, 2007

    The lawsuit against San Francisco State University continues to attract media coverage from local San Francisco outlets and nationally read journalists and bloggers. In addition to an article on the syndicated Associated Press wire, the story appeared on The Special Report with Brit Hume on FOXNews Channel and FOXNews.com, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, and… Read more

  • FIRE Discussing SFSU Lawsuit on the Radio Today

    July 10, 2007

    The media coverage of the lawsuit filed in cooperation with FIRE against San Francisco State University continues. FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will appear on the Pete Wilson Program on San Francisco ABC News affiliate KGO-AM at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST) today to discuss the case and our latest efforts in FIRE’s highly successful… Read more

  • More on SFSU Lawsuit

    July 10, 2007

    The federal lawsuit against SFSU hit the news this morning, with articles in the International Herald Tribune and The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required).   One quick but important clarification of those articles: FIRE is not representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, but rather worked to coordinate the lawsuit that was filed yesterday by… Read more

  • FIRE’s Speech Codes Litigation Project Targets San Francisco State University

    July 9, 2007

    FIRE’s Speech Codes Litigation Project is moving forward as attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), in cooperation with FIRE, filed a federal lawsuit today against San Francisco State University (SFSU) for violating its students’ First Amendment rights.   Torch readers will likely recall the debacle at SFSU this past spring, when the SFSU College… Read more

  • Students Sue San Francisco State University over Unconstitutional Speech Codes

    July 9, 2007

    SAN FRANCISCO, July 9, 2007—San Francisco State University (SFSU) is the latest target of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) highly successful Speech Codes Litigation Project. In cooperation with FIRE, attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against SFSU for violating the First Amendment rights of its students. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Phoenix-based… Read more

  • ‘From the President’ in ‘The FIRE Quarterly’

    May 24, 2007

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff’s new column in the latest FIRE Quarterly explores how university administrators’ try to squelch student speech acting “like the censors of the Victorian era—morally infallible, plugged into absolute truth, and engaged in saving the country’s soul from incivility or impropriety. As Greg points out, FIRE’s recent cases at Johns Hopkins University,… Read more

  • Spring 2007 ‘FIRE Quarterly’ Now Available

    May 24, 2007

    Check out our latest, newly re-designed issue of The FIRE Quarterly, which contains news updates on FIRE events and victories in cases at universities across the country. Some highlights from this edition include a look at our victory at San Francisco State University (SFSU), where FIRE stepped in to defend SFSU’s College Republicans after the… Read more

  • ‘Campus Outrage Awards’ Feature Two FIRE Cases

    April 25, 2007

    The Collegiate Network has released their 2007 Campus Outrage Awards, an effort “to shed light on the most outrageous instances of intolerance and intimidation on the part of college officials.” Out of the five awards, two went to schools for their involvement in a FIRE case.   At Johns Hopkins University (JHU), The Carrollton Record… Read more

  • Cathy Young on SFSU and Censorship Masquerading as ‘Tolerance’

    April 10, 2007

    In Reason Online yesterday, the ever-reasonable Cathy Young discussed a string of FIRE cases involving students punished for expressing hostility toward Islam. Young notes that there is a disturbing trend afoot involving college administrators acting hastily, often with disciplinary action, against students who have been seen as blaspheming Islam. Of course there is the SFSU… Read more

  • Heroes of Free Speech

    March 21, 2007

    We were genuinely thrilled to announce yesterday that SFSU finally came to its senses and recognized that it could not lawfully punish the College Republicans for their political protest. We’ve talked a lot on The Torch already about the public outcry surrounding the case—the letters from FIRE, the ACLU of Northern California, and the numerous… Read more

  • Victory at SFSU

    March 20, 2007

    As our press release today announces, San Francisco State University (SFSU) has found the College Republicans not guilty of allegations of incitement, creating a hostile environment, and actions of incivility. SFSU President Robert Corrigan stated in a letter to FIRE yesterday that “the Student Organization Hearing Panel (SOHP) unanimously concluded that the College Republicans organization… Read more

  • Victory for Free Expression at San Francisco State University

    March 20, 2007

    SAN FRANCISCO, March 20, 2007—In a crucial victory for free expression, San Francisco State University (SFSU) announced yesterday that its College Republicans will face no punishment for hosting an anti-terrorism rally at which participants stepped on makeshift Hezbollah and Hamas flags. SFSU’s decision comes after months of pressure from the Foundation for Individual Rights in… Read more

  • David Frum on SFSU

    March 19, 2007

    Yesterday on Phi Beta Cons, David Frum reposted a column about the “ongoing scandal” at SFSU that he wrote for Canada’s National Post. Frum had some wise words about the broader implications of the SFSU case: The SFSU College Republicans will prevail in the end. Even if the university sanctions them, those sanctions will be… Read more

  • FIRE Friend Responds to SFSU

    March 16, 2007

    Upon receiving a FIRE press release regarding a threat to free speech on a university campus, FIRE friend Dr. David Ross always e-mails the administrator in question and asks a simple question: is this true?   After writing to San Francisco State’s administration regarding FIRE’s latest press release decrying the trial of the SFSU College… Read more

  • Not a Threat, an Opportunity

    March 15, 2007

    When FIRE learned that SFSU was pushing forward with disciplinary proceedings against the College Republicans, we wrote an urgent letter to SFSU President Robert Corrigan advising him of the serious legal risks involved in pursuing a course of action that is clearly proscribed by established, well-known Supreme Court precedent. FIRE wrote that: Any punishment enforced… Read more

  • FIRE on BBC Radio Today

    March 15, 2007

    In just a few minutes, FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley will be a guest on today’s edition of the BBC News radio program ‘World Have Your Say.’ The topic of today’s show is “Are universities stifling debate on the Middle East,” and Robert will be discussing FIRE’s current case at San Francisco State University. Interested… Read more

  • SFSU Stands By Its Actions

    March 15, 2007

    In the latest development in SFSU’s prosecution of the College Republicans, SFSU President Robert Corrigan has written a response to FIRE’s March 7 letter urging the administration to end proceedings against the students who dared to step on Hamas and Hezbollah flags in an act of political protest. In his reply, Corrigan points FIRE toward… Read more

  • FIRE on Air to Discuss SFSU Case

    March 14, 2007

    As part of tomorrow’s San Francisco launch of The Mancow Show on KTRB AM 860 in San Francisco, FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff will appear to discuss our recent case at San Francisco State University at 6:10 a.m. PST (9:10 a.m. EST). The show—which reaches 2.5 million listeners—is nationally syndicated and available online, so tune in to… Read more

  • ‘San Francisco Values Don’t Include Conservative Speech’

    March 13, 2007

    The Philadelphia Bulletin has an in-depth article today about the ongoing betrayal of free speech at San Francisco State University (SFSU). Bulletin columnist Joe Murray leads off with a discussion of SFSU’s history of censorship, pointing out the hypocrisy of those currently seeking to censor conservative voices at SFSU: SFSU is not a stranger to… Read more

  • Update on SFSU Hearing

    March 12, 2007

    San Francisco State University went forward on Friday with its trial of the College Republicans for the (constitutionally protected) “offense” of stepping on drawings of the Hamas and Hezbollah flags during an anti-terrorism rally. According to College Republican Leigh Wolf, who represented his organization at the hearing, it was more or less a complete mockery… Read more

  • Freedom Hanging in the Balance at SFSU

    March 9, 2007

    As we speak, the SFSU College Republicans are fighting for their fundamental rights in a disciplinary hearing taking place right now. Our thoughts are with them, and we’ll keep you posted.

  • Free Speech on Trial Today at San Francisco State University

    March 9, 2007

    SAN FRANCISCO, March 9, 2007—Showing brazen disregard for its students’ clearly established constitutional rights, San Francisco State University (SFSU) is putting the College Republicans on trial today for hosting an anti-terrorism rally at which participants stepped on makeshift Hezbollah and Hamas flags. University officials have alleged that the students desecrated the name of Allah, which… Read more

  • Undeterred by Reality, SFSU Presses Forward with Show Trial of College Republicans

    March 8, 2007

    The plight of the College Republicans at San Francisco State University (SFSU) should frighten everyone who values his or her freedom. SFSU, a public university, is putting its College Republicans on trial tomorrow for symbolic expression that is unequivocally protected by the First Amendment. Both FIRE and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern… Read more

  • SFSU in ‘National Review Online’

    March 8, 2007

    National Review Online features an article today by Brendan Conway about the College Republicans at San Francisco State University (SFSU). Conway writes: What is quite possibly the strangest flag-desecration controversy in American history is afoot right now at San Francisco State University. It’s strange for several reasons, firstly because the right to torch, stomp, or… Read more

  • FIRE Letter to San Francisco State University President Robert A. Corrigan, March 7, 2007

    March 7, 2007

    March 7, 2007 President Robert A. Corrigan President’s Office, ADM 562 1600 Holloway Avenue San Francisco, California 94132 URGENT Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (415-338-6210) Dear President Corrigan: It is with both deep disappointment and renewed resolve that FIRE is forced to write to you again to voice our grave concern about the threat… Read more

  • FIRE Quarterly: ‘From the Board of Directors’

    March 2, 2007

    Daphne Patai, a member of our Board of Directors, contributed to our recent edition of The FIRE Quarterly with a column reinforcing the importance of FIRE’s work after a year in which we saw so many attempts to limit student speech on campus. She wrote: Where restrictions on speech must, by law, be content-neutral, universities… Read more

  • ‘The New York Times’ Looks at Middle East Controversies on Campus

    February 26, 2007

    Karen Arenson has an article in The New York Times this morning about the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” which she calls “the latest flashpoint in the bitter campus debate over the Middle East.”   The film shows anti-Western clips from Arab television programming and documentary footage of suicide bombers, at times… Read more

  • SFSU Students Scheduled for FOX News Today

    February 15, 2007

    San Francisco State University students involved in the recent controversy surrounding an anti-terrorism protest where College Republicans stepped on makeshift Hamas and Hezbollah flags are scheduled to appear on today’s The Live Desk with Martha MacCallum on the FOX News Channel. The segment is set to broadcast during the hour-long program, which airs from 1… Read more

  • God and Man in San Francisco

    February 9, 2007

    Yesterday, FIRE took public one of its more outrageous cases: that of San Francisco State University (SFSU), where the College Republicans are to stand trial for stomping on Hamas and Hezbollah flags during a protest. The specific “offenses?” “Incitement” and creating a “hostile environment.” Now, it’s well-known to just about everyone with any knowledge of… Read more

  • SFSU Investigates Flag-Stomping Protestors

    February 8, 2007

    Today’s press release announces that San Francisco State University (SFSU) is investigating the College Republicans for holding an anti-terrorism protest on campus last October. During the protest, the College Republicans stepped on paper they had painted to represent the Hamas and Hezbollah flags. Unbeknownst to the protesters, the flags they copied bear the word “Allah.”… Read more

  • San Francisco State University Investigates Students for Anti-Terrorism Protest

    February 8, 2007

    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., February 8, 2007—In a profound display of disrespect for free speech, San Francisco State University (SFSU) is investigating its College Republicans for hosting an anti-terrorism rally on campus in which participants stepped on makeshift Hezbollah and Hamas flags. After students filed a complaint claiming they were offended because the flags bore the… Read more