Smith College

Location: Northampton, Massachusetts
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Smith College 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 here.

This school does not have any cases at this time.

Red Light Policies

  • Student Handbook: Student Conduct & Social Responsibility- Conduct that is Offensive 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Intentional conduct that is offensive, not respectful, voluntary and understood to be behavior of a kind which targets specific individuals because of race, sex, color, religious creed, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.

    When sanctioning, the offensiveness should be measured by its gravity, whether it is intended to be offensive and not respectful, whether it is repeated even after the student engaging in the behavior has been clearly told that it is offensive to another, and by the effect the behavior has on the community and the student or students to whom it is directed.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Sexual Harassment Policy 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    In Massachusetts, the legal definition of sexual harassment is as follows: “sexual harassment” means sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual natures when: … such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work or educational environment.

    While it is not possible to list all circumstances that constitute sexual harassment, the following are some examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment depending upon the totality of the circumstances, including the severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness: …

    • Dissemination of sexually explicit voicemail, email, graphics, downloaded material or web sites;
    • Unwelcome sexual epithets, sexual jokes, written or oral references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life;
    • Unwelcome comment about an individual’s sexual activity;
    • Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures or cartoons ….

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  • Student Handbook: Social Events- Advertising of Student Social Events 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies

    6. Smith College prohibits promotion and/or marketing of alcoholic beverages on campus and social events that encourage drinking or drunkenness as themes. The advertisement of such events in not permitted.
    7. Advertisements with language or illustrations that are sexually explicit are not permitted.

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  • Student Handbook: Smith College Technology Policies- Acceptable Use of Computer Resources 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Electronic Communications Restrictions: …

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  • Student Handbook: Student Conduct & Social Responsibility- Conduct that Threatens or Endangers a Person 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion and other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person or which unreasonably interferes with, impedes or harasses other students in the pursuit of their education.

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Policies Concerning Freedom of Expression and Dissent 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    Any person at Smith College is free to express opinions and support causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operation of the institution. To this end, all members of the Smith community are obligated to provide, protect and promote the free exchange of ideas in every form on the Smith College campus.

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  • Student Handbook: Statement of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    Academic freedom and, more generally, freedom of expression are of paramount value in an academic community. Among the central purposes of such a community are acquisition and transmission of knowledge, cultivation of the creative and critical faculties of the human intellect, expression of ideas and emotions through the arts, and development of aesthetic sensitivity and appreciation. Academic freedom and freedom of expression are essential to the fullest realization of these purposes, and therefore Smith College must preserve and protect those freedoms. It must do so even when the ideas and values expressed are believed, by some or even many, to be inimical to humane society.

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  • College President Target Of Protestors’ Rage For Saying ‘All Lives Matter’

    December 11, 2014

    By Rick Moran at American Thinker Smith College President Kathleen McCartney got into trouble with the rabid left earlier this week when she made the stupid mistake of taking the “black lives matter” slogan and making it a more eucumenical “all lives matter.” Liberals erupted in rage, forcing McCartney to quickly back down. Fox News: The president of prestigious Smith College is red-faced and apologetic Tuesday for telling students on the Northampton, Mass., campus that “all lives matter.” Kathleen McCartney wrote the phrase in the subject line of an e-mail to students at the school, whose alumni include feminists Gloria […]

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  • College President Sorry For Saying ‘All Lives Matter’

    December 9, 2014

    By Maxin Lott at Fox News The president of prestigious Smith College is red-faced and apologetic Tuesday for telling students on the Northampton, Mass., campus that “all lives matter.” Kathleen McCartney wrote the phrase in the subject line of an e-mail to students at the school, whose alumni include feminists Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, former First Lady Nancy Reagan and celebrity chef Julia Childs. McCartney was attempting to show support for students protesting racially charged grand jury decisions in which police in Missouri and New York were not charged in the deaths of unarmed black men. Protesters have adopted […]

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  • The Taboos Crumble, And Free Speech Is Threatened

    November 12, 2014

    By Suzanne Fields at The Washington Times The more vulgar the culture gets, the more squeamish the keepers of the rules. The more verbal and visual taboos we break, the greater the threat to free speech. The National Football League institutes a 15-yard penalty for a football player who uses the n-word. If he uses it a second time, he’s benched. This is the word with a cruel racist history, but which is now used as a term of affection if the person of the right color uses it. It’s a word heard 500,000 times a day, reports The Washington […]

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  • You Can’t Say ‘Crazy’ At Smith College: Student Paper Replaces With ‘Ableist Slur’

    November 11, 2014

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix  There’s a long list of words you can’t say at Smith College – or apparently reproduce in the student paper. Smith alumna Wendy Kaminer, a feminist lawyer and civil-liberties advocate, spoke on a panel discussion on free speech and hate speech at Smith in September, and asked the audience what word came to mind when she said “the n-word.” When they said it out loud, she repeated it and said “nothing horrible happened.” Predictably, Kaminer was accused in the Huffington Post of committing “an explicit act of racial violence,” as noted by the Foundation for Individual […]

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  • Smith College Paper Considers the Word ‘Crazy’ an ‘Ableist Slur’

    November 11, 2014

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online The campus far-left: Ruining the English language for all of us. This story—an argument between the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and Smith College, a women’s liberal arts school—is as insane an example of the zeal for self-censorship at college campuses as any. Here’s what happened: Wendy Kaminer, a First Amendment expert and member of FIRE’s board of advisors, participated in a discussion about free speech at Smith College in September. Kaminer was unafraid to use the words n*gger and c*nt—instead of their frequent replacements, “the n-word” and “the c-word”—reasoning that saying the […]

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  • Protesters Force IMF Chief to Cancel Speech

    May 14, 2014

    At The Nation Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund chief, has withdrawn from delivering her commencement address at a women’s liberal arts college, citing protests against her and the fund that the students call “a primary culprit in the failed developmental policies implanted in some of the world’s poorest countries”. “This (the Fund’s role) has led directly to the strengthening of imperialist and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide,” said an online petition against Lagarde’s appearance at Smith college. For years, critics of the IMF have charged that in providing economic aid to poor nations, it has imposed conditions […]

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  • IMF’s Lagarde Won’t Speak at Smith, Part of a Growing List

    May 12, 2014

    By Douglas Belkin at The Wall Street Journal The head of the International Monetary Fund on Monday joined an elite group—those whose plans to give commencement addresses this graduation season were derailed by student or faculty protests. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, was scheduled to speak this coming Sunday at Smith College, but she withdrew her name after nearly 500 people signed a petition objecting to the policies of the IMF. Similar outcries foiled speaking engagements by former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice at Rutgers University and human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali at Brandeis University, among several others. “I call it disinvitation season,” said Greg […]

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  • After Protests, I.M.F. Chief Withdraws as Smith College’s Commencement Speaker

    May 12, 2014

    By Richard Perez-Pena at The New York Times A week before she was to speak at the Smith College commencement,Christine Lagarde, chief of the International Monetary Fund, has withdrawn from the event, citing protests against her and the fund, the college said Monday. Her withdrawal comes after Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, withdrew from speaking at the Rutgers University commencement in the face of protests against her role in Bush administration foreign policy, and weeks after Brandeis University rescinded its invitation to the rights advocate Ayaan Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree at its commencement, after protests over her anti-Islam statements. Such reversals have […]

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  • Pariahs, Martyrs — and Fighters Back

    October 24, 2005

    At the start of the last school year, activists at DePaul University set up a pair of tables along a student thoroughfare and distributed literature to passers-by. They caught the eye of faculty member Thomas Klocek, who took one of their handouts and read about Israel’s “brutal and murderous occupation” of “Palestine” as well as its “apartheid violence” in the West Bank and Gaza. This was provocative stuff — but nothing out of the ordinary for the two groups behind it all, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and United Muslims Moving Ahead (UMMA). Engaging the students in a discussion […]

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  • Judith Shulevitz: College Students Are ‘Hiding From Scary Ideas’

    March 23, 2015

    One Brown University student explained her recent decision to leave a debate about sexual assault thusly: “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs.” In seeking to avoid ideas with which she disagrees, this student is far from alone—and this depressingly widespread sentiment is endangering open discourse on college campuses. Journalist Judith Shulevitz wrote in The New York Times on Sunday about the increasing demands from college students who want “safe spaces” where they will be shielded not just from physical danger, but from ideas that they find upsetting. […]

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  • Mount Holyoke Professor on Words and Censorship at Smith College

    November 25, 2014

    Chris Pyle, a professor at Mount Holyoke College, recently took to the pages of Smith College’s campus newspaper, The Smith Sophian, to point out the absurdity of treating adult college students as though they were incapable of hearing certain words, such as the word “nigger.” As we have reported before, FIRE Board of Advisors member Wendy Kaminer participated in a panel on free speech earlier this semester at Smith, in which she used that word to discuss censorship (not as a slur to describe anyone), thereby igniting a controversy at the college. In his piece, Pyle takes aim at college […]

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  • Harvey Silverglate on the [Ableist Slur] Response to Smith College Panel on Free Speech

    November 10, 2014

    Back in September, lawyer and FIRE Board of Advisors member Wendy Kaminer was accused of committing “an explicit act of racial violence” when, in a panel discussion on free speech hosted by Smith College, she said the word “nigger” out loud. Speaking about the word itself and not directing the slur at anybody, she argued that, in many contexts, censorship of the word serves no purpose. Yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, FIRE co-founder and chairman Harvey Silverglate put critics’ responses to Kaminer in context, writing about the hypersensitivity pervading college campuses and chilling open debate. He wrote: On campuses […]

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  • College Students Get Comfortable—Often, Too Comfortable

    August 22, 2014

    Late last month, The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Eric Hoover took a close look at trends in higher education that suggest that students feel more empowered than ever—but also may be using their power to shut out new ideas.

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  • Replacement Speakers at Haverford and Smith Urge Graduates to Listen to Other Viewpoints

    May 19, 2014

    “Disinvitation season” continues, but at least some students are getting a lesson in what the phenomenon means for open discourse on campus.

    Former Princeton University president William G. Bowen spoke at Haverford College’s commencement ceremony Sunday and criticized those whose demands ultimately led to former University of California, Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau withdrawing from the event. And at Smith College, former Smith president Ruth J. Simmons replaced International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde as speaker after Lagarde backed down in the face of student protests. In her speech, Simmons emphasized the importance of hearing views with which you disagree, even those that are “deeply offensive.”

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  • Don’t Save the Date: NYT, WSJ, Fox, MSNBC, NPR Cover ‘Disinvitation Season’

    May 13, 2014

    The Class of 2014 is preparing for graduation by buying their caps and gowns—but let’s hope they weren’t counting on having a speaker for the ceremony. The years-long, snowballing trend of protests against commencement speakers, which FIRE has termed “disinvitation season,” is getting major attention this year from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, MSNBC, and NPR, among many other outlets.

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  • ‘Disinvitation Season’ In Full Swing; IMF Head Next Victim

    May 12, 2014

    Condoleezza Rice. Duncan Lance Black. Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Charles Murray. All of them have been disinvited from speaking at colleges this spring (or put under such pressure that they withdrew from speaking), for, respectively, the political, personal, religious, and scientific controversies surrounding their lives and work. Now those keeping score can add to that list Christine Lagarde, the formerly scheduled commencement speaker at Smith College and current managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

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