Smith College

Location: Northampton, Massachusetts
Type: Private
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Speech Code Rating

Smith 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

This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech.

Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 154 colleges surveyed Read more
  • Student Handbook: Student Conduct & Social Responsibility- Conduct that Threatens or Endangers a Person

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2021

    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. Such conduct may occur in person or via audio, visua... Read More
  • Student Handbook: Student Conduct & Social Responsibility- Discriminatory Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2021

    Discriminatory harassment is unwelcome verbal, written, or physical conduct that is discriminatory on the basis of age, race, color, ethnicity, national origin/ancestry, religion, sex or gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, genetic information, or veteran status/membership in t... Read More
  • Student Handbook: Social Events- Advertising of Student Social Events

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2021

    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 is not permitted. 7. Advertisements with language or illustrations that are sexually explicit are not permitted. Read More
  • Student Handbook: Smith College Technology Policies- Acceptable Use of Computer Resources

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2021

    Electronic Communications Restrictions: … Use of images or text that are abusive, profane, or obscene in e-mail or on web pages. Read More
  • Student Handbook: Policies Concerning Freedom of Expression and Dissent

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 28, 2021

    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 C... Read More
  • Student Handbook: Statement of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 28, 2021

    Smith College is “committed to creating an inclusive, equitable and accessible educational community founded on the free and open exchange of ideas.” Among the central purposes of such a community are the acquisition and transmission of knowledge, cultivation of the creative and critical faculties of the human intel... Read More
  • Sexual Misconduct Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 28, 2021

    Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when one of the following conditions are present: … unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that ... Read More

FIRE surveyed roughly 37,000 students at 154 colleges and universities about the climate for free speech at their institutions. In 2021, FIRE released rankings of those schools, based on a number of factors, including openness, tolerance, self-expression, administrative support for free speech, and campus policies, scoring overall speech climate on a scale from 0-100. See the full report on FIRE’s 2021 College Free Speech Rankings for more information.


Rankings / out of 154 colleges surveyed

Overall Ranking 55
Ideological Diversity 155

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 60.09
Openness 11.47
Tolerance (Liberals) 12.45
Tolerance (Conservatives) 5.62
Administrative Support 6.24
Comfort 15.58
Disruptive Conduct 8.73
Speech Code YELLOW
At present, FIRE has not been publicly involved in any cases at this school.
  • New campus studies show dip in free speech support; support for censorship, violence

    November 6, 2018

    Findings included in two recent studies measuring college students’ opinions toward expression suggest both a dramatic dip in student support for free speech, and marked increases in support for censorship. More striking still are revelations that 17 percent of students say they support rewriting the First Amendment, and that nearly one-third support physical violence as… Read more

  • Students, Admins Cite ‘Safe Spaces’ in Seeking Limits to Media Coverage

    November 23, 2015

    One of many noteworthy aspects of the recent protests over racial inequality on dozens of America’s college campuses has been the effort by some protesters to bar members of the press in the name of creating a “safe space” to air their grievances. Many students have voiced concerns that the media would mischaracterize the story… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • ‘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.