Southern Methodist University

Location: Dallas, Texas
Type: Private

Speech Code Rating

Southern Methodist 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

Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 154 colleges surveyed Read more
  • Student Handbook: Code of Conduct- Irresponsible Conduct

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: January 25, 2021

    Engaging in irresponsible conduct or behavior that does not model good citizenship or reflects poorly upon the Southern Methodist University community. Read More
  • Student Handbook: Code of Conduct- Computing and Communications

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: January 25, 2021

    Violating the University’s Computing and Communications Policy (University Policy 12.3). This includes, but is not limited to transmitting unsolicited information that contains obscene, indecent, lewd, or lascivious material; using University resources for any commercial venture; or violating the Copyright law in an... Read More
  • Policy 3.3: Title IX Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 25, 2021

    “Sexual harassment” means conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following: … Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University’s education program or activity; R... Read More
  • Residence Life & Student Housing: Community Standards- Disruptive Behavior

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes
    Last updated: January 25, 2021

    I understand that any activity that has a negative impact on others will not be tolerated. Read More
  • Bias Education and Response Team (BERT)

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: January 25, 2021

    A bias incident is an action, behavior, or expression against an individual’s or group’s actual or perceived identity. Individuals or groups may experience bias based on, but not limited to: age, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability, gender identity and expression, national origin, gene... Read More
  • Student Handbook: Code of Conduct- Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 25, 2021

    Due to the University’s commitment to freedom of speech and expression, harassment is more than insensitivity or conduct that offends or creates an uncomfortable situation for certain members of the community. … Engaging in harassment, whether physical, psychological, verbal, written or digital-based, which is... 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.



Overall Ranking 88/154
Ideological Diversity 41/159

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 59.05
Openness 9.13
Tolerance (Liberals) 9.93
Tolerance (Conservatives) 7.94
Administrative Support 6.08
Comfort 15.66
Disruptive Conduct 10.31
Speech Climate
Supported Scholars
Sanctioned Scholars
Successful Disinvitations
Speech Code YELLOW
At present, FIRE has not been publicly involved in any cases at this school.
  • After students speak up, Southern Methodist University backs down from memorial lawn display policy

    August 18, 2017

    Southern Methodist University says it will update the memorial lawn display policy it cited earlier this summer to justify moving the SMU Young Americans for Freedom’s annual lawn display commemorating the September 11 attacks. The move follows pressure from student groups across the political spectrum, including Mustangs for Life, the Feminist Equality Movement, the College… Read more

  • Southern Methodist University student groups, governor unite against new memorial lawn display regulations

    August 4, 2017

    Since 2015, the Southern Methodist University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom has honored the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks by displaying 2,977 American flags on the campus’ Dallas Hall Lawn. But when the group sought approval this year for the recurring memorial honoring each life lost on 9/11, they received an unexpected… Read more

  • Amherst College Settles with Student Who Sued Over Withheld Diploma

    January 26, 2015

    Amherst College has settled a lawsuit brought last June by a student identified only as John Doe. Doe filed the lawsuit after the college withheld his diploma because of a sexual assault allegation from 2009 that had long since been resolved—or so he thought. After the allegations arose initially, Doe was placed on medical leave… Read more

  • Censorship Fail at Southern Methodist

    June 13, 2011

    A debate over censorship of Southern Methodist University’s (SMU’s) student newspaper, The Daily Campus, has generated some friction between newspaper staff and SMU administrators. The Daily Campus operates without administrative oversight all year—except for the mail-home summer edition. To obtain the addresses of all incoming freshmen so they can mail the paper to them, The… Read more

  • Episode One: The Phantom Blogger

    May 11, 2005

    Check out this very interesting article by Scott Jaschik in today’s Inside Higher Education about the Phantom Blogger who may have lost her job because of her online frankness. Rita Kirk, the department chairwoman, says that she received complaints about the blog from students and parents, and that she consulted with university lawyers about what… Read more

  • Burning the Cookies: SMU wrong to halt ‘affirmative action sale’

    September 26, 2003

      Famed First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams told a national group of editorial writers last week that threats to the First Amendment these days come more often from the left than the right. It was a provocative statement from Mr. Abrams, himself a man of the left. Yesterday’s action by Southern Methodist University seems to… Read more