Stanford University

Location: Stanford, California
Type: Private
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Speech Code Rating

Stanford 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

Due Process Rating

Sexual Misconduct

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C

Non-Sexual Misconduct

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B

  • Sexual Harassment Policy Office: Danger Zones

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 12, 2018

    Many behaviors could be interpreted as sexually harassing, depending on the circumstances.  Whether behavior is offensive or not depends on how it is perceived, not how it was intended. Sexual conduct is unwelcome whenever the person subjected to it considers it unwelcome. Watch out for these “Danger ZonesR... Read More
  • Student Activities and Leadership: Plan an Event- White Memorial Plaza

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: September 12, 2018

    White Plaza is a Stanford University space available for programs, speeches, rallies, information tables, banners and posters. It is considered a “free speech area” on campus. … Events in White Plaza must be organized by University entities (student groups, departments, and programs) and require pr... Read More
  • Stanford Administrative Guide: 1.7.1 Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 12, 2018

    Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: … The conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance or creating an intimidating or ho... Read More
  • Student Affairs: Policies- Acts of Intolerance Protocol

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: September 12, 2018

    For the purpose of this protocol, an act of intolerance is conduct that adversely and unfairly targets an individual or group on the basis of one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics: Gender or gender identity Race or ethnicity Disability Religion Sexual orientation Nationality Age Social or economi... Read More
  • Office of Community Standards: The Fundamental Standard

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: September 12, 2018

    Students at Stanford are expected to show both within and without the University such respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens. Failure to do this will be sufficient cause for removal from the University. Read More
  • Stanford Administrative Guide: 1.7.1 Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 12, 2018

    Stanford is committed to the principles of free inquiry and free expression. Read More
  • Stanford Administrative Guide: 6.2.1 Computer Network and Usage Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 12, 2018

    Users must not send, view or download fraudulent, harassing, obscene (i.e., pornographic), threatening, or other messages or material that are a violation of applicable law or University policy. In particular, contributing to the creation of a hostile academic or work environment is prohibited. Read More

Policies are rated on their inclusion of 10 due process safeguards. Each policy may receive 2 points for fully including that safeguard, 1 point for partial inclusion, and 0 points for no meaningful inclusion. Most, but not all, institutions have separate policies for sexual misconduct and all other misconduct. See FIRE’s Spotlight on Due Process report for more information.

Grades

Sexual Misconduct

C
10/20
  • Presumption of innocence
  • Adequate and timely notice
  • Adequate time to prepare
  • Conflicts of interest prohibited
  • Right to challenge fact-finders
  • Access to all evidence
  • Right to face accuser and witness
  • Active participation of counsel
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Expulsion must be unanimous

Non-Sexual Misconduct

B
13/20
  • Presumption of innocence
  • Adequate and timely notice
  • Adequate time to prepare
  • Conflicts of interest prohibited
  • Right to challenge fact-finders
  • Access to all evidence
  • Right to face accuser and witness
  • Active participation of counsel
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Expulsion must be unanimous
  • Title IX complaint filed after 8 years raises questions about due process at Stanford

    April 12, 2018

    The College Fix and The Stanford Daily reported this week on a controversy over the Title IX process at Stanford University, where an alumna recently filed a Title IX complaint against an alumnus for an alleged sexual assault while they were both enrolled. While the case is somewhat unusual in that it involved two people… Read more

  • Twin calls for censorship at Stanford University

    February 12, 2018

    Rarely does a university find itself embroiled in two free speech controversies within the span of two weeks, yet Stanford University appears to have given us a two-for-one special with separate incidents involving academic freedom and “hate speech.” First, on Jan. 15, The Stanford Review called on professor David Palumbo-Liu to “condemn and dissociate from… Read more

  • Former Stanford provost on ‘the threat from within’ to intellectual tolerance

    February 27, 2017

    Last week, Stanford University’s news site published an excerpt from a recent speech by former Stanford University provost John Etchemendy to Stanford’s board of trustees. Titled “The threat from within,” the speech discusses a number of threats Etchemendy sees to the success of the university in America today, first listing those he believes are coming… Read more

  • ‘So to Speak’ podcast: Rob Corry, ‘speech code slayer’

    February 23, 2017

    In 1994, law student Rob Corry joined with eight other students to file a legal challenge to a Stanford University speech code. It was the first-ever lawsuit filed under California’s recently-enacted “Leonard Law,” which applies First Amendment protections to private, non-sectarian colleges in the state of California (like Stanford), and which the students argued made… Read more

  • Stanford Task Force Recommends Improvements to Sexual Assault Policy

    April 13, 2015

    Amidst too many of its peer institutions taking significant steps back when it comes to campus sexual assault and due process, Stanford University is poised to take steps forward in order to ensure that students accused of sexual misconduct are granted a fair hearing. Since last summer, a Task Force appointed by Stanford Provost John… Read more

  • Cancelled Musical a Missed Opportunity for Dialogue at Stanford

    November 24, 2014

    Last week, the Stanford University student theater organization At The Fountain Theatricals (ATF) performed a well-received cabaret of various selections of edgy and provocative musical theater selections. The program was titled “Did We Offend You?” and was aimed at celebrating theater’s role in thrusting difficult and controversial issues into the open. Having worked in theatre… Read more

  • A Big Year for Campus Censorship

    July 30, 2014

    Yesterday, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff and Senior Vice President Robert Shibley kicked off Minding the Campus’s series on “the year that was” in higher education by writing about some of the past academic year’s biggest trends in censorship.

  • Why Free Speech Isn’t Conditional

    July 29, 2014

    It’s difficult to argue that free speech isn’t important. So when I explain FIRE’s mission to curious inquirers, they always seem to respond the same way—smiling, nodding, and occasionally interjecting with an “Oh, wow, that’s great!” When I began discussing some of the specific cases that FIRE has been involved in, one friend stated: “I believe in free speech, but I think that we should still fight against what we think is morally wrong.”

  • Did Stanford’s Student Government Break the Law?

    July 3, 2014

    This past spring, the Stanford Constitutional Council—the judicial arm of the student government, bound by a student constitution that essentially restates the First Amendment—made a remarkable pronouncement: “We do not feel compelled,” the four Stanford undergraduates on the panel declared in a ruling, “to follow the precedents set by the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

  • Introducing FIRE Summer Intern Jason Willick

    June 19, 2014

    Jason Willick is a rising senior at Stanford University, where he is majoring in history and writing a thesis about the politics of academic freedom in the postwar United States. He has worked as a research assistant at Stanford Law School and writes a column on politics, culture and current events for The Stanford Daily…. Read more

  • Stanford Student Government Steamrolls Club, Ignores Promises on Free Speech

    June 2, 2014

    STANFORD, Calif., June 2, 2014—In the wake of its heavily criticized, viewpoint-based retraction of funding to the Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS) student group for a conference on traditional values and marriage, Stanford University’s student government has ruled that the government’s Graduate Student Council (GSC) did not violate the group’s rights under Stanford rules. Additionally, the student government maintains that there is “simply not enough money” to fulfill requests for funding such as SAS’s request for $600—despite the fact that the student government has amassed a “Graduate buffer fund” of more than half a million dollars.

  • Stanford Covers Security Fee, But Viewpoint Discrimination Remains

    March 21, 2014

    FIRE received word yesterday evening that Stanford would cover the costs of security after all. As SAS announced, it was informed via email that the university had “[f]ound more funds to subsidize the full cost of the security”—a lucky break, given that Stanford is only a “$4.8 billion enterprise.”

  • When Campus Intolerance Means Free Speech Gets Torn Up and Run Over, Literally

    March 21, 2014

    Being offended is what happens when you have your deepest beliefs challenged. And if you make it through four years of college without having your deepest beliefs challenged, you should demand your money back. I have been saying that line in speeches on campus for more than a decade. Even though it often gets a laugh, the idea that students have an overarching “right not to be offended” seems more entrenched on campus than ever.

  • FIRE to Stanford: End Viewpoint Discrimination Against ‘Sexual Integrity’ Group

    March 20, 2014

    FIRE today wrote Stanford University President John Hennessy and the school’s Graduate Student Council to protest the $5,600 “security fee” charged by the university to the Stanford Anscombe Society student group for its upcoming “Communicating Values: Marriage, Family, and the Media” conference, as well as the student government’s viewpoint-based refusal to provide partial funding for the conference.

  • Stanford Student Group Denied Funding for Conference on Family Issues

    March 14, 2014

    Last week, the Stanford University Graduate Student Council (GSC) denied a request from a student group, the Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS), for $600 to bring speakers to a conference on marriage and family issues. Critics of the event—including GradQ, an LGBT group for Stanford graduate students—objected to SAS’s decision to invite several speakers who advocate against same-sex marriage. Campus newspaper The Stanford Daily reports that GradQ members said the speaker list was “inappropriately controversial.”

  • Do School Admins Need to Have a Thicker Skin for Discussion of Social Issues?

    December 2, 2013

    I have to admit, I am tempted to have the text of this blog entry consist of the word “yes” and then head home for the day. A thick skin seems so self-evidently critical to the functioning of a free and democratic society that it’s hard to believe people need to be reminded of it…. Read more

  • Four Key Points About Free Speech and the Feds’ ‘Blueprint’

    July 15, 2013

    It’s been more than two months since FIRE and the higher ed community were shocked by a letter issued jointly by the Departments of Education and Justice to the University of Montana. FIRE staff have blogged extensively about the Departments’ “blueprint” for campus sexual harassment in the last 10 weeks, but there are four crucial points that I… Read more

  • Dear Associated Press: Welcome to Our World. Sincerely, Student Press

    May 22, 2013

    As the nation focuses on the news about the Department of Justice’s monitoring of the Associated Press (and other reporters), it’s easy to forget that many student media outlets routinely endure egregious treatment from administrators at their schools. But yesterday, writers Devin Karambelas and David Schick penned a spot-on article for USA TODAY reminding us of just that:… Read more

  • Stanford Shows that Going Above and Beyond Isn’t Always a Good Thing

    May 13, 2013

    Stanford University Main Quad – Wikimedia Commons Generally speaking, doing more than you’re required to do is great. Everyone appreciates an over-achiever. Unfortunately, when your assignment is to take away student due process rights, going above and beyond is actually the opposite of what you should do.   Stanford University doesn’t seem to understand this…. Read more

  • New FIRE Op-ed in ‘The Stanford Daily’

    November 2, 2012

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff and Legislative & Policy Director Joseph Cohn have a new op-ed in The Stanford Daily today, calling on the school to more seriously consider its current standards for adjudicating sexual misconduct on campus. As Greg and Joe report, Stanford has adopted a "temporary ‘Alternate Review Process’ (ARP) that reduces the standard… Read more

  • Dueling Editorials at Stanford about Standard of Evidence

    May 24, 2012

    This week, the Stanford Daily student newspaper featured dueling editorials about Stanford’s decision to lower the standard of evidence in sexual misconduct cases in response to last year’s Dear Colleague letter from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). FIRE has taken the lead in opposing several provisions in that letter, which states… Read more

  • ‘Stanford Review’ Questions University’s Political Speech Policy

    May 21, 2012

    Last week, Gideon Weiler of student newspaper The Stanford Review penned an article criticizing Stanford University’s policy governing "political activities." Weiler wrote:   Stanford University has an ambiguous set of policies regarding student political activism on campus. Students running for public office, for example, are not allowed to use campus resources for their campaign efforts…. Read more

  • FIRE to Stanford Graduate Student Council: Protect Students’ Due Process

    May 3, 2012

    The latest battleground for students’ due process rights when facing allegations of sexual misconduct appears to be Stanford University, which is contemplating measures in its Alternative Review Process (ARP) that would fail to adequately protect students who are accused of some of society’s vilest offenses. Yesterday, FIRE sent a letter to Stanford’s Graduate Student Council… Read more

  • ‘Minding the Campus’ Applauds FIRE, Criticizes Stanford’s Due Process Failures

    July 21, 2011

    In response to our press release from yesterday as well as Samantha’s op-ed in the New York Post, Professor KC Johnson has written an article on Minding the Campus praising FIRE for its work in exposing the blatantly biased materials Stanford University uses to train those in charge of adjudicating allegations of sexual harassment and sexual… Read more

  • The Problem with Stanford’s Definition of ‘Intoxication’

    July 21, 2011

    I want to take a few moments today to discuss a particular aspect of FIRE’s recent work regarding due process protections for those accused of sexual misconduct. Specifically, I want to focus on the issues of consent and intoxication. Because many cases of sexual misconduct involve intoxicated students and questions of consent, precisely how a… Read more

  • Accused Student Pays Heavy Price at Stanford, Where Intoxication Eliminates Consent and ‘Acting Persuasive and Logical’ is Sign Of Guilt

    July 20, 2011

    Today, both FIRE’s press release and Samantha’s op-ed in the New York Post pry the lid off an ugly story at Stanford University, where due process rights and fair hearings have seemingly been abandoned for students accused of sexual misconduct. It’s hard to know quite where to begin, but let’s start with the fact that… Read more

  • Stanford Trains Student Jurors That ‘Acting Persuasive and Logical’ is Sign of Guilt; Story of Student Judicial Nightmare in Today’s ‘New York Post’

    July 20, 2011

    SAN FRANCISCO, July 20, 2011—Displaying a shocking disregard for fair procedures on campus, Stanford University is training student jurors in sexual misconduct cases to believe that “act[ing] persuasive and logical” is a sign of guilt. Stanford also instructs campus tribunals that taking a neutral stand between the parties is the equivalent of siding with the… Read more

  • ‘California Watch’: No Free Speech at California Colleges

    January 7, 2011

    Free speech is not safe at California colleges—not by a long shot. That’s what investigative reporter Erica Perez found in FIRE’s 2011 speech code report, as she wrote yesterday for California Watch: A new report from a national free speech advocacy organization found most of the four-year universities it surveyed had speech codes that substantially limit students’… Read more

  • Join FIRE’s President for Lecture at Stanford Law School

    February 25, 2010

    Please join us on Thursday, March 4th, at the Stanford Law Lounge from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for a free, open lecture by FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. Greg will return to his alma mater to discuss how students are "Unlearning Liberty" when they see administrators censoring their fellow students. From these acts of censorship,… Read more

  • Adam Takes on Stanford School of Education in ‘Examiner’ Newspapers as Notoriety Surrounding Case Spreads Through Media

    July 29, 2009

    Amidst the escalating chatter following Jay Mathews’ Washington Post article exposing Stanford University’s deplorable treatment of teacher education student Michele Kerr, Adam Kissel levels another blow to Stanford’s School of Education, in a column seen today in both the San Francisco Examiner and Washington Examiner newspapers. The School of Education, as has been well noted… Read more

  • Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on Stanford Blogger Case

    July 27, 2009

    In his most recent article for The Huffington Post, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff discusses the shocking treatment of student blogger Michele Kerr by the Stanford University Teacher Education Program (STEP). The controversy, which was recently featured in The Washington Post, stemmed both from Kerr’s dissenting pedagogical views and from the fact that she operated a… Read more

  • Victory for Freedom of Speech at Stanford: Student Graduates Despite Ed School Efforts to Revoke Admission, Investigate Private Blog, and Declare Student Unfit for Teaching

    July 24, 2009

    As we noted in today’s press release, Stanford University’s Teacher Education Program (STEP) has finally let dissenting student-blogger Michele Kerr graduate. Stanford tried to revoke Kerr’s admission after she voiced disagreement with "progressive" views held by STEP administrators, but FIRE intervened and resolved the issue. Kerr also was blogging about her thoughts and experiences as… Read more

  • Rights in the News: ‘Washington Post’ Article Shines Light on Stanford Ed’s Bullying Tactics

    July 24, 2009

    As we said in our press release today, The Washington Post‘s Jay Mathews has done us a service with his article on Stanford University’s shameful treatment of former student Michele Kerr throughout her year in the School of Education’s teacher education program, during which, among other things, the university tried to revoke its offer of… Read more

  • Victory for Freedom of Speech at Stanford: Student Graduates Despite Ed School Efforts to Revoke Admission, Investigate Private Blog, and Declare Student Unfit for Teaching

    July 24, 2009

    SAN FRANCISCO, July 24, 2009—Stanford University’s Teacher Education Program (STEP) has finally let dissenting student-blogger Michele Kerr graduate. When Stanford tried to revoke Kerr’s admission after she voiced disagreement with “progressive” views held by STEP administrators, Kerr turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. Kerr sought FIRE’s aid a second… Read more

  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Stanford University

    June 2, 2009

    Throughout the spring semester, FIRE is drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Today we review policies at Stanford University, which FIRE has given a red-light rating for maintaining policies that clearly and substantially restrict free expression on campus…. Read more

  • FIRE President to Speak at Stanford Law School

    November 18, 2008

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be speaking at Stanford Law School’s Constitutional Law Center (Crown Quadrangle, 559 Nathan Abbott Way), Room 180 tomorrow at 12:45 p.m. Pacific time. The event is open to the public and we invite all of FIRE’s friends in the area to come hear Greg speak on the topic of "Unlearning… Read more

  • Censorship at Stanford

    April 13, 2007

    In a story just breaking today, it appears that Stanford University is going to ban the public from attending an event featuring an “ex-terrorist” merely because the administration has determined it to be “controversial” in nature. When attempting to justify this decision, Stanford spokeswoman Elaine Ray said: “We’re not worried about violence. This is a… Read more

  • Stanford Bans Public from ‘Controversial’ Event

    April 13, 2007

    I just got a disturbing article concerning my alma mater: Stanford University, renowned as a global hub of intellectual freedom, says it will bar the public from attending a panel discussion Monday night because one of the speakers is “controversial.”   The speaker, who goes by the name Walid Shoebat, has been making the rounds… Read more

  • Possible Lawsuit at Stanford

    February 28, 2006

    FIRE recently learned that FIRE Legal Network attorney Robert Corry, who successfully sued Stanford University for its speech code in 1994, has taken up the cause of preserving door-to-door distribution of student publications on Stanford’s campus. Stanford bans door-to-door distribution of literature unless hall residents specifically vote to endorse it, and the conservative Stanford Review,… Read more