Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit
Towson 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 here.
Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
Chalking must be non-offensive language. (No obscenities, profanity or hate speech.). The university reserves the right to remove anything offensive and bill the responsible individual or group.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
The following misconduct is subject to disciplinary action … Inflicting mental or emotional distress upon a person through a course of conduct involving abuse or disparagement of that person’s race, religion, sex, creed, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability.
Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
Offensive items or language shall not be displayed on a door (i.e., room, suite, quad, or apartment) or be viewable from outside a room, quad, suite, or apartment.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Generally, Sexual Harassment includes any non-consensual Sexual Contact, Sexual Exploitation, or requests for sexual favors that affect educational or employment decisions. Sexual Harassment is especially injurious in relationships characterized by inequality of power, where one party has authority over the other. Such relationships can be immediate or based upon future expectations, e.g. the need for future evaluations and references. Visual displays of degrading sexual images, sexually suggestive conduct or offensive remarks of a sexual nature may also constitute Sexual Harassment.
Unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, whether between people of same or different genders and sexual orientation, constitute Sexual Harassment when: 3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment; or 4. such conduct by an employee, a Student, or by a third party is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive to:
a. deny or limit an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity;
b. create a hostile or abusive educational environment;
c. have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment at the University.
Examples of conduct that may be Sexual Harassment include, but are not limited to:
Verbal: Offensive conversation, remarks, slurs, commentaries or epithets of a sexual nature; sexual jokes; sexual comments about appearance, clothing, body; comments concerning sexual relations.
Nonverbal: Leering, making sexual gestures.
Visual: Displaying offensive sexually oriented objects, pictures, cartoons, posters or electronic programs or email.
Physical: Touching, impeding or blocking movement, any physical interference with normal work or movement, interference with tools or possessions, sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.
Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
Students, Student Groups, faculty or staff planning Expressive Activity must contact the following offices in advance of any planned Expressive Activity: the Office of Campus Life (Students and Student groups); the Provost’s Office (faculty); and the Office of the Vice President for Administration and Finance (staff).
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
The term “harassment” is defined as conduct directed at a specific person or persons which seriously alarms or intimidates such persons and which serves no legitimate purpose. Such conduct may include: threats, including gestures which place a person in reasonable fear of unwelcome physical contact or harm; following a person about in a public place or to or from his or her residence; making remarks in a public place to a specific person which are by common usage lewd, obscene, expose a person to public hatred or that can reasonably be expected to have a tendency to cause acts of violence by the person to whom the remark is addressed; or any other conduct which is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent so as to interfere with or limit a person’s ability to participate in, or benefit from the services, activities, or opportunities offered by the university.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
Unacceptable uses include, but are not limited to, the following: … Producing chain letters or broadcasting messages to individuals or lists of users, or producing any communication which interferes with the work of others … Using computing resources to threaten or harass others or transmitting obscene or fraudulent messages ….
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of students, and the general well-being of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals.
April 4, 2013
It’s not often enough that FIRE gets to relay a good example of speech on campus, but today I’m happy to bring you not one but two schools that are fostering proper respect for values of free speech and liberty more generally on their campuses The first comes from the University of Rochester, where economics professor Steven Landsburg posed a controversial question on his personal blog, The Big Questions, concerning whether or not harm is done to rape victims if they are not physically damaged by their assault. As you might expect, Landsburg’s question stirred up news media from Gawker […]» Read More
February 10, 2012
The Towerlight, a student newspaper at Maryland’s Towson University, ran an article earlier this week on Towson’s “yellow light” rating in FIRE’s recent speech code report, Spotlight on Speech Codes 2012: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation’s Campuses. The article does a good job of explaining Towson’s speech code rating, which could certainly be the subject of a thoroughly exhausting piece given that the university maintains no fewer than seven “yellow light” policies. As a public institution legally bound by the First Amendment, this is simply unacceptable. Perhaps more noteworthy than that, though, are some of the statements […]» Read More
March 31, 2011
I wrote here last month about the theft of 2,000 to 3,000 issues of the Towson University campus newspaper The Towerlight. I wrote then, as did The Baltimore Sun on March 2, that The Towerlight intended to press charges against the perpetrators of the thefts, if they were caught, under the Maryland Newspaper Theft Statute. It appeared progress was being made in the investigation. As the Sun wrote: University spokeswoman Carol Dunsworth said that campus police identified suspects in the case and that those suspects have been referred to the office of student conduct for possible punishment. But that’s not good enough for […]» Read More
February 14, 2011
At Towson University in Maryland, the editors of The Towerlight, the campus’ student newspaper, are promising to take action after, according to initial reports, almost all of its most recent edition was stolen—nearly 10,000 copies in all (update, 2/15/11: a more recent estimate is that 2,000-3,000 papers were stolen). Such thefts are depressingly common on university campuses, as we at FIRE can attest. In fact, The Towerlight notes that this is the third such occurrence at Towson in the past three semesters alone! Not only is this form of censorship unprincipled and thuggish, it is nonsensical—whatever content in the paper motivated […]» Read More
November 3, 2008
The Campus Freedom Network is full of liberty-minded students who are willing to work for reform on their campuses. One such student is John Eubank IV. A senior at Towson University in Maryland, John is active in the Student Government Association, Towson PROLIFE, Campus Crusade for Christ, and intramural flag football. John first learned of FIRE when Towson barred Towson PROLIFE from hosting an event on campus. John contacted FIRE, but before we could even get involved, the university relented and allowed the group to host their event. When he joined student government and discovered that the university illegally barred […]» Read More
October 7, 2008
Adam Kissel, director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, will be presenting two lectures at Towson University tonight. He has been invited to speak to the Towson Student Government Association early this evening and will give some remarks on the various measures that student representatives can take to ensure that they are doing their best to protect students’ rights. He will then give a public lecture entitled “Constitutional Rights of Students, Faculty, and Staff on College Campuses” at 7:00 p.m. in the Loch Raven Room of the University Union. Adam’s lecture has been sponsored by CFN member John Eubank IV […]» Read More