University of California, San Diego

Location: La Jolla, California
Website: http://www.ucsd.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of California, San Diego 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.

  • University of California at San Diego: Unconstitutional Defunding of Student Media

    December 18, 2015

    On November 18, 2015, in response to a controversial article by satirical student newspaper The Koala, administrators at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) publically condemned the paper’s “offensive and hurtful” language.

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  • University of California at San Diego: First Amendment Violations at UCSD

    February 22, 2010

    In a victory for freedom of the press on campus, the student government of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) voted last night to end an ongoing moratorium on funding for student media. The vote restores funding for student media organizations and makes no changes to the current policy governing student media. FIRE has been working with student media to end the funding freeze.

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  • University of California at San Diego: Censorship of Student Satire Magazine

    June 21, 2002

    The University of California at San Diego (UCSD) announced that it had dropped its charge of "disruption" against a student humor publication, The Koala. The Koala faced charges after publishing satirical photos of a student member of a campus Chicano organization. FIRE wrote UCSD to remind it of a 1995 case when another UCSD student publication, Voz Fronteriza, celebrated the death of a Latino Immigration and Naturalization Service officer and called for the murder of other such "race traitors." In that case, UCSD-including Vice Chancellor Joseph W. Watson, whose office oversaw this year’s trial of The Koala-vigorously affirmed Voz Fronteriza’s […]

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination: FAQ

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: February 24, 2016

    The following examples of harassment would likely violate UC policy if found to be sufficiently “severe” and/or “pervasive”:

    • Name calling, teasing, or making other derogatory or dehumanizing remarks based on a person’s race (or other protected category).
    • Physical assaults targeting individuals of a particular religion (or other protected category).
    • Repeatedly sending unwelcome e-mails, text messages, or photos of a sexual nature.
    • Anti-Semitic or Islamaphobic graffiti, scrawled on the door of a student’s room.
    • Targeted display of racially charged images, such as nooses and Confederate flags.

    Sexual harassment may be verbal, visual or physical conduct.

    Examples include:

    Sexual innuendos and other seductive behavior, including pressure for sexual activity such as repeated, unwanted requests for dates, and repeated inappropriate personal comments, staring, or touching;

    Remarks of a sexual nature about a person’s clothing or body;
    Unwelcome and inappropriate letters, telephone calls, electronic mail, or other communications or gifts.

    Conduct may violate the University of California Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment only if it meets the definition set out in the relevant policies applying to students or employees.

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  • University of California Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: February 24, 2016

    Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment is conduct that explicitly or implicitly affects a person’s employment or education or interferes with a person’s work or educational performance or creates an environment such that a reasonable person would find the conduct intimidating, hostile, or offensive.

    [H]arassment of one student by another student is defined as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is so severe and/or pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so substantially impairs a person’s access to University programs or activities that the person is effectively denied equal access to the University’s resources and opportunities.

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  • Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination: FAQ

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: February 24, 2016

    Bias incidents are acts of conduct, speech, or expression that target individuals and groups based on certain characteristics such as race, religion, ethnic/national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, disability, or sexual orientation. Examples of bias incidents include: …

    Examples of bias incidents include:

    • A public speaker who makes homophobic comments about members of the LGBT community
    • Anti-Semitic or Islamophobic flyers distributed on campus
    • Sexist or racist jokes told in public
    • Verbal insults directed toward a person of color
    • Defaming e-mails sent to a student cultural organization

    Some bias incidents may violate university nondiscrimination policies, the Student Conduct Code or other University policies.  Other acts of bias may either not be severe enough to violate policy or be protected expressions of speech. The protection of freedom of expression, including controversial speech, and sometimes even offensive or hurtful words, is vital to a community of teachers and learners. Nevertheless, personal threats or other acts of misconduct violate university policies and those policies will be vigorously enforced. You should report bias incidents so the university can determine if policies have been violated and support persons who feel victimized.

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  • Academic Computing & Media Services Acceptable Use Policies

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: February 24, 2016

    Examples of misuse include, but are not limited to, the activities in the following list. … Engaging in activities which result in an excessive and avoidable level of complaints to University officials. For example, publishing controversial material without identifying the individual or organization responsible for the publication and without providing a clear means for direct feedback and handling of complaints by the publisher.

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  • University of California Campus Climate

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: February 24, 2016

    If you experience or observe behavior that is inconsistent with our Principles of Community, please report it. You may report in a variety of ways: *Report anonymously or by name, via this Campus Climate page, by selecting the University of California campus where the incident occurred from the list to the right and clicking “Continue”. * Report anonymously to an appropriate campus office, based on the nature of the incident. Please refer to the website for the campus where the incident occurred. * Report anonymously via your campus’ Bias Reporting page, by selecting your campus from the Local Bias Reporting menu above. If your campus does not appear on this list, there is no local reporting form available. Please use this form, instead. * File a report with your Campus Police Department, via the Campus Police menu above.

    Hate Speech: Hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display that may incite violence or prejudicial action against someone based on actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, gender, gender identity, ethnicity ….

    Expressions of Bias: A general communication not directed toward a particular individual, which disparages a group of people on the basis of some characteristic ….

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  • The UCSD Principles of Community

    Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience
    Last updated: February 24, 2016

    UCSD faculty, staff, and students are expected to practice these basic principles as individuals and in groups.

    *We affirm each individual’s right to dignity and strive to maintain a climate of justice marked by mutual respect for each other.

    * We value the cultural diversity of UCSD because it enriches our lives and the university. We celebrate this diversity and support respect for all cultures, by both individuals and the university as a whole.

    * We are a university that adapts responsibly to cultural differences among the faculty, staff, students, and community.

    * We acknowledge that our society carries historical and divisive biases based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and political beliefs. Therefore, we seek to foster understanding and tolerance among individuals and groups, and we promote awareness through education and constructive strategies for resolving conflict.

    * We reject acts of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and political beliefs, and we will confront and appropriately respond to such acts.

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Regulations: Use of “Fighting Words”

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: February 24, 2016

    (1) The policy defines prohibited “fighting words” as: “those personally abusive epithets which, when directly addressed to any ordinary person are, in the context used and as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke a violent reaction whether or not they actually do so.”
    (2) To be subject to the policy, “fighting words” must be inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.
    (3) To be subject to the policy, “fighting words” must be directly addressed to the subject of the epithets.
    (4) The policy describes as examples of “fighting words” “those terms widely recognized to be derogatory references to race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and other personal characteristics.” These examples are provided for the purpose of illustration only. Derogatory references to the listed personal characteristics are not automatically fighting words under the policy if the other requirements of the definition cited above are not met. Nor does the policy limit the definition of “fighting words” to such derogatory references.
    (5) The policy prohibits use of fighting words “to harass any person(s) on campus or University property…”and later provides a definition of harassment.” This “harassment” requirement narrows the scope of the policy; it does not expand it. To be subject to the policy, “fighting words” must BOTH meet the policy’s definition of that term and constitute harassment.
    (6) The definition of “harassment” requires that the harassing conduct “interfere with the victim’s ability to pursue effectively his or her education or otherwise participate fully in campus or University programs and activities.” Conduct meets this standard when it causes a substantial impairment of the victim’s participation in the University activities or use of University facilities.

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  • Student Conduct Code

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: February 24, 2016

    J.   Conduct (e.g. harassment) that is so severe and/or pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so substantially impairs a person’s access to University programs or activities that the person is effectively denied equal access to the University’s resources and opportunities.

    Y.  Physical, verbal, written, face-to-face, telephonic, electronic or other means of contact that a Student knows or should know is unwanted, is communicated directly to one or more specific Students, faculty, or staff, constitutes severe and/or pervasive, and objectively offensive conduct; and does not constitute speech protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (e.g. speech in a public forum on a matter of public concern).

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  • Student Regulations: Expression and Advocacy

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: February 24, 2016

    Any individual or group wishing to exercise rights of expression and/or advocacy may utilize UCSD grounds generally open to the public. These areas include: but are not necessarily limited to:

    1. Revelle College Plaza
    2. Revelle College Grassy Knoll
    3. Muir College Quad
    4. Thurgood Marshall College Quad
    5. Warren College Mall
    6. Gym Steps
    7. Student Center Hump
    8. Eleanor Roosevelt College Residence Hall Green
    9. Pepper Canyon Plaza
    10. Eleanor Roosevelt College Quad

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  • Freedom of Speech and Expression 101

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: February 24, 2016

    The First Amendment is applicable not just to Congress and the federal government, but to state and local public officials and entities as well, including UC San Diego. Protection of speech by the First Amendment is intended to encourage the free flow of ideas and to protect individuals whose speech may be considered unpopular or dissentious.

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  • No Laughing Matter: College Comedy Papers Struggle with ‘Political Correctness’ Climate

    May 13, 2016

    By Allison Kowalski at SPLC Emmy Ballard knew it was time for an apology. It was 2010, and the comedy paper she was an assistant editor of, The Fish Rap Live!, had been accused by the student population at University of California, Santa Cruz of publishing racist content and some groups had even called for defunding the paper… Read more here.

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  • The Trumpening & The Chalking

    April 12, 2016

    By Rod Dreher at The American Conservative A group of UC San Diego students said they were deeply disturbed after anti-Mexican/pro-Donald Trump sayings were found on campus in front of a Latino community center… Read more here.

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  • Free Speech on Campus

    March 1, 2016

    By Staff at Las Vegas Review- Journal Students don’t check their free speech rights at the gates of the colleges they choose to attend, whether the school is a public or private institution. But tamping down on the First Amendment is at its most deplorable when it happens at state-run public colleges. Read more here.

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  • UCSD Called Among Worst for Free Speech

    February 18, 2016

    By Gary Warth at The San Diego Union-Tribune LA JOLLA — A free-speech advocacy group has named UC San Diego one of the nation’s 10 worst schools for free speech following the student government’s decision to cut funding to a controversial satirical publication. Read more here.

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  • FIRE Ranks the 10 Worst Schools for Free Speech

    February 18, 2016

    By Chris Nuelle at Campus Reform The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), recently released its annual list of universities that are notoriously bad for freedom of speech for 2016. Read more here.

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  • Two Oklahoma Universities Make List of 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech

    February 18, 2016

    By Dallas Franklin at KFor.com OKLAHOMA – Two universities in Oklahoma recently made the list for the 10 worst colleges for free speech. Read more here.

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  • University of Tulsa, OU Make List of Worst Colleges for Free Speech

    February 17, 2016

    By Staff at News On 6 The University of Tulsa and the University of Oklahoma have made a list of the ten worst colleges for free speech. Read more here.

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  • LSU on List of 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech

    February 17, 2016

    By  The Daily Advertiser at Shreveport Times PHILADELPHIA — Nearly half of America’s top colleges maintain speech codes that blatantly violate First Amendment standards, and this year Louisiana State University is one of them, according to a report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Read more here.

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  • Controversial Koala Humor Magazine Prints New Issue Despite Losing Funding in Targeted Cut

    December 22, 2015

    By Madeline Will at Student Press Law Center The controversial Koala student humor publication has printed a new issue after raising $1,000 in a crowdfunding campaign after its funding — along with 12 other student media outlets’ — was eliminated in a broad-stroke measure motivated by the magazine’s notorious shock-value humor. The Koala had published an article in November containing racial slurs, which prompted a statement from University of California-San Diego administrators that denounced the magazine for the “offensive and hurtful language it chooses to publish.” The statement called on UCSD students, faculty, staff and community members to “join us […]

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  • Higher Education is a House Divided

    December 17, 2015

    By George F. Will at The News Journal Online Although he is just 22, Andrew Zeller is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at Purdue University. He is one reason the school is a rare exception to the rule of unreason on American campuses, where freedom of speech is under siege. He and Purdue are evidence that freedom of speech, by which truth is winnowed from error, is most reliably defended by those in whose intellectual pursuits the truth is most rigorously tested by reality. While in high school in Bowling Green, Ohio, Zeller completed three years of college undergraduate courses. […]

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  • UCSD Student Leaders Criticized for Cutting Media Funds

    December 7, 2015

    By Gary Warth at The San Diego Union-Tribune LA JOLLA — UC San Diego’s Associated Student Council’s decision to cut funding to student-run campus publications last month has sparked a backlash against the organization, with alumni and UCLA the latest to weigh in. The council voted on Nov. 18 to cut funding to the publications that receive funds from student fees. This year that amount was about $15,000, which went to Fashion Quarterly, the Muir Quarterly, the Saltman Quarterly and The Koala, an often controversial, raunchy humor magazine that critics have called racist. While all campus publications were affected, the […]

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  • Student Publication that Mocked ‘Safe Spaces’ Seen as Seal Target of Defunding Vote

    November 26, 2015

    By TJ Jan at The College Fix The University of California-San Diego has made plain where its values lie: in favor of a failing Marxist-inspired cafe and against an “offensive and hurtful” student tabloid. Just hours after high-ranking UCSD officials released a statement condemning The Koala, a student-funded publication with a penchant for profanity and pornography, the student government voted to defund all student-funded media. The editor of The Koala told The College Fix the school was betraying its own values as a “world-class university” and that he was pursuing “legal means” to overturn the defunding vote. In a statement […]

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  • After a Controversial Humor Magazine was Denounced by University of California at San Diego Administrators

    November 25, 2015

    By Jake New at Inside Higher Ed In an attempt to starve out a controversial student publication without violating the First Amendment, the student government at the University of California at San Diego voted last week to cease any funding of student media. The move — which First Amendment experts said does not pass constitutional muster, despite the student government’s maneuvering to avoid targeting a specific group — came after UCSD administrators condemned the most controversial of the university’s publications amid student protests about racism on campus. At a recent Black Lives Matter protest on campus, black students cited the […]

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  • Court Wins for Accused

    November 5, 2015

    By Jake New at Inside Higher Ed Last week, Brandon Austin, a former college basketball player, filed a lawsuit against the University of Oregon for $7.5 million, arguing that administrators there violated his rights when they suspended him over his alleged involvement in a gang rape. Austin was able to transfer to a community college and play basketball there last season, but has since left to (so far, unsuccessfully) pursue a professional basketball career. In the lawsuit, Austin claims that the punishment caused him emotional distress and lessened his chances of one day playing in the National Basketball Association. His […]

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  • Men Accused of Campus Sexual Assault Are Winning Back Due Process Rights in Court

    October 17, 2015

    By John Sexton at Breitbart With all the focus on campus “rape culture,” those accused of sexual assault (read: men) often find themselves facing a byzantine, parallel system of justice in which standards of evidence and proof are dubious and the process seems stacked against them from the outset. Increasingly, these cases are being taken to real courts where the accused men are winning back the rights which were not protected by their universities. “Once you are accused, you’re guilty,” Boston University student Parker Oaks tells National Public Radio. Another BU student, Xavier Adsera, tells NPR, “We used to not […]

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  • For Students Accused Of Campus Rape, Legal Victories Win Back Rights

    October 15, 2015

    By Tovia Smith at National Public Radio College students can’t miss the warnings these days about the risk of campus sexual assault, but increasingly, some students are also taking note of what they perceive as a different danger. “Once you are accused, you’re guilty,” says Parker Oaks, one of several Boston University students stopped by NPR between classes. “We’re living in a society where you’re guilty before innocent now.” Xavier Adsera, another BU student, sounds a similar theme. “We used to not be fair to women on this issue,” he says. “Now we’re on the other extreme, not being fair […]

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  • Free-Speech Group Eyes School Policies

    August 12, 2015

    By Gary Warth at The San Diego Union Tribune A free-speech advocacy group that recently settled lawsuits against two California schools has similar concerns with other state universities, including Cal State San Marcos, San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego. While no lawsuits or specific complaints have been filed against those universities by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the Philadelphia-based group has identified them as among many schools that have policies it identifies as vague and open to abuse. “These policies a lot of times are well-intended, but they have the potential of chilling […]

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  • California Court Rules Campus Rape Trials Violated Student’s Right To Due Process

    July 15, 2015

    By Meghan Keenan at Red Alert Politics A California court has ruled that campus rape trials violated the due process rights of a male student accused of sexual assault at the University of California at San Diego. A superior court judge ruling on Friday found that the student, referred to as John Doe in court documents, was not allowed to adequately challenge his accuser during a disciplinary hearing at UCSD. The court also found that the UCSD disciplinary panel held Doe’s silence against him as evidence of his guilt – a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights. According to a […]

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  • Campus Rape Trial Violated Rights of Accused Male Student, Judge Rules

    July 14, 2015

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online A male student accused of sexual assault and suspended from the University of California at San Diego was subjected to a manifestly unfair adjudication process, a superior court judge ruled on Friday. The decision supports the assertions of John Doe, who said he was not allowed to cross-examine his accuser and had his punishment increased by the university after he appealed the results of its farcical extrajudicial court. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: This case, Doe v. Regents of the University of California, San Diego, was filed after the university found […]

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  • Censoring bigoted speech at UC San Diego: Who does it help?

    March 11, 2010

    In the last few weeks, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has been tearing itself apart over racial and ethnic issues. The impetus for the turmoil is the “Compton Cookout,” a “ghetto”-themed off-campus party involving a Las Vegas-based African American comedian who calls himself “Jiggaboo Jones.” The controversial party, held last month to “celebrate” Black History Month, was followed by the reported use of a racial slur on UCSD’s student television station, the hanging of a noose in the library, and the placement of a “Klan-style” pillowcase on a campus statue of Dr. Seuss, of all people. In response, UCSD has […]

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  • Price Center at heart of speech debate

    February 7, 2008

    While the process of amending the campus advocacy policy is ongoing, University Centers officials have defined their own free-speech code—limiting the activity of community members in Price Center and splicing the rules for campus assembly. After several weeks of meeting with student organizations, the three student representatives on the committee, charged with revising the campus outdoor space and distribution policy, submitted their preliminary proposal on Jan. 31. Unbeknownst to many, however, members of the University Centers Advisory Board had released their own policy limiting free speech in Price Center, a key free-speech area on campus, months earlier. According to Carol-Irene […]

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  • Free Press 101

    December 1, 2003

    By Erich Wasserman at Arbiter Online The recent seizure of an entire press run of the student newspaper, the Hampton Script, by Hampton University administrators is the latest in a sad history of censorship, and now even theft, of student publications by administrators on college and university campuses across the country. At Hampton, acting President JoAnn Haysbert ordered an entire press run confiscated. What had the students done to provoke such a reprisal? Had they published hard-core pornography or incited riots by printing demonstrable falsehoods? No, they had merely done their job by reporting on hundreds of health code violations […]

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  • The Road to Aztlan

    September 22, 2003

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  • University Bans Controversial Links

    September 25, 2002

    By Declan McCullagh at CNET News The University of California at San Diego has ordered a student organization to delete hyperlinks to an alleged terrorist Web site, citing the recently enacted USA Patriot Act. School administrators have told the group, called the Che Cafe Collective, that linking to a site supporting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) would not be permitted because it violated federal law. In a letter to the Che Cafe Collective, UCSD University Centers Director Gary Ratcliff said the hyperlink violated a law that bans “providing material support to support terrorists.” Ratcliff warned that the student organization would […]

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  • FIRE Announces 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2016

    February 17, 2016

    PHILADELPHIA, February 17, 2016—Nearly half of America’s top colleges maintain speech codes that blatantly violate First Amendment standards. But every year the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) takes a closer look at the past year’s incidents of college censorship to determine the nation’s 10 worst abusers of student and faculty free speech rights. This year’s list of the 10 worst colleges for free speech—published with detailed descriptions at The Huffington Post—includes many public colleges or universities bound by the First Amendment. Some of them, on the other hand, are private colleges that, though not required by the Constitution […]

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  • Student Newspaper’s First Amendment Lawsuit Against University of Kansas Administrators Is Important Reminder about Need to Check Student Government Power

    February 10, 2016

    On February 5, the University Daily Kansan filed a lawsuit against two administrators of the University of Kansas (KU), alleging that the administrators failed to intervene when the student government slashed funding to the Kansan over an editorial criticizing the results of a student government election. The Kansan story begins in April 2014, when a slate of candidates for student government positions were declared ineligible the night before the election, resulting in two students who received a minority of votes—Morgan Said and Miranda Wagner—being elected to office. In response, the Kansan published an editorial by attorney and professor Mark Johnson […]

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  • FIRE to UC San Diego: Reverse Unconstitutional Defunding of Student Media

    December 18, 2015

    This week, FIRE sent a letter to the Chancellor of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and its student government president, urging the reversal of a recent student council vote to yank funding from all student print media outlets. The vote came the same day UCSD administrators condemned the humor publication The Koala in response to an article mocking the concept of “safe spaces” and using racial slurs. Apparently aware that they could not lawfully target The Koala by itself, student council members attempted an end-run around the First Amendment by simply taking away all of its funding to […]

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  • California Court: UCSD Sexual Assault Proceedings Violated Student’s Due Process Rights

    July 14, 2015

    A California court has ruled that the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) acted improperly by using a deeply flawed system to adjudicate a sexual assault allegation and sanctioning the accused based on a process that violated his rights. On July 10, 2015, Judge Joel M. Pressman of the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, ruled UCSD’s procedures violated the student’s due process rights and that the evidence did not support the university’s finding of responsibility. A detailed account of the underlying facts of the case was provided in The Washington Post today. The ruling is the latest […]

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  • Universities Must Not Intrude Upon Freedom of Conscience in ‘Values’ Statements

    January 16, 2014

    This winter, FIRE is running a series of blog posts about what makes a “green light” policy. So far, we have examined how universities can craft policies on harassment, civility, and computer usage that achieve their aims while still respecting students’ right to freedom of speech. Today we are going to talk about policies that infringe on students’ right to freedom of conscience, and about how universities can share their values with students without crossing the line into mandating agreement with those values. Just as the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, it also protects freedom of conscience—the right to keep our innermost thoughts free from governmental […]

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  • Liberty Requires Tough Choices: The Student Funding Dilemma

    July 31, 2013

    Kanisha Parthasarathy is a FIRE summer intern. Allocating money to student groups is a tricky game. For many colleges, the amount of money given to groups is not increasing at the same rate as the number of student groups vying for recognition and funding. Funding boards usually solve this problem by creating guidelines to determine how much money a student group gets. The problem arises when these rules are applied without viewpoint neutrality, a requirement for public colleges’ funding boards established by the Supreme Court in Rosenberger v. Rectors of the University of Virginia (1995) and Board of Regents of the […]

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  • Will Creeley on Hate Speech Rules in UC-San Diego Student Newspaper

    October 2, 2012

    FIRE’s Will Creeley has been interviewed for an article in the University of California, San Diego student newspaper, The Guardian. The article addresses the recent call for the University of California (UC) system to prohibit so-called “hate speech,” an effort that FIRE opposed as clearly unconstitutional. Thankfully, the story has a happy ending: UC President Mark Yudof rejected the idea. Enterprising student reporter Mina Nilchian asked Will for his take on prohibiting hate speech. Here’s a taste: “I think life in a modern liberal democracy can be very challenging for many. At times our most deeply held beliefs are challenged […]

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  • What’s in a Name? At UC San Diego, Threats to Academic Freedom

    July 19, 2011

    Heather Mac Donald’s article in City Journal last week alerted us to the University of California at San Diego’s (UCSD’s) plan to reorganize its diversity-initiatives administrative structure by refashioning the office of Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) as the office of Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. UCSD’s May 4, 2011, announcement states: Following campus and community consultation, we are pleased to announce plans to establish the position of Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and to conduct a national search for an experienced leader to guide our diversity initiatives.  The full-time vice chancellor position will have direct responsibility for a […]

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  • Faculty Committee Issues Stinging Report on Academic Freedom Violations at UC San Diego

    June 9, 2011

    “Shocking and appalling” is how UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh summed up an incident described in a report from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) faculty’s Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF). It’s hard to disagree with him. The report in question, delivered at a May 24 meeting of UCSD’s faculty assembly, lashes the UCSD administration for ordering a UCSD professor to cease his criticisms of the methodology and research of one of his colleagues, or else face sanction. Specifically, the report states: The complaint arose out of a letter that the professor (“Professor A”) received on June 16, 2009 […]

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  • Staff Editorial in UCSD ‘Guardian’ Gets It Right on Proposed Hate Speech Bill

    April 2, 2010

    As Adam blogged earlier, campus publications at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have been admirably defending students’ First Amendment rights at UCSD and elsewhere. In the wake of a campus crisis at UCSD over free speech rights and a student government-imposed freeze on funding for student media, it is good to see student journalists standing up for the rights of their fellow students, not to mention bringing some needed common sense to discussion of these matters. The latest such effort is a ringing staff editorial in the UCSD student paper The Guardian that criticizes a proposed “hate speech” bill […]

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  • UCSD Campus Publications Guard the First Amendment with Vigilance

    April 2, 2010

    Brenda Madriz Montes, Editor in Chief of the Left Coast Post at University of California, San Diego (UCSD), has written a good letter to the editor of student paper The Guardian this week about the amazingly brash and unconstitutional mass censorship of dozens of student media organizations by Associated Students of UCSD president Utsav Gupta—which apparently was condoned by UCSD counsel. The letter argues that “as long [sic] the A.S. Council and other students on campus go after student media organizations based on their content, media organizations are going to keep using the First Amendment to defend themselves.” The writer adds: “Also, you cannot judge […]

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  • Five University of California Campuses Missed the Memo on New Discriminatory Harassment Policy

    March 19, 2010

    As the great UC San Diego free speech crisis unfolded, I noticed that UCSD had missed the memo from President Mark C. Yudof regarding the new Universitywide discriminatory harassment policy as of October 2009. (FIRE has a good idea about exactly why the policy was changed at that time, but that is a story not yet ready to be told.) This policy replaced all the old sexual harassment policies for students across the University of California system. It appears that, like UCSD, four other campuses also missed the memo. The new policy is nowhere to be found online at UC […]

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  • Rights in the News: First Amendment Wins Out at UCSD

    March 12, 2010

    As we’ve written here a couple of times already, FIRE was pleased to announce yesterday that the students of the University of California, San Diego won’t have to linger another week under the media freeze imposed by its student government. A special thanks to the many who wrote to Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and student government president Utsav Gupta to make their voices heard at UCSD. We’re certainly not done watching UCSD, however; nor are we done watching nearby Southwestern College, whose paper The Southwestern Sun, as I wrote earlier, has continued to keep the pressure on the SWC administration […]

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  • Behind the Scenes at UCSD: ‘Guardian’ Shows the Lengths Student Government Went to Gain Control of Media

    March 12, 2010

    After three weeks of heated debate at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), FIRE announced yesterday that the Associated Students of UCSD (ASUCSD) has finally restored funding to the 33 student media organizations whose quarterly funding was frozen by ASUCSD President Utsav Gupta following the utterance of a racial slur on UCSD’s student-run television station. The UCSD student newspaper The Guardian points out that, according to the Standing Rules of the ASUCSD, the governing body was required to do so: According to the A.S. Standing Rules, a funding freeze is automatically lifted by Wednesday of Week 10 if the […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of the Press: UC San Diego Ends Unconstitutional Funding Freeze

    March 11, 2010

    Last night, the student government of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) voted to end an ongoing moratorium on funding for student media. The vote restores funding for student media organizations and makes no changes to the current policy governing student media. FIRE has been working with student media to end the funding freeze. It is far past time that the unconstitutional funding freeze, which was unilaterally enacted on February 18 by Utsav Gupta, President of the Associated Students of UCSD (UCSD’s student government), was lifted. Controversy over a party invitation for an off-campus event called the “Compton Cookout” […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of the Press: UC San Diego Ends Unconstitutional Funding Freeze

    March 11, 2010

    SAN DIEGO, March 11, 2010—In a victory for freedom of the press on campus, the student government of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) voted last night to end an ongoing moratorium on funding for student media. The vote restores funding for student media organizations and makes no changes to the current policy governing student media. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has been working with student media to end the funding freeze. “It took far too long, but with last night’s vote, UCSD’s student government has finally overruled its president’s grievous disregard for the First Amendment,” […]

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  • In ‘Pajamas Media,’ FIRE’s Robert Shibley Criticizes Censorship of ‘Hate Speech’ at UCSD

    March 11, 2010

    Today in Pajamas Media, FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley addresses the questionable effects of efforts to silence “hate speech” at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), rather than let it be judged in the harsh light of the marketplace of ideas. Here’s his brief rundown of the controversy: The impetus for the turmoil is the “Compton Cookout,” a “ghetto”-themed off-campus party involving a Las Vegas-based African American comedian who calls himself “Jiggaboo Jones.” The controversial party, held last month to “celebrate” Black History Month, was followed by the reported use of a racial slur on UCSD’s student television station, […]

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  • In Battling Racism, UC San Diego Must Not Follow the University of Delaware’s Example

    March 10, 2010

    While much of the University of California, San Diego’s (UCSD’s) campus media remains under the deep freeze imposed by Associated Students of UCSD President Utsav Gupta nearly three weeks ago in the wake of racially-tinged incidents there, news is being made at UCSD on other fronts. A recent letter to the campus from UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox announces that she and Black Student Union co-chairs David Ritcherson and Fnann Keflezighi have “signed a mutual agreement that demonstrates our joint commitment to improve the overall campus climate for everyone.” While Fox’s letter gives little indication about what forthcoming improvements might look like, […]

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  • Rights in the News: Greg’s New Book Project Announced as Battle For Free Speech Continues at UCSD

    March 6, 2010

    In a week when a college football coach praised the mass theft of a campus newspaper as a productive “team-building exercise,” and a blanket funding freeze of student fee-funded media continues at UC San Diego over the protests of just about everyone who’s not Associated Students of UCSD President Utsav Gupta, the announcement of FIRE President Greg Lukianoff’s new book project is aptly timed, to say the least. On his blog at The Huffington Post and here at The Torch, Greg lays out his thesis: In my opinion, higher education is supposed to work as a sort of “sophistication machine” for our society. That is, it is […]

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  • Two California Student Newspapers Address UCSD Free Speech Issues: One Right, One Wrong

    March 3, 2010

    Two California college newspapers published editorials today regarding the Associated Students of University of California, San Diego (ASUCSD’s) blanket censorship of all 33 student media organizations at UCSD in the midst of an explosive controversy stemming from an off-campus “Compton Cookout” party held two weeks ago. One of the editorials does a masterful job of summarizing the issues—and one does not. First, the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Daily Nexus provides an excellent defense of the right to free speech: This silencing of an entire community’s media outlets is grossly unconstitutional. As offensive as so-called “hate speech” can be, it […]

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  • UCSD Students to Protest First Amendment Violations Today

    March 3, 2010

    Today, students at UCSD will protest the ongoing and unconstitutional violation of their First Amendment rights. Led by CFN member and California Review editor Alec Weisman, students will gather at UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox’s office at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time. The protest is intended to be orderly, as described on its Facebook event page: We will not be emotional, we will not cause mass disruptions, but we will gather to calmly attempt to discuss with the Administration how the situation has gotten out of hand. About 200 people have confirmed attendance so far. Students will present letters written by FIRE and […]

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  • ‘Verified Apology’ for Noose Incident at UCSD

    March 1, 2010

    The situation at the University of California, San Diego, just keeps getting weirder. It has been reported in several places today that The Guardian, UCSD’s main student newspaper, has printed a "verified apology" from the unnamed student who hung a noose in the UCSD library. I say "it has been reported" because The Guardian‘s website has been down for several hours now and we no longer can access the original. Here’s the text of the apology, however (in this case, we got it from blogger and former Guardian staffer Teresa Wu): I have a story that needs to be heard. […]

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  • San Diego Columnist: Investigating Protected Speech is an Expensive Mistake

    March 1, 2010

    Writing in San Diego’s North County Times, columnist Jim Trageser makes several important points regarding the controversy that continues to roil the University of California, San Diego, in the wake of the off-campus “Compton Cookout” party. First, Trageser notes that UCSD’s ongoing investigation of protected speech is likely meant to chill further student expression: [S]chool administrators have launched an investigation to see whether they can, indeed, punish said students. It says here that the investigation itself is an absolute violation of the First Amendment. The publicly announced investigation is clearly intended to intimidate other students into avoiding any more controversial […]

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  • Rights in the News: FIRE on Front Lines as Free Speech Saga Unfolds at UCSD

    February 27, 2010

    Readers of The Torch this week have been treated to a blow-by-blow account of the First Amendment meltdown taking place at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). In case you’re not up to speed on the happenings at UCSD, however, here’s a brief rundown: A Facebook invitation for an off-campus  “Compton Cookout” party that used African-American stereotypes has aroused heated and widespread controversy. Reportedly, the party was to promote the most recent DVD from a self-proclaimed “Internet star radio personality.” Although the invitation, as offensive as it is to many students, is protected by the First Amendment, UCSD has […]

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  • Why Doesn’t FIRE Condemn [Insert Your Least Favorite Expression Here]?

    February 26, 2010

    The University of California, San Diego (UCSD), seems to be in the process of melting down over racial issues. What started with a Facebook invitation to a “Compton Cookout” off-campus theme party has become an all-consuming campus imbroglio. The primary focus of the “investigation” into the party has been the invitation itself. Adam discussed it at length on The Torch yesterday, noting that however offensive a person might find the invitation, it simply did not rise to the level of actionable harassment. In response, blogger Angus Johnston wrote that he believed that FIRE did not take “anti-racism” sufficiently seriously because […]

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  • San Diego’s American Civil Liberties Union Writes Three Letters Defending Free Speech at UCSD

    February 26, 2010

    On Tuesday, FIRE reported that the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and its student government have violated the First Amendment by freezing funds for 33 student media organizations, dissolving the student-run television station, and threatening to punish students involved in a controversy over a party invitation for an event called the “Compton Cookout.” Student government president Utsav Gupta has explained that his repressive actions were due to “fracturing of the student body on an issue” and “hateful speech.” In the face of threats of litigation from the media organizations, Gupta appears willing to get sued—”I’m not going to bow down […]

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  • Noose Reported at UCSD Library; Not Protected Speech

    February 26, 2010

    The UC Regent Live blog has the best information so far on the breaking news overnight regarding at least one noose found hanging in UCSD’s Geisel Library around midnight Pacific Time. The blog reports two people saying that the main student newspaper, The Guardian, received a note saying that more nooses are coming. The blog includes a photograph of the noose and reports that (as of about 2:20 a.m.) the police have no eyewitness accounts of the noose being placed, that there “are no cameras in that area of the library,” and that the police have opened a criminal investigation and […]

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  • UCSD Missed the Memo on New UC Harassment Policy

    February 25, 2010

    In Monday’s issue of The Guardian, UCSD’s mainstream student newspaper, student journalist Angela Chen reported on the unconstitutional efforts of UCSD administrators to punish students who were involved with a highly controversial “Compton Cookout” party off campus earlier this month. The party was most controversial because of an invitation that asked women to dress and act out a negative stereotypical portrayal of African-American “ghetto chicks.” FIRE has recognized why so many people found the party and the invitation offensive, and we have applauded the efforts of those who have responded with more speech rather than punishment. Yet, we also noted […]

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  • UCSD Upholds Media Funding Ban on 33 Organizations

    February 25, 2010

    The Associated Students of UCSD (ASUCSD), which is the student government at University of California, San Diego, has become a First Amendment nightmare for 33 student organizations on campus. Late last week, ASUCSD’s president, Utsav Gupta, unilaterally froze funding to 33 student media organizations because one of them had permitted another publication, The Koala, to broadcast “hateful speech.” Gupta has explained that his repressive actions were due to “fracturing of the student body on an issue,” saying that his blanket ban on media spending is a “time out.” Gupta has argued several times that since he banned all media organizations from […]

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  • Double Standards at UCSD

    February 25, 2010

    Anyone following the current free-speech controversy at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) should be aware of the university’s response to another situation that arose at UCSD back in 1995. In March of 1995, a U.S. Border Patrol agent named Luis Santiago was killed in the line of duty. In May of that same year, the UCSD student publication Voz Fronteriza published an article entitled “Death of a Migra Pig,” celebrating Santiago’s death and calling for the deaths of additional border patrol agents: “We’re glad this pig died, he deserved to die … As far as we care all […]

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  • Support FIRE’s Work at UCSD!

    February 23, 2010

    Staffers at FIRE are working around the clock to protect the 26,000 students at the University of California, San Diego, whose rights are currently under attack. If you haven’t yet done so, I urge you to read about how UCSD has unconstitutionally frozen funds for its student media groups, shut down its campus TV station, and threatened punishment for protected speech. These outrageous developments demand immediate action. Help FIRE bring an end to these injustices and remind UCSD of its binding legal obligation, as a taxpayer-supported institution, to uphold the First Amendment rights of its students by donating $10 now. FIRE […]

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  • Silverglate on ‘Corrupted Language’ in Campus Speech Codes, Federal Law

    February 23, 2010

    Some people occasionally ask FIRE why we are so adamant that unconstitutional speech codes are a bad idea. FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate has a great essay on this subject in today’s Minding the Campus, in which he discusses “How Corrupted Language Moved from Campus to the Real World.” Harvey links the disregard for clarity in policy and the subsequent abuse of power that is rife on campus to the increasing abuse of federal laws to make crimes out of actions that may “feel” wrong but are actually not criminal. FIRE faces this problem frequently when we fight colleges […]

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  • UC San Diego Freezes Funds to 33 Media Groups, Dissolves Student TV, Threatens to Punish Students for Protected Speech

    February 23, 2010

    The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and its student government have violated the First Amendment by freezing funds for 33 student media organizations, dissolving the student-run television station, and threatening to punish students involved in a controversy over a party invitation for an event called the “Compton Cookout.” Student government president Utsav Gupta has explained that his repressive actions were due to “fracturing of the student body on an issue” and “hateful speech.” Further, under pressure from state legislators who seek to punish protected speech, UCSD has launched “aggressive investigations” into the party invitation. After many students came to […]

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  • UC San Diego Freezes Funds for 33 Media Groups, Dissolves Student TV, Threatens to Punish Students for Protected Speech

    February 23, 2010

    SAN DIEGO, February 23, 2010—The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and its student government have violated the First Amendment by freezing funds for 33 student media organizations, dissolving the student-run television station, and threatening to punish students involved in a controversy over a party invitation for an event called the “Compton Cookout.” Student government president Utsav Gupta has explained that his repressive actions were due to “fracturing of the student body on an issue” and “hateful speech.” Further, under pressure from state legislators who seek to punish protected speech, UCSD has launched “aggressive investigations” into the party invitation. After […]

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  • Two Years Later, New and Improved Speech Policy at UCSD Nears Implementation

    October 16, 2009

    After more than two years of intense negotiation and debate, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) is on the verge of implementing a long-awaited revision of its speech policies. UCSD student newspaper The Guardian reported earlier this month that the proposed revisions are now open for public comment. Guardian reporter Xue Mao explains the most important changes: Due to expansion of the campus, the policy features an updated list of areas in which the use of electronically amplified sound is permitted, within the hours of 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — reduced from a former slot of 11:30 a.m. […]

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  • Proposed Speech Policy Reform at UCSD Finalized

    June 12, 2009

    Last week, University of California, San Diego (UCSD) student newspaper The Guardian reported that after several years of often contentious debate, a UCSD committee of faculty, students and administrators has finalized a proposal to reform UCSD’s current policies regarding speech on campus. FIRE has been in close contact with student leaders on the committee throughout the process, and we’re pleased to see that progress has been made. Indeed, it’s been a long time coming. FIRE first wrote UCSD President Marye A. Fox in June of 2007 to express our concern about UCSD’s proposed “Policy on Speech, Advocacy and Distribution of […]

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  • UCSD Students Organize Against Proposed Speech Restrictions; FIRE Writes Letter

    June 22, 2007

    Hot on the heels of last month’s student walk-out in protest of the University of California, San Diego’s (UCSD’s) decision not to rehire Teaching Assistants Scott Boehm and Benjamin Balthaser due to their public criticism of the university, UCSD administrators are now seeking to implement a clearly unconstitutional new speech zone policy. Both the timing of the proposed policy’s announcement (just a week after the walk-out and rally) and the terms of the policy itself suggest that UCSD administrators are seeking to clamp down on further student criticism of the university at the expense of students’ First Amendment rights. On […]

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  • Students Walk Out at UCSD as Dismissal of TAs Raises Academic Freedom Concerns

    May 30, 2007

    Students at the University of California, San Diego’s (UCSD’s) Thurgood Marshall College will walk out of classes this afternoon in a coordinated protest of the school’s recent decision not to rehire two teaching assistants (TAs), ostensibly because of their public criticism of the school. The decision raises serious questions about free speech and academic freedom at UCSD.   In addition to working towards doctoral degrees at UCSD, Scott Boehm and Benjamin Balthaser have been employed as TAs for Thurgood Marshall College’s Dimensions of Culture (DOC) program since 2003 and 2004, respectively. By all accounts, Boehm and Balthaser’s performance in this […]

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  • Journalism Association Condemns Press Freedom Violations

    August 16, 2006

    Yesterday, the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) reported the August 4 decision by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) to censure a community college in New Jersey for violating freedom of the press. Ocean Community College (OCC) has already been censured by the College Media Advisers, Inc. (CMA), a national organization that advocates for best practices among college media outlets.   According to the SPLC, the AEJMC passed the resolution of censure following the OCC Board of Trustees’ December decision not to renew student newspaper advisor Karen Bosley’s contract.   Bosley’s “offense” was allowing the newspaper […]

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  • FIRE’s letter to UCSD

    May 22, 2002

    May 22, 2002 Chancellor Robert C. Dynes University of California, San Diego 9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0005 La Jolla, California 92093-0005 URGENT Re: Disciplinary Charges against The Koala. Dear Chancellor Dynes: As you can see from the list of our Directors and Board of Advisors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) unites leaders in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, legal equality, freedom of religion, academic freedom, due process, and freedom of speech and expression on America’s college campuses. Our web […]

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