Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit
University of Cincinnati 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.
December 8, 2008
In 2012, FIRE coordinated a legal challenge to an unconstitutional free speech zone policy at the University of Cincinnati (UC) that limited all “demonstrations, pickets, and rallies” to a “Free Speech Area” comprising just 0.1% of the university’s 137-acre West Campus. The policy further required all activity in the free speech zone to be registered ten working days in advance, threatening that “[a]nyone violating this policy may be charged with trespassing.” After UC’s Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapter was told it could not gather signatures and talk to students across campus in support of a statewide “right to work” […]» Read More
Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
Last updated: March 9, 2017
In embracing our roles within this learning community, we subscribe to the defining purposes, traditions and diversity of the University of Cincinnati. Through our actions, we will strive to make the University of Cincinnati a more caring and just community.
As members of this community, we will
- Accept Responsibility by striving to build a learning community committed to these common values and principles.
- Celebrate the Uniqueness of Each Individual by respecting individual differences and promoting common interests.
- Embrace Freedom and Openness by working to create an environment that is safe and affirming, one that nurtures independent thinking and the free and open expression of ideas.
- Practice Civility by extending to those we meet the same respect, cooperation and caring that we expect from others.
- Promote Justice by working to build a learning environment that offers everyone an equal opportunity to grow, flourish and contribute.
- Pursue Learning and Scholarship by building on successes, learning from mistakes and pursuing quality in teaching, research and creative endeavors.
- Seek Integrity by aspiring to the highest moral and ethical standards.
- Strive for Excellence by aspiring to achieve our fullest potential in our educational and personal pursuits.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Last updated: March 9, 2017
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: … Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or study environment.
Offensive conduct that does not rise to the level of harassment, however, may be grounds for discipline under other applicable policies.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Last updated: March 9, 2017
The university also recognizes a right of equal access to and participation in its programs and activities. This right may be diminished or even nullified by expressions of racist, sexist, and other offensive expressions that create a hostile environment for any member of the university community. Although the university is deeply concerned by the effects of such speech, it cannot legally censor speech or punish those who exercise First Amendment rights. Because the university is committed to free speech and academic freedom, it believes the best remedy for racist, sexist, and other forms of destructive speech is its justifiable condemnation by the entire university community.
Although the university cannot, and does not intend to, censor speech or infringe upon the First Amendment rights of its members, it can and will sanction acts of discriminatory harassment that do not qualify for First Amendment protection. This policy statement defines discriminatory harassment and explains the university’s enforcement policies as they relate to faculty and staff.
Discriminatory Harassment is conduct that has the purpose or foreseeable effect of unreasonably interfering with an identifiable individual’s work or academic performance or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or learning environment for that individual. It is not necessary that the consequences actually occur, but the test of whether they are foreseeable is to be determined objectively by reference to all the circumstances of the particular case.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
Last updated: March 9, 2017
Students are members of society as well as members of the academic community. As members of society, students have the same responsibilities as other members of society and enjoy the same freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, and the right of petition that other members of society enjoy.
Use of Facilities Policy Manual: Designated University of Cincinnati Spaces for Outdoor Speaking Activities Policy
Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
Last updated: March 9, 2017
[T]his policy protects and regulates the use of designated outdoor university facilities for all forms of free expression including political speech, commercial speech, demonstrations, marches, rallies, gathering signatures on petitions, protests, events, concerts, promotional events, and market outreach.
The following spaces are designated spaces for the students of the university to engage in speaking activities:
1. Bearcat Pavilion
2. Bearcat Plaza
3. Campus Green
4. CRC East
5. CRC West
6. McMicken Commons
7. Sigma Sigma Commons
8. TUC Plaza
9. Campus Sidewalks
Students need not pre-register or schedule their speaking activities except as explicitly required by this policy. Nonetheless, advance scheduling is encouraged because students may spontaneously use designated areas for speaking activities at any time that the spaces are unoccupied, but will be asked to move along to make way for scheduled activities.
Students must register at least 72 hours in advance with the university, through CES, any speaking activity with anticipated attendance of 5,000 people, and any speaking activity asto which the following capacity limits will be approached for the designated areas:
1. Bearcat Pavilion (1,000)
2. Bearcat Plaza (2,000)
3. Campus Green (capacity is 20,000; registration required for 5,000)
4. CRC East (1,000)
5. CRC West (500)
6. McMicken Commons (capacity is 10,000; registration required for 5,000)
7. Sigma Sigma Commons (5,000)
8. TUC Plaza (2,000)
September 13, 2016
By Greg Piper at The College Fix Whenever you see a college justify a particular administrative response as “educational,” your BS detector should go off… Read more here.» Read More
November 25, 2014
By Collin Blinkley, Mike Wagner, Jill Riepenhoff, & Sara Gregory at The Columbus Dispatch The chants of “no means no” echoed through Duke University’s storied basketball arena when Maryland basketball player Dezmine Wells stepped to the foul line. The taunts by opposing fans were aimed at the man who had been branded a rapist the previous year after Xavier University expelled him for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student. But the case against the prominent athlete fell apart. Local investigators didn’t believe the accuser’s story. A grand jury chose not to indict him on a criminal charge. And a local […]» Read More
June 19, 2012
United States District Judge Timothy S. Black has ruled that the University of Cincinnati’s free speech zone violates the First Amendment and cannot stand. Prior to today’s court order, UC had required all “demonstrations, pickets, and rallies” to be held in a “Free Speech Area” that comprises just 0.1% of the university’s 137-acre West Campus. University policy further required that all expressive activity in the free speech zone be registered with the university a full ten working days in advance, threatening that “[a]nyone violating this policy may be charged with trespassing.” The order prohibits UC from enforcing their policy and is […]» Read More
April 2, 2012
Last week, the Foundation For Individual Rights in Education released its second-annual “Worst Colleges for Free Speech” list. The Philadelphia-based nonprofit named 12 U.S. colleges and universities that, in its view, continue to impose limits on student speech — even after intense pressure from FIRE and others. FIRE president Greg Lukianoff released the list on his Huffington Post blog. Topping the dozen was the University of Cincinnati, due to a pending civil rights lawsuit filed against them by Young Americans for Liberty, a Ron Paul-inspired activist group. In February, the officially sanctioned student organization was limited to a small “free […]» Read More
April 2, 2012
CINCINNATI – In the midst of a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging First Amendment violations by the University of Cincinnati, the school received another black eye last week when it was named one of the nation’s worst colleges for free speech. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) – a nonprofit educational foundation that promotes individual rights and due process at colleges and universities throughout the United States – named UC to its 2012 list of “The 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech” March 27. The list – which includes such schools as Harvard University, Yale University, Syracuse University […]» Read More
March 1, 2000
At Wake Forest University last fall, one of the few events designated as “mandatory” for freshman orientation was attendance at Blue Eyed, a filmed racism awareness workshop in which whites are abused, ridiculed, made to fail, and taught helpless passivity so that they can identify with “a person of color for a day.” In Swarthmore College’s dormitories, in the fall of 1998, first-year students were asked to line up by skin color, from lightest to darkest, and to step forward and talk about how they felt concerning their place in that line. Indeed, at almost all of our campuses, some […]» Read More
December 7, 2016
Ordinarily, I wait more than a week between bringing you these due process legal updates. But in the days following my last dispatch, a number of interesting things have happened that I want to bring you up-to-date on. A complaint filed last week against Drake University in Iowa includes an intriguing argument. Like most such suits against private universities, it claims that Drake breached its contract with the student-plaintiff and discriminated against him on the basis of sex in violation of Title IX. But in addition, it argues that the university was—by virtue of coercive federal pressure—a state actor at […]» Read More
July 15, 2014
We’re thrilled to report that, for the second time in three years, a FIRE short film has won a prize at FreedomFest’s Anthem Film Festival. FIRE’s film “Don’t Cage My Speech! A Student Schools His College” played to audiences at FreedomFest last week, and Ted Balaker, the film’s director, won the award for Excellence in Filmmaking, Short Documentary on Saturday night. The film’s articulation of the legal challenge—and defeat—of the University of Cincinnati’s unconstitutional “free speech zone” and of free speech’s importance in higher education in eight short minutes is a testament to Ted’s craft.» Read More
April 7, 2014
FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for April 2014: Colorado Mesa University. Colorado Mesa’s policy on “Free Speech” limits students’ expressive activities to just one “concrete patio” on the university’s 86-acre campus. While the university has the right to enact reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, courts have held time and again that onerous restrictions like this one are not reasonable.» Read More
December 24, 2013
The free speech gazebo. 0.1%. A “little cement area.” 10-day advance registration. As far too many students sadly know, the vocabulary of campus free speech zones provides a ready example of the absurdity of campus censorship. This year, administrators at Modesto Junior College proved just how far that absurdity extends when they prohibited student Robert Van Tuinen from distributing copies of the Constitution on Constitution Day simply because he hadn’t met the requirements of the school’s free speech zone policy. Robert’s experience isn’t all that unique. Rather than celebrating free expression, too many of our colleges and universities confine it to small areas, restrict it […]» Read More
November 8, 2013
Over at Concurring Opinions, noted legal scholar and author Ron Collins has penned a compelling look at the folly of campus free speech zones. Collins writes: Free speech zone – It is shorthand for holding two contradictory opinions while believing in both of them. Incongruous logic, to be sure. And yet, that is the mindset that too many public college administrators impose on students in an attempt to make them believe that the best way to honor the First Amendment is by abridging it. They do so by restricting student speech to tiny “free speech zones” and by strictly controlling access thereto. Such Orwellian […]» Read More
September 24, 2013
It’s been only a little over a year since a federal court ruled squarely against the University of Cincinnati’s blatantly unconstitutional “free speech zone,” so naturally one would think that administrators there would be boning up on their First Amendment law. Sadly, though, this may not be the case. According to a September 30 column by Nick DeSantis in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Cincinnati administrators are still struggling with the concept that students at public universities have a constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech. The controversy came about after an anonymous student apparently circulated this cartoon (PDF). DeSantis […]» Read More
September 12, 2013
When Chris Morbitzer and his University of Cincinnati (UC) chapter of Young Americans for Liberty sought permission to gather signatures across UC’s campus for a time-sensitive, statewide ballot initiative, their request was denied. Morbitzer was told that if he and his group were seen gathering signatures outside of the school’s tiny and restrictive “free speech zone,” campus security would be called and they could be arrested. “I think it is absurd that they were threatening to put me in jail for exercising what is a constitutional right,” says Morbitzer in FIRE’s latest video. Dismayed that he might not be able […]» Read More
November 6, 2012
This fall, FIRE is writing a blog series about how schools can reform their problematic speech codes and earn a “green light” rating from us—a distinction currently awarded to just 16 of the more than 400 schools in our Spotlight database, but one we hope to be able to award to many more in the years to come. In this series, we are discussing common problems with campus speech codes, focusing on examples from schools that are just a few small changes away from earning a green light rating. So far, we have examined how universities restrict speech by mandating […]» Read More
August 28, 2012
Last week, we brought you news of the final nail in the University of Cincinnati’s (UC’s) “free speech zone” coffin: A federal district court in Ohio issued a permanent injunction against UC’s unconstitutional policy restricting student expressive activity to a tiny area of campus and requiring students to register such activity with the university ten working days in advance. The court’s order made final its earlier decision, via preliminary injunction, to enjoin the university from enforcing the policy. As we have happily declared, last week’s ruling is a significant win for students’ First Amendment rights on campus. The News Record, […]» Read More
August 24, 2012
FIRE’s Robert Shibley has taken to The Daily Caller to report on FIRE’s latest speech code litigation victory at the University of Cincinnati. For more on the case and Cincinnati’s disregard for free speech (and apparently the wise stewardship of taxpayer funds), visit The Daily Caller.» Read More
August 23, 2012
With the “free speech zone” policy at the University of Cincinnati’s inevitable failure in federal court yesterday, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff took to The Huffington Post today to remind universities that when FIRE says a speech code is unconstitutional, they should probably listen—lest they cost taxpayers money. The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, the organization FIRE partnered with to coordinate the challenge, reports that $200,000 of taxpayer funds were authorized for use to defend the doomed speech code. To put it simply, that’s wasted money, and UC should have dismantled its free speech zone years ago. As Greg states […]» Read More
August 22, 2012
Here’s today’s press release: CINCINNATI, August 22, 2012—In a major victory for student rights, a federal district court issued a final ruling today prohibiting the University of Cincinnati (UC) from reinstating its tiny “free speech zone.” In today’s order, United States District Judge Timothy S. Black issued a permanent injunction against UC’s unconstitutional system of speech restriction. The court’s decision comes hard on the heels of yesterday’s startling resignation of UC President Gregory H. Williams, who reportedly did not provide any explanation for his sudden decision to quit a mere week before students return to campus. “Limiting student expression to […]» Read More
August 22, 2012
CINCINNATI, August 22, 2012—In a major victory for student rights, a federal district court issued a final ruling today prohibiting the University of Cincinnati (UC) from reinstating its tiny “free speech zone.” In today’s order, United States District Judge Timothy S. Black issued a permanent injunction against UC’s unconstitutional system of speech restriction. The court’s decision comes hard on the heels of yesterday’s startling resignation of UC President Gregory H. Williams, who reportedly did not provide any explanation for his sudden decision to quit a mere week before students return to campus. “Limiting student expression to just 0.1% of campus […]» Read More
June 20, 2012
Last week, a federal court in Ohio issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the University of Cincinnati (UC) from enforcing its unconstitutional policy of limiting expressive activity on campus to a free speech zone roughly the size of a postage stamp. I joke, but the free speech zone was tiny, covering only 0.1% of the university campus. Indeed, UC’s free speech zone earned the university a spot atop FIRE’s 2012 list of the 12 worst colleges for free speech in the nation. FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley has written an article for The Huffington Post about this important […]» Read More
June 19, 2012
Last week, United States District Judge Timothy S. Black held that the University of Cincinnati’s (UC’s) “free speech zone” policy “violates the First Amendment and cannot stand.” This victory came after FIRE helped coordinate a federal lawsuit in cooperation with Ohio’s 1851 Center for Constitutional Law on behalf of UC’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), a campus group that had its First Amendment rights suppressed while attempting to gather signatures for a statewide petition. This was not FIRE’s first such victory, however. Almost nine years ago to the day, FIRE announced the first victory of our Speech Code […]» Read More
Victory for Student Rights: Federal Court Strikes Down University of Cincinnati’s Tiny Free Speech Zone
June 15, 2012
by William Creeley The Huffington Post One thing’s for sure: The University of Cincinnati can’t say it never saw this week’s big courtroom win for student speech rights coming. That’s because back in March, my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, published a list of the 12 worst colleges for free speech in the nation here at The Huffington Post — and UC was right at the top of our list. How did UC earn this dubious distinction? Well, prior to this week, UC maintained an incredibly tiny free-speech zone, limiting student “demonstrations, pickets, and rallies” to a space covering a miniscule […]» Read More
June 14, 2012
Well, the University of Cincinnati can’t say it didn’t see this week’s big court victory for student speech coming. After all, FIRE has been warning UC for years now about the constitutional deficiencies in the free speech zone policy enjoined by a federal district court in Tuesday’s order. Had UC taken FIRE’s advice back in 2007, it could have saved itself the embarrassment of fighting against (and losing to) the First Amendment in court—and saved Ohio taxpayers money, too. But UC wanted to do things the hard way. General Counsel Mitchell McCrate told FIRE in 2008 that “[w]e have no […]» Read More
June 12, 2012
CINCINNATI, June 12, 2012—In a ringing victory for student rights, a federal district court declared today that the University of Cincinnati’s (UC’s) tiny “free speech zone” violates the First Amendment. In his order enjoining enforcement of the challenged free speech zone policy, United States District Judge Timothy S. Black held that UC’s free speech zone “violates the First Amendment and cannot stand.” The suit was filed by Ohio’s 1851 Center for Constitutional Law in cooperation with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “Once again, a federal court has been forced to remind a public university of its constitutional obligation to […]» Read More
April 19, 2012
FIRE President Greg Lukianoff appears on ‘Stossel’ this week to discuss free speech on campus. The show also features students from FIRE’s cases at Auburn University, which selectively ordered a student’s Ron Paul banner to be taken down despite leaving many others on display, and the University of Cincinnati, which threatened to arrest students if they tried to gather petition signatures outside the university’s tiny “free speech zone.” The episode first airs Thursday evening at 9 pm Eastern on Fox Business Network. Tune in!» Read More
March 30, 2012
Tuesday, The Huffington Post released FIRE’s list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2012. In addition to the social media storm the story generated, the list caught the attention of a number of media outlets: University of Cincinnati’s appearance at the top of the list garnered the attention of Cincinnati City Beat. In “UC Gets Drawn into Free Speech Battle,” University of Cincinnati spokesman Greg Hand mischaracterizes the school’s “free speech zone” policy, so FIRE responded to his claim here. Syracuse, New York, press Syracuse.com, CNYCentral.com, and WSYR–TV (Channel 9 in Syracuse) have noted Syracuse University’s placement […]» Read More
March 29, 2012
Citybeat.com, a Cincinnati news and opinion website, features a story on FIRE’s list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech, the University of Cincinnati’s placement on that list, and the ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit filed last month against UC for its free speech policies and practices. Unfortunately, when it comes to their problems with free speech, UC is still in a state of denial. As my colleague Will Creeley pointed out a few weeks ago, the spin coming out of UC is really something to behold. Alas, it continues. Everyone here at FIRE put palm to face when […]» Read More
March 27, 2012
Here’s today’s press release: PHILADELPHIA, March 27, 2012—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released its 2012 list of the 12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in The Huffington Post today. Harvard is new to the list this year, joining Yale, Syracuse, and the University of Cincinnati at the top of the list. “These colleges and universities have deeply violated the principles that are supposed to animate higher education,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “Sunlight is one of the best disinfectants, and the public needs to know which schools to watch out for.” Although schools appear on the list in no particular […]» Read More
March 8, 2012
The News Record at the University of Cincinnati (UC) reports on the latest in the federal civil rights lawsuit involving the university’s “free speech zone.” UC’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (UC YAL) filed suit after the group was told that UC would call the campus cops if they were seen “walk[ing] around campus” gathering signatures rather than staying in UC’s minuscule free speech zone—a pathetic 0.1% of the university’s 137-acre West Campus. Will wrote about the case yesterday, explaining that UC has no leg to stand on in pretending that it is “accommodating” its students, since UC actually […]» Read More
With Federal Lawsuit Filed, University of Cincinnati Allows Student Group Temporary Reprieve From Free Speech Zone — But Continues to Defend Illiberal Policy
March 7, 2012
Apparently, it takes nothing short of a federal civil rights lawsuit before the University of Cincinnati will allow a student group to gather signatures outside the confines of its restrictive “free speech zone.” That’s the depressing lesson learned by UC’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (UC YAL), whose members may now collect signatures in support of a state ballot amendment following a temporary agreement reached by the group’s attorneys and the university. Under the terms of the “standstill agreement,” UC YAL members may now gather signatures and talk to their fellow students outside of the university’s free speech zone—a […]» Read More
March 1, 2012
In the Indiana Daily Student this week, former FIRE intern and senior Nico Perrino writes about free speech issues at his school, Indiana University-Bloomington (IU). His piece discusses the recent lawsuit filed by students at the University of Cincinnati challenging that campus’s restrictive “Free Speech Zone.” As Nico points out, IU has similar restrictions on how students can use public spaces on campus, limiting “free speech” to just two areas on campus and spontaneous events to just one. He writes compellingly about the confusion sown by contradictory and unevenly enforced policies: While it might seem like IU does not always […]» Read More
Robert in ‘Daily Caller’: U of Cincinnati Has It Coming with Student Lawsuit Challenging Restrictive Policy
February 24, 2012
Today in The Daily Caller, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley examines the student lawsuit that FIRE has helped to coordinate at the University of Cincinnati, challenging the university’s extremely restrictive “free speech zone” policy. While FIRE has over the years encountered its share of unconstitutional free speech zones on college campuses, the University of Cincinnati’s policy, as Robert writes, is uniquely burdensome of protected student speech. Robert’s piece examines the impact of such a restriction on basic expressive activity: A quick look at the history of demonstrations and protests in the United States reveals why restrictive policies like the […]» Read More
February 23, 2012
CINCINNATI, February 23, 2012—A student group filed suit yesterday against the University of Cincinnati in federal district court, alleging that the university’s tiny “free speech zone” violates the First Amendment. The University of Cincinnati chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) and its president, student Christopher Morbitzer, sought permission to gather signatures and talk to students across campus in support of a statewide “right to work” ballot initiative, but the request was denied. Morbitzer was told that if any YAL members were seen “walk[ing] around campus” gathering signatures, campus security would be alerted. Morbitzer and YAL seek a temporary restraining […]» Read More
February 23, 2012
Here is today’s press release: CINCINNATI, February 23, 2012—A student group filed suit yesterday against the University of Cincinnati in federal district court, alleging that the university’s tiny “free speech zone” violates the First Amendment. The University of Cincinnati chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) and its president, student Christopher Morbitzer, sought permission to gather signatures and talk to students across campus in support of a statewide “right to work” ballot initiative, but the request was denied. Morbitzer was told that if any YAL members were seen “walk[ing] around campus” gathering signatures, campus security would be alerted. Morbitzer and […]» Read More
December 5, 2007
FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for December 2007: the University of Cincinnati. The University of Cincinnati maintains a “Free Speech Area” policy (see page 10 of manual) limiting free speech to one area of campus and requiring that activities even in that area be formally scheduled through the Campus Scheduling Office. These free speech zone policies are typically very unpopular with students, and FIRE has successfully challenged a number of them, including at West Virginia University, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Texas Tech University, Citrus College, the University of Nevada-Reno, and Colorado State University. So if these […]» Read More