University of Florida

Location: Gainesville, Florida
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 11th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Florida has been given the speech code rating Green. Green light institutions are those colleges and universities whose policies nominally protect free speech. Read more here.

  • University of Florida: Reaffirmation of Right to Show Documentary

    November 29, 2007

    The University of Florida drew criticism from FIRE after the administration was critical of students promoting an event showing the controversial film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” Several student groups-including UF’s Law School Republicans, College Republicans, Jewish Student Union, and Jewish Law Students Association-had posted fliers to advertise a November 13, 2007, screening of the film.  The fliers used the headline, “RADICAL ISLAM WANTS YOU DEAD.” Vice President for Student Affairs Patrica Telles-Irvin e-mailed all students at UF stating that “the groups that posted [the fliers] owe the campus, and particularly campus members of the Islamic faith, an […]

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Green Light Policies
  • University Regulations: Campus Demonstrations

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: December 20, 2016

    Demonstrations may be held anywhere on the campus, so long as they do not disrupt the normal operation of the University or infringe on the rights of other members of the University community, except that no demonstrations are permitted inside University buildings.

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  • Institutional Diversity & Equity: Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 20, 2016

    Sexual Harassment is a form of sex discrimination that can occur when: … Unwelcome physical acts of a sexual nature, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, or other verbal conduct of a sexual nature have the effect of creating an objectively hostile environment that interferes with employment or education on account of sex.

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  • Student Conduct Code: Philosophy and Definitions

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: January 4, 2017

    As an educational institution, the University recognizes that the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, and the development of individuals require the free exchange of ideas on any subject whether or not controversial, self-expression, and the challenging of beliefs and customs.

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  • Student Conduct Code: Scope and Violations

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 20, 2016

    Verbal or written threats, coercion or any other conduct that by design, intent or recklessness places another individual in reasonable fear of physical harm through words or actions directed at that person, or creates a hostile environment in which others are unable reasonably to conduct or participate in work, education, research, living, or other activities, including but not limited to stalking, cyber-stalking, and racial harassment.

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  • Stop Bias: Bias Education & Response Team

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: December 20, 2016

    The purpose of the Bias Education and Response Team (BERT) is to provide impacted parties of bias incidents opportunities to be heard and supported; understand and respond to situations that effect the University of Florida; educate and inform the community; and create awareness of ignorance and intolerance. The BERT provides services to witness(es), bystander(s), targeted individual(s), offender(s), or a member(s) of the community. It is not the purpose of the Bias Education and Response Team to investigate, adjudicate, or to take the place of other University of Florida processes or services; rather, the aim is to complement and work with campus entities to connect impacted parties and communities with appropriate support and resources.

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  • Division of Student Affairs: Sexual Harassment FAQ

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 20, 2016

    What is sexual harassment? Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: … Viewed from an objective standard, the conduct is sufficiently serious that it affects an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from an education program or activity, or creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational or work environment.

    What are some examples of behavior that could lead to a claim of sexual harassment?

      Making sexual propositions, invitations, or creating pressure for sexual activity

    • Touching, fondling, kissing, patting or hugging another person without permission
    • Coerced sexual intercourse, sexual battery or other unlawful sexual misconduct

    This list of examples is not meant to be exhaustive.  Whether a particular set of circumstances equate to sexual harassment depends on many factors to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

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  • Fit to Print: Campus Journalists Face Down Those who Want to Stop the Presses

    April 13, 2016

    By Matthew Kassel at Observer It has been a tumultuous year or so for student journalists. Around the country, they’ve have had to contend with campus protesters and school officials who frame the concept of a free press in opposition to notions of politically correct speech… Read more here.

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  • University Rebukes Instructor Who Banned ‘Mom,’ ‘Dad’ and Other Gendered Words from Class

    February 17, 2016

    By Peter Maxwell at The College Fix  The University of Florida’s stellar free-speech rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education may be at risk of slipping.   Read more here.

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  • Professor Forbids Terms ‘Husband’ and ‘Wife’ Because They’re not ‘Inclusive’

    February 8, 2016

    By Jennifer Kabbany at The College Fix Slippery slope, meet Professor Jennifer Lee. … Read more here.  

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  • Prof Bans Students From Saying ‘Husband’ Or ‘Wife’ Because It’s Not ‘Inclusive’

    February 5, 2016

    By Peter Hasson at The Daily Caller In just the latest instance of taxpayer-funded censorship, students in one University of Florida course have been banned from using words such as “husband,” “wife,” “mom,” or dad” in the classroom and risk losing points off their grade if they don’t comply. … Read more here.

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  • UF Eliminates All “Speech Codes”

    December 15, 2014

    By Jeff Schweers at The Gainesville Sun Colleges and universities across the nation are adopting policies that restricts students’ speech rights as part of the White Houses’s crackdown on campus sexual assaults, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said in its annual report. But UF is not among those. “Most universities continue to enforce speech codes that don’t satisfy First Amendment standards,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said in a released statement. “For the seventh consecutive year, however, the percentage of speech codes has dropped, and we’re happy to see that.” Fifty-five percent of 437 colleges and universities surveyed by […]

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  • University of Florida Gets Speech-Friendly Designation from Student Rights’ Group

    August 13, 2014

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix Just three months after it started working with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to revise policies, the University of Florida has earned the student rights’ group’s highest rating for free-speech protection on campus. FIRE and the university said in a joint statement Wednesday that the new “green-light” designation is only the 19th granted by FIRE. Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, James Madison University and Oregon State University are among other green-light institutions. The designation means UF has “eliminated all of its speech codes,” FIRE and the school said. Jen Day Shaw, UF dean of students, said […]

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  • Conservative study lauds university system, pans admin costs

    June 19, 2013

    by Jeff Schweers The Gainesville Sun   A conservative Florida think tank commends Florida’s university system for offering an affordable and quality higher education for students during a deep economic downturn and state budget cuts. But it also criticizes the system for the growth in administrative costs and salaries, and for policies that appear to restrict student speech and academic freedom. “Florida Rising: An Assessment of Public Universities in the Sunshine State,” a report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and The James Madison Institute, looked at 11 public four-year undergraduate programs in the state university system. It’s […]

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  • McCollum blasts UF over free speech

    December 12, 2007

    No stranger to free speech issues of late, University of Florida officials are now under fire for criticizing students who recently hung fliers on campus reading “Radical Islam Wants You Dead.” State Attorney General Bill McCollum claims UF officials stifled free speech by asking the students who posted the fliers to apologize for offending Muslims. In a Dec. 3 letter, McCollum accused Patricia Telles-Irvin, UF’s vice president for student affairs, of creating a “chilling effect on the free speech rights of students.” McCollum’s office said as late as Tuesday that he was still unsatisfied with UF’s response to his concerns, and he […]

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  • Campus controversy

    March 9, 2006

    A Georgia man told “dead baby jokes” for more than an hour on the University of Florida’s campus Wednesday while protesting an anti-abortion display. Then he went too far, in the view of UF administrators. Joined by a UF student, Matthew Jones held a plastic tarp in front of an anti-abortion display, partially obstructing pictures of aborted fetuses, lynchings and acts of genocide exhibited on display behind him. Before University Police Department officers prevailed upon Jones to lower the tarp, he said he was protesting the “disgusting images” brought to UF by a group called the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. […]

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  • Free speech can provoke

    October 5, 2005

    The First Amendment has been getting a workout in recent weeks on two college campuses — the University of Florida and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — where students are learning that free speech is a messy business. The two cases, one involving a columnist at UNC and the other a political cartoonist at UF, have inflamed minority groups — Muslims and blacks, respectively — provoking protests and debate. That’s the good news insofar as protest and debate are the currency of free speech. What’s not such good news is that the columnist was fired, while the […]

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  • Public colleges, the cancellation of white nationalist events, and the First Amendment

    August 16, 2017

    As the nation reels from the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, two public colleges this week have canceled or disallowed campus events featuring white nationalist Richard Spencer. Yesterday, Texas A&M University canceled a “White Lives Matter” event, featuring Spencer, planned for Sept. 11. This morning, the University of Florida denied a request from Spencer’s organization, the National Policy Institute, to rent campus facilities. FIRE defends the expressive rights of college students and faculty. Neither the Texas A&M event nor the University of Florida event involved students or faculty. (The Texas A&M event was planned by an alumnus; the University of Florida […]

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  • Universities Give Students Frightening Halloween Assignment: Pick a Costume

    October 31, 2016

    Is your “exhausted undergrad” costume ready for tonight’s festivities? That might be one of the frighteningly few outfit choices remaining if you attend a university expecting you to avoid “cultural appropriation” this year. And beware: The rules are petrifyingly hard to follow. While institutions are well within their rights to suggest costume considerations to their students, in practice, young adults are choosing their outfits these days under unprecedented levels of scrutiny. This year, these regulations/“suggestions” have come in a variety of forms, including handouts, seminars, and even a “Simple Costume Racism Evaluation and Assessment Meter (or SCREAM)” modeled after the […]

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  • Student Government Commends U. of Florida for Earning ‘Green Light’ Rating

    May 7, 2015

    Last August, the University of Florida (UF) revised its policies to eliminate all undue restrictions on student free speech rights, becoming the 19th institution to earn FIRE’s highest Spotlight rating—a “green light.” (Last month, George Mason University became the 20th.) It’s encouraging to see the number of green light schools grow, and just as encouraging to see the response from students. This semester, three members of the UF student government worked to pass a resolution commending UF’s administration for partnering with FIRE to reform their speech codes: WHEREAS, the exemplary and enduring work of the Dean of Students Office (DSO) […]

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  • ‘Las Vegas Review-Journal’ Tells UNLV to Commit to Free Speech

    September 4, 2014

    Yesterday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published an editorial lamenting that students are returning to college campuses where free speech too often falls victim to speech codes. As the editorial notes, opposition to the First Amendment is all too common on campus. Using FIRE’s recent case at the University of Oregon as an example, where a student was hit with five conduct charges for a four-word joke (“I hit it first”), the Review-Journal points out that many universities enforce broad harassment policies against their students in an attempt to create an environment of tolerance. FIRE rightly and specifically noted that the […]

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  • Azhar Majeed’s Simple Message to College Administrators: End Censorship, or Else

    September 3, 2014

    My colleague Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program, published an op-ed in The Huffington Post yesterday with an important back-to-school message for college administrators: Eliminate speech codes, or get ready to head to court.

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  • Modesto Junior College’s Lawyer: Colleges, Dump Your Speech Codes

    August 22, 2014

    Every advocate dreams of winning over an opponent, but it rarely happens. It’s just possible, though, that FIRE might have done so. David Urban of the law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore has written a thorough and insightful post on his firm’s blog advising colleges and universities to review their speech-related policies to insulate themselves from the threat of litigation—like FIRE’s new Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.

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  • University of Florida Earns FIRE’s Highest Rating for Free Speech

    August 13, 2014

    GAINESVILLE, Fla., August 13, 2014—The University of Florida (UF) has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). After working with FIRE to ensure its policies comply with the First Amendment, UF has joined a select group of colleges and universities nationwide to earn FIRE’s most favorable rating for free speech on campus.

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  • Student Spotlight: Kelly Barber, a Leader for Liberty and Student Rights at U. of Florida

    April 22, 2014

    Kelly Barber stands out as a leader at the University of Florida (UF) and has been actively involved with FIRE, most recently attending FIRE’s Leaders in Student Rights Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Kelly, now a member of Students For Liberty’s North American Executive Board, says she experienced the undeniable benefits of free and open debate when she began attending College Libertarian meetings, where she was “blown away by the environment of integrity, critical thinking, and tolerance they created” that allowed students “to exchange ideas on a level much higher than anything I ever experienced in classes.”

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  • Why Free Press Shouldn’t Have a Price

    July 30, 2012

    Shelli Gimelstein is a FIRE summer intern. Next to squirrels and Apple products, student newspapers are perhaps the most ubiquitous items on a college campus. You can see them peeking out of backpacks during the morning rush to class, sticking out amid a sea of coffee cups in the study lounge, or lying flat on lecture hall chairs as students sneak glances at the headlines while taking notes.  So why are some universities and state commissions treating student newspapers — a staple of campus life that students rely on to know what’s really going on at their school — like […]

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  • U of Florida Seems to Have Control Issues When it Comes to Student Newspapers

    July 19, 2012

    This is an odd one. A controversy is brewing at the University of Florida over the administration’s demand that century-old student newspaper The Independent Florida Alligator remove 19 of its signature orange newspaper racks from campus. Why is this happening? I have no idea, and the Alligator doesn’t seem to either. Here’s a segment of the Alligator article on this development, interspersed with my comments and questions:  During Fall 2009, administrators proposed to UF’s Board of Trustees a rule that would prohibit distribution of all publications on campus unless approved by the UF vice president for business affairs, according to […]

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  • Compelling ‘Civility’

    June 1, 2012

    Earlier this week, an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) discussed the growing popularity on college campuses of programs aimed at promoting civility. While one might reasonably ask whether there is a connection between exorbitant tuition rates, administrative bloat, and programs such as the “transformational, saturation approach” civility projects discussed in the article, there is no problem from an individual rights standpoint with colleges promoting civility. The individual rights problem, which the article barely even hints at, is that a large number of colleges and universities actually compel civility rather than simply encouraging it.  The article focuses […]

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  • University of Florida Revises 2011 Speech Code of the Year; Many Problems Remain

    January 12, 2012

    Just one day after FIRE announced that the University of Florida (UF) maintained the only remaining Speech Code of the Year for 2011, UF deleted the offending language from its policy. UF earned co-Speech Code of the Year “honors” for its Student Rights and Responsibilities policy, which warned students that  “Organizations or individuals that adversely upset the delicate balance of communal living will be subject to disciplinary action.” Precisely what would be deemed to upset this undefined “delicate balance”—and, therefore, what students would be punished for saying or doing—was left completely to the discretion of administrators. This impermissible vagueness meant […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech: California’s Chico State Scraps Unconstitutional ‘Speech Code of the Year’

    January 4, 2012

    Today’s press release announces a welcome victory: After FIRE named California State University-Chico’s definition of sexual harassment one of two “Speech Codes of the Year” for 2011, the university has scrapped the language in question. As of mid-December 2011, Chico State maintained an informational page on sexual harassment stating that faculty members committed sexual harassment if they “implicitly devalue[d] students for their gender or sexual orientation.” Examples of such harassment included “reinforcement of sexist stereotypes through subtle, often unintentional means,” including the use of “stereotypic generalizations” and the “continual use of generic masculine terms such as to refer to people […]

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  • Speech Codes of the Year: 2011

    December 27, 2011

    Each month, FIRE singles out a particularly reprehensible campus speech code for our Speech Code of the Month designation. While all of 2011’s Speech Codes of the Month flagrantly violated students’ and faculty members’ right to free expression, two of them were so egregious that they deserve special mention as 2011’s Speech Codes of the Year. University of Florida. According to the University of Florida’s Student Rights and Responsibilities policy, “Organizations or individuals that adversely upset the delicate balance of communal living will be subject to disciplinary action by the University.” If there has ever been a textbook example of […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: University of Florida

    April 1, 2011

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for April 2011: The University of Florida. According to the University of Florida’s (UF’s) Student Rights and Responsibilities policy, “Organizations or individuals that adversely upset the delicate balance of communal living will be subject to disciplinary action by the University.” Come again? If there has ever been a textbook illustration of unconstitutional vagueness, this policy is it. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that laws must “give a person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited, so that he may act accordingly,” or else they are unconstitutionally vague. […]

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  • Former Student Wins Public Records Suit Against University of Florida

    January 18, 2011

    The Independent Florida Alligator reports that a Florida state court has ruled in favor of University of Florida (UF) graduate Frank Bracco, who filed suit against the university after it denied him access to video and audio recordings of UF Student Senate meetings. UF had claimed that the recordings were confidential educational records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The court rejected this contention, finding that UF’s actions were in violation of Florida’s public records law. Read the full story here.

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  • Victory for Religious Liberty at University of Florida, But Freedom of Association Still in Jeopardy

    February 4, 2009

    University of Florida (UF) has revised its student organization policy to recognize the right of religious organizations to limit membership and leadership positions to those who share the group’s religious beliefs. This policy might sound obvious, but it is not. Student affairs officials often get confused about religious freedom and the freedom of association. They mistakenly believe that the university’s non-discrimination policy trumps the First Amendment. While a non-discrimination policy may be well-intentioned, it may not be enforced at a public university against the religious or political beliefs of a student organization. Likewise, any private university that truly values liberty […]

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  • The strange case of ‘Obsession’ at the University of Florida

    January 28, 2008

    You know how colleges and universities write themselves off as bastions of free and controversial thought? Ha. Funny story. A couple of months ago, a number of student groups at the University of Florida-including the College Republicans, the UF Law School Republicans, the Jewish Student Union, Gators for Israel, and the Jewish Law Students Association-planned a showing of the documentary Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. In an effort to promote the film, the groups posted flyers with the headline “Radical Islam Wants you Dead.” One familiar with the sensitive culture on contemporary college campuses probably knows where this […]

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  • Florida Throws In the Towel

    December 14, 2007

    It seems that the administration at the University of Florida (UF) has completely capitulated in its conflict with the First Amendment. Last month, several student groups at UF posted flyers advertising the showing of a movie about Islamic terrorism with the headline, “RADICAL ISLAM WANTS YOU DEAD.” In response, Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin e-mailed all UF students, writing that the student groups “owe the campus, and particularly campus members of the Islamic faith, an apology and a clarification.” Dr. Telles-Irvin backed away from her claim that the students must apologize after FIRE wrote a letter defending the […]

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  • University of Florida Victory on

    December 12, 2007

    FIRE’s victory at the University of Florida was featured in a news brief on’s Special Report with Brit Hume. Click here for the full text of the article.

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  • Coming attractions

    December 12, 2007

    A student advocacy group reports an administrator at the University of Florida has backed down after demanding an apology from a students showing a movie about radical Islam. Several student groups advertised a screening of a film called “Obsession—Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” On the fliers was the phrase—“Radical Islam wants you dead.” Florida vice president for student affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin e-mailed all students and said the groups owe the campus, and particularly Muslim students, an apology. But the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education quickly reminded Telles-Irvin that the flier was unquestionably protected free speech under the constitution. […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech at the University of Florida

    December 10, 2007

    After FIRE and the Attorney General of Florida intervened, the University of Florida (UF) has lifted its pressure on student groups to apologize for putting up posters advertising the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” Several student groups—including UF’s Law School Republicans, College Republicans, Jewish Student Union, and Jewish Law Students Association—had put up the posters to advertise a November 13, 2007, screening of the film. The posters used the headline, “RADICAL ISLAM WANTS YOU DEAD.” On November 26, Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin e-mailed all students at Florida a letter entitled “Official Response to a […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech at the University of Florida

    December 10, 2007

    GAINESVILLE, Fla., December 10, 2007—Student groups at the University of Florida (UF) will be allowed to freely promote the controversial film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” following a controversy with the school’s administration. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) intervened after a university official e-mailed the student body demanding an apology from the student groups sponsoring the film. “The University of Florida chilled expression on campus when it publicly demanded an apology from student groups simply for promoting a film,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “Now, all students have been assured that UF will support their […]

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  • Florida Attorney General Challenges University of Florida on Free Speech

    December 5, 2007

    On Monday, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum wrote the University of Florida (UF) about the “chilling effect on the free speech rights of students” caused by an official letter sent to all students by Dr. Patricia Telles-Irvin, UF’s Vice President for Student Affairs. Telles-Irvin had taken issue with the posters that students had put up for the movie Obsession using the headline “RADICAL ISLAM WANTS YOU DEAD.” She wrote that “the groups that posted [the posters] owe the campus … an apology and a clarification.” McCollum wrote: By not only criticizing the ad, but also calling on the groups that […]

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  • Different Angles on the UF Tasering

    September 18, 2007

    One thing I’ll readily admit is that as more video of the incident surfaces, the situation looks a lot worse for University of Florida student Andrew Meyer, the student tasered by UF police for disrupting a speech by John Kerry and resisting arrest. In this video you see that he was being quite disruptive, and that he was resisting arrest. It demonstrates that the university police had reason to be concerned. In this video, you get a longer view of the incident, and you get to see him dazed, confused and more than a little unhinged afterwards. I was fully […]

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  • Florida college student tasered at John Kerry campus forum

    September 18, 2007

    A University of Florida student who was arrested and Tasered during a forum featuring Sen. John Kerry not only touched off a national debate about campus free speech but also a discussion on whether campus police went too far. A judge released Andrew Meyer, 21, a student at the University of Florida, from jail Tuesday on his own recognizance. A phone call seeking comment from Meyer’s attorney, Robert Griscti, was not returned. A video of the incident shows Meyer, a journalism student, trying repeatedly and heatedly to ask Kerry why he conceded the 2004 election after multiple reports of disenfranchisement […]

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  • Buckeyes vs. Gators: Clash of the (Unconstitutional) Titans

    January 8, 2007

    Tonight, millions of Americans will watch the Ohio State Buckeyes battle the Florida Gators for college football’s national championship. Beverages and junk food will be consumed, face paint will be applied, and fight songs will be bellowed until voices go hoarse. (Indeed, I imagine that in many parts of Ohio and Florida, all of these things have already come to pass.) While commentators and fans will spend the next several hours trumpeting the various strengths of each squad, gamely debating whether Ohio State’s Troy Smith is a more valuable quarterback than Florida’s unconventional tandem of Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, […]

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


All Cases

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