University of Idaho

Location: Moscow, Idaho
Website: http://www.uidaho.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Idaho has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.

  • University of Idaho: Student Charged With Discrimination and Harassment for ‘Offensive’ Speech

    May 5, 2010

    On April 5, 2010, University of Idaho student Alex Rowson was charged with “discrimination” for saying that “illegal immigration destroyed my home state of California” when he interrupted a break in a musical concert celebrating César Chávez Day. In an unrelated incident, he was charged on April 23, 2010, with “harassing” other students by shouting that “liberalism is destroying America” during a “Take Back the Night” march. After FIRE wrote President Duane Nellis and demonstrated why the charges of “discrimination” and “harassment” were unfounded, the university eventually dropped all charges against Rowson relating to discrimination and harassment.

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Red Light Policies

  • Administrative Policy Manual: 30.12 – UI Computer Use Policy

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: July 2, 2015

    Users of any electronic communications shall not send or post messages that are libelous, patently offensive, or that intimidate, threaten, demean or harass individuals or groups, or that would otherwise bring discredit to the university.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Residence Hall Handbook: Residence Hall Policies- Disruptive Behavior

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: July 2, 2015

    Interference, disturbance, or obstruction of any other student or staff member by means of noise, abusive language or other nuisance.

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  • Residence Hall Handbook: Residence Hall Policies- Posting Materials

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: July 2, 2015

    Items viewable from the outside of a room must not be offensive, lewd, or contain alcohol/drug references or imagery.

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  • Student Code of Conduct: Article II- Proscribed Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 2, 2015

    Persistent or severe, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion, bullying, derogatory comments, vandalism, or other conduct that threatens or endangers the mental or physical health or safety of any person or causes reasonable apprehension of such harm.  A single instance may be considered severe enough to merit sanctions.

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  • Student Code of Conduct: Article II- Proscribed Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: July 2, 2015

    The following list describes actions that detract from the effectiveness of a University community and for which students are subject to disciplinary action. … Using computer facilities or resources … to send obscene or abusive messages.

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  • Student Code of Conduct: Article II- Proscribed Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 2, 2015

    e.  Sexual harassment, which is defined as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature (see FSH 3205 for the requirements of the consensual relationship policy).  It includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature when: …  (3)  Such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to have the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment or negatively affecting a student’s educational opportunities.  A single instance may be considered severe enough to merit sanctions.

    f.  Gender-based and sexual orientation harassment (see FSH 3215), which is defined as any act of verbal, non-verbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex, sex-stereotyping, gender, or gender-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

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  • Administrative Policy Manual: 40.29 – Campus Advertising/Posting/Temporary Signage Policy

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: July 2, 2015

    Posters and notices may be displayed, when there is room for them and permission is granted, on bulletin boards and kiosks located inside buildings and on campus.

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Green Light Policies
  • Faculty Staff Handbook: Policy 3220 – Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 2, 2015

    Sexual harassment of a student is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: (a) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of the student’s grade, receipt of a grade, or status as a student; (b) the student’s submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for a decision affecting that student; or (c) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with the student’s learning or learning performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning environment. In addition, it includes behavior that overtly or covertly uses the power inherent in the status of a professor, teacher, or other officer to affect a student’s educational experience or career opportunities by intimidating, threatening, or coercing the student to accept sexual advances or risk reprisal in terms of a grade, a recommendation, an opportunity for professional growth, or a job. Moreover, a student is deemed to be a victim of sexual harassment if he or she is denied educational benefit because someone else has received preferential treatment in return for sexual favors.

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  • Code of Conduct: Statement of Student Rights

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: July 2, 2015

    The regents recognize that students enjoy the same inalienable rights as other citizens under the constitution and laws of the United States ….

    Students and student associations shall be free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and to express their opinions publicly or privately, subject only to civil and criminal law.

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  • Residence Hall Handbook: Housing Climate and Safety- Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: July 2, 2015

    University Housing works to promote a campus climate and work environment that is open and welcomes all people. Acts of discrimination or harassment hurt and degrade all members of the campus community. Every member of the campus community is responsible for creating and maintaining a climate free of discriminatory harassment. Actions and/or communications that are discriminatory or harassing are not permitted.

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  • Rowson still shakes things up

    August 23, 2010

    Alexander Rowson is no less passionate about political topics since the events of last spring, but said he has learned better outlets for it. “I want to shake things up in the area, but there are better ways to do that and that is what I am going to try to do,” Rowson said. Rowson made political comments at the Cesar Chavez and “Take Back the Night” events last spring and was initially charged with harassment and discrimination by the university. The university dropped those charges after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education wrote the dean and argued that […]

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  • University of Idaho Revises Former ‘Speech Code of the Month’ Policy

    August 12, 2010

    Good news out of the University of Idaho: the administration has revised a residence hall harassment policy that FIRE named our Speech Code of the Month in September 2009. Before it was revised, the policy provided that “Actions and/or communication that are discriminatory, harassing or insensitive are not permitted.” We wrote at the time that This policy prohibits a staggering amount of constitutionally protected speech. In fact, this policy prohibits precisely the speech that the First Amendment exists to protect, since people typically do not seek to censor sensitive, respectful expression. Moving beyond the legal issues, speech codes like this […]

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  • University of Idaho ‘Argonaut’ Covers FIRE Free Speech Case; UI Won’t Reveal Name of Secret Accuser

    June 3, 2010

    Tuesday’s Argonaut, the student newspaper of the University of Idaho (UI), covers FIRE’s case involving a student who was charged with discrimination and harassment because of political comments he made during two events. Peter wrote about the events relating to these charges last week: On or about March 30, during César Chávez Day at UI, there was a musical performance in the food court in UI’s student union building. The music was loud enough that, in Rowson’s opinion, it was disrupting his class nearby. Between songs, Rowson went to the microphone and made a political statement about “how illegal immigration […]

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  • Victory: University of Idaho Drops Charges of Harassment and Discrimination for ‘Offensive’ Speech

    May 24, 2010

    After FIRE intervened, the University of Idaho (UI) abandoned disciplinary charges of “harass[ment]” and “discrimination” against student Alexander Rowson relating to political statements he made at two campus events. On or about March 30, during César Chávez Day at UI, there was a musical performance in the food court in UI’s student union building. The music was loud enough that, in Rowson’s opinion, it was disrupting his class nearby. Between songs, Rowson went to the microphone and made a political statement about “how illegal immigration destroyed my home state of California.” His impromptu protest lasted roughly thirty seconds, he says, […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: University of Idaho

    September 1, 2009

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for September 2009: the University of Idaho. In the University of Idaho’s residence halls, “Actions and/or communication that are discriminatory, harassing or insensitive are not permitted.” (Emphasis added.) This policy prohibits a staggering amount of constitutionally protected speech. In fact, this policy prohibits precisely the speech that the First Amendment exists to protect, since people typically do not seek to censor sensitive, respectful expression. Moving beyond the legal issues, speech codes like this one infantilize college students by assuming they cannot cope with any sort of offense. Do we really want to […]

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  • Film Students Asked to Sign Disclosure of ‘Offensive’ Content

    November 28, 2006

    I don’t know why I didn’t anticipate this might happen, but now that is has, it smacks of the inevitable: A professor at the University of Idaho has asked students to sign a “statement of understanding” acknowledging that some of the films he shows may have content that is offensive to some students. Inside Higher Ed brings us the story. In a university culture where the avoidance of offense is considered a sacred principle on many campuses, it’s not surprising that Professor Dennis West would hit on a method already commonly used when engaging in nearly any activity that comes with […]

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