University of Kansas

Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

University of Kansas 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

This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech.

Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 203 colleges ranked Read more
  • Racial Discrimination and Harassment Brochure

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 23, 2020

    WHAT IS RACIAL AND ETHNIC HARASSMENT? Racial and ethnic harassment at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, includes, but is not limited to, racially or ethnically motivated … 2.  Behavior that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment for an ind... Read More
  • Institutional Opportunity & Access Policy: Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 26, 2020

    Sexual Harassment: “Sexual Harassment” is conduct on the basis of sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression) that constitutes Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment, Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking. … Hostile Environ... Read More
  • Student Housing Handbook: Policies and Procedures- Harassment, General

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 23, 2020

    Harassing behavior or materials regardless of method or medium of harassment is prohibited. This includes any comment, action, or behavior that is so severe, pervasive, discriminatory, or objectively offensive that it reasonably interferes with the ability of a resident to fully participate in the services, activiti... Read More
  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Nonacademic Misconduct

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: October 23, 2020

    Students are expected to show positive regard for each other and for the community. Behavior that violates the core value of Respect includes, but is not limited to: … Bullying and Cyberbullying: repeated and/or severe aggressive behaviors that intimidate or harm or control another person physically or emotion... Read More
  • Housing Handbook: Policies and Procedures- Dissemination of Information

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: October 23, 2020

    Residents are prohibited from posting or distributing materials without approval by the Complex Director or KU Student Housing. Read More
  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Rights

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: October 23, 2020

    Free inquiry, expression, and assembly are guaranteed to all students. Read More
  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Freedom of Protest

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: October 23, 2020

    The right of orderly and peaceful protest within the University community must be preserved. The University retains the right to assure the safety of individuals, the protection of property, and the continuity of the educational process including the maintenance of entrance to and egress from all University building... Read More

FIRE surveyed roughly 44,000 students at 203 colleges and universities about the climate for free speech at their institutions. See the full report on FIRE’s 2022 College Free Speech Rankings for more information.


Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 50.34

Rankings / out of 203 colleges ranked

Overall Ranking 73
Openness 153
Tolerance (Liberals) 151
Tolerance (Conservatives) 46
Administrative Support 123
Comfort 104
Disruptive Conduct 67

Administrative Behavior

Supported Scholars 0
Sanctioned Scholars 0
Successful Disinvitations 0


Speech Climate AVERAGE
Speech Code YELLOW
  • Kansas is making it easier to remove tenured faculty. What does that mean for academic freedom?

    February 1, 2021

    Recently, the Kansas Reflector reported on the Kansas Board of Regents’ endorsement of a policy that, for the next two years, would “mak[e] it easier for state universities to suspend, dismiss or terminate employees, including tenured faculty members, without initiating the process of formally declaring a financial emergency.”  The reasons why such a policy would… Read more

  • Don’t fall in love with the club that will be used to beat you over the head

    August 29, 2019

    It seems like every time a faculty member at a college or university says something controversial, someone responds with a public demand that the institution punish the professor. And way too often politicians are among the chorus of voices calling for punitive responses to unpopular expression. Sometimes they are even at the center of campaigns… Read more

  • ‘Angry White Male’ course does not violate Title IX

    April 10, 2019

    The University of Kansas is offering a course called “Angry White Male Studies” next semester, and the idea has received some criticism. Kansas congressman Ron Estes, though, went even further, saying that the course might constitute a violation of Title IX, the statute that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Does… Read more

  • 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2019

    February 12, 2019

    Every January, FIRE staffers convene to compile our list of the previous year’s worst colleges for free speech. Reviewing the lowlights of the year reminds each of us that campus censors can be pretty creative. Just when you think you’ve seen everything — and over FIRE’s 20-year history, we’ve seen a lot — some enterprising… Read more

  • Warhol Foundation calls for University of Kansas to restore flag art installation to original location

    July 24, 2018

    Yesterday, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts sent a letter to the leadership of the University of Kansas, calling on the university to return an American flag exhibit to its original outdoor location. The flag — part of a series originally set to have been displayed through the end of July — was… Read more

  • Civil liberties coalition calls on University of Kansas to restore flag art display

    July 16, 2018

    LAWRENCE, Kan., July 16, 2018 — Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education joined with two prominent civil liberties organizations to call on the University of Kansas to reject censorship and restore an art display that the university removed last week. On July 11, KU officials removed a piece of artwork following a “demand that… Read more

  • Lawrence Journal-World wrong on flag art censorship at University of Kansas

    July 13, 2018

    If you’ve been reading FIRE’s Newsdesk and following our social media accounts this week, you’ve seen the bad news out of the University of Kansas. Late Wednesday, KU removed a public art installation after some, including Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Governor Jeff Colyer, said the artwork desecrated the American flag. The artwork… Read more

  • Kansas officials demand University of Kansas remove American flag artwork

    July 11, 2018

    UPDATE, 9:34pm EST: Creative Time provided FIRE the following statement: Art has a responsibility to drive hard conversations. Pledges of Allegiance was begun to generate dialogue and bring attention to the pressing issues of the day. The right to freedom of speech is one of our nation’s most dearly held values. It is also under… Read more

  • Tenth Circuit finds administrator not liable for expelling student over tweets

    January 9, 2018

    In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that expelling a student for his off-campus tweets did not violate clearly established law under the First Amendment. The court’s flawed analysis unduly shields colleges from the consequences of violating students’ speech rights. At the center of the case lies University… Read more

  • Decision in Tweeting Case Leaves Students None the Wiser About Online Speech Rights

    December 12, 2016

    Earlier this month, a federal district court dismissed the constitutional claims of Navid Yeasin, who was expelled from the University of Kansas (KU) in 2013 based in part on Twitter comments about his ex-girlfriend. The disappointing decision raises concerns and perpetuates uncertainty over a public college or university’s ability to punish students for off-campus online… Read more

  • On Free Speech, Double Standards, and Professor Mike Adams

    December 2, 2016

    Mike Adams, a professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), is no stranger to controversy. In 2014, Adams won a First Amendment lawsuit alleging that UNCW retaliated against him for his public expression of conservative views. Now, Adams once again finds himself at the center of a debate over the boundaries of free… Read more

  • University of Kansas Settles First Amendment Lawsuit from Student Newspaper

    July 14, 2016

    Student newspapers at our nation’s colleges and universities often walk a precarious tightrope. They are tasked with objectively reporting on campus happenings—including issues involving students, faculty, and administrators—when those very same people may approve funding allocation for the newspaper. Unfortunately, this often leads to retaliation against student newspapers by administrators and student governments who feel… Read more

  • Victory: University of Kansas Professor Reinstated After Four-Month Investigation Into Classroom Speech

    March 21, 2016

    LAWRENCE, Kan., March 21, 2016—A University of Kansas communications professor was cleared of any wrongdoing late Friday after a four-month investigation into comments she made during a classroom discussion on race. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) wrote to KU last month, urging the university to recognize that the professor’s comments are protected… Read more

  • What’s at Stake in KU’s Investigation of Professor’s In-Class Comments? Only Academic Freedom as Faculty Know It

    February 17, 2016

    In the midst of the surge in student protests across the country last fall, Torch readers may have caught wind of the case of University of Kansas (KU) communications professor Andrea Quenette, who last November found herself caught in a whirlwind of controversy following the negative reaction of students enrolled in her graduate seminar to… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • Students, Admins Cite ‘Safe Spaces’ in Seeking Limits to Media Coverage

    November 23, 2015

    One of many noteworthy aspects of the recent protests over racial inequality on dozens of America’s college campuses has been the effort by some protesters to bar members of the press in the name of creating a “safe space” to air their grievances. Many students have voiced concerns that the media would mischaracterize the story… Read more

  • Kansas Court of Appeals Decides Off-Campus Tweeting Case

    October 2, 2015

    Last week, the Kansas Court of Appeals handed down its decision in Yeasin v. University of Kansas, affirming a district court ruling reversing the expulsion of a student for purely off-campus conduct, namely, tweets about another student. The court’s decision was based on narrow grounds, thus avoiding lurking questions regarding free speech and the scope… Read more

  • Settlement in University of Kansas Open Records Case Suggests Way Forward

    September 10, 2015

    Last October, FIRE wrote the University of Kansas (KU) expressing concern about the threat to academic freedom posed by an open records request filed with the university by a student group seeking a wide range of information related to the work of lecturer Art Hall. To prevent the university from complying with the request—which focused… Read more

  • Kansas Universities Fight Over the Limits of Title IX’s Reach

    June 23, 2015

    Last week on The Torch, we reported on the amici curiae brief filed by FIRE and the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) in Yeasin v. University of Kansas, currently before the Kansas Court of Appeals. This week, we want to highlight another amicus brief filed in the case—one that is noteworthy not just because of… Read more

  • ‘New York Times’ Columnist David Brooks Calls for End to Speech Codes

    January 13, 2015

    As advocates for free expression struggle to come to terms with last week’s tragic and deadly attack against the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, many are asking questions about what this means for freedom of speech everywhere, including in the United States. Last Thursday, New York Times columnist David Brooks asked those who have taken… Read more

  • Judge’s Order Stops University of Kansas From Releasing Lecturer’s Emails

    December 12, 2014

    Last Thursday, University of Kansas (KU) lecturer Art Hall filed a lawsuit (PDF) in state court to prevent the institution from releasing his email correspondence in response to an open records request filed by the KU student group Students for a Sustainable Future. The student group sought information about Hall’s relationship to Charles and David… Read more

  • AAUP Conference Highlights Lack of Protection for Faculty Social Media Participation

    June 13, 2014

    Yesterday FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, Will Creeley, and Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, Peter Bonilla, spoke at the 2014 American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Conference, which featured a series of presentations about university policies on faculty use of social media and other issues affecting academic freedom.

  • Professor Explains Why Restrictive Social Media Policies Are So Harmful

    May 30, 2014

    As we wrote recently on The Torch, the Kansas Board of Regents has approved a revised social media policy regulating the speech of faculty members at the state’s public colleges and universities. The Board’s decision came despite the fact that the policy has been the subject of much criticism from free speech advocates, including FIRE, due to the fact that it authorizes punishment for constitutionally protected speech and leaves professors uncertain of their expressive rights.

    Oliver Bateman, an attorney and professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, expresses many of the same concerns in an excellent column yesterday for Al Jazeera America.

  • Kansas Board of Regents Approves Self-Contradictory, Unclear Social Media Policy

    May 15, 2014

    Yesterday afternoon, the Kansas Board of Regents approved a revised policy on the “improper use of social media” by faculty and staff at the state’s public colleges and universities. The widely criticized policy asserts a commitment to freedom of speech yet authorizes punishment for constitutionally protected speech, and it still leaves professors unsure of what speech a university might sanction them for.

  • Still Digging: Kansas State Board of Regents’ Latest Social Media Policy Remains Flawed

    May 9, 2014

    Way back in January, I wrote a post here on The Torch telling the Kansas State Board of Regents to reacquaint itself with the first rule of holes: If you’re in one, stop digging.

    Unfortunately, the Board didn’t take my advice. So here we are in May, still talking about how the First Amendment rights of faculty members at Kansas’ public universities are threatened by the Board’s deeply flawed attempt to regulate social media. To label this lack of progress “disappointing” would be an understatement.

  • FIRE Warns Kansas Board of Regents About Inadequate Proposed Social Media Policy Revisions

    May 2, 2014

    Back in December, the Kansas Board of Regents enacted a policy on the “improper use of social media” by employees of Kansas’ public institutions of higher education that put academic freedom at risk. In response to a wave of criticism, the Board created a faculty workgroup to review the policy. The workgroup’s proposed policy released in early March, dropped several problematic provisions of the current policy in favor of broad free speech affirmations and narrow exceptions for punishable conduct. The Board Governance Committee has now drafted its proposed policy revisions in response to the faculty. The proposed revisions include promises of academic freedom but also, problematically, leave in place the overbroad and vague provisions that allow for punishment of constitutionally protected expression.

    FIRE sent a letter yesterday urging the Board to adopt the language of the faculty workgroup policy in order to avoid the serious problems presented by both the current policy and the BGC’s proposal.

  • Thomas Jefferson Center Announces 2014 ‘Muzzle’ Awards

    April 10, 2014

    Thomas Jefferson’s birthday is on Sunday, and that means it’s time for the “Jefferson Muzzle” awards, granted by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression! Torch readers won’t be surprised to see a few FIRE cases on this year’s list of “winners.”

  • Kansas Faculty Workgroup Drafts Social Media Policy Affirming First Amendment and Urging Best Practices

    March 4, 2014

    In January, the Kansas Board of Regents created a “workgroup” of public university faculty and staff to review the Board’s controversial new policy on “improper use of social media.” Recognizing the serious threat that some of the Board’s provisions pose to protected expression, the workgroup vowed to do more rewriting than reviewing, and yesterday they delivered.

  • KU Senate Urges Kansas Board of Regents to Suspend Controversial Social Media Policy

    February 10, 2014

    Last month, the Kansas Board of Regents denied a faculty group’s request for the suspension of the Board’s controversial and overbroad social media policy while that policy was being reviewed. Now the University of Kansas (KU) Senate has approved a resolution reiterating that the policy “infringes on the right to freedom of expression” and should… Read more

  • Kansas Faculty Workgroup Plans to Rewrite Overbroad Policy

    January 27, 2014

    Earlier this month, the Kansas Board of Regents created a “workgroup” to review its overbroad and vague new policy on “improper use of social media” by faculty at Kansas public colleges and universities. As my colleague Will Creeley reported last Thursday, the Board refused to suspend the policy during review, leaving faculty still at risk of being fired for… Read more

  • Hey, Kansas Board of Regents: Remember the First Rule of Holes…

    January 23, 2014

    Last week, Peggy Lowe of Kansas City public radio station KCUR reported that the Kansas Board of Regents has denied a faculty group’s request that the Board immediately suspend the frighteningly broad social media policy it imposed system-wide late last December. This latest headscratcher is conclusive proof that the Board has entirely forgotten the first rule of… Read more

  • Pittsburg State President Unintentionally Concedes Problem with Kansas Social Media Policy

    January 13, 2014

    Facing mounting criticism that its new policy on “improper use of social media” endangers not just academic freedom but potentially also the University of Kansas’s accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, the Kansas Board of Regents is continuing with its plan to form a “workgroup” that will review the policy. Faculty rights advocates are concerned about the policy’s broad and vaguely-worded prohibitions on,… Read more

  • Do Kansas Regents’ New Social Media Restrictions Threaten Accreditation?

    January 9, 2014

    Professor Susan Twombly, chairwoman of the University of Kansas’ (KU’s) Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, believes that the Kansas Board of Regents’ new social media restrictions on faculty threatened the accreditation of KU. Why? The Lawrence Journal-World (Kan.) reports: Her concerns largely center on one of the criteria for accreditation through the HLC, which requires that… Read more

  • Kansas Board of Regents to Review Controversial Social Media Policy

    January 2, 2014

    The Kansas Board of Regents announced Tuesday that it will create a “workgroup” to review the new policy on “improper use of social media” by faculty that has earned a steady stream of criticism from academic freedom advocates since it was adopted two weeks ago. FIRE, the ACLU of Kansas, and the National Coalition Against Censorship sent a joint letter (PDF) to the Board on December… Read more

  • ‘Slate’ Slams Kansas Board of Regents’ Outrageous New Social Media Policy

    December 24, 2013

    As a Torch reader, you’re probably already familiar with the controversial new social media policy adopted last week by the Kansas Board of Regents that empowers public universities in the state to terminate faculty whose speech in social media, among other things, “impairs discipline by superiors or harmony among co-workers” or “is contrary to the best interest of the university,” whatever… Read more

  • FIRE, ACLU of Kansas, and NCAC Send Letter to Kansas Board of Regents; Board Hints at Changes

    December 23, 2013

    On Friday, FIRE, the ACLU Foundation of Kansas, and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) sent a joint letter (PDF) to the Kansas Board of Regents urging the Board to rescind its controversial new policy restricting the use of social media by faculty and staff at public colleges and universities across the state. Among other things, the policy allows… Read more

  • FIRE, AAUP Express Alarm Over New Kansas Social Media Policy

    December 20, 2013

    The Kansas Board of Regents adopted a new policy Wednesday that subjects faculty and staff speech on social media to vaguely-worded and broad restrictions. The nine-member board approved the policy, which governs dozens of colleges and universities across Kansas, with little, if any, input from professors. While a press release issued by the Board claims that the policy relies on language… Read more

  • AAUP: Academic Freedom Applies to Electronic Communication

    December 6, 2013

    Last month, the American Association of University Professors drafted a report reaffirming its conclusions from a 2004 report that electronic communications should be governed by the same principles of academic freedom as expression in traditional media. November’s report acknowledges that even in the past nine years, technology has advanced significantly in ways that have “potentially profound implications for both… Read more

  • U. of Kansas Professor Assigned to Non-Classroom Duties

    October 28, 2013

    The University of Kansas (KU) released a statement last Thursday that David Guth, the professor who was put on administrative leave after a controversial tweet last month, will not return to teaching in the classroom this year. Instead, “Guth has been assigned additional non-classroom responsibilities … including various service and administrative assignments” which “will be completed away from… Read more

  • U. of Kansas Faculty, Staff Declare Support for Suspended Professor’s First Amendment Rights

    October 3, 2013

    As FIRE’s Peter Bonilla reported yesterday, 13 faculty members of the University of Kansas (KU) journalism department released a disappointing statement supporting the university’s suspension of journalism professor David Guth after he posted a controversial statement on Twitter regarding the National Rifle Association and September’s Navy Yard shootings. Thankfully, more than 100 current and former… Read more

  • On Professor’s Suspension at KU, Journalism Faculty Get Free Speech Wrong, Anthropology Faculty Get It Right

    October 2, 2013

    Recently, FIRE’s Will Creeley took to The Huffington Post  to explain why the University of Kansas significantly erred in suspending journalism professor David Guth, who became a lightning rod of controversy following a controversial tweet in the aftermath of September’s Navy Yard shootings. FIRE wrote to KU on September 22; KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little released… Read more

  • The University of Kansas’ Response to Professor’s Controversial Tweet Threatens Speech. Here’s Why.

    September 25, 2013

    Over in The Huffington Post, I explain why the University of Kansas’ decision to suspend—pardon me, “administratively withdraw”—Professor David Guth threatens the free speech rights of all KU students and faculty.  Drawing on FIRE’s letter to KU, sent over the weekend, I point out that because Guth’s speech is protected by the First Amendment, Chancellor… Read more

  • The University of Kansas Controversy: Defending the Freedom to Tweet

    September 23, 2013

    University of Kansas (KU) Professor David Guth made news last week for the following tweet in the wake of the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard: “#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.” Considering the tenor… Read more

  • Censorship of Art on Campus Is Also Unlearning Liberty

    August 16, 2013

    In 2002, someone at the Department of Justice had curtains draped strategically over an aluminum statue in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice to cover up Lady Justice’s exposed breast. Whether fairly or not, John Ashcroft, then Attorney General, was widely mocked for this move. The August 13 edition of the Dartmouth Review has an article… Read more

  • KU’s Student Senate Votes to Protect Students’ Speech Rights

    March 19, 2012

    The University Daily Kansan reports that the University of Kansas’ (KU’s) Student Senate has acted to protect students’ speech rights when expressing themselves online or in social media. The Student Senate’s policy changes, which are subject to the approval of KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, will be reflected in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities…. Read more

  • ‘Daily Kansan’ Highlights KU’s Red-Light Speech Codes, but Point Remains to be Made About FIRE’s Speech Code Research

    October 19, 2011

    In an article published yesterday, The University Daily Kansan, a student newspaper at the University of Kansas (KU), helpfully brings attention to KU’s speech codes. The article, written by student Bobby Burch, in particular highlights KU’s two “red light” harassment policies. Quoting me, the article breaks down the First Amendment problems with these policies: FIRE… Read more