University of Kentucky

Location: Lexington, Kentucky
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit

Tell University of Kentucky to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

University of Kentucky 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.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.
Yellow Light Policies
  • Office of Residence Life Community Standards

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: July 28, 2017

    Individual or group activities that result in disturbance or distress to others are prohibited, including but not limited to … writing inappropriate language or symbols on dry erase boards or public area property.

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  • Administrative Regulation 4:10: Code of Student Conduct- Bullying and Cyberbullying

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: July 28, 2017

    Bullying, including Cyberbullying, is repeated or hostile behaviors that a reasonable person would find intimidating or that would harm or distress another person, but fall short of being harassment. This provision shall not be used to discipline Students for speech protected by the First Amendment.

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  • Bias Incident Response Services

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: July 28, 2017

    What is a Bias Incident?

    Any activity that intimidates, demeans, mocks, degrades, marginalizes, or threatens individuals or groups based on that individual’s or group’s actual or perceived:

    • Ability (physical, psychological and cognitive)
    • Age
    • Ancestry
    • Citizenship or immigration status
    • Ethnicity
    • Gender
    • Gender Identity
    • Gender Expression
    • Parenting and pregnancy status
    • Race
    • Religion
    • Religious practice
    • Sexual orientation
    • Veteran status

    A bias incident can occur whether the act was intentional or unintentional, and may or may not be a legal act. In identifying a bias incident, the focus is on the impact on an individual or group, not the intention or motivation of the actor. (Adapted from ACPA Bias Incidents Prevention and Response Policy and Protocol)

    To make a report about a Bias IncidentBias Incident Report Form

    The Bias Incident Response Team (B.I.R.T) is the entity through which incidents of identity-based violence and harrassment can be reported, reviewed and appropriate action can be taken by the University. This will allow the University to respond to individual incidents and to examine trends and themes that need to be addressed.

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  • Administrative Regulation 9:2: Regulations Governing the Use of Facilities by Registered Student Organizations

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: July 28, 2017

    The area west of the Alumni Gymnasium between Limestone Street and the Alumni Gymnasium is designated an open discussion area. In this area, any registered student organization may for a period not to exceed two hours conduct an open discussion or other program without complying with the reservation format stated above.

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  • Administrative Regulation 6:1: Policy on Discrimination and Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 28, 2017

    Harassment, a form of discrimination, is unwelcome conduct that is based on [race, color, national origin, ethnic origin, religion, creed, age, physical or mental disability, veteran status, uniformed service, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, social or economic status, or whether the person is a smoker or nonsmoker, as long as the person complies with University policy concerning smoking]. Harassment becomes a violation of University policy when: …

    2.    The conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent to interfere with an individual’s work, academic or program participation, or creates an environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or offensive.


    Sexual harassment includes unwelcome* sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature and becomes a violation of University policy when: … The conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent to interfere with an individual’s work, academic or program participation, or creates an environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or offensive.


    A. Sexual Harassment

    Conduct prohibited under this policy may include, but is not limited to the following: sexual or physical assault; unwelcome physical contact such as touching; direct solicitation of sexual activity; sex-related behavior accompanied by promise of reward or threat of punishment; conduct which interferes with participation in or benefit from work or academic performance; unwelcome sexual remarks about a person’s clothing or body; offensive sexual questions, jokes, anecdotes and stories; display of sexually offensive posters, pictures, words or messages; introduction of sexually explicit materials into the classroom or into the workplace without an educational or work-related purpose.

    B. Other Forms of Harassment

    Conduct prohibited under this policy may include, but is not limited to the following: offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling; physical assaults or threats; intimidation, ridicule or mockery; insults; offensive objects or pictures; and any other conduct that interferes with or limits the ability to participate in or benefit from services or privileges provided by the University.

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Green Light Policies
  • Administrative Regulation 4.10: Code of Student Conduct- Standards of Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 28, 2017

    Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it substantially interferes with the ability of a person to work, learn, live or participate in, or benefit from services, activities, or privileges provided by UK.

    Harm and Threat of Harm includes physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, force, or other conduct that causes injury or a reasonable expectation of injury to the physical or mental health or safety of another person.

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  • Administrative Regulation 9:1: Regulations Governing Time, Place, and Manner of Meetings, Demonstrations, and Other Assemblies (Interim Regulation)

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: July 28, 2017

    Planned or spontaneous demonstrations, meetings, or assemblies may be conducted in those appropriate areas of the campus that are regularly available to the public, provided such demonstrations, meetings, or other assemblies:

    A. Are conducted in a lawful manner;

    B. Do not prohibit vehicular or pedestrian traffic;

    C. Do not interfere with the normal operations of the University (classes, other scheduled meetings, events, ceremonies, and other educational processes); and,

    D. Are conducted only with specific authorization when held in areas described in Section V of this Regulation.

    The following restricted areas may be utilized on a reservation-only basis:

    A. All areas within a building or university athletic stadia;

    B. Intramural fields and other recreational areas;

    C. Amphitheaters;

    D. Parking lots and Parking Structures;

    E. Courtyards and areas immediately adjacent to residence halls;

    F. Main Building Lawn; and

    G. The Patterson Plaza (the area south of the Patterson Office Tower, north of Miller Hall, east of the Main Building, and west of the White Hall Classroom Building)

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  • Administrative Regulation 4:10: Code of Student Conduct- Right of Free Expression

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: July 28, 2017

    A student has the right to engage in discussion, to exchange thought and opinion, to speak, write, or print freely on any subject, and to join associations in accordance with the guarantees of federal or state constitutions.

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  • Campus Civil Rights Groups Begin Making Case to Trump Administration

    January 26, 2017

    By Ashe Schow at Watchdog Two organizations dedicated to students’ rights have begun lobbying the Trump administration and lawmakers to correct what they see as years of over-reaching by the Obama administration… Read more here.    

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  • Professor Punished, Accused of “Harassment” for Singing a Beach Boys Tune

    December 19, 2016

    By Toni Airaksinen at Red Alert Politics A professor at the University of Kentucky has been punished for singing a Beach Boys tune during a lesson on the differences between Chinese and American culture. Buck Ryan, a professor of journalism, penned an essay in his local newspaper this weekend, detailing his three-month investigation by his school’s Title IX Coordinator… Read more here.

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  • Campus Press vs. Colleges: Kentucky Suit Highlights Free-Speech Fight

    December 2, 2016

    By Stephanie Saul at The New York Times The confidential informant had an explosive tip for the University of Kentucky’s campus newspaper: An associate professor of entomology had been accused of groping students, and the college, after an investigation, had permitted him to leave quietly… Read more here.

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  • Campus Sexual-Assault Hearing is ‘Akin to a Criminal Prosecution,’ Federal Court Says

    January 21, 2016

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix Sometimes when you lose the battle, you win a larger victory. … Read more here.

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  • Silencing Students: The 8 Most Loathsome Campus Censors of 2015

    December 29, 2015

    By Robby Soave at Every year brings new examples of ruthless college administrators trampling the free expression rights of students and faculty, and 2015 was no different. Here are eight of the most notable campus censors I wrote about this year. Honorable Mention: Eric Posner Eric Posner, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, hasn’t actually censored anyone, so he doesn’t make the list. But he certainly provides a great deal of intellectual ammunition for people working to restrict free expression rights—including and especially university administrators, as well as the police. Whether he is arguing that 18-year-olds […]

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  • Students Get to ‘Choose’ Between Very Little Free Speech, Even Less Free Speech

    January 22, 2015

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online The University of Kentucky student government might be a dictatorship, but at the very least, it’s a benevolent one. Student leaders have decided to permit mere peasants to express their preference for one of two free speech policies: the restrictive one, or the very restrictive one. Well, that’s not exactly right. There is a third choice: ‘No preference.’ The survey was approved by a faculty advisor at UK and emailed to the student body at large. It asked students to answer a set of questions; the 18th pertained to the university’s speech code. “What […]

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  • The University Of Kentucky Will Be Restricting Your Right To Free Speech. But They Will Email You A Survey About The Experience

    January 22, 2015

    By Ashley Dobson at Red Alert Politics The publicly-funded University of Kentucky will be restricting your freedom of speech this year. But don’t worry, they’re going to politely ask you exactly how you would like them to do it. With the promise of winning basketball tickets and $250 scholarships, the university’s student government recently emailed out a survey to all students asking them to choose their preferred free speech policy for the school, Campus Reform reported. But actually having the free speech across the public campus was not an option on the survey. Students could only choose between a “single designated […]

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  • Kentucky Asks Students How Much Freedom They’d Like To Lose

    January 21, 2015

    By Blake Neff at The Daily Caller The University of Kentucky’s student government has sent a faculty-approved survey to its students asking them to choose between two restrictive free speech policies. An email obtained by Campus Reform contained a survey on various matters of campus policy, such as sexual assault and the use of taxi cabs. One of the questions asked students their preferred type of free speech policy at the university: “A single designated speech zone in a specific location on campus” or “multiple designated speech zones in various locations across campus.” Students could also say they had “no preference,” but there […]

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  • University of Kentucky Students Get Their Choice Of Fascism On Campus

    January 21, 2015

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix This reminds me of when Kang and Kodos ran against each other for president. Campus Reform reports that the University of Kentucky student government emailed a survey to students that asked, among other things, what kind of protections for free speech they wanted on campus. Their options: single designated free speech zone in a specific location on campus multiple designated free speech zones in various locations across campus no preference That’s it. There’s no “write-in” box in the event you think Virginia is on to something in eliminating speech “zones” entirely. And the […]

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  • Public University Asks Students How They’d Like To Restrict Speech On Campus

    January 20, 2015

    By Kaitlyn Schallhorn at Campus Reform Free speech may soon be a luxury on the University of Kentucky’s campus after the school’s student government surveyed the university community on how much they’d like to restrict the First Amendment through free speech zones. In an emailed survey to students, UK’s student government asked students to choose their preferred free speech policy for the university’s public campus. Students could choose between a “single designated free speech zone in a specific location on campus,” or “multiple designated free speech zones in various locations across campus.” Students could also choose “no preference.” According to […]

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  • U. Kentucky’s speech codes drown our freedom of expression

    February 1, 2006

    by Andrew Martin Kentucky Kernel   College administrators beware: Any attempt to quash the constitutionally protected rights of students could spark FIRE – that is, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.The catalyst for its founding came in 1998 when a book by University of Pennsylvania history professor Alan Charles Kors and Boston attorney Harvey A. Silverglate, “The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses,” provoked impassioned pleas from students who were denied their constitutional rights on campus. In response, Kors and Silverglate two started FIRE, a non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation in Philadelphia, to protect students from subversive […]

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  • Judge Gets It Wrong in Kentucky Records Ruling

    January 25, 2017

    The University of Kentucky (UK) can withhold records related to the sexual assault claims made against a former professor under student privacy law, a judge ruled Monday—but the judge’s ruling doesn’t make sense under the law it cites. The records in question relate to university investigations of former Associate Professor of Entomology James Harwood, who resigned last February during a Title IX investigation into his conduct. Student newspaper The Kentucky Kernel had enough information from confidential sources to request records about the allegations against Harwood in January and April under Kentucky’s Open Records Act. The university refused to turn over […]

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  • Federal Court: Campus Sexual Assault Hearings are ‘Quasi-Criminal’ in Nature

    January 20, 2016

    Earlier this week, a federal court dismissed a student’s lawsuit against University of Kentucky administrators under a doctrine requiring that federal courts defer to state proceedings under certain circumstances. The court’s decision turned on its conclusion that the student’s sexual misconduct hearing at the University of Kentucky was an official “state proceeding … akin to a criminal prosecution.” Although the ruling itself is technical in nature, the court’s opinion bolsters the arguments of due process advocates by recognizing the high stakes of campus sexual misconduct proceedings. In this case, a student—proceeding under the pseudonym John Doe—sued to prevent the University […]

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  • University of Kentucky Offers Students First Amendment Violations in Two Flavors

    January 21, 2015

    The University of Kentucky (UK) has apparently failed to notice that universities are increasingly being forced to get rid of their ironically named “free speech zones,” whether by state legislation or costly lawsuits. UK currently maintains two “Designated Unrestricted Areas,” which constitute the small fraction of the campus where a reservation is not required for students who wish to express themselves. But don’t worry—students are now able to provide their input on the matter through a survey developed by UK’s student government and approved by a faculty advisor. It asks students: “Which is your preferred University policy on free speech […]

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  • FIRE’s Will Creeley Heads to Kentucky to Speak at UK, EKU

    April 1, 2013

    Tomorrow, FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley heads to the Bluegrass State to discuss student rights at the University of Kentucky (UK) and Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). At both schools, Creeley will examine the state of the law on freedom of speech on today’s college campuses, discussing the decades of legal precedent upholding First Amendment protections on college campuses, common restrictions on student and faculty speech, and shocking instances of censorship on campus. Creeley will also answer questions about how students can best protect their rights and the limited exceptions to freedom of expression. For those of […]

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  • Know Your Rights: Kentucky Student Videotapes Search of Dormitory

    December 13, 2012

    On Monday, a University of Kentucky student posted a video on YouTube that showed him berating some police officers who entered his dormitory, according to Photography is Not a Crime. Warning: the video includes profanity. According to Tyler Kingkade of The Huffington Post, the University of Kentucky has now fired the police officer in question, which makes it look like the student was pretty clearly in the right to object to the search. But why? To answer that, we need to address a few questions. First, what Fourth Amendment rights do students have in their public university dormitories? Kentucky courts haven’t reached […]

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  • Did Somebody Say ‘Gazongas’? You’re Busted!

    August 22, 2012

    There’s a movement afoot in state legislatures to ban employers and universities from demanding control of or monitoring the social media accounts of their students or employees. One such bill specifically aimed at students unanimously passed the California Senate yesterday. Advocates of these laws justifiably worry that, when students are required to provide their usernames to their schools—and sometimes even to turn over the passwords to their accounts—universities are infringing on students’ expressive rights and invading student privacy. This kind of monitoring has caught on quickest in the case of student athletes. The University of Kentucky (UK) and University of […]

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  • ‘Inside Higher Ed’ on Rash of Newspaper Thefts; Latest at University of Kentucky

    November 15, 2006

    Another week, another newspaper theft on campus. Inside Higher Ed reports today that 4,500 copies of the Kentucky Kernel, the University of Kentucky’s student newspaper, were stolen on Monday, becoming the latest example of a disturbing trend on campus.  As Tara reported just last Thursday, newspaper thefts have occurred in the past few weeks at Stetson University, the University of Southern Mississippi, and Weber State University—and that’s not even counting the newspaper burning held at Dartmouth.    The motivation for the latest theft is presumed to be Kernel editor Megan Boehnke’s story on the deaths of two University of Kentucky […]

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  • Stealing the news

    November 15, 2006

    At least 4,500 copies of the student newspaper at the University of Kentucky were reported stolen Monday, the same day a controversial story appeared breaking news of toxicology reports that revealed two students who died earlier this semester had blood alcohol levels more than twice the legal limit. The incident was the latest in what has been an uptick in student newspaper thefts this fall – so far this academic year, 12 different cases have been reported to the Student Press Law Center, compared to a total of 19 thefts reported throughout the entire 2005-6 school year, according to the […]

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