University of Louisville

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

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

Speech Code Rating

University of Louisville 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
  • Residence Hall Policies: Sign Posting Policy

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: May 17, 2018

    Posters and flyers to be distributed within the residence halls must be approved by Campus Housing prior to distribution and/or posting in residence hall areas. … Campus Housing reserves the right to reject any posting.

    » Read More

  • Code of Student Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: May 17, 2018

    Any student found to have committed or to have attempted to commit the following prohibited conduct is subject to the conduct sanctions outlined in Section 12:

    Sexual Harassment. Engaging in unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Conduct constitutes sexual harassment when:

    • submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, or participation in a university-sponsored education program or activity;
    • submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such an individual;
    • such conduct creates a hostile environment if the harassment is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive so as to deny or limit a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s programs, services, opportunities, or activities; or
    • such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or academic performance.

    » Read More

  • Policy PER 1.10: Discriminatory Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: May 17, 2018

    The following are examples of behavior that should be reported for review under this policy:

    * Frequent taunting on the basis of an individual’s association with people of a particular national origin or race;
    * The oral use of offensive epithets, slurs, or comments aimed at a particular person or group, or the use of offensive gestures, pictures, body parts, drawings, and other items based on age, color, disability, gender (whether or not sexual in nature), national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status;
    * Teasing or mocking a person with a disability whether mental or physical;
    * Ridiculing a person’s religious beliefs;
    * Persisting in requests for dates after being told they are unwelcome;
    * Evaluating an employee or student more critically than performance warrants because the employee or student objected to a sexual advance (refer to consensual relations policy);
    * Sending unwelcome mail, voice mail or e-mail containing derogatory jokes or comments;
    * Displaying or sending mail, email, web sites or voice mail that are pornographic in nature;
    * Touching that goes beyond acceptable workplace or classroom interaction, meaning that a reasonable person would find it objectionable;
    * Repeated references to sex in the classroom or class assignments when there is no relationship between the reference and the content of the course.

    » Read More

Green Light Policies
  • Bias Incident Response Team/Defining Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: May 17, 2018

    While valuing freedom of thought and expression, and multiple points of view, we recognize that some members of our campus community are affected by instances of bias and hate and need assistance. The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) is a group of faculty and staff who are committed to creating a proactive response for students, faculty and staff to instances of hate and bias in the following ways:

    • Support those who are targeted by hate or bias.
    • Refer them to the resources and services available.
    • Educate the campus community about the impact of hate and bias.
    • Promote initiatives and new ideas that further a welcoming, bias- and hate-free climate at U of L.


    Defining Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents

    Bias incidents include conduct or behavior (verbal, nonverbal, or written) that is threatening, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory, or hostile and is based on a person’s identity or group affiliation, including (but not limited to) such things as race, age, disability status, gender, gender identity/expression, national origin, sexual orientation, or religion.

    A hate crime is generally defined in federal and state statutes as a criminal offense committed against a person or property that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against the victim’s identity or group affiliation.

    The University values freedom of thought and expression, respect for multiple points of view, and the civil and open expression of these views. Thus, it is important to note that bias acts or hate crimes do not include speech or behavior that an individual or the institution merely disagrees with or finds offensive.

    » Read More

  • Code of Student Conduct: Rationale

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: May 17, 2018

    The University of Louisville is a community dedicated to the principles of free expression in which diverse views are encouraged and embraced. Opinions that may be unpopular and/or contrary to the University’s values and objectives, but do not otherwise violate policy, will not be sanctioned.

    » Read More

  • Student Rights and Responsibilities

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: May 17, 2018

    Students have the right of freedom of expression to the extent allowed by law.

    » Read More

  • Code of Student Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: May 17, 2018

    Any student found to have committed or to have attempted to commit the following prohibited conduct is subject to the conduct sanctions outlined in Section 12: … Harassment. Engaging in conduct that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so undermines and detracts from the person(s) educational experience or work environment, that the person(s) are effectively denied equal access to an institution’s resources and opportunities.

    » Read More

  • UofL Cheerleader’s Tweets Ignite Speech Debate

    November 10, 2016

    By Andrew Wolfson at Courier-Journal The suspension of a University of Louisville cheerleader for what some perceived as racist, xenophobic tweets has sparked a free speech dispute on campus… Read more here.

    » Read More
  • You Can Vote Without ID, But You Need to Show One to Speak at this Public University

    November 3, 2016

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix One of the biggest fears among Democrats ahead of elections is that Republican-led states will strictly limit what kind of identification must be shown in order to vote. (Voters can always file provisional ballots without ID.)… Read more here.

    » Read More
  • Beware of universities that wear diversity label

    April 14, 2004

    In far too many instances, what passes as college life and education today is no less than shameful. Under the name of diversity and political correctness, billions of taxpayer dollars and donor contributions are used to promote what might be charitably called enlightened racism, uniformity of thought and political proselytizing. Let’s look at some of it.The student code of Shippensburg University, in Pennsylvania, said that students had a “right to express a personal belief system” but only if such expression did not “demean,” “annoy” or “alarm” others. Thus, if a student expressed a distaste for race or sex preferences in […]

    » Read More
  • University of Louisville’s Nursing School ‘Tentacles’ Case Ends Quietly

    June 10, 2013

    In an anticlimactic finish to a case in which a nursing student was expelled for posting an unflattering description of a birth on her Myspace page, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held in an unpublished opinion that the University of Louisville’s Nursing School did not violate student Nina Yoder’s First Amendment rights. The events in this case date back to 2009, when Ms. Yoder posted a long description of the birth of a baby that did not exactly follow the traditional "miracle of birth" storyline. Instead, Ms. Yoder gave a graphic description of the mother’s labor […]

    » Read More
  • 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 […]

    » Read More
  • University of Louisville Nursing Student’s Case Dismissed

    April 5, 2012

    Torch readers may recall the case of Nina Yoder, a nursing student at the University of Louisville who was expelled in 2009. As a nursing student, Yoder had witnessed a live birth and posted a detailed description of the event on social networking website Yoder was quickly expelled for violating the school’s Honor Code and a Confidentiality Agreement, and she commenced a suit in federal district court alleging violations of her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Yoder sought reinstatement as a nursing student, as well as damages.  Initially, the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky […]

    » Read More
  • Sixth Circuit Orders Federal District Court to Rule on Student Blogger’s Free Speech and Due Process Claims

    April 14, 2011

    On Monday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed a 2009 federal district court decision (full opinion here) in which a student claimed that the University of Louisville wrongfully dismissed her based on the contents of her personal blog. The district court had refused to rule on the student’s free speech and due process claims, and instead created a contractual claim on which to resolve the case. Now, thanks to the Sixth Circuit, that court will have to rule on important constitutional issues regarding the regulation of student speech. The case originated when Nina Yoder, a […]

    » Read More
  • University of Louisville Responds Admirably to FIRE Concerns about New Policies

    January 25, 2010

    Back in June, as Will wrote, the University of Louisville was inviting comment about proposed changes to the school’s Code of Conduct, including a new Values Statement. FIRE was invited to review the drafts of the new policies by a faculty member concerned about possible violations of individual rights. We communicated a few comments and concerns to the university, and we learned today that essentially all of our concerns have been addressed in the new campus-wide Code of Conduct. Most of all, we recommended that the university follow Penn State’s lead in separating aspirational values from specific standards of conduct: […]

    » Read More
  • At Louisville, Proposed Policy Changes are Problematic

    June 12, 2009

    The University of Louisville is inviting comment from the university community about proposed changes to the school’s code of conduct, including a new Values Statement and a new faculty, staff, and administrator Code of Conduct. FIRE was invited to review the drafts of the new policies by a faculty member concerned about possible violations of individual rights. We have a few comments about certain requirements we think might pose problems, were these policies to be enacted. First, the proposed Values Statement reads, in relevant part: Members of the University of Louisville community share these core values: […] – Respect for […]

    » Read More
  • Rights in the News: At Maryland, Virginia Tech, UMass and Elsewhere, FIRE Cases Grabbing Headlines

    April 10, 2009

    Another week, another crush of FIRE cases from around the country battling for headlines. I’ll start with Greg’s Huffington Post blog on the controversy swirling around the University of Maryland campus in the wake of a legislator’s threat to pull funding from the university if it allowed students to screen an adult film on campus—which, after a hiccup or two, they went ahead and did anyway. Elsewhere, Robert addressed a brewing controversy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst via a column in The Boston Globe, while Adam took to the editorial pages of Virginia Tech’s student newspaper The Collegiate […]

    » Read More
  • Hearing Friday for expelled U Of L nursing student

    April 9, 2009

    Friday, a federal judge will hold a hearing in the case of Nina Yoder, a University of Louisville nursing student who was expelled over posts on her MySpace page. Yoder is suing the university, claiming the action violated her First Amendment rights Between January 2008 and February 2009, University of Louisville Nursing Student Nina Yoder wrote dozens of posts on her MySpace blog. “Let’s say I was being unorthodox and expressing my opinions,” she says. …Opinions on topics like abortion, gun ownership and patients she’d treated as part of her training. It was the last topic that led to Yoder’s […]

    » Read More
  • Student expelled for MySpace blog postings

    March 30, 2009

    Who crossed the line?  Did the University of Louisville cross the line in March when it expelled a nursing student, Nina Yoder, for her MySpace postings?  Or did Yoder cross the line when she blogged about gun control, abortion, politics, religion and being a nurse? At the end of the day, a court will decide.  Yoder filed a lawsuit in March against the University of Louisville, alleging that her civil rights were violated.  According to court documents, Yoder is seeking that she be reinstated as a student at the School of Nursing; receive full credit for all school work missed; […]

    » Read More
  • Rights in the News: FIRE Enters the Fray Over Dawkins Investigation in Oklahoma

    March 20, 2009

    In his column posted last weekend on, Greg helped bring attention to what is potentially a deeply troubling breach of free expression: the rumored investigation of the University of Oklahoma’s funding of a speech by evolutionary biologist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins by the state’s legislature. As Claire noted on Monday, Greg’s post has attracted attention from blogs both nationally and internationally; as of today it has also received 270 comments on Dawkins’ site. And as Greg notes in his most recent column for The Huffington Post, an investigation is indeed afoot. Be sure to read his column for […]

    » Read More
  • Rights in the News: FIRE Issues Get the Lou Dobbs Treatment

    March 13, 2009

    As Will wrote earlier in the week, FIRE has seen far too many instances of students’ First Amendment rights being thrown out the window when used to support Second Amendment rights. FIRE has been all over the news concerning the most recent instance of this, in which a student at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) was reported to the police by his professor and subjected to an interrogation on the basis of a class presentation he had given in favor of concealed carry rights on campus. Building on a front-page story (tipped this week in an editorial on the […]

    » Read More
  • Nursing student sues after dismissal over blogging

    March 13, 2009

    A woman dismissed from the University of Louisville nursing school because of posts on her personal blog sued Friday, saying her First Amendment rights were violated. Nina Yoder of Louisville asked U.S. District Judge Charles Simpson to issue an injunction that would allow her to resume classes and graduate in August. The school dismissed Yoder on March 2, saying in a letter that she violated the school’s honor code by posting blog items concerning patient activities and naming the university on her MySpace page. A week later, the university rejected Yoder’s written appeal to return to school. Yoder’s attorney, Daniel […]

    » Read More
  • The rising cost of intuition

    May 10, 2008

    Administrators at the University of Louisville should be cardinal red with embarrassment. The school’s speech code has been held up by a free speech organization as a shining example of what not to do in regulating speech on college campuses. “The University of Louisville maintains such a repressive speech code, it’s hard to know where to begin,” says a statement from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which recently awarded Louisville its sardonic “Speech Code of the Month.” The university, in its own words, “requires that public speech and discourse on campus shall be civil.” That’s certainly an admirable […]

    » Read More
  • Speech Code of the Month: University of Louisville

    May 2, 2008

    We at FIRE pride ourselves on our attention to detail and our steadfast commitment to getting the facts right. So when we make a mistake—which is very rare, happily—we think it’s important to address our error as quickly and transparently as possible. That’s why I must slightly correct the record regarding the University of Louisville’s speech codes, highlighted last week as our Speech Code of the Month for May 2008. Our selection was based largely on Louisville’s Procedures on Speech and Distribution of Literature in Public Areas, which we believed regulated student speech. In fact, the policy applies to non-community […]

    » Read More