University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

University of Massachusetts – Amherst 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
  • UMass Amherst Information Technology: Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources Policy Interpretation Guidelines

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: August 27, 2019

    It is a violation to send email that a reasonable person would consider harassment. Examples: Emailing people who have asked that you not email them and with whom you have no legitimate business need to email. Repeatedly emailing people with whom you have no pre-existing personal or professional relationship. Read More
  • Student Organization Handbook: Rallies and Protests

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: August 27, 2019

    Student Activities and Involvement supports events such as rallies and protests. We ask that RSOs work with us when planning a rally and, or, a protest, submitting your event on Campus Pulse at least 3 business days in advance. SA&I staff will be able to help you plan your events and avoid unforeseen issues with... Read More
  • Regulations for Use of Property

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: August 27, 2019

    All materials posted including signs and banners shall clearly indicate the name of the sponsoring University Unit, student organization, or Employee Organization. Read More
  • Title IX at UMass Amherst: Title IX Definitions

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 27, 2019

    Repeated unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: …  such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance by creating an intimidating, hostile or sexually offe... Read More
  • UMatter at UMass: Bullying, Harassment and Violence

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: August 27, 2019

    Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes things like internet trolling or flaming, name-calling, threats, spreading rumors or threatening to release private information/phot... Read More
  • Dean of Students Office: Picketing Code

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: August 27, 2019

    All students, undergraduate and graduate, have a right to demonstrate on university premises provided, however, that no such demonstration shall be permissible which for any reason of time, place, or type of behavior materially disrupts class work or other university business, or involves substantial disorder or inv... Read More
  • UMatter at UMass: What is Bias

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: August 27, 2019

    Act of Hate/Bias Incident: A bias incident is a hateful action taken against people or property that does not appear to constitute a crime or actionable discrimination, but which may intimidate, mock, degrade, or threaten a member or group. Hateful and offensive speech or symbols, although repugnant, are not necessa... Read More
  • Code of Student Conduct: Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: August 27, 2019

    Harassment: Repeated or pervasive use of written, verbal, or electronic expression or physical act(s) or gesture(s), or any combination thereof, directed at a person that places that person in reasonable fear for their physical safety or interferes with the ability of a person to work, learn, live, participate in, o... Read More
  • A chilling open records request for UMass professor’s emails

    September 19, 2019

    Earlier this month, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, a “media-monitoring, research and membership organization devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East,” filed an open records request targeting University of Massachusetts communications professor Sut Jhally over his alleged anti-Israel advocacy. CAMERA’s abusive request chills academic… Read more

  • In flawed but ultimately helpful ruling, First Circuit recognizes limited right to cross-examination in campus disciplinary proceedings

    August 8, 2019

    Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued a ruling that delivered something of a legal victory for due process on campus, while denying any significant relief to the plaintiff himself.  I say “something” of a legal victory because the decision — while highly significant for recognizing that due process… Read more

  • UMass Amherst faces new lawsuit over event implicating Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    April 29, 2019

    This afternoon, a Massachusetts court heard initial arguments in a lawsuit that seeks to compel the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to cancel an upcoming panel discussion concerning “the increasingly vitriolic debate over U.S. support for Israel.” The lawsuit is the latest example of an attempt to use the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism —… Read more

  • UMass RAs Are Not Amused by Your Harambe Memes

    September 6, 2016

    The longevity and popularity of the Harambe meme—either an homage to the gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo back in May, or a satire of internet culture, depending on how you look at it—are baffling to many, and it was only a matter of time until it became a controversy on campus. At the University… Read more

  • FIRE’s Silverglate and UMass Amherst’s Patai: Campus Diversity Initiatives Are ‘Ideological Training Camps’

    April 27, 2016

    FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate and Daphne Patai, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and member of FIRE’s Board of Directors, say the university’s sweeping new diversity initiative mandates conformity of thought. Citing the mandatory nature of coursework students must take as part of what the school calls a “diversity strategic plan” to promote… Read more

  • UMass Amherst Tells Court That ‘Dear Colleague’ Letter Is Not Binding Law

    December 4, 2014

    For over three years now, FIRE has been arguing that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR’s) April 4, 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter (DCL) violated federal law because it did not go through the requisite “notice and comment” process and is thus invalid. OCR is an administrative agency of the federal government. It… Read more

  • NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ and ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’ on Campus Sexual Assault and Due Process

    September 3, 2014

    National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) Tovia Smith spoke with both due process advocates and victims’ rights advocates on “Morning Edition” today, illuminating the serious problem of college students who are accused of sexual assault being denied a fair hearing. The report included comments from FIRE’s Robert Shibley, claimants’ attorney Colby Bruno, an unnamed former student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who was expelled for an alleged sexual assault, and several others.

  • UMass Chancellor: Campus Leaders Must Encourage Debate, Not Censorship

    July 31, 2013

    Far too often, college administrators fail to recognize the value of free speech in education and instead take action to censor students’ protected expression. However, Kumble Subbaswamy, Chancellor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, commendably advocated for free speech in a recent article for The Huffington Post.  Commenting on recent free speech controversies involving Rolling Stone… Read more

  • FIRE’s Top 3 Free Press Cases

    January 31, 2013

    Over the years, FIRE has repeatedly gone to bat for student newspapers and student journalists faced with censorship. Student press censorship comes in many forms, ranging from newspaper theft, reduced support from student activity funds, and the firing of faculty advisors, to prior review and editorial control of content. Since it’s Free Press Week, here, in… Read more

  • FIRE Receives Response from UMass: Code Changes Forthcoming?

    May 3, 2011

    Last week here on The Torch, FIRE’s Samantha Harris discussed our concerns about proposed changes (.PDF) to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s (UMass’) Code of Student Conduct. These concerns, detailed in an urgent letter FIRE sent UMass on April 22, focused on the broad bans on protected speech presented by the revisions. Samantha detailed our… Read more

  • Student Rights in Jeopardy as University of Massachusetts Considers New Speech Codes

    April 26, 2011

    In the wake of government pressure on universities to address sexual harassment and bullying on campus, a committee at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) has proposed revisions (.pdf) to the university’s Code of Student Conduct that would severely compromise the rights of UMass students. Last Friday, FIRE sent an urgent letter to UMass detailing the… Read more

  • Under Pressure from FIRE, UMass Amherst Revises 2010’s Speech Code of the Year

    February 14, 2011

    Under pressure from FIRE, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has revised its policy governing rallies on campus—and not a moment too soon. FIRE supporters will remember that the policy had earned UMass Amherst intensely negative attention, both here on The Torch and in the national media. In January, FIRE named the policy the 2010… Read more

  • UMass Amherst: Frequent Student Rights Violations and Unconstitutional Policies Ensure Place on ’12 Worst’ List

    February 4, 2011

    When looking for another six schools to join the six schools on our Red Alert list and round out our “12 Worst Schools for Free Speech” feature for The Huffington Post, we had to think long and hard about whether or not to include the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Wait—no we didn’t. When it… Read more

  • FIRE in ‘The Huffington Post’ on America’s 12 Worst Schools for Free Speech

    January 27, 2011

    Today, The Huffington Post published FIRE’s list of America’s 12 Worst Schools for Free Speech. An expansion of FIRE’s Red Alert List of the “worst of the worst” schools for student and faculty rights, this “dirty dozen” slideshow includes the schools that come onto FIRE’s radar screen again and again for their repeated and egregious violations of fundamental rights, as… Read more

  • 2010’s Speech Code of the Year: UMass Amherst

    January 5, 2011

    As I reported last week on The Torch, each month, FIRE singles out a particularly reprehensible speech code for our Speech Code of the Month award. One of those—University of Massachusetts Amherst’s policy on "rallies"—is so egregious that it deserves to be 2010’s Speech Code of the Year. The policy has special regulations applicable to what it calls "controversial… Read more

  • UMass Chancellor Wonders Why College Coverage Is So Negative

    December 28, 2010

    Two days ago, University of Massachusetts Amherst Chancellor Robert Holub wrote a letter to the editor of The Boston Globe complaining that the Globe‘s coverage of UMass is "unrelentingly negative." Maybe the various "challenges" UMass is facing are arising because it is the sort of place that would pass a speech code so bad that FIRE selected it today as… Read more

  • Speech Code of the Year: 2010

    December 28, 2010

    As Torch readers know, each month FIRE singles out a particularly reprehensible speech code for our Speech Code of the Month award. While all 12 Speech Codes of the Month in 2010 flagrantly violated students’ right to free expression, one—the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s policy on “Rallies”—was so egregious that it deserves special mention as… Read more

  • Speech Code of the Month: University of Massachusetts Amherst

    September 2, 2010

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for September 2010: University of Massachusetts Amherst. UMass Amherst has a policy on rallies that flagrantly burdens student speech on the basis of viewpoint, with total disregard for the public university’s obligation to uphold the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly. The policy defines rallies as… Read more

  • Unprincipled Hypocrisy Drives UMass to Do the Right Thing–This Time

    November 10, 2009

    Yesterday, FIRE’s Will Creeley brought you the story of University of Massachusetts Amherst’s capitulation to political pressure from Governor Deval Patrick and various police groups by canceling a planned speech on campus by convicted terror bomber Raymond Luc Levasseur. Well, get ready to suffer some whiplash—according to the Boston Herald, it’s apparently back on. According… Read more

  • At UMass-Amherst, Political Pressure Leads to Cancellation of Appearance by Former Militant Radical

    November 9, 2009

    Last Friday, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst cancelled a scheduled appearance by former radical leader Ray Luc Levasseur. The cancellation was announced following pressure from Governor Deval Patrick, the National Association of Police, and the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association. Levasseur had been invited to participate in a "Colloquium for Social Change" sponsored by the school’s Special Collections and… Read more

  • Victory for Freedom of Speech at University of Arizona: Refund of Security Fee for Controversial Speaker

    July 6, 2009

    Today’s press release announces yet another FIRE victory on behalf of a student group unfairly burdened with the cost of bringing controversial speakers to campus. Late last week, FIRE learned that the University of Arizona was reversing its decision to charge the College Republicans $384.72 in extra security fees for an event featuring author and… Read more

  • Glaring Deficiencies Revealed in Police Report Following Theft of ‘The Minuteman’

    June 18, 2009

    There is an old adage that when you don’t have the law on your side you argue the facts, and that when you don’t have the facts on your side you argue the law. What if you have neither on your side? You end up with something like Detective Lisa Kidwell’s official report filed after… Read more

  • Rights in the News: FIRE on a Roll with Numerous Victories and Successful Videos

    April 24, 2009

    The past week at FIRE has been filled with victories for free speech on campus, and the media has responded. After FIRE’s victory for freedom of conscience at Virginia Tech, the St. Petersburg Times published a column by Bill Maxwell entitled "A diversity step too far." In it, Maxwell agrees with FIRE’s efforts to protect… Read more

  • Victory for First Amendment Rights at UMass Amherst: Administration Rejects Censorship of Newspaper

    April 23, 2009

    Under pressure from FIRE, University of Massachusetts Amherst has rejected the student government’s official censorship of The Minuteman, a conservative campus newspaper that mocked a student government official. In addition, FIRE has learned that UMass Amherst has held accountable at least one of the people who stole copies of The Minuteman out of the hands… Read more

  • Victory for First Amendment Rights at UMass Amherst: Administration Rejects Censorship of Newspaper

    April 23, 2009

    AMHERST, Mass., April 23, 2009—Under pressure from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), University of Massachusetts Amherst has rejected the student government’s official censorship of The Minuteman, a conservative campus newspaper that mocked a student government official. In addition, FIRE has learned that UMass Amherst has held accountable at least one of the… Read more

  • Rights in the News: A Good Week for FIRE at Virginia Tech

    April 17, 2009

    I blogged on Wednesday on the press generated by FIRE’s successful effort to get Virginia Tech President Charles Steger to shelve a requirement that would have more deeply ensconced a "diversity" requirement for tenure and promotion for the university’s arts and sciences faculty. FIRE’s efforts and success at Virginia Tech were reported by The Chronicle… Read more

  • First Amendment Chaos at UMass Amherst

    April 16, 2009

    Our press release today explains how multiple First Amendment violations have rocked the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus in recent days. UMass has done nothing about the videotaped theft of and, later, the student government’s official censorship of The Minuteman, a conservative campus newspaper that mocked a student government official. Worse, last night, when a… Read more

  • UMass Amherst Stands by as Student Newspaper is Stolen and Censored

    April 16, 2009

    AMHERST, Mass., April 16, 2009—Multiple First Amendment violations have rocked the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus in recent days. UMass has done nothing about the videotaped theft of and, later, the student government’s official censorship of The Minuteman, a conservative campus newspaper that mocked a student government official. Worse, last night, when a student senator… Read more

  • UMass Amherst SGA Ejects Senator Standing Up for the First Amendment

    April 16, 2009

    This is a must-read. Yesterday I reported on a resolution introduced to the UMass Amherst student government that would have resolved most of the First Amendment issues currently boiling over on campus, following the student government’s attempt to coerce a student organization to apologize for its protected expression or else be derecognized and essentially destroyed…. Read more

  • UMass Amherst Student Government Has a Chance to Restore First Amendment Rights

    April 15, 2009

    The University of Massachusetts Amherst Student Government Association (SGA) has failed the First Amendment in almost every possible way by trying to punish a student organization for its protected speech in its March/April 2009 issue of The Minuteman. Tonight, they reportedly have a chance to undo the damage. The organization in question, The Silent Majority,… Read more

  • Derek Khanna removed from SGA senate meeting

    April 15, 2009

    Commuter Area Senator Derek Khanna was removed from last night’s Student Government Association senate meeting in what he described as a demonstration in support of the first amendment. Khanna submitted a motion for last night’s meeting that proposed the senate’s retraction of a resolution it passed last week. The previously passed resolution requested that the… 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,… Read more

  • FIRE Letter to UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert C. Holub

    April 10, 2009

    April 10, 2009 Chancellor Robert C. Holub University of Massachusetts Amherst 374 Whitmore Administration Building Amherst, Massachusetts 01003 URGENT Sent by U.S. Mail and Facsimile (413-545-2328) Dear Chancellor Holub: FIRE is disappointed to be writing you for the second time within a month about violations of the rights of students at the University of Massachusetts… Read more

  • FIRE Vice President Pens Op-Ed for ‘The Boston Globe’: ‘Why no one should be silenced on campus’

    April 9, 2009

    Today’s Boston Globe features an op-ed from FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley on the disruption of Don Feder’s speech at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Robert points out that this incident is indicative of a larger problem on college campuses, where students resort to disruption and violence to preempt speech with which they disagree:… Read more

  • Thousands of Papers Go Missing at Catholic University; Editors Get Little Help from Administration, Police

    April 7, 2009

    A few days after breaking news of the brazen theft of a student newspaper at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, FIRE reports another such disheartening incident, this time at the Catholic University of America (CUA), where thousands of issues of the independent student newspaper The Tower were taken from their racks and thrown into… Read more

  • Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on ‘Hell Week for Campus Free Speech’

    April 3, 2009

    Defending free speech is often an exhilarating and rewarding experience, fighting the good fight in an uphill battle for constitutional rights against an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars. But sometimes, and this was one of those weeks, that hill looks pretty steep. Greg writes in his latest column on The Huffington Post on… Read more

  • Video: Newspaper Theft at UMass Amherst While Police Officer Watches

    April 2, 2009

    Thieves at UMass Amherst grab scores of copies of conservative student newspaper The Minuteman out of a man’s hands while a police officer watches and does nothing. Here’s the video.

  • Hell week for campus free speech

    April 2, 2009

    The week is not quite over, and it’s already been a lousy one for free speech on America’s campuses. Yesterday, angry students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst were caught on video stealing a conservative student newspaper, while a police officer stood by and not only watched, but excused the students’ behavior. A graduate student… Read more

  • Breaking News: Freedom of the Press Disrupted at UMass Amherst

    April 1, 2009

    Within a day of distributing their most recent issue on campus, the student journalists responsible for publishing The Minuteman, a conservative newspaper at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, had their issues stolen by vandals, had to contact the local police department, and had to attempt to wrestle their issues back from the would-be thieves while… Read more

  • Four FIRE Cases on Security Fees Top Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle

    March 31, 2009

    Page A-1 of Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle features four of FIRE’s cases on unacceptably high security fees for controversial speakers. In each case, the potential reaction of the audience was used to assess security fees and charge them to the host. But as the Supreme Court wrote in Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992), “Speech… Read more

  • What 9/11 Taught Us About Academia

    September 11, 2006

    Today, FIRE joins the rest of the nation in remembering the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Five years ago, the events of 9/11 highlighted—in a very ugly way—just how out of touch many universities are with the American public. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when much of America was still in mourning, a… Read more

  • Art and the Myth of the ‘Right Not to Be Offended’

    October 21, 2005

    Check out the fascinating story (“Censoring Art or Protecting Workers?”) about censored artwork in Inside Higher Ed. Apparently the University of Michigan at Flint is demanding that a graphic drawing called Hermaphrodite be removed from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center because it is creating a “hostile environment” for workers. Anyone who pays attention… Read more

  • Silverglate Reponds to Critic of UMass Amherst Column

    March 30, 2005

    FIRE cofounder Harvey Silverglate authored a piece in the March 11 Boston Phoenix entitled “UMass Amherst Parodies Itself,” in which he criticized the UMass administration for its reaction to “racist” photos of a party involving student government candidates who felt they had been unfairly labeled as racist during their campaigns. As Harvey put it: They… Read more

  • Defending Speech Codes?

    March 24, 2005

    A group calling itself Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth has mobilized against free-speech trustee candidates Peter Robinson and Todd Zywicki. In a curious entry on its site, Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth challenges FIRE’s contention that Dartmouth has a speech code. The group states: Robinson does not mention FIRE’s position on free speech in higher… Read more

  • Harvey Silverglate in the ‘Boston Phoenix’: ‘UMass Amherst parodies itself’

    March 10, 2005

    Our cofounder Harvey Silverglate authored an important piece about the situation at UMass Amherst. As readers may remember, FIRE defended the students at Amherst last fall. If it were not for public awareness and pressure on UMass Amherst, I believe the students involved would have been expelled for standing near a drawing that mocked race-baiting…. Read more

  • ‘Lyle’ Portends Life Without Freedom, ‘Friends,’ ‘Seinfeld’

    March 10, 2005

    Every year when I attend a national conference of administrators for America’s colleges and universities, one message comes through loud and clear: claims of harassment, sexual or otherwise, are out of control. At this conference, experts review harassment case law, recent suits and settlements from across the country. They also tell horror stories of absurd… Read more

  • Occidental College’s Ongoing Shame: Part 1

    March 1, 2005

    One year ago this month, Occidental College radio show host Jason Antebi hosted his popular radio show Rant and Rave for the very last time. In this last show he mocked two student representatives who had previously tried to have him impeached from his student government position. The student representatives filed sexual harassment charges against… Read more

  • The Censors’ Favorite Team

    February 4, 2005

    Tens of millions of people across America will watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX this Sunday night. In a gesture of magnanimity before the big game, those of us at FIRE’s headquarters here in Philadelphia would like to tip our hat to all the New England college administrators… Read more

  • Send Out the Clowns

    October 28, 2004

    LIKE PATRONS of the Grand Hotel in the classic movie of the same name, administrators at the University of Massachusetts Amherst come and go, but nothing ever happens — at least as far as the school’s longstanding devotion to unconstitutional censorship is concerned. Always advanced in the name of some alleged higher principle, UMass’s history… Read more

  • Satirical UMass Students Victims of ‘Double Standards,’ Says FIRE

    October 21, 2004

    (AgapePress) – A civil liberties group says at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, it’s more acceptable to mock American soldiers than it is to make fun of racism allegations. That’s why the group is accusing the school of “repression and double standards.” UMass has charged nine students with harassment and threatened to expel them for… Read more

  • Repression and Double Standards at UMass Amherst

    October 15, 2004

    AMHERST, Mass., October 14, 2004—Less than one year after the University of Massachusetts Amherst defended the free speech rights of a columnist who celebrated the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, the university has campaigned to persecute nine students who were seen in photographs containing a caricature of one of them as the “Grand Wizard”… Read more

  • FIRE Letter to UMass Amherst Chancellor John V. Lombardi, October 7, 2004

    October 7, 2004

    October 7, 2004   Chancellor John V. Lombardi University of Massachusetts 181 Presidents Drive Amherst, Massachusetts 01003   URGENT Sent by U.S. Mail and Facsimile (413-545-2328)   Dear Chancellor Lombardi:   As you can see from our directors and board of advisors, FIRE unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals… Read more