University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Type: Public
Tell University of Michigan – Ann Arbor to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 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

Due Process Rating

Sexual Misconduct

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Non-Sexual Misconduct

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Title IX

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Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 154 colleges surveyed Read more
  • The University of Michigan Interim Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 27, 2022

    Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, graphic (e.g., pictures and videos), physical, or otherwise, when: … Such conduct creates a hostile environment. Behavior creates a hostile environment when it is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with a REA... Read More
  • Dean of Students: Campus Climate Support

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: January 27, 2022

    Reports of campus climate concerns by U-M students, faculty and staff are addressed by the Campus Climate Support staff. The Campus Climate Support (CCS) staff is committed to providing support for those who may have been targets of or affected by campus climate concerns. CCS works to ensure that appropriate Univers... Read More
  • The University of Michigan Interim Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct: Title IX Misconduct

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 27, 2022

    Title IX Misconduct: … Is conduct on the basis of sex in which: … A Student, Employee, or Third Party engages in unwelcome conduct determined by a Reasonable Person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies another person equal access to a University Program or Acti... Read More
  • Office of Student Conflict Resolution: Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: January 27, 2022

    Harassing or bullying another person−physically, verbally, or through other means. … Harassing: conduct directed toward a person that includes repeated or continuing unconsented contact that would cause a reasonable individual to suffer substantial emotional distress and that actually causes the person to suff... Read More
  • Office of Student Conflict Resolution: Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: January 27, 2022

    Students at the University have the same rights and protections under the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Michigan as other citizens. These rights include freedom of expression, press, religion, and assembly. The University has a long tradition of student activism and values freedom of expression... Read More
  • Standard Practice Guide Policies: Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: January 27, 2022

    Expression of diverse points of view is of the highest importance, not only for those who espouse a cause or position and then defend it, but also for those who hear and pass judgment on that defense. The belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, or in any other way detestable cannot be grounds for its suppressio... Read More

Policies are rated on their inclusion of 10 due process safeguards. Each policy may receive 2 points for fully including that safeguard, 1 point for partial inclusion, and 0 points for no meaningful inclusion. Most, but not all, institutions have separate policies for sexual misconduct and all other misconduct. See FIRE’s Spotlight on Due Process report for more information.


Sexual Misconduct

  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence

Non-Sexual Misconduct

  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence

Title IX

  • Meaningful presumption of innocence
  • Timely and adequate written notice
  • Time to prepare with evidence
  • Impartial fact-finders
  • Meaningful hearing process
  • Right to present to fact-finder
  • Right to meaningful cross-ex
  • Active participation of advisor
  • Meaningful right to appeal
  • Unanimity or clear and convincing evidence

FIRE surveyed roughly 37,000 students at 154 colleges and universities about the climate for free speech at their institutions. In 2021, FIRE released rankings of those schools, based on a number of factors, including openness, tolerance, self-expression, administrative support for free speech, and campus policies, scoring overall speech climate on a scale from 0-100. See the full report on FIRE’s 2021 College Free Speech Rankings for more information.



Overall Ranking 116/154
Ideological Diversity 116/159

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 57.98
Openness 9.14
Tolerance (Liberals) 10.87
Tolerance (Conservatives) 7.79
Administrative Support 5.5
Comfort 14.7
Disruptive Conduct 9.97
Speech Code YELLOW
  • REPORT: Great Fakes? Michigan colleges routinely fail to protect free speech on campus

    March 29, 2022

    Michigan may be known for its Great Lakes, but a new report from FIRE suggests that its universities’ free speech promises don’t hold much water.  “State of the Speech Codes: Michigan” examines the speech codes — policies that regulate student expression that would be protected by the First Amendment in society at large — on… Read more

  • [UPDATED] University of Michigan professor no longer teaching composition seminar after students complain about blackface in 1965 Othello film

    October 13, 2021

    UPDATE (October 19, 2021): The University of Michigan, which had been considering opening a formal investigation into Professor Sheng for his classroom showing of Othello, has determined that it will not do so after reviewing the complaints against him. Sheng’s attorney, David Nacht, confirmed the development to FIRE.  While it remains discouraging that Sheng has… Read more

  • Campus-specific analyses of the climate for free expression reveal stark differences between schools

    May 15, 2020

    One feature of debates over college students’ attitudes toward free expression is disagreement over whether recent examples of illiberalism on campus are a component of a larger generational shift in attitudes towards free expression. A dearth of systematically collected data on the attitudes toward free expression held by previous generations of college students hampers a… Read more

  • Court holds University of Michigan administrators personally liable for violating student’s due process rights

    March 27, 2020

    On Monday, a federal judge in Michigan ruled that the University of Michigan violated the due process rights of a student accused of sexual misconduct when it denied him a hearing with the opportunity to cross-examine his accuser.  The court also held that the individual administrators who failed to provide him with those rights were… Read more

  • Sixth Circuit properly finds that University of Michigan bias response team could chill students’ speech

    September 26, 2019

    In a victory for student speech rights, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the judgment of a federal district court that dismissed a case brought by Speech First, an organization committed to defending free speech on college campuses. Speech First filed the lawsuit to stop the University of Michigan from:  … Read more

  • Federal judge’s dangerous speech code ruling overshadows promising due process decision

    November 27, 2018

    Last week, a federal district court issued a ruling in a lawsuit brought by University of Michigan professor Pamela Smock against her institution that is notable for its sharply divided outcomes on several major civil liberties issues facing public university faculty. While the decision is promising with regard to campus due process protections, its holding… Read more

  • Report: U. of Michigan revising sexual misconduct policy to comply with court ruling requiring cross-examination

    October 26, 2018

    Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued an opinion holding that the University of Michigan (and, by extension, other public universities in the Sixth Circuit) must provide parties with an opportunity for real-time cross-examination in campus sexual misconduct proceedings turning on credibility. The opinion in Doe v. Baum stated that:… Read more

  • Federal appellate court: denial of cross-examination violates due process

    September 7, 2018

    Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued the strongest judicial opinion to date in support of the right to cross-examination in campus judicial proceedings that turn on credibility. The decision is also remarkable for its support for allowing students the active participation of an advisor, which would provide effective cross-examination while… Read more

  • University of Michigan ordered to provide hearing to student accused of sexual misconduct

    July 17, 2018

    Earlier this month, a federal district court in Michigan ordered the University of Michigan to provide a student facing potential expulsion for sexual misconduct with a live hearing at which he would have the opportunity to indirectly question his accuser by submitting questions to be asked by the hearing panel. This ruling is a significant… Read more

  • In wake of troubling campus incidents, students stand up for free speech

    April 19, 2017

    Last week, a staff editorial in Wellesley College’s student newspaper, The Wellesley News, garnered significant public attention for arguing that “[s]hutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech.” The editorial also had a creepy whiff of ideological re-education about it, arguing that while many people… Read more

  • What Campus Leaders Had To Say About Free Speech This Week [UPDATED]

    October 7, 2016

    Campus leaders have recently been taking advantage of opportunities—sometimes under pressure—to explain their approach to freedom of speech and other principles enshrined in the First Amendment. How did they fare with such tests this week? The Good Washington State University (WSU) Members of WSU’s administration—President Kirk Schulz, Provost and Executive Vice President Dan Bernardo, and… Read more

  • University of Michigan President: I’ll Stand Next to You While You Censor Posters

    October 5, 2016

    Last week, posters with “racially charged messages” appeared on the campus of the University of Michigan, prompting condemnations from students and the university’s administration. University President Mark Schlissel promptly issued a statement affirming the institution’s commitment to “defend[ing] any individual’s right to free speech on our campus,” while decrying the content of the posters. On… Read more

  • How Campus Activism Helped Me Gain a Greater Appreciation for Freedom of Speech

    July 28, 2016

    In recent years, many discussions about student activism on college campuses have cast freedom of speech as a hindrance to social justice or other objectives of campus activism. This characterization creates an unhelpful and false dichotomy between two concepts that are inherently linked. Simply put, without robust First Amendment guarantees, social justice movements would not be able… Read more

  • Civility Pledge and Bias Reporting System at U. Michigan Shortchange Student Rights

    June 27, 2016

    Last spring, students at the University of Michigan (UM) living in one of the largest residence halls on campus, South Quad, were pressured to sign a pledge in which they “agree to promote” certain values and state that they “will not stand for intolerance.” The pledge, the brainchild of university administrators, laid out acceptable student… Read more

  • University Training Programs Can Misinform, Fail to Protect

    December 30, 2015

    2015 has been a landmark year for student activism, including for those demanding more attention be paid to the issue of rape and sexual assault on college campuses. Although this activism has helped shine light on an important issue, many of the responses by universities have undermined students’ rights in critical ways. While FIRE has… Read more

  • More Campuses Using Special Victims Units to Investigate Sexual Assaults

    September 23, 2015

    Working to address concerns about both sexual assault and due process on campus, more colleges and universities are asking specially trained police units to investigate sexual assault allegations. Earlier this month, The Arizona Republic reported that Arizona State University (ASU) police formed a special victims unit (SVU) to handle sexual assault allegations at ASU. “The… Read more

  • This Time, We’re Failing to Talk About ‘American Sniper’

    April 20, 2015

    Every so often, a cultural touchstone descends on college campuses, with the effect of putting campus discourse under the microscope for all to see. The results, frequently, are discouraging. Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster film American Sniper, adapted from deceased Navy sniper Chris Kyle’s memoir, is the latest exhibit. That American Sniper is a controversial movie is… Read more

  • Report Raises Familiar Concerns About Faculty Due Process at U. of Michigan

    March 17, 2015

    In a report released earlier this month, the University of Michigan (UM) Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) concurred with an earlier conclusion reached by the Faculty Hearing Committee (FHC) that UM faculty accused of sexual discrimination and harassment are not afforded even “the most basic elements of fairness and due process.” Some of… Read more

  • U. of Michigan Student Forced to Quit Student Publication Following Satirical Article

    December 3, 2014

    A satirical column written by University of Michigan student Omar Mahmood and published last month in the independent, student-run publication the Michigan Review was apparently too much for the sensibilities of the campus newspaper The Michigan Daily, for which Mahmood also writes. In his column, Mahmood cheekily declared “TRIGGER WARNING!” before launching into a thorough… Read more

  • Michigan Lecturer Alerts Campus Police to Drawing of Beheading, Claims He’s ‘Against Censorship, But…’

    October 2, 2014

    University of Michigan (UM) Athletics Director Dave Brandon has come under heavy fire recently from critics who say he’s mismanaged the department, particularly after football player Shane Morris was allowed to continue playing despite sustaining a head injury during a game on Saturday. This week, UM student newspaper the Michigan Review reported on the controversy… Read more

  • U. of Michigan Policy Says ‘No’ Means ‘Sexual Violence’

    October 1, 2014

    Everyone has the right to say “no” to sex. But the University of Michigan’s (UM’s) webpage on abuse suggests that there are times when saying “no” is unacceptable. “Withholding sex,” according to UM, is one of many “[e]xamples of sexual violence.” I took a close look at the policies and explained why a UM spokesperson’s… Read more

  • University of Michigan Settles Lawsuit Over Unconstitutional Funding Decision

    July 11, 2014

    In October 2013, the University of Michigan (UM) student government denied the university’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) funding for a speech by Jennifer Gratz, the winning plaintiff in a 2003 lawsuit against the university for its weighing of applicants’ race in admissions. In December, YAL filed suit against UM with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Last month, UM entered into a settlement agreement with YAL, agreeing to pay $5,000 to YAL as well as $9,000 in legal fees.

  • FIRE’s Sevcenko: A Closer Look at the Winston Case

    January 31, 2014

    College football’s 2013 season is over, but unfortunately the issue of sexual assault on campus is a year-round issue. A few days ago, The Michigan Daily reported that former kicker Brendan Gibbons was expelled from the University of Michigan, soon after he was no longer eligible to play football but years after an alleged sexual assault… Read more

  • University of Michigan Student Group Files Lawsuit Over Unconstitutional Funding Decisions

    December 23, 2013

    Last Friday, a student group at the University of Michigan (UM) filed a federal lawsuit (PDF) against the university, claiming that UM violated the First Amendment when it refused to grant the group student fee funding for one of its activities on the basis that it was a “political activity.” The suit is being brought by Alliance… Read more

  • University of Michigan Re-Invites Alice Walker After Disinvitation Controversy

    August 20, 2013

    Last week, FIRE’s Samantha Harris reported that the University of Michigan’s Center for the Education of Women (CEW) had rescinded its invitation to The Color Purple author Alice Walker to speak at CEW’s 50th anniversary celebration. According to Inside Higher Ed, CEW and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies are now asking Walker to… Read more

  • Universities Value Diversity, As Long As It Doesn’t Include Diversity of Thought

    August 16, 2013

    Yesterday, we heard the news that Dartmouth College was retracting its offer of a deanship to Malawian bishop James Tengatenga in light of comments he had made about homosexuality during his tenure as Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi.  Today, we learned that the University of Michigan rescinded a speaking invitation to Alice… Read more

  • Handful of Protesters Cause $800+ Unconstitutional Security Fee for Pro-Life Group

    February 17, 2011

    The Alliance Defense Fund has written a letter to the University of Michigan (UM) after learning that the university burdened the UM group Students for Life with unconstitutional security fees connected to an event featuring Alveda King, niece of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Life News reports: Students for Life hosted a two-part… Read more

  • ‘The Michigan Review’ Highlights U of M’s Red-Light Speech Codes

    December 8, 2010

    In an article for The Michigan Review, a student newspaper at the University of Michigan (U-M), Joss van Seventer explains how the school’s red-light “Bias and Hate Speech” policy contradicts the university’s rich history of free speech, from the “turbulent protests of the 60s” to U-M’s “modern-day reputation as a leading center of research and… Read more

  • ‘Michigan Daily’ Columnist Probes ‘Bias Incidents’ at UM

    November 17, 2010

    Michigan Daily columnist Noel Gordon has an interesting observation about the University of Michigan’s South Quad dormitory in a recent column. "[H]anging above the East Side Community Center is a huge, yellow banner," Gordon writes. "Instead of welcoming you to the building, the banner lets you know just how many days it has been since… Read more

  • In University of Michigan Commencement Speech, President Obama Praises Robust Debate

    May 3, 2010

    On Saturday, President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address to the members of the University of Michigan’s Class of 2010, who assembled along with friends, family, and faculty to form a crowd of 80,000 in Michigan Stadium. In his speech (full text here), President Obama hailed the vital importance of robust debate in our society…. Read more

  • Universities’ Compliance with Speech Code Decisions Leaves Much to Be Desired

    September 24, 2009

    FIRE’s newest Justice Robert H. Jackson Legal Fellow is Erica Goldberg. Erica is a graduate of Tufts University, where she was editor-in-chief of Tufts’ weekly newspaper, and of Stanford Law School, where she was a member of the moot court board. She also served as a law clerk to the Honorable Ronald L. Gilman on… Read more

  • Faculty at University of Michigan Advocate for Greater Speech Rights

    March 11, 2009

    An article published earlier this week in The Michigan Daily, a student newspaper at the University of Michigan, highlights recent efforts by the university’s leading faculty governance body to strengthen the expressive rights enjoyed by faculty on campus. Just as encouraging, the move appears to have some support on the Michigan campus, as seen in… Read more

  • Pope Center’s ‘Clarion Call’ Highlights FIRE Speech Code of the Month Victory

    November 9, 2007

    This week’s Clarion Call, the weekly column of the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, highlights FIRE’s speech code victory at Fayetteville State University. Fayetteville State’s Code of Student Conduct was picked as FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month for January 2007. It defined racial harassment as: [V]erbal or physical behavior that stigmatizes… Read more

  • No, Not Those Cartoons

    March 13, 2006

    Last week, Donn M. Fresard, the editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, wrote an editorial addressing the controversy surrounding several cartoons that the student paper published. One of the cartoons in question was a critique of affirmative action, and as Fresard notes, some students were offended: The most controversial of these cartoons portrayed a… Read more

  • There Is No Such Thing as ‘Hate Speech’

    February 24, 2006

    Yes, that is correct. “Hate speech” is not a category of speech recognized under current constitutional law. It is merely a convenient way to pigeonhole speech that some people find offensive. But what is very troubling is when people begin to treat “hate speech” as unprotected speech. For example, a student leader at Penn State,… Read more

  • Practical Advice for Fraternities Caught in the Battle for Free Speech on Campus

    September 16, 2004

    I. Introduction While there is no shortage of free speech battles on college campuses, fraternities have the dubious honor of being at the center of many of the least sympathetic controversies. From Halloween parties where brothers show up dressed as Ku Klux Klan members to fraternity newsletters that graphically relate a brother’s sexual exploits with… Read more