University of New Mexico

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Website: http://www.unm.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 10th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of New Mexico has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.

  • Department of Justice: Letter to University of New Mexico Says Title IX Requires Violating First Amendment

    April 27, 2016

    In an April 22, 2016, findings letter concluding its investigation into the University of New Mexico’s policies and practices regarding sex discrimination, the Department of Justice (DOJ) found the university improperly defined sexual harassment.

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  • University of New Mexico: Censorship of Professor After Joking About Pentagon Attack

    October 23, 2001

    University of New Mexico Professor Richard Berthold addressed the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 in his Western Civilization class, remarking, "Anyone who can bomb the Pentagon has my vote." Berthold apologized for the statement, and his speech was protected under the First Amendment, but University of New Mexico President William C. Gordon still nonetheless announced he would "vigorously pursue" disciplinary action. Although FIRE protested and the case drew national media attention, Berthold was found guilty of violating the standards of "professorial responsibility" and was banned from teaching freshman classes for a year, amongst other measures.

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Red Light Policies

  • Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual – Policy 2240: Respectful Campus

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: May 3, 2016

    The commitment to a respectful campus calls for promotion of an environment where the following are upheld:

    • All individuals have important contributions to make toward the overall success of the university’s mission.
    • UNM’s mission is best carried out in an atmosphere where individuals at all levels and in all units value each other and treat each other with respect.
    • Individuals in positions of authority serve as role models in the promotion of a respectful campus.  Promoting courtesy, civility, and respectful communication is consistent with the responsibility of leadership.
    • Individuals at all levels are allowed to discuss issues of concern in an open and honest manner, without fear of reprisal or retaliation from individuals above or below them in the university’s hierarchy.  At the same time, the right to address issues of concern does not grant individuals license to make untrue allegations, unduly inflammatory statements or unduly personal attacks, or to harass others, to violate confidentiality requirements, or engage in other conduct that violates the law or University policy.
    • Bullying is unacceptable in all working, learning, and service interactions.

    Actions that are destructive to a respectful campus will not be tolerated.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual – Policy 2730: Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: May 3, 2016

    Sexual harassment, a form of sex discrimination, is defined as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.  There are two typical types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile environment.  Conduct of a sexual nature becomes a violation of this policy when: …  such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment (hostile environment).

    The University also disapproves of conduct of a sexual nature which does not rise to the level of the above definition of sexual harassment but which has a detrimental, although limited, impact on the work or academic environment.  The University strongly encourages all persons witnessing or experiencing such conduct to report it (see Section 3) so that the University can take appropriate action.  Such conduct may include isolated sexual remarks, sexist comments, gestures, or inappropriate physical behavior of a sexual nature.  This could warrant remedial action in order to prevent such behavior from becoming unlawful harassment.

    Listed below are examples of behavior that can constitute sexual harassment. The list is not all-inclusive; in addition, each situation must be considered in light of the specific facts and circumstances to determine if harassment has occurred.

    • Suggestive or obscene letters, notes, invitations
    • Electronic communications, such as e-mail, text messaging, and Internet use, that are sexual in nature
    • Unwelcome sexual jokes or comments (including favorable comments about someone’s gender, body, or appearance)
    • Impeding or blocking movements, touching, or any physical interference or stalking
    • Sexually oriented gestures; or displaying sexually suggestive or derogatory objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters
    • Threats or insinuations that refusal to provide sexual favors will result in reprisals; withholding support for appointments, recommendations, promotions, or transfers; or change of assignments or poor performance reviews or grades
    • Sexual or gender-based violence, including, but not limited to, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion

    In determining whether the alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment, the totality of the circumstances will be considered, including the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; its severity; and whether it is physically threatening, humiliating, or pervasive to the environment.  When the University determines that a hostile environment exists, it takes action to stop the harassment and ensure it does not happen again.

     

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  • Community Living Guide: Bias-Related Incidents and Hate Crimes

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: May 3, 2016

    Bias is a preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group or persons based on their race, gender, gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or national origin. Bias-related incidents include, but are not limited to, non-threatening name calling and using degrading language or slurs directed toward a person because of his or her actual or perceived membership in a particular group.

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  • Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual – Policy 2240: Respectful Campus

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: May 3, 2016

    5.  Definition of Bullying

    Bullying can occur when one individual or a group of individuals exhibits bullying behavior toward one or more individuals. Bullying is defined by the University as repeated mistreatment of an individual(s) by verbal abuse, threatening, intimidating, humiliating conduct or sabotage that creates or promotes an adverse and counterproductive environment, so as to interfere with or undermine legitimate University learning, teaching, and/or operations.  Bullying is not about occasional differences of opinion, conflicts and problems in workplace relationships as these may be part of working life.  Bullying can adversely affect dignity, health, and productivity and may be grounds for corrective disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.  The University Counseling, Assistance, and Referral Services (CARS) Department and the University Ombuds/Dispute Resolution Services for Faculty and Staff can provide guidance for determining whether behavior meets the definition of bullying.  Examples of behaviors that meet the definition of bullying above include, but are not limited to:

    5.1. Physical Bullying

     Physical bullying is pushing, shoving, kicking, poking, and/or tripping; assault or threat of physical assault; damage to a person’s work area or property; damage to or destruction of a person’s work product.

    5.2. Verbal Bullying

    Verbal bullying is repeated slandering, ridiculing, or maligning of a person or persons, addressing abusive and offensive remarks to a person or persons in a sustained or repeated manner; or shouting at others in public and/or in private where such conduct is so severe or pervasive as to cause or create a hostile or offensive educational or working environment or unreasonably interfere with the person’s work or school performance or participation.

    5.3.  Nonverbal Bullying

    Nonverbal bullying can consist of directing threatening gestures toward a person or persons or invading personal space after being asked to move or step away.

    5.4. Anonymous Bullying

    Anonymous bullying can consist of withholding or disguising identity while treating a person in a malicious manner, sending insulting or threatening anonymous messages, placing objectionable objects among a person’s belongings, leaving degrading written or pictorial material about a person where others can see.

     

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Green Light Policies
  • Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual – Policy 2500: Acceptable Computer Use

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: May 3, 2016

    Users shall not use computing services: …

    • for unlawful purposes, including fraudulent, threatening, defamatory, harassing, or obscene communications.

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  • Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual – Policy 2220: Freedom of Expression and Dissent

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: May 3, 2016

    Because of size, safety, logistics, and other considerations, the following types of speech activities must be scheduled in advance: … Planned demonstrations on campus. A planned demonstration is a public manifestation of protest, condemnation, or approval; taking the form of a mass meeting, procession, picket, or similar activity which is organized and promoted more than a day before the event. Users must schedule such events with the Student Activities Center at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance. This does not apply to spontaneous demonstrations for which there is no prior promotion or organization or where events do not allow at least twenty-four (24) hours notice in advance. In such situations, as much prior notice as possible must be provided to the Student Activities Center.

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  • Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual – Policy 2220: Freedom of Expression and Dissent

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: May 3, 2016

    As an institution that exists for the express purposes of education, research, and public service, the University is dependent upon the unfettered flow of ideas, not only in the classroom and the laboratory, but also in all University activities. As such, protecting freedom of expression is of central importance to the University. The exchange of diverse viewpoints may expose people to ideas some find offensive, even abhorrent. The way that ideas are expressed may cause discomfort to those who disagree with them. The appropriate response to such speech is speech expressing opposing ideas and continued dialogue, not curtailment of speech.

    The University is committed to tolerate all peaceful speech activities carried out upon the campus unless those activities destroy or materially damage property, materially disrupt other legitimate University activities, or create a substantial health or safety hazard. This policy applies to all buildings, grounds, and property owned or controlled by the University.

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  • Community Living Guide: Intimidation

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: May 3, 2016

    Intimidation is to unlawfully place another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm through the use of threatening words and/or other conduct, but without displaying a weapon or subjecting the victim to actual physical attack.

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  • College Sex Bureaucracies Expand and Get More Intrusive

    September 15, 2016

    By Hans Bader at Liberty Unyielding  Writing in the California Law Review, Harvard Law School professors Jeannie Suk and Jacob Gersen note that “Today we have an elaborate and growing federal bureaucratic structure that in effect regulates sex.” This is largely the result of pressure from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work… Read more here.

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  • Obama Administration Attacks ‘Reasonableness’ and ‘Common Sense’ in Sex Harassment Investigations

    September 13, 2016

    By Hans Bader at Competitive Enterprise Institute The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that not all sexual flirtation or interaction constitutes sexual harassment, and that whether conduct is bad enough to amount to harassment “should be judged from the perspective of a reasonable person in the plaintiff’s position, considering ‘all the circumstances.’” Thus, reasonableness is part of the legal standard… Read more here.

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  • Editorial: Fostering the Exchange of Ideas

    September 1, 2016

    By Staff at Providence Journal  Incoming first-year students at the University of Chicago received an unusual welcome letter from their dean of students this summer: A message that stressed tolerance for free speech, open inquiry, and an opposition to censorship. These are, needless to say, essential values for a courageous, free and open society… Read more here.

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  • Fighting for Free Speech on America’s Campuses

    August 1, 2016

    By Cecilia Capuzzi Simon at The New York Times The free-speech watchdog FIRE is a familiar irritant to college administrators, but until this past year, the rest of the country wasn’t paying much attention. An “epic” year is what Greg Lukianoff, president and chief executive of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, calls it. Colleges and universities were forced to publicly and painfully deal with a confluence of national issues — race, sexual assault, gay rights, politically correct speech — mirrored and magnified in the microcosm of campus life… Read more here.

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  • Progressive Policing of Speech Moves off Campus

    July 19, 2016

    By Wendy Kaminer at Minding the Campus “Hate speech is excluded from protection,” CNN anchor Chris Cuomo tweetedlast year, echoing a dangerously common misconception. “Hate speech isn’t free speech,” people say, assuming they have a right not to hear whatever they consider hateful language and ideas. Government officials sometimes share this view: The Mayor of West Hollywood confirmed to Eugene Volokh that she would not issue a special events permit for a Donald Trump rally so long as he trafficked in hate, contrary to the “values and ideals” of the West Hollywood community… Read more here.

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  • Fining Parents to Curb Bullying is Creepy and Impractical

    May 16, 2016

    By Karol Markowicz at New York Post If you were wondering what the next front would be in the war against kangaroo-court pseudojustice in America, we just got our answer: Shawano, Wis… Read more here.

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  • ‘Dear Colleague’ Discontent

    May 2, 2016

    By Allie Grasgreen Ciaramella at Politico ‘DEAR COLLEAGUE’ DISCONTENT: The Education Department’s Dear Colleague letter on how to prevent and punish campus sexual violence has been a source of controversy since its 2011 release, but criticism has been especially plentiful in the last several weeks. First, Republican Sen. James Lankford wrote multiple letters accusing federal officials of creating binding guidance while ignoring the legislative and regulations process [http://politico.pro/1rnPB3k]. Next, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander joined in the criticism at a recent appropriations hearing [http://politico.pro/1RTwFBC]. Then came the series of reports on new lawsuits against the government, including one by a […]

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  • Justice Department: Any ‘Verbal … Conduct of a Sexual Nature’ that any Listener Finds ‘Unwelcome’ = ‘Sexual Harassment’ that Universities Must Prevent

    May 2, 2016

    By Eugene Volokh at The Washington Post The Justice Department is telling universities that they have the obligation to investigate and prevent even individual instances of:… Read more here.

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  • Title IX Order on Campus ‘Harassment’ Violates Rights, Free Speech Advocates Say

    May 1, 2016

    By Bradford Richardson at The Washington Times Several free speech advocacy groups are concerned about a Justice Department order that they say forces colleges and universities to violate the First Amendment… Read more here.

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  • Feds: Schools Must Violate 1st Amendment

    April 30, 2016

    By Bob Unruh at WorldNetDaily The federal government has ruled that in order to meet its demands under Title IX, the law regulating equal access to educational opportunities at colleges and universities, the schools must violate the First Amendment, an activist organization has charged… Read more here.

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  • ‘Judicial Restraint’ is Killing Constitutional Rights on College Campuses

    April 28, 2016

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix WASHINGTON – There are two Constitutions, and our future as a country largely depends on which ones we follow, according to Georgetown Law Prof. Randy Barnett… Read more here.  

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  • Feds May Force Universities to Violate the First Amendment

    April 26, 2016

    By Mary Lou Lang-Byrd at The Daily Caller The Department of Justice’s recent interpretation of Title IX after its investigation into the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) sexual discrimination policies will require colleges and universities to violate the First Amendment, according to a free speech advocacy group… Read more here.

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  • Justice Department Demands Censorship at the University of New Mexico

    April 24, 2016

    By Hans Bader at Examiner On April 22, the Justice Department ordered the University of New Mexico adopt an unconstitutional speech code. It is demanding that the University label as “sexual harassment” all “unwelcome” sexual conduct, including “verbal” conduct (that is, speech). The university must encourage students to report it as such; and investigate it when it is reported… Read more here.

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  • Critics say new Policies can Stifle Free Speech

    April 9, 2016

    By Chris Quintana at Albuquerque Journal  University of New Mexico officials say the recent increase in federal Title IX reports shows more people are aware of the issue of sexual discrimination and violence, but free speech advocates say that complying with Title IX can stifle free speech protected by the First Amendment… Read more here.

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  • UNM Falls Short on Free Speech Survey

    December 25, 2015

    By Maggie Shepard at Albuquerque Journal ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Three universities in New Mexico received poor grades for campus free speech, according to a group that advocates for individual rights on campuses. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education released its annual report this month, giving red, yellow or green light grades to universities and colleges across the nation based on how restrictive school speech and behavior policies are on campus. The University of New Mexico received the lowest score, red, while Eastern New Mexico University and New Mexico State University received a middle grade, yellow. The group surveyed 440 […]

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  • Student Punished For Criticizing Lesbian Movie Can Sue College, But Rulings Vary

    November 4, 2014

    By Courtney Such at The College Fix The University of New Mexico’s punishment against a student who criticized homosexuality in a class assignment appeared to have no “legitimate pedagogical purpose,” a federal judge ruled, allowing the student’s First Amendment lawsuit against the school to proceed. Such rulings are not a foregone conclusion where student speech is concerned, especially in regard to their views on controversial social issues, according to The College Fix‘s review of litigation. Monica Pompeo took a University of New Mexico course two years ago titled “Images of (Wo)men: From Icons to Iconoclasts.” The class watched and wrote […]

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  • University Of New Mexico Violates Own Sexual Harassment Policy With School Event, Learns Nothing From The Experience

    October 7, 2014

    ByTim Cushing at TechDirt   The University of New Mexico’s school policies are so vague and censorious that the school itself has managed to violate them. Here’s the relevant part of its policies: The University of New Mexico’s (UNM’s) Sexual Harassment Policy (PDF) states that “[e]xamples of sexual harassment which shall not be tolerated” include “suggestive” letters, notes, or invitations. The policy also prohibits “displaying sexually suggestive or derogatory objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters,” albeit with the vague disclaimer that such displays will be “evaluated for appropriateness such as art displayed in museums … .” As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education […]

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  • University Violates Its Own Speech Code; Free Speech Group Discovers a Drawback to Pointing This Out

    October 7, 2014

    By Jesse Walker at Reason.com How loosely worded is the University of New Mexico’s sexual harassment policy? Its ban on “displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters” has just one exception—for “art displayed in museums”—and even then “the situation will be evaluated for appropriateness.” Last week Samantha Harris, an attorney at the civil libertarian Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), pointed out one consequence of a restriction so broad: The university’s own Women’s Resource Center was violating it. September 29–Oct 2 is “Sex Week” at UNM—a weeklong series of programs for students including “Negotiating Successful Threesomes,” “O-Face Oral” and “BJs and Beyond.” […]

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  • The Chill Is Nothing New

    September 9, 2005

    There is a chill on campus, but that’s nothing new. For decades, campus speech has been chilled by speech codes and other attempts to prevent expression that might offend. Some would like to imagine that the excesses of “political correctness” are ancient history, but repression in the name of tolerance hasn’t gone anywhere. Oppressive speech codes are not only still around—they have actually multiplied, even after numerous court decisions declared them unconstitutional. Within the past year, college students have been punished for such things as expressing a religious objection to homosexuality and arguing that corporal punishment may be acceptable. Students […]

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  • No Jokes, Please: Demonize First, Ask Questions Later

    November 24, 2004

    Have you ever lived in an apartment building? Have you ever been annoyed that some people take the elevator when they are going up or down only one or two flights of stairs? The fact that some people would rather slow down the elevator for everyone else rather than take the stairs drives many people nuts.   University of New Hampshire student Tim Garneau was annoyed by this problem in his dorm, so he made up a teasing flyer that read, verbatim: “9 out of 10 freshman girls gain 10-15 pounds. But there is something you can do about it. […]

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  • UNH student back — in new dorm

    November 16, 2004

    DURHAM — The University of New Hampshire student booted from his dorm for posting fliers that made fun of freshman women gaining weight has moved back in to campus housing.Timothy Garneau, 20, moved in to a new dormitory Friday, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a non-profit group that aims to protect free speech at colleges.“We are relieved that UNH has discovered its obligation to the Bill of Rights and that (Garneau) is back indoors,” said David French, president of FIRE. “But the university should never have put a student on trial and evicted him for posting […]

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  • The War on Campus

    December 3, 2001

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  • DOJ’s Misguided Expectations of Campus Administrators

    May 5, 2016

    Since the release of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) April 22 findings letter to the University of New Mexico (UNM), my colleagues have been analyzing many of its problematic aspects. From the overbroad definition of sexual harassment that threatens First Amendment rights on campus to the micromanaging of Title IX compliance, one thing is clear: The federal government is simply asking too much of campus administrators. Although we’ve been focusing largely on the First Amendment implications, the UNM findings letter presents other serious problems as well. One such problem is that colleges and universities are increasingly under pressure to […]

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  • UNM Findings Letter: The Growing Micromanagement of Title IX Compliance

    May 3, 2016

    Last week on The Torch, my colleagues examined several alarming aspects of the April 22, 2016 findings letter released by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) concluding its investigation of the University of New Mexico’s (UNM’s) handling of sex discrimination complaints by students. Today, we shift focus from the burden that DOJ’s findings will likely have on the speech and academic freedom of students and faculty, to the burden they will place on university administrations struggling to keep up with the ever-more-specific requirements of Title IX compliance imposed by federal agencies. After its exhaustive investigation of UNM’s Title IX enforcement […]

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  • With Feds’ Letter to UNM, AAUP’s Predictions of Title IX Overreach Materialize

    April 28, 2016

    Last month, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released a draft report titled “The History, Uses and Abuses of Title IX” detailing tensions between the federal government’s interpretation of Title IX and the academic freedom and speech protections that faculty require. The group accused the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of overreach in its enforcement of the anti-sex-discrimination law, saying its actions effectively force universities to choose between following federal Title IX guidance and “protecting academic freedom, free speech, and due process.” The AAUP wrote: Critically, the current focus of Title IX on sexual violations has […]

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  • DOJ Findings Letter to UNM Exacerbates an Already Significant Problem with University Speech Codes

    April 28, 2016

    As has been covered extensively on The Torch by my colleagues, the Department of Justice (DOJ) significantly harmed free speech on college campuses recently with its findings letter to the University of New Mexico (UNM) concluding an investigation into the university’s policies and practices regarding sex discrimination. Unfortunately, DOJ’s letter doesn’t just create a new problem, nor is its impact limited to UNM’s campus. Rather, the letter adds to the already prevalent problem of colleges and universities throughout the country, under federal guidance, adopting overbroad definitions of sexual harassment in their policies and jeopardizing student and faculty free speech rights […]

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  • DOJ Demands Clarity from UNM While Mandating Confusing Sexual Harassment Policy

    April 27, 2016

    This week on The Torch, FIRE is providing an in-depth look at the letter of findings the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent to the University of New Mexico (UNM) last week at the conclusion of its investigation into the university’s sexual misconduct policies. Among DOJ’s objections to UNM’s policies is the following troubling observation: “At the outset of [DOJ’s] investigation, the University had in place a labyrinth of 17 outdated policies and procedures related to sexual assault and sexual harassment, many in conflict with each other and with federal regulations and guidance on Title IX.” FIRE agrees with DOJ that […]

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  • New DOJ Letter Threatens Campus Speech, Warns Former OCR Attorney

    April 26, 2016

    Free speech on college campuses was dealt a significant blow last week when the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a findings letter against the University of New Mexico (UNM). The letter, reminiscent of the 2013 findings letter and resolution agreement with the University of Montana (proclaimed to be “a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country to protect students from sexual harassment and assault”), instructs UNM to adopt an unconstitutional definition of sexual harassment. In its letter, the DOJ criticized UNM’s sexual harassment policies because they: mistakenly indicate[] that unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature does not constitute sexual […]

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  • Department of Justice: Title IX Requires Violating First Amendment

    April 25, 2016

    WASHINGTON, April 25, 2016—The Department of Justice now interprets Title IX to require colleges and universities to violate the First Amendment. In an April 22 findings letter concluding its investigation into the University of New Mexico’s policies and practices regarding sex discrimination, the Department of Justice (DOJ) found the university improperly defined sexual harassment. DOJ flatly declared that “[u]nwelcome conduct of a sexual nature”—including “verbal conduct”—is sexual harassment “regardless of whether it causes a hostile environment or is quid pro quo.” To comply with Title IX, DOJ states that a college or university “carries the responsibility to investigate” all speech […]

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  • Student’s First Amendment Suit Against U. of New Mexico Will Proceed

    October 17, 2014

    If there is a safe place to share controversial opinions without punishment, it should be a class at a public institution of higher education that professes to foster discussions by “open minds.” Yet despite the inclusion of these words in the syllabus of the University of New Mexico’s (UNM’s) “Images of (Wo)men: From Icons to Iconoclasts” course, former student Monica Pompeo was forced to drop the class after writing a paper her professor deemed “hate speech.” Pompeo filed suit, alleging that her First Amendment right to free speech was violated, and a federal judge has denied UNM’s motion to dismiss […]

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  • University of New Mexico Apologizes for the Wrong Thing

    October 3, 2014

    The other day, my colleague Samantha Harris wrote about October’s Speech Code of the Month, an overbroad sexual harassment policy at the University of New Mexico (UNM) that the university itself is violating by hosting “Sex Week” this week. As Samantha wrote, the policy prohibits “displaying sexually suggestive or derogatory objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters,” for example—items sure to be found at any Sex Week event. FIRE was hoping that by pointing out that UNM was violating its own code, the university would see the ludicrousness of its speech restrictions—after all, it couldn’t even follow them itself!—and change its speech […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: University of New Mexico

    October 1, 2014

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for October 2014: the University of New Mexico. The University of New Mexico’s (UNM’s) Sexual Harassment Policy (PDF) states that “[e]xamples of sexual harassment which shall not be tolerated” include “suggestive” letters, notes, or invitations. The policy also prohibits “displaying sexually suggestive or derogatory objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters,” albeit with the vague disclaimer that such displays will be “evaluated for appropriateness such as art displayed in museums … .” This policy prohibits far more than the type of severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive conduct that actually constitutes sexual harassment in the […]

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  • Four Key Points About Free Speech and the Feds’ ‘Blueprint’

    July 15, 2013

    It’s been more than two months since FIRE and the higher ed community were shocked by a letter issued jointly by the Departments of Education and Justice to the University of Montana. FIRE staff have blogged extensively about the Departments’ “blueprint” for campus sexual harassment in the last 10 weeks, but there are four crucial points that I believe bear special emphasis. 1. Overbroad and vague harassment rationales have been the primary justification and legal theory behind campus speech codes since the 1980s.  In one sense, the attempt to stretch the definition of harassment beyond all recognition is nothing new. Speech codes came into vogue on campuses […]

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  • FIRE Remembers September 11

    September 11, 2007

    Today, FIRE joins individuals across America and around the world in reflecting upon the tragic events of September 11, 2001. As university students and professors from Maine to California host commemorations today to remember those who suffered and died six years ago, we take a moment to look back at how those events played out on campus in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, and how their legacy continues to affect us today. In the wake of the tragedy, FIRE was called on to defend liberty on campus as many universities reacted to the cataclysmic circumstances with sometimes shocking limitations […]

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  • FIRE’s Work Lauded in Newspapers Nationwide

    December 12, 2005

    It’s been a good couple of days for Justice Brandeis’ maxim that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Thanks to articles in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, news of FIRE’s efforts to disinfect the swamps of repression currently passing for American universities is reaching an ever-increasing number of people.   On Sunday, The New York Times covered our recent victory at William Paterson University. (Read it at the Times website if you are a TimesSelect subscriber.) The article by Peter Applebome ran on the front page of the Metro section and thoroughly denounced […]

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  • Spokane Newspaper Denounces WSU Censorship

    July 19, 2005

    Mere hours after FIRE went public in defense of Washington State University student Chris Lee’s free speech rights, the newspaper most devoted to covering Washington State University wholeheartedly endorsed FIRE’s position in a powerful editorial. The editorial is even sweeter given that the paper in question, the Spokane Spokesman-Review, was responsible for running a fairly muddled story written last week without even consulting FIRE. But in “Rawlins wrong on free speech,” the Spokesman-Review editorial board correctly writes: In a college setting, students should be encouraged to explore and to push boundaries, to test ideas and to challenge norms. By caving […]

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  • The Eighth Annual Muzzle Awards: Dishonorable mentions

    July 1, 2005

    Dishonorable mentions • One-legged World War II veteran Noel Dube has the dubious distinction of having two of his First Amendment rights violated — freedom of speech and of religion. Dube, 85, had to take the Town of Pepperell to court in order to keep a religious shrine on his property that included a 24-foot illuminated cross. Fortunately, Middlesex Superior Court judge Kenneth Fishman ruled last January that Dube was within his rights to practice his religion as he saw fit. • The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation already sells Henry David Thoreau’s classic Walden at the Walden Pond […]

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  • Administration softens charges in Stoke flier controversy

    November 23, 2004

    The emotional roller coaster that rocked Timothy Garneau’s life has settled for the moment as he was recently allowed back into the dorms, but not without national controversy that has plagued both him and the University of New Hampshire in a drawn-out battle centered on first amendment rights. Last month, the 20-year-old sophomore lived on the seventh floor of Stoke Hall, and frustrated with the long lines for the elevator, downloaded the image of a woman in a leotard and posted the following message on a flier in the lobby: “9 out of 10 freshman girls gain 10-15 pounds. But […]

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  • ‘Frosh 15’ UNH student looks to move on

    November 20, 2004

    DURHAM — University of New Hampshire student Timothy Garneau just hopes his life will return to normal.   For almost a month, Garneau, 20, has tested the reach of the First Amendment on campus following a battle with the university after he posted fliers that officials considered discriminatory.   He says he never meant harm to anyone by the fliers, which poked fun at freshmen women who used the elevator instead of the stairs in his old dormitory, Stoke Hall.   Now, following two appeals with the help of a First Amendment advocacy group, Garneau is hoping to move on. […]

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  • Humor vs. free speech at UNH

    November 17, 2004

    FOR AN example of the way universities stifle free speech in the name of nebulous notions of civility, one need look no further than the hullabaloo that ensued at the University of New Hampshire after sophomore Timothy Garneau tried to use a little humor to ease elevator use.   Earlier this fall, Garneau was living on the seventh floor of UNH’s eight-story Stoke Hall. Frustrated by the time an elevator trip took, Garneau downloaded a sketch of a slim woman in a leotard and made two posters with this message:   “9 out of 10 freshman girls gain 10-15 pounds. […]

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  • Victory at University of New Hampshire

    November 12, 2004

    DURHAM, N.H., November 12, 2004—In a victory for free speech and fundamental fairness, University of New Hampshire (UNH) sophomore Timothy Garneau is returning to a UNH dorm today after being evicted for posting fliers joking that freshman women could lose the “Freshman 15” by walking up the dormitory stairs. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) protested the university’s disregard for Garneau’s free speech rights, and the university withdrew its unconstitutional charges. Garneau had been living out of his car for almost three weeks. “We are relieved that UNH has discovered its obligation to the Bill of Rights and […]

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  • ‘Daily Show’ deems UNH incident funny

    November 5, 2004

    DURHAM—University of New Hampshire officials didn’t think Timothy Garneau’s posters making fun of coeds’ battling the “freshman 15” were all that funny but producers at “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” apparently disagree. The Comedy Central cable television program known for its political satire and ironic humor is interested in covering Garneau’s case. A researcher from The Daily Show made attempts to reach the UNH sophomore and his family yesterday. Garneau, 20, of Berlin is a political science major who was evicted from Stoke Hall on Oct. 24 for posting fliers in his dorm that read, “9 out of 10 […]

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  • Flyer-Posting Soph Moves Back Into UNH Dorm

    November 5, 2004

      (AgapePress) – The University of New Hampshire student who was kicked out of his residence hall for joking about female freshmen gaining weight has been allowed back in campus housing. The school’s change of heart comes after an education rights group accused the university of violating the student’s First Amendment rights.   Sophomore Tim Garneau was evicted from UNH campus housing for posting flyers in his dorm that suggested women could lose the “Freshmen 15” by walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator for one or two floors. The school has now dropped all charges against Garneau. […]

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  • UNH student allowed to return to dorm

    November 4, 2004

    DURHAM — Timothy Garneau can move back in to a University of New Hampshire dorm and stop living in his car after school officials dropped further sanctions imposed on him for joking about female freshmen gaining weight.     GARNEAU The UNH sophomore said yesterday that Esther Tardy-Wolfe, director of UNH’s Judicial and Mediation Programs Office, told him he can relocate to Gibbs Hall but not move back in to his former dorm, Stoke Hall.   “I wish I was back in my original room but at the same time, it’s a relief to be somewhere to be able to […]

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  • Student disciplined for hanging poster is allowed in dorm

    November 4, 2004

    DURHAM – The University of New Hampshire dropped three of the four charges last week against a sophomore who hung posters in his dorm suggesting freshman girls could lose weight by taking the stairs.   Timothy Garneau, 20, of Berlin, will still face sanctions for lying to Stoke Hall Director Brad Williams about making the poster. The charges of harassment, disorderly or lewd conduct and affirmative action violations have been thrown out, as has the decision to evict Garneau from university housing.   According to the university’s latest decision, he will be relocated to another dormitory. Garneau, a criminal justice […]

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  • Silencing students: UNH tilts a lance at the First Amendment

    November 3, 2004

    IN AMERICA today, the worst violators of free speech rights are universities, and the University of New Hampshire is no exception to this rule. This fall, Timothy Garneau, a 20-year-old sophomore, posted fliers in his residence hall suggesting that freshman women take the stairs instead of the elevator so they could lose weight. For this, UNH evicted him. The prank was sophomoric — as one might expect of a sophomore. The university’s reaction was outrageous — as one might expect from a totalitarian state. An appropriate reaction would have been discussing with Garneau why the joke was in poor taste, […]

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  • UNH backs off sanctions in ‘Freshman 15’ sign incident

    November 2, 2004

    DURHAM — The University of New Hampshire sophomore who was kicked out of his dorm last week after posting fliers ridiculing women who used the elevator had three violations of harassment and disorderly conduct dropped by the university.   Now the civil liberties organization representing the student is asking the remaining charge and sanctions be dropped and “allow him to return his life to some semblance of normality.”   The university lifted three out of the four violations last week, allowing the student, Timothy Garneau, 20, of Berlin, to move back in the dorms but not necessarily to his old […]

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  • Free speech group backs student

    November 2, 2004

      DURHAM — A free speech group wants the University of New Hampshire to drop all charges against a student evicted from his dorm for posting fliers that poked fun at freshmen women gaining weight. In a letter to UNH President Ann Weaver Hart yesterday, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based non-profit, urged UNH to “overturn any further punishment of Timothy Garneau and allow him to return his life to some semblance of normality.” FIRE also called for Garneau to be allowed to resume living in UNH housing. The 20-year-old Berlin native has been living in his […]

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  • My Five Minutes of Infamy

    November 25, 2002

    Prior to 11 September 2001 I was simply a professor of classical history, popular on the campus but essentially unknown beyond the confines of the second-rate university where I have taught for the last thirty years. Then, on that day, while preparing to leave for an eight o’clock Western Civilization class, I watched in amazement as two airplanes flew into buildings in New York City. A bit later in front of perhaps one hundred students I then uttered the remark that brought me my fifteen minutes of fame – or better, infamy: “Anybody who blows up the Pentagon gets my […]

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