University of Notre Dame

Location: Notre Dame, Indiana
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 7th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Notre Dame 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.

Red Light Policies

  • Responsible Use of Information Technologies at Notre Dame

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: December 16, 2016

    Never use University resources to post, view, print, store, or send obscene, pornographic, sexually explicit, or offensive material, except for officially approved, legitimate academic or University purposes.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • DuLac: Student Activities Policies- Demonstrations

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: December 16, 2016

    All demonstrations must be registered in writing with the Associate Vice President for Campus Safety ….

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  • DuLac: Standards of Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 15, 2016

    The following actions and behaviors are clearly inconsistent with the University’s expectations for membership in this community.

    * Abusive or harassing behavior, including unwelcome communication.

    * Actions which seemingly affect only the individual(s) involved but which may have a negative or disruptive impact on the University community and/or concern a student’s personal and academic growth. …

    * Willful damage to the reputation or psychological well-being of another.

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  • DuLac: Important Information Regarding Sexual Assault, Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Conduct that Creates a Hostile Environment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 16, 2016

    Conduct that creates a hostile environment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

    • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or a student’s status in a course, program or activity;
    • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions; or
    • Viewed from the perspective of both the individual and a reasonable person in the same situation, the conduct interferes with performance, limits participation in University activities, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive University environment.

    Examples of conduct that may create a hostile environment include:

    • Unwelcome sexual jokes, language, epithets, advances or propositions;
    • The display of sexually suggestive objects, pictures, magazines, posters or cartoons;
    • Comments about an individual’s body, sexual orientation, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies;
    • Sexually suggestive, insulting or obscene comments, gestures or conduct (such as leering or whistling);
    • Offering or implying an offer of an education- or employment-related reward, such as a favorable review, grade, assignment, promotion, or continued employment, in exchange for sexual favors; or
    • Taking or threatening to take an adverse education- or employment-related action, such as an unfavorable review, grade or assignment, because sexual conduct or advances are rejected.

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  • DuLac: Student Activities Policies- Advertising, Posters and Announcement of Activities

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: December 16, 2016

    All signs and posters placed on any University bulletin boards … must reflect good taste.

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  • DuLac: Discriminatory Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 15, 2016

    Discriminatory harassment includes offensive, unwelcome conduct or language that is based on an individual’s race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, or genetic information, and that would create an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or demeaning environment for a reasonable person and that actually creates such an environment for that individual.
    Discriminatory harassment may include the following types of misconduct, when such misconduct concerns one or more of the protected characteristics listed above:
    • Verbal abuse, slurs, derogatory comments or insults about, directed at or made in the presence of an individual or group;
    • Display or circulation of written materials or pictures that are offensive or degrading;
    • Damage to, trespass on or unauthorized use of property, such as spraying or scratching of a motor vehicle, damage or theft of property;
    • Physical contact, or threatening language or behavior; or,
    • Other conduct that interferes with an individual’s performance; limits participation in University activities; or otherwise creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive University environment.

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Green Light Policies
  • DuLac: University of Notre Dame Mission Statement

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: December 15, 2016

    As a Catholic university one of its distinctive goals is to provide a forum where through free inquiry and open discussion the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge found in the arts, sciences, professions, and every other area of human scholarship and creativity.

    [T]he University insists upon academic freedom which makes open discussion and inquiry possible.

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  • DuLac: Student Activities Policies- Open Speaker Policy

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: December 16, 2016

    Notre Dame students and student organizations are free to examine and to discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately.

    » Read More

  • What’s Next for the College Snowflakes?

    July 4, 2016

    By Ashe Schow at Washington Examiner  This past school year, colleges and universities saw some of the most embarrassing displays of student and faculty behavior ever witnessed in modern history… Read more here.

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  • Free Speech Doesn’t Require Colleges to Sponsor Their Opponents

    June 6, 2016

    By Adam Cassandra at The Federalist It’s good that many Americans — even unlikely allies Charles Koch and Michael Bloomberg — are rallying to the defense of free speech on college campuses. The freedom to discuss ideas and reasoning is how people discover truth and, hopefully, find a degree of certainty in it… Read more here.

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  • The Schools Where Free Speech Goes to Die

    January 21, 2016

    By Katha Pollitt at The Nation Trigger warnings, safe spaces, micro-aggressions—in 2015, pundits, politicians, and other serious people had a lot of fun bemoaning academia as a liberal la-la land where hands are held and minds are coddled. I’m rather old-school when it comes to free expression. I didn’t go for author and Northwestern professor Laura Kipnis’s notorious essay cheering professor-student affairs, but surely it was overkill for grad students to bring charges against her under Title IX for having a “chilling effect” on student victims’ willingness to come forward. Wouldn’t writing a letter to the editor have sufficed? As for […]

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  • New Threat to Campus Speech: Department of Education’s Plans for Racial Harassment, Report Says

    December 11, 2015

    By Peter Maxwell at The College Fix Fear that agency’s guidance could ‘parallel’ broad sexual-harassment rules Despite a plunge this year in the number of universities with severe restrictions on free speech, new threats are on the horizon thanks to outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s recent statements on racial issues, according to a new report. For the first time since the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education started tracking speech codes on college campuses, less than half of American colleges it has rated maintain “red light” policies, FIRE’s annual “Spotlight” report said. Between September 2014 and September 2015, FIRE downgraded 10 universities […]

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  • Catholic University Notre Dame Loses Fight To Keep Out Pro-Family Student Group

    October 30, 2014

    By Bob Kellogg at One News Now Even though many students were vehemently opposed, Notre Dame University has finally approved a campus group that promotes traditional marriage. For months Notre Dame University refused to recognize the group Students for Child-oriented Policy because they said the organization was redundant with other organizations on campus. Robert Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says it took very little research to show other campus groups shared little in common with SCOP. “And this was really just a pretense in order to ensure that they didn’t make the students who were opposed to the […]

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  • Notre Dame To Student Group: Who Needs You?

    May 26, 2014

    By Robert Shibley at The Daily Caller In January, students at the University of Notre Dame formed a new organization called Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP). On its Facebook page, SCOP identifies itself as “a group of undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Notre Dame who are focused on the debate about marriage taking place in Indiana.” On April 30, Notre Dame officially denied SCOP recognition as a campus club. Why? If you believe Notre Dame, it’s because the college felt the club was unnecessary. Notre Dame told SCOP that the group’s mission was too similar to those of two existing clubs, the Orestes Brownson Council and […]

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  • Accusation, suicide cast shadow over Fighting Irish’s return to glory

    January 7, 2013

    Notre Dame’s high-profile re-emergence among college football’s elite has brought new attention and fresh scrutiny to a two-year-old case involving a Notre Dame player and allegations of sexual assault. In August 2010, 19-year-old freshman Lizzy Seeberg accused the athlete of sexually assaulting her in his dorm. She filed a report with campus police, which sat on it for two weeks before even interviewing him. By then, Seeberg had committed suicide. Administrators would later convene a closed-door campus disciplinary hearing — three months after Seeberg’s death became national news — in which the player was found “not responsible.” In the university’s […]

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  • Accusation, suicide cast shadow over Fighting Irish’s return to glory

    January 7, 2013

    by Kristen Lombardi NBC News   Notre Dame’s high-profile re-emergence among college football’s elite has brought new attention and fresh scrutiny to a two-year-old case involving a Notre Dame player and allegations of sexual assault. In August 2010, 19-year-old freshman Lizzy Seeberg accused the athlete of sexually assaulting her in his dorm. She filed a report with campus police, which sat on it for two weeks before even interviewing him. By then, Seeberg had committed suicide. Administrators would later convene a closed-door campus disciplinary hearing — three months after Seeberg’s death became national news — in which the player was […]

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  • Colleges have free speech on the run

    November 30, 2012

     In 2007, Keith John Sampson, a middle-aged student working his way through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as a janitor, was declared guilty of racial harassment. Without granting Sampson a hearing, the university administration — acting as prosecutor, judge and jury — convicted him of “openly reading [a] book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject.” “Openly.” “Related to.” Good grief. The book, “Notre Dame vs. the Klan,” celebrated the 1924 defeat of the Ku Klux Klan in a fight with Notre Dame students. But some of Sampson’s co-workers disliked the book’s cover, which featured a black-and-white photograph of a Klan […]

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  • At Notre Dame commencement, Vice President Pence addresses freedom of expression while students exercise it

    May 22, 2017

    On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence delivered the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. While the vice president spoke about college students’ freedom of expression, some graduating students exercised that right, quietly walking out as the speech began. Pence’s address included an extended discussion of the state of freedom of expression on America’s college campuses:   You know, if the emanations of free speech were charted on a map like infrared heat signatures, one would hope that universities would be the hottest places. Red and purple with dispute, not dark blue and white frozen into camped orthodoxy and […]

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  • Due process legal update: a victory for due process in Indiana

    May 18, 2017

    Late last month, Patricia Hamill of the law firm Conrad O’Brien filed a lawsuit against the University of Notre Dame on behalf of a pseudonymous “John Doe” plaintiff, alleging that Notre Dame unfairly expelled him just a few weeks before he was slated to take his last two finals and graduate. After filing his suit, Doe moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction permitting him to take his last two finals. Doe’s efforts were successful, and the court granted his preliminary injunction. Last week, Judge Philip P. Simon of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of […]

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  • Speech Code Countdown: ‘U.S. News’ Top 25 College Rankings, Numbers 19-11

    October 6, 2016

    FIRE’s U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” Countdown continues today. We’re giving you a school-by-school analysis of just how well America’s “Best Colleges” do when it comes to protecting free speech on campus. Unfortunately, in today’s crop of top campuses, troubling speech codes abound. As part of FIRE’s fresh look at U.S. News’ top-ranked colleges, we used information from our Spotlight speech code database as well as information on other headline-making free speech news that applicants should know about before they apply to a given school. FIRE rates schools’ speech codes using a traffic light-inspired system. A “red light” […]

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  • ‘Disinvitation Season’ 2016 Begins: Cue the Commencement Controversies

    April 28, 2016

    POLITICO gave a rundown earlier this week of the after students and faculty members protested the selected speakers and honorees. Unsurprisingly, there are many. Among the notable examples are the University of Notre Dame for asking both former Speaker of the House John Boehner and Vice President Joe Biden to speak, the University of Alabama at Huntsville for inviting Senator Jeff Sessions, and Scripps College for its choice of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Of course, these controversies are not unique: “disinvitation season,” as we call it here at FIRE, comes around this time every year, when students and […]

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  • 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 change comes as universities face increased federal requirements and scrutiny over their handling of sexual-violence complaints,” wrote the Republic’s Anne Ryman. “None of the new requirements mandates that schools form their own SVUs. But campus-safety experts said the trend is a logical step toward an […]

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  • Ohio Supreme Court, Texas Legislature Stand for Transparency at Private Colleges

    May 27, 2015

    As part of the Student Press Law Center’s invaluable work to help protect and empower student media nationwide, the SPLC aims to keep colleges and universities accountable by ensuring their records are publicly available. Last week, the SPLC reported on two victories: The Ohio Supreme Court and Texas lawmakers both took stands for transparency at private colleges, facilitating student journalists’ access to information they may need to thoroughly report on important issues. Texas Senate Bill 308 would establish that a “campus police department of a private institution of higher education is a law enforcement agency and a governmental body” for […]

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  • Prosecutor Urges Victims of Sexual Assault to Report Directly to Special Victims Unit; Notre Dame Disagrees

    May 13, 2015

    Ken Cotter, prosecutor for St. Joseph County in Indiana, recently urged victims of campus sexual assault at the University of Notre Dame to report directly to the countywide Special Victims Unit (SVU) rather than to the university police. Cotter stated, “I would feel more comfortable if [Notre Dame police] were part of the Special Victims Unit. … I would rather have those cases investigated by the SVU.” Currently, although Notre Dame’s campus police notify the county SVU of sexual assaults, they investigate the alleged crime themselves. Notre Dame spokesman Paul Browne, in response to Cotter’s comments, stated in an email […]

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  • After Denial, Group Opposing Same-Sex Marriage Approved at Notre Dame

    September 30, 2014

    NOTRE DAME, Ind., September 30, 2014—Months after being rejected on the grounds that it was considered “redundant,” the University of Notre Dame student group Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP) has finally won official recognition. Notre Dame denied the group recognition earlier this year following student opposition to SCOP due to its stance against same-sex marriage. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) called on Notre Dame to abandon its dubious rationale for SCOP’s rejection. “We commend Notre Dame for finally getting things right and allowing SCOP its rightful place among Notre Dame’s recognized student organizations,” said Robert Shibley, FIRE’s […]

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  • FIRE Has Seen Notre Dame’s Redundancy Argument Before

    June 24, 2014

    In May, FIRE wrote to the University of Notre Dame in defense of Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP). SCOP, a student group that generated controversy on campus because of its opposition to same-sex marriage, was denied official recognition by Notre Dame’s student-led Club Coordination Council (CCC) in April. The CCC claimed that SCOP “closely mirrors” the existing student groups Orestes Brownson Council (OBC) and Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), and is therefore redundant.

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  • Notre Dame Defends Rejection of ‘Redundant’ Student Group Amid Controversy

    June 19, 2014

    NOTRE DAME, Ind., June 19, 2014—The University of Notre Dame is standing by its decision to reject the prospective student organization Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), claiming the group would be “redundant” in light of other existing groups on campus. Notre Dame rejected the group following student opposition to SCOP due to its stance against same-sex marriage. FIRE has intervened on SCOP’s behalf. FIRE sent Notre Dame a letter on May 23 calling on the university to reverse its decision. Notre Dame responded on June 6 with a defense of SCOP’s rejection, citing the same questionable “redundancy” rationale. “It is […]

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  • Notre Dame Offers Weak Excuse for Denying Controversial Student Group Recognition

    May 28, 2014

    The University of Notre Dame is refusing to officially recognize the student group Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), which advocates for what it calls “child-oriented” policies—most notably, “traditional marriage”—in the state of Indiana. Notre Dame’s mission statement says that the university’s goals include providing a forum for “free inquiry and open discussion,” and that “the University insists upon academic freedom which makes open discussion and inquiry possible.”

    So what interest trumped this broad promise to its students? According to Notre Dame, SCOP too “closely mirrored” other student groups on campus.

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  • Notre Dame Students Embrace Opportunity for Dialogue in Coulter Visit

    April 11, 2014

    The University of Notre Dame’s College Republicans student group invited conservative commentator Ann Coulter to speak to students Thursday night, and Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College student newspaper The Observer relayed refreshingly pro-free-speech remarks from students about the event. Even students who strongly disagreed with Coulter’s viewpoints recognized not just the College Republicans’ right to invite her but also the benefits that can come with controversial speakers like Coulter.

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  • Universities on the Cusp of a Better Speech Code Rating, Part 3: Notre Dame

    September 5, 2013

    As FIRE wraps up our annual review of university speech codes for our upcoming speech code report, we are running a blog series about colleges and universities that are just one policy away from dropping their poor, “red light,” speech code ratings. If these universities revise their red light policies before our data collection period ends on September 30, they will earn an improved speech code rating in this year’s report. Today’s featured school is the University of Notre Dame. Notre Dame’s policy on Responsible Use of Information Technologies (PDF) provides (emphasis added): Never use University resources to post, view, […]

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  • Notre Dame Settles with OCR, Adopts Preponderance Standard, Restricts Free Speech

    July 6, 2011

    The University of Notre Dame has settled an investigation by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights into its sexual assault policies and procedures, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Predictably, the settlement involved Notre Dame agreeing to use the preponderance of the evidence standard in sexually related cases (FIRE explains its objections to this low standard of evidence here.) According to the OCR press release, the settlement “furthers the goals of OCR and the university to have in place procedures and practices that are designed to prevent a sexually hostile environment from occurring on campus.” FIRE has been worried that OCR’s failure to mention free […]

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  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: University of Notre Dame

    February 23, 2009

    Throughout the spring semester, FIRE is drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Today we review policies at the University of Notre Dame, which FIRE has given a red-light rating for its restrictions on free expression. As with all private schools, which are not legally bound by the First Amendment, we must start by explaining why students at Notre Dame are entitled to expect freedom of expression on campus. The answer can be found in Notre Dame’s own mission statement, which emphasizes the importance […]

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