University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Type: Private
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Speech Code Rating

University of Pennsylvania 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

Title IX

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C

Sexual Misconduct

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C

Non-Sexual Misconduct

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B

Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 203 colleges ranked Read more
202
  • The Pennbook: Sexual Misconduct Policy, Resource Offices and Complaint Procedures

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 6, 2021

    For the purposes of University policy, the term “sexual harassment” refers to any unwanted conduct that is based on an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression and that: … A reasonable person would determine is so severe, pervasive, and/or objectively offensive that it effect... Read More
  • Diversity at Penn: Forms- Bias Incident Reporting Form

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: October 6, 2021

    The University of Pennsylvania is an inclusive community in which we learn from the research, ideas, and experiences of other people on campus and around the world.  We value open expression and the learning that comes from civil and rigorous debate.   We also value and respect the dignity and worth of all members o... Read More
  • The Pennbook: Use of Facilities

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: October 6, 2021

    Depending on the location of an outdoor event, on scheduled classes in nearby buildings, and on the proximity of offices in use, non-conflicting activities should be scheduled by prior arrangements with the Perelman Quad and VPUL Facilities staff. Read More
  • The Pennbook: Code of Student Conduct

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: October 6, 2021

    Membership in the University of Pennsylvania community affords every student certain rights that are essential to the University’s educational mission and its character as a community: … The right to freedom of thought and expression. Read More
  • The Pennbook: Guidelines on Open Expression

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: October 6, 2021

    The University of Pennsylvania, as a community of scholars, affirms, supports and cherishes the concepts of freedom of thought, inquiry, speech, and lawful assembly. The freedom to experiment, to present and examine alternative data and theories; the freedom to hear, express, and debate various views; and the freedo... Read More
  • The Pennbook: Policy on Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: October 6, 2021

    Unlawful communications, including threats of violence, obscenity, child pornography, and harassing communications (as defined by law), are prohibited. 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.

Grades

Title IX

C
10/20
  • 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

Sexual Misconduct

C
10/20
  • 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

B
13/20
  • 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 44,000 students at 203 colleges and universities about the climate for free speech at their institutions. See the full report on FIRE’s 2022 College Free Speech Rankings for more information.

 

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 14.32

Rankings / out of 203 colleges ranked

Overall Ranking 202
Openness 136
Tolerance (Liberals) 69
Tolerance (Conservatives) 151
Administrative Support 130
Comfort 187
Disruptive Conduct 188

Administrative Behavior

Supported Scholars 0
Sanctioned Scholars 3.75
Successful Disinvitations 1

Climate

Speech Climate VERY POOR
Speech Code YELLOW
  • Penn Law dean asks for ‘major sanction’ against professor Amy Wax, creating tenure threat for all Penn faculty

    July 13, 2022

    The University of Pennsylvania Law School has asked Penn’s faculty senate to begin the process of punishing tenured law professor Amy Wax — up to and including termination — for what’s characterized as “intentional and incessant racist, sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic actions and statements.” While members of the Penn community are free to denounce and… Read more

  • Penn caves to pressure, initiates disciplinary proceedings against tenured law professor Amy Wax

    January 18, 2022

    Today, Dean Theodore Ruger of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School did an about-face, abandoning both his earlier defense of the importance of faculty expressive rights and his university’s strong policies purporting to secure those rights.  Two weeks ago, Ruger issued a strong statement sharply denouncing professor Amy Wax, whose comments on immigration during… Read more

  • By pressuring Penn, Philadelphia City Council threatens faculty speech rights

    January 13, 2022

    Comments by perennially controversial University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax — who said in a recent interview that the U.S. is “better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration” — have once again drawn widespread criticism. Unfortunately, they have also drawn a troubling call from 16 of the 17 members of Philadelphia’s City… Read more

  • FOWL PLAY: University of Pennsylvania denies hunting club official recognition

    March 17, 2021

    PHILADELPHIA, March 17, 2021 — During the COVID-19 pandemic, over 750 registered student groups at the University of Pennsylvania have been able to host virtual events. But Penn students interested in hunting, archery, and shooting are being denied permission for even virtual activities.  Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education called on Penn to… Read more

  • When it comes to its free speech hypocrisy, Penn doesn’t get it… or doesn’t care.

    December 13, 2019

    Last month, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni wrote a letter to the trustees of the University of Pennsylvania to express concern about Penn’s treatment of law professor Amy Wax and about the fact that Penn recently lost its long-standing “green light” rating from FIRE.  Penn was one of FIRE’s original green light institutions…. Read more

  • Penn Law dean attends student town hall to ‘address the Amy Wax situation’

    September 20, 2019

    University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Amy Wax has been at the center of ongoing controversy over her comments on race and immigration policy. Yesterday, Penn Law’s student government held a town hall meeting to discuss “the Amy Wax situation,” at which Dean Ted Ruger — who removed Wax from teaching certain classes and who… Read more

  • CIA Director’s Talk Shut Down by Protesters at Penn

    April 4, 2016

    In what was no April Fool’s Day prank, three pairs of protesters at the University of Pennsylvania disrupted and ultimately shut down Friday’s talk by Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan. The lecture—hosted by two of my alma maters, the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Penn’s Fels Institute of Government Administration, and moderated by… Read more

  • The Blue Scare on Campuses: The Administration’s Role in Quieting Difficult Discussions

    July 13, 2015

    Colleges are increasingly treated as a consumer product, and to attract the consumer—i.e., students who will pay $60,000 in tuition yearly—they often strive to cultivate a cohesive, positive brand image. Northwestern University’s recent censorship of a faculty-produced bioethics journal issue about sex and disability is a timely example of universities being overly concerned with their… Read more

  • Defense Attorneys Criticize Penn’s New Plan for Handling Allegations of Sexual Assault

    February 26, 2015

    FIRE Legal Network members and attorneys Matthew G. Kaiser and Justin Dillon have seen firsthand how colleges and universities mishandle allegations of sexual assault, having defended students accused of sexual assault in campus disciplinary hearings. Kaiser and Dillon focused on the University of Pennsylvania’s new sexual misconduct policies in an op-ed for The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Philly.com… Read more

  • Penn Law Profs Write Open Letter on Problems with Sexual Assault Policy

    February 19, 2015

    Following Harvard Law School faculty’s lead, 16 of the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s 49 tenured and tenure-track faculty members signed on to a letter detailing the ways in which Penn’s new sexual assault policy fails to protect students’ rights. Tuesday’s letter makes several points that will sound familiar to Torch readers and that FIRE… Read more

  • Is Due Process in Danger at Penn?

    November 4, 2014

    Late last month, the student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian (DP) reported that the University of Pennsylvania would be changing the way it handles complaints of sexual assault in response to federal guidelines. Specifically, Penn plans to hire a professional Title IX investigator who: will review the evidence in every case and interview both the complainant… Read more

  • Introducing FIRE Summer Intern Laura Sorice

    June 13, 2014

    Laura Sorice is a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) majoring in political science and minoring in urban studies and Italian. She serves as the treasurer of the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education, where she works to improve the quality of learning on Penn’s campus. She also works as a public speaking coach for students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

  • What Makes a ‘Green Light’ Computer Use Policy?

    January 10, 2014

    FIRE has recently been examining some of the best “green light” university policies here on The Torch, including policies regarding harassment and civility. The policies discussed in those entries, maintained by Mississippi State University and North Carolina State University, respectively, are ideal examples for other schools to follow in crafting their own policy. Today, we examine computer and Internet usage… Read more

  • Liberty Requires Tough Choices: The Student Funding Dilemma

    July 31, 2013

    Kanisha Parthasarathy is a FIRE summer intern. Allocating money to student groups is a tricky game. For many colleges, the amount of money given to groups is not increasing at the same rate as the number of student groups vying for recognition and funding. Funding boards usually solve this problem by creating guidelines to determine how… Read more

  • ‘Philadelphia Magazine’ on 20 Years of Political Correctness and ‘Unlearning Liberty’

    May 3, 2013

      Sandy Hingston of FIRE’s hometown Philadelphia Magazine marks the 20th anniversary of the infamous "water buffalo incident" at the University of Pennsylvania with an extended discussion of how the last 20 years have borne out the arguments made in FIRE President Greg Lukianoff’s book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. … Read more

  • Tyga Comes to Campus: Penn Students Call for Dialogue, Harvard Students Call for Cancellation

    April 3, 2013

    More than 1,800 Harvard students have signed a Change.org petition asking the Harvard administration to rescind its invitation to hip-hop artist Tyga to headline the university’s annual Yardfest, because of Tyga’s "explicitly and violently misogynistic lyrics." The petition states: We demand that Harvard rescind its offer to Tyga, because we believe that Harvard should not… Read more

  • FIRE President Greg Lukianoff Speaking at Penn Tomorrow

    April 1, 2013

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will visit the University of Pennsylvania tomorrow to discuss his book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. The speech will take place at the University of Pennsylvania Bookstore and will begin at 12:30 p.m. In examining the themes of Unlearning Liberty, Greg will reveal how intolerance for… Read more

  • We Are All Blasphemers: A Response to Eric Posner

    September 26, 2012

    Everyone is a blasphemer to someone. I know it doesn’t feel like it. I know it’s hard for modern Americans to imagine going to jail (or worse) because of what you believe in your heart, but every single person reading this has a belief that in some part of the world or at some point… Read more

  • Robert Shibley Blogs for ‘College Insurrection’

    September 14, 2012

    FIRE’s Robert Shibley has a new post for College Insurrection addressing recent comments made by University of Pennsylvania professor Anthea Butler in favor of the arrest of the alleged director of the anti-Islamic film that has inflamed tensions in the Middle East. Earlier this week, in an op-ed for USA Today, Butler defended that argument… Read more

  • Celebrating Penn’s Protection of Controversial Speech

    February 14, 2012

    The University of Pennsylvania has made great strides since the infamous "water buffalo" incident of 1993, described in the opening chapter of The Shadow University, the 1998 book by FIRE founders Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate that launched FIRE in 1999. In today’s Daily Pennsylvanian, Shelli Gimelstein highlights Penn’s recent successes in protecting controversial… Read more

  • FIRE Names Seven Best Schools for Free Speech on ‘Huffington Post’

    May 24, 2011

    PHILADELPHIA, May 24, 2011—Today the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) commends the nation’s seven best colleges and universities for freedom of speech in an article by FIRE President Greg Lukianoff on The Huffington Post. The colleges listed are Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, The College of William & Mary, the University of Pennsylvania,… Read more

  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: University of Pennsylvania

    May 18, 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 Pennsylvania, which receives a green-light rating. A green-light rating means that FIRE has found no policies that seriously… Read more

  • Greg Speaking at the University of Pennsylvania Tonight

    September 23, 2008

    At 8:00 p.m. (ET), FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be giving a presentation to students and faculty at the University of Pennsylvania as part of Students’ Rights Night. Greg’s speech, entitled “Student Rights and the University of Pennsylvania,” is open to students and the public. Several FIRE staff members will also be present to answer… Read more

  • U. of Delaware Story Hits Student Press

    November 9, 2007

    The college media has taken note of FIRE’s recent case at the University of Delaware. This morning, the University of Pennsylvania’s Daily Pennsylvanian ran a feature story on the controversy. And on Thursday, The Harvard Crimson ran a staff editorial critical of Delaware’s program. The Crimson staff wrote: This is not the stuff of cultural… Read more

  • ‘Daily Pennsylvanian’ Comments on Penn’s Green Light Rating

    February 14, 2007

    In a column in today’s Daily Pennsylvanian, University of Pennsylvania (Penn) freshman Jamie France commends Penn for its green light rating on FIRE’s Spotlight. After explaining FIRE’s system of evaluation and pointing out that Penn and Dartmouth were the only Ivy League institutions to receive a green light, France wrote: By allowing us to do… Read more

  • FIRE, Carol Iannone, and the Amy Gutmann Halloween Costume Controversy

    November 7, 2006

    On Phi Beta Cons today, Carol Iannone criticizes FIRE’s reaction to the Halloween party picture of University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann with Saad Saadi, a Penn student who dressed as a suicide bomber for Halloween. Iannone says, in part: Contrary to the libertarian view, a good, free, ordered society does not simply proceed on… Read more

  • Count Gutmann Among the Offended

    November 3, 2006

    Well, it was only a matter of time before the complaints got to Amy Gutmann. She issued a statement today assuring everyone that she was indeed offended by the suicide bomber costume. The statement reads, Each year, the president hosts a Halloween party for Penn students.  More than 700 students attend. They all crowd around… Read more

  • Celebrating One Year of ‘The Torch’

    February 28, 2006

    One year ago this month, FIRE launched The Torch as a decisive step into the daily debate over civil liberties on campus. The blog format has proved to be a great forum for FIRE staff members to introduce and follow up on FIRE cases, discuss current legal and policy issues affecting campus rights, point out… Read more

  • Penn Drops Charges Against Student Who Posted Online Photos of Nude Couple

    December 5, 2005

    A day after reporters and bloggers besieged the University of Pennsylvania with calls and criticism, university officials decided to drop all charges against a student who had posted pictures online of fellow students having sex against a dormitory window. The student, identified only as a junior who is majoring in engineering, had been charged with… Read more

  • Staying Focused in the Penn Case

    December 2, 2005

    So the case at Penn involving the student who photographed a couple having sex pressed up against their dormitory window has been receiving a great deal of press. Much of it is doubtless due to the titillating nature of the case, as an article in Penn’s student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, effectively pointed out. After… Read more

  • Disturbing Indeed

    December 2, 2005

    Yesterday, Robert noted the controversy raging at the University of Pennsylvania over a student who was improperly charged with sexual harassment for, as the Philadelphia Inquirer nicely puts it today, having “photographed the bare backside of another student as she and her paramour apparently had sex in full view of the street below.” Not surprisingly,… Read more

  • Penn Abuses Its Sexual Harassment Policy

    December 1, 2005

    Yet another story of the constant abuse of sexual harassment regulations is unfolding on one of America’s most prestigious campuses—the University of Pennsylvania, located right in FIRE’s backyard of Philadelphia. It seems that two adult students in a dormitory at Penn decided that they would engage in sexual activity, sans clothing, while pressed up against… Read more

  • A Not-So-Happy Easter at Penn Law

    March 31, 2005

    Last Friday, March 25 (which was Good Friday for most Christians), a tempest erupted at the University of Pennsylvania Law School here in Philadelphia. It seems that the Christian Legal Society (CLS) at Penn Law has a tradition of hiding plastic Easter eggs around the school on Good Friday for students to pick up. These… Read more