University of Vermont

Location: Burlington, Vermont
Website: http://www.uvm.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 2nd Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Vermont 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 here.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.
Speech Code Memorandum for the University of Vermont

Yellow Light Policies
  • Policy V.2.8.8: Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities- Offenses Against Persons

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 27, 2016

    Prohibited conduct includes physical harm or words or behavior that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or demeaning environment that substantially interferes with another’s ability to participate in or realize the intended benefits of educational or employment opportunities, peaceful enjoyment of residence, or physical security and which is not protected by the First Amendment.

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  • Policy V. 5.24.3: Solicitation

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: October 27, 2016

    Prior registration is generally not required for casual forms of non-commercial solicitation, such as leafleting, that do not involve the dedicated or exclusive use of University buildings, grounds, or facilities, provided that access to, or the use of buildings, grounds or facilities may be subject to restrictions designed to protect safety, or to avoid undue disruption of customary campus activities.

    Unless they have already been reserved, lawful non-commercial solicitation may occur without prior reservations at the following venues:

    a Royall Tyler Theatre plaza
    b Davis Center Oval
    c Davis Center Outdoor Stage area
    d Bailey-Howe quad area
    e the University Green area south of the Ira Allen statue
    f Waterman main (east) entrance plaza
    g Waterman College Street (south) entrance plaza

    “Noncommercial solicitation” includes, without limitation, petition drives, public opinion polling, membership drives for recognized groups and organizations, preaching, proselytizing, political organizing, political canvassing, and political campaigning. It also includes charitable fundraising for the benefit of the University, University-recognized groups and organizations, or other nonprofit or charitable organizations.

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  • Policy V.2.3.5: Student Alcohol and Other Drug Use – Interim

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: October 27, 2016

    The sponsoring organization is responsible for any publicity, advertising, marketing, or promotion that is disseminated in conjunction with the event and must ensure adherence to the following guidelines: … Advertisements should be consistent with University policy discouraging the demeaning sexual or discriminatory portrayals of individuals or groups.

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  • Bias, Discrimination, & Harassment Incident Reporting Form

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: October 27, 2016

    Bias is a personal inclination or temperament based on unreasoned judgment or belief. Bias may be reflected in behavior (verbal, nonverbal, or written) that is threatening, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory, hostile, unwelcoming, exclusionary, demeaning, degrading, or derogatory and is based on a person’s real or perceived identity or group affiliation, including (but not limited to) race, age, disability status, gender, gender identity/expression, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status or religion.

    Depending on the nature and severity of the behavior, the associated bias, and impact, incidents will be addressed as appropriate through interventions such as: education, restorative practices, community dialogue, and formal processes through institutional offices (e.g., review, investigation, resolution). Not every incident will be a violation of university policy or law, however all reported incidents will be reviewed for an appropriate response.

    Note: This definition of a bias incident is intentionally broad to reflect our values to create and sustain an inclusive, safe, and productive community for all of our members.

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • Policy V.2.8.8: Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities- Student Rights

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: October 27, 2016

    [T]he University of Vermont considers freedom of inquiry and discussion essential to a student’s educational development. Thus, the University recognizes the right of all students to engage in discussion, to exchange thought and opinion, and to speak, write, or publish freely on any subject, in accordance with the guarantees of the United States and Vermont constitutions. This broad principle is the cornerstone of education in a democracy.

    » Read More

  • Policy V.1.1.2: Campus Demonstrations

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: October 27, 2016

    Fundamental to our entire philosophy is our firm belief that rights guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, including rights to freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, petition, and association must be protected on the campus as elsewhere, and that local, state, and federal laws must prevail on the campus.

    Becoming a member of the University community in no way abrogates or compromises the rights that the Constitution of the United States guarantees to all persons. This principle applies to the adjudication of violations of campus policies as well as other areas.

    » Read More

  • Policy V.7.12.1: Harassment and Discrimination- Interim

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 27, 2016

    Harassment: A form of discrimination (defined above) that encompasses an incident or incidents of verbal, written, visual, or physical communications and/or conduct based on or motivated by an individual’s membership in a legally protected category that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, persistent or patently offensive that it has the effect of unreasonably interfering with that individual’s work or academic performance, or that creates a hostile working, educational or living environment. Harassment may include the use of epithets, stereotypes, slurs, comments, insults, derogatory remarks, gestures, threats, graffiti, display or circulation of written or visual material, taunts, and negative references related to any of these protected categories.

    There are two types of Harassment:

    – Hostile Environment: A hostile environment exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives an individual from participating in or benefitting from the University’s educational or employment programs and/or activities. Conduct must be deemed severe, persistent, or pervasive from both a subjective and objective perspective.

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  • Policy V.7.11.2: Sexual Harassment & Misconduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 27, 2016

    Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other unwanted verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when the following conditions are present …

    • Such conduct creates a hostile environment.
      • A “hostile environment” exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives an individual from participating in or benefitting from the University’s education or employment programs and/or activities. Conduct must be deemed severe, persistent, or pervasive from both a subjective and objective perspective.

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  • UVM Professor: Bias Team ‘Chills’ Speech

    October 8, 2016

    By Cory Dawson at Burlington Free Press A professor at the University of Vermont is shining a spotlight on a group of university staff that looks into bias incidents, saying the team’s policies may chill speech on campus… Read more here.

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  • Speech Code of the Month: University of Vermont

    September 21, 2016

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for September 2016: the University of Vermont (UVM). Like many universities, UVM has a Bias Response Program in place so that students can report incidents of biased behavior—including speech—to the university administration. UVM uses a very broad definition of bias: Bias* is a personal inclination or temperament based on unreasoned judgment or belief. Bias may be reflected in behavior (verbal, nonverbal, or written) that is threatening, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory, hostile, unwelcoming, exclusionary, demeaning, degrading, or derogatory and is based on a person’s real or perceived identity or group affiliation, including (but not […]

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  • Student Papers at U of Alabama, U of Vermont Demonstrate the Value of a Free Press

    February 27, 2014

    In case Torch readers wanted more examples of the value of a free student press on college and university campuses, recent columns in student newspapers at the University of Alabama (UA) and the University of Vermont (UVM) fit the bill.

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  • Harvey Silverglate on Campus Isolation: ‘Tear Down this Wall’

    September 13, 2007

    FIRE co-founder and board chairman, Harvey Silverglate has written a truly insightful post on The Phoenix’s “Free for All” blog about the University of Vermont’s new mega-student center/administrative headquarters/hive complex in Burlington and what it says about the problems of modern campus culture: The tendency of colleges—in Burlington, Cambridge, and just about everywhere else—to turn the campus into a company town of sorts, and keep the students penned in rather than out on the town, surely helps preserve the oddly isolated culture that has afflicted American campuses of higher education, where the values and practices of the “real world” grow […]

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  • ‘Free Speech…With Permission Only’

    April 18, 2005

    Check out this excellent article by Ron Jacobs of the University of Vermont (UVM) in CounterPunch’s weekend edition about free speech on campuses including UC Berkeley, Harvard University, Emerson College, and UVM. Here’s an excerpt: There is currently a regulation on the books here at UVM (where I work) that demands that any group—whether student or not—get a permit to espouse their philosophy on campus. Why? What is the university afraid of? Communists? Out of control religious zealots? And who made them the arbiter of who should be allowed to have freedom of speech and who should not? These regulations […]

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