University of Virginia

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Virginia has been given the speech code rating Green. Green light institutions are those colleges and universities whose policies nominally protect free speech. Read more here.

Green Light Policies
  • Vice President for Student Affairs: Student Rights and Responsibilities

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 23, 2016

    The University of Virginia is a community of scholars in which the ideals of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and freedom of the individual are sustained. The University is committed to supporting the exercise of any right guaranteed to individuals by the Constitution and the Code of Virginia and to educating students relative to their responsibilities.

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  • Bias Incident Reporting: What is Bias?

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: September 23, 2016

    The University defines a “bias complaint” as “any report of a threat or act of harassment or intimidation – verbal, written or physical – which is personally directed against or targets a University of Virginia student because of that student’s age, color, disability, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status or family medical or genetic information.”

    This definition is used for reporting and statistical purposes only. It carries no independent sanctioning weight or authority.

    The University encourages prompt reporting of bias complaints so that it can evaluate the alleged facts for possible violation(s) of University policy, including the Standards of Conduct, and refer such complaints to law enforcement when an independent investigation for violation(s) of criminal law may be warranted.

    Although the expression of an idea or point of view may be offensive or inflammatory to some, it is not necessarily a violation of law or University policy. The University values and embraces the ideals of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression, all of which must be vitally sustained in a community of scholars. While these freedoms protect controversial ideas and differing views, and sometimes even offensive and hurtful words, they do not protect personal threats or acts of misconduct which violate criminal law or University policy.


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  • The Standards of Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: September 23, 2016

    Disorderly conduct on University-owned or leased property or at a University-sanctioned function. Disorderly conduct is defined to include but is not limited to acts that breach the peace, are lewd, indecent, or obscene, and that are not Constitutionally protected speech.

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    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 23, 2016

    Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, when the conditions outlined in (1) and/or (2), below, are present.

    Gender-Based Harassment includes harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal or non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature, when the conditions outlined in (1) and/or (2), below, are present.

    (2) 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 an objective perspective.


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  • Response to UVa Lecturer’s Comments Shapes Discussion on Free Speech

    October 14, 2016

    By Derek Quizon at The Daily Progress Speech codes, Title IX and the controversy surrounding lecturer Douglas Muir were up for debate at the second day of the University of Virginia’s symposium on free speech on college campuses…  Read more here.

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  • Free-Speech Symposium to Be Held at UVa as Issue Gaining Renewed Relevance Nationwide

    October 8, 2016

    By Derek Quizon at Daily Progress Free speech on campus is the subject of an upcoming symposium at the University of Virginia School of Law that will be held nearly a week after a lecturer at two schools voluntarily took a leave of absence from UVa, according to the university, after he posted a controversial Facebook comment… Read more here.

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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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  • Critics Questioning Role of Universities in Title IX Cases

    May 28, 2016

    By Derek Quizon at The Daily Progress College and university disciplinary boards used to deal with accusations of academic fraud or plagiarism. In the last two decades, administrations have been forced to handle a far more difficult and complex problem: sexual assault… Read more here.

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  • Chalk One up for Free Speech on Campus

    May 3, 2016

    By Dick Poman at NewsWorks The freak show grinds on — Carly Fiorina fell off a stage, a perfect metaphor; Ted Cruz tried in vain to reason with Trumpitistas who brainlessly chanted Der Leader’s “Lyin’ Ted” mantra; Hillary Clinton said that her March promise to put coal miners “out of business” was merely a “misstatement” (yeah, sure); Trump said that Cruz’s dad aided Lee Harvey Oswald (?!?) — but let’s briefly leave the trail. Please. If only to salvage our sanity… Read more here.

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  • Speech Crimes on Campus

    December 9, 2015

    By Staff at The Wall Street Journal The student censors at Yale claimed a scalp—pardon the micro-aggression—this week when lecturer Erika Christakis resigned her teaching position on childhood education. She had been pilloried for asking in an email if students weren’t too sensitive if they are offended by politically incorrect Halloween costumes. Yale’s powers-that-be ducked and covered in response, but the news on campus isn’t all bad, according to a forthcoming report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (Fire). The foundation’s annual survey of 440 colleges—comprising 336 four-year public and 104 private institutions—finds that the share of schools maintaining […]

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  • Column: Freedom of Religion, Speech must be Protected

    December 6, 2015

    By Linda J. White at Dec. 15 marks 224 years since the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Can we hang onto it a while longer? Sometimes I wonder. We seem all too eager to toss our freedoms away by limiting thinking, speech and beliefs with which we disagree. What prompted my last head-shaking session was the loud, angry protest at a meeting on Nov. 17, at which the Islamic Center of Fredericksburg was outlining its plans for a new mosque. The meeting got so raucous a sheriff’s deputy had to send everyone home. I’m happy to report there was […]

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  • Looking for a College With Political Diversity? Here’s a Few Options and Ones to Avoid

    December 5, 2015

    By Ray Nothstine at The Christian Post Universities and colleges often make rapt headlines for political radicalism, but a diverse, well-rounded higher education may be more available than you think. Backlash against liberal institutions have essentially been on the rise since conservative giant William F. Buckley, Jr. published God and Man at Yale in 1951. The National Review founder and publisher lamented the worldview of his alma mater in the famous book declaring, “The academic community has in it the biggest concentration of alarmists, cranks and extremists this side of the giggle house.” Heterodox Academy, whose mission is to “increase viewpoint […]

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  • Prosecutors’ Group Backs Changes to College Campus Sexual Assault Investigations

    August 14, 2015

    By Valerie Bauerlein at The Wall Street Journal A national prosecutors’ group is backing a congressional proposal that would upend the handling of campus sexual assault cases, saying universities need to consult police before adjudicating and punishing potentially criminal offenses. The National District Attorneys Association said it supports the recently introduced Safe Campus Act, which would require police investigation of sexual assault claims before schools begin disciplinary proceedings against accused students. The mandatory-reporting requirement would be a sea change from the current practice, as schools commonly handle allegations of sexual assault independently. “You have to take away the whole perception […]

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  • Fraternity PAC Backs Legislation to Protect Students Accused of Rape

    July 30, 2015

    By Anna Merlan at Jezebel Arizona Republican Congressman Matt Salmon introduced a bill Wednesday designed to protect students accused of rape on campus, to change the way on-campus safety hearings are conducted, and to prevent Greek organizations from being forced to go co-ed. That same day, three former members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at University of Virginia sued Rolling Stone and reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely for “mental anguish” over her now-discredited story of a frat gang rape. As Inside Higher Education points out, the bill, which has been dubbed the “Safe Campus Act,” conflicts with the current requirements […]

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  • Requiring a Red Flag

    July 10, 2015

    By Jake New at Inside Higher Ed Last month, New York became the second state to require colleges to note on a transcript if a student was suspended or dismissed for sexual assault. Though the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is sometimes erroneously cited by colleges as preventing them from sharing such details on a college transcript, no laws prevent colleges from doing so. Few colleges are required to, however. That’s starting to change, with growing state and federal interest in the requirement leading to laws like those recently — and easily — passed in New York and Virginia. […]

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  • After UVA Fiasco, Some Colleges Consider Providing Lawyers to Students Accused of Sex Assault

    April 16, 2015

    By Valerie Richardson at The Washington Times Dozens of state legislatures are rushing this year to crack down on college sexual assault, but only a few of them are also moving to protect the rights of the accused. This includes Arkansas, where students now have the right to bring an attorney when appealing a nonacademic suspension or expulsion, thanks to legislation that became law last week. The North Dakota legislature is expected to follow shortly with its own bill allowing students the right to retain lawyers in disciplinary hearings. “It really is a good, refreshing change of direction,” said Joseph […]

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  • Virginia Lawmakers Kill Bills Meant To Protect Rights Of Accused Students

    January 30, 2015

    By Travis Fain at Daily Press Legislators shot down a trio of bills this week meant to give students who are accused of sexual assault more rights during the internal campus inquiries that can lead to expulsion. The bills were tabled at a small House subcommittee meeting, and as the Virginia General Assembly grapples with how to handle the suddenly high-profile issue of on-campus sexual assault. Bills requiring administrators and faculty who learn of an assault to report it to law enforcement are moving forward in Richmond, despite concerns from advocates who say victims don’t always want criminal investigations. Legislation […]

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  • From Fake Rapes To Petty ‘Microaggressions,’ American Colleges Have Lost Their Way

    January 26, 2015

    By Daniel Payne at The Federalist For anyone still keeping up with the University of Virginia’s fraternity gang-rape fiasco, this month brought a bit of good news: the Charlottesville Police Department announced it could find no proof that the alleged gang rape had occurred at Phi Kappa Psi. UVA subsequently reinstated the fraternity after having shut it down a few months before. This is small comfort to a debacle that has been both shameful and injudicious from start to finish. If there is anything good to be had from the entire mess, it is that a slapdash and irresponsible publication has been […]

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  • A ‘Gentle Mob’ Pushes UVA To The Irrational

    January 13, 2015

    By John Rosenberg at Minding The Campus Loaded questions — “Have you stopped beating your wife?” — are usually objectionable, but in the case of new rules the University of Virginia just adopted in response to a fraudulent article in Rolling Stone describing a gang rape that did not happen on a night the accused fraternity did not have a party, it is entirely fitting and proper to ask whether the University has stopped victimizing its students in fraternities and sororities. Sadly, the answer is No. The rape scare at Virginia and campuses across the country is reminiscent of the […]

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  • Free Speech, Political Correctness Struggle To Coexist On Campus

    December 22, 2014

    By Michael Barone at The Washington Examiner The total discrediting of Rolling Stone’s story on rape at the University of Virginia has shined a light on one of the least palatable features of American life: the so-called epidemic of rape on campus. Authorities from Barack Obama on down have cited the phony statistic that one in five college women is raped. Phony, because it’s based on a 2007 survey conducted at two Midwestern schools, not of a random sample, but of a small number of self-selected respondents. The study also includes unwanted touching and kissing in its broad definition of “sexual […]

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  • Campus Hate Crime Hoaxes: A Best-Of List

    December 17, 2014

    By Michael Cipriano at The College Fix From New Jersey to Wyoming, college campuses around the country have been plagued with hate crime hoaxes in recent years. Sometimes justified as trying to raise awareness for progressive social causes, the hoaxes often worked. The College Fix compiled this list of recent university hate crime hoaxes. Racist Facebook messages posted by student himself – November 2014 A University of Chicago student admitted to posting racist and violent messages against himself on his Facebook page after claiming his account was hacked. The elaborate hoax was an attempt to shame the school into making policy changes addressing race […]

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  • Are College Women Crying Wolf?

    December 12, 2014

    at The Patriot Post We’ve been told repeatedly by Barack Obama and others in his truth-challenged administration that one in five college women across the nation will be the victim of sexual assault. One in five. Congress is working on legislation to address the issue. Magazine articles and books are written with the narrative as background. But is the story true? Earlier this week we told you about all the trouble caused by a phony Rolling Stone rape exposé. Reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely interviewed a woman named Jackie, who, as it turns out, falsely accused members of a University of […]

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  • A Rolling Stone Gathers No Facts:Mulshine

    December 11, 2014

    By Paul Mulshine at I see that Sabrina Erdely, the woman who wrote that highly disputed article about an alleged rape at the University of Virginia, used to write for Philadelphia Magazine. So did I. Back in the 1980s, I did a number of long articles for the magazine. Here’s what I learned: No matter what a story looks like on the surface, once you dig in it will look entirely different. The guy who appeared to be rich will turn out to be poor. The guy who appeared to be hetero will turn out to be gay. And […]

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  • U.Va., Lena Dunham Cases Could Swing Pendulum In College-Rape Cases

    December 10, 2014

    By Valerie Richardson at The Washington Times As victims go, college men who contend they have been wrongly punished for sexual assault don’t get a lot of sympathy. But the fallout from the debacles surrounding the University of Virginia and Lena Dunham rape allegations could change that. Sherry Warner Seefeld, president of Families Advocating for Campus Equality, says she’s received a number of first-time calls in the last few days from parents whose sons are facing suspension or expulsion for sexual assaults they say they didn’t commit. What’s more, she said, some parents are looking at the option of suing […]

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  • Optimism and Decency: Progressive Kryptonite

    December 9, 2014

    By Arnold Ahlert at The Patriot Post It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the campus rape narrative. Two prominent tales of forcible rape disseminated by actress Lena Dunham and Rolling Stone Magazine appear to be falling apart faster than a Yugo. And no one is sadder than an American left that has invested a considerable amount of effort to convince the public our so-called institutions of higher learning are hotbeds of sexual assault. As is so often the case with the progressive agenda, the “lie repeated often enough it becomes the truth” is the essential element in promoting […]

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  • Critics Say Survey Figures Inflate Threat of On-Campus Rapes

    December 9, 2014

    By Hannan Adely at The alarming government statistic that one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college has been cited by the Obama administration and in frequent news reports as it has become a rallying cry for changes on campus. But critics claim the assault figure — taken from a survey that includes questions about acts that range from forced kissing and touching to rape — is inflated and unrepresentative, and is leading to panic and hasty decisions by college administrators who need to address a complex problem. “It’s not a question of whether the university needs […]

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  • Aftermath of Rolling Stone Story Goes Beyond Journalism

    December 9, 2014

    By Press-Gazette Media Editorial Board at Green Bay Press-Gazette The anger and outrage one felt after reading the Rolling Stone cover story that detailed the alleged gang rape of a University of Virginia student at a frat party were understandable. Even justified. But those emotions were tempered after details emerged on the veracity of the woman’s account and how badly the magazine reported, edited and fact-checked — or didn’t fact-check — the story. In the Nov. 19 Rolling Stone story, “A rape on campus: A brutal assault and struggle for justice at UVA,” reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely details the sexual […]

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  • Campus Advocates On Sexual Assault Issues Fear Impact Of ‘Rolling Stone’ Article That Boosted Their Cause

    December 8, 2014

    By Scott Jaschik at Inside HigherEd The past two years have brought unprecedented public focus on the issue of sexual assault on campuses. The issue is hardly new, but a combination of factors — more women speaking out about being attacked, media attention, heightened scrutiny from the White House — has changed the discussion. The reaction to “A Rape on Campus,” an article published in Rolling Stone last month, reflected this changed environment. The University of Virginia, where the article was set, saw numerous public protests and private soul-searching about fraternity culture. Students, alumni, trustees and others said that the […]

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  • The College Rape Overcorrection

    December 7, 2014

    By Emily Yoffe at Slate 1 An Accusation Drew Sterrett couldn’t know that when his friend slipped into his bottom bunk late one night in March of his freshman year, she was setting off a series of events that would end his college education. It was 2012, and Sterrett was an engineering student at the University of Michigan. The young woman, CB, lived down the hall. A group of students had been hanging out in the dorm on a Friday evening—there was drinking, but no one was incapacitated—when CB told Sterrett that her roommate had family members staying in their […]

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  • Panel Discussion on Campus Sexual Violence Policy Held at UVA

    December 2, 2014

    By Amy Vu at NBC 29 CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (WVIR) – Students and staff at the University of Virginia are hoping words will turn into action regarding sexual misconduct on grounds. Tuesday night, they met at Garrett Hall at UVA to start hashing out what they can do in response to the Rolling Stone article criticizing an alleged rape culture at UVA. The Seriatim Journal of American Politics hosted the panel discussion. The event featured four panelists – Office of Student Affairs Sexual Violence Project Coordinator Emily Renda, UVA School of Law professor Anne Coughlin, Batten School Dean Allan Stam, and John […]

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  • The University of Virginia Finally Confronts Its Rape Problem

    November 24, 2014

    By Dahlia Lithwick at Slate Last Wednesday, Rolling Stone magazine published a graphic and horrifying story on a gang rape that allegedly occurred at a University of Virginia fraternity house in the fall of 2012. The student, named Jackie, did not report her assault to the police but did share her story with a UVA dean responsible for dealing with sexual assault. Jackie later tried to find statistics about sexual assaults at UVA but couldn’t find any—in part because, as she contends, a university dean later told her, “nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.” Even after […]

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  • UVA Gang-Rape Allegation Shows Why Universities Shouldn’t Arbitrate Sexual Assault

    November 24, 2014

    By Ashe Schow at Washington Examiner For all my writing about the rights of the accused in campus sexual assault hearings, one must never forget that horrific rapes do actually happen on college campuses. Case in point: A story from Rolling Stone last week about a woman at the University of Virginia who says she was gang-raped at a fraternity party her freshman year. Regardless of the specifics of the crime, it’s clear the university mishandled her sexual assault complaint. Rolling Stone author Sabrina Rubin Erdely detailed that the head of UVA’s Sexual Misconduct Board, Dean Nicole Eramo, showed no […]

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  • Cyberbullying bill would tie harassment policies to aid

    March 24, 2014

    By Jake New at eCampus News Senator introduces legislation that would require universities to adopt cyberbullying policies to be eligible for financial aid programs When Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge in 2010, the events leading to his death were a painful reminder that cyberbullying is not confined to middle schools. Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, had used a webcam to film the freshman kissing another male student, and then invited his Twitter followers to join him for a second viewing. Clementi complained to Rutgers officials about the incident, but committed suicide a day later. Now, two U.S. […]

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  • Examiner Local Editorial: Muzzling free speech on campus

    January 2, 2013

    One New Year’s resolution we’d like to see in 2013 is a renewed effort to uphold the First Amendment on college campuses. According to a new report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, 62 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities “maintain severely restrictive speech codes … that clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech.” FIRE noted that the overwhelming majority of speech is protected. But narrow exceptions (such as “fighting words,” obscenity and defamation) “are often misused and abused by universities to punish constitutionally protected speech.” Restrictions intended to protect students from harassment or bullying have been […]

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  • Higher ed: Laurels

    May 29, 2011

    Virginia’s colleges and universities have not always won laurels for their devotion to the cause of free speech. Indeed, in recent years some of them — such as George Mason and Virginia Tech — have come in for deserved criticism on that front. So it was encouraging to see two of the state’s leading institutions, UVa and William and Mary, listed among the seven best schools in the country for free speech. Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), presented the list in a recent article on The Huffington Post . FIRE’s advocacy is often […]

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  • The Seven Best Colleges For Free Speech

    May 23, 2011

    by Greg Lukianoff The Huffington Post   View this article at The Huffington Post.

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  • UVa plans to revise sexual misconduct policy

    May 6, 2011

    The University of Virginia plans to revise its sexual misconduct policy to broaden the scope of offenses and to lower the standard of evidence necessary to find a student guilty. Under the policy, sexual misconduct would become the umbrella term to include any unwelcome sexual behavior. The revision more precisely defines what constitutes assault, harassment and exploitation, including offenses such as cyberstalking, the recording of sexual images and the knowing transmission of a sexually transmitted infection. The policy also would eliminate the geographic limit on UVa’s jurisdiction, which under current policy covers university property or a student or employee residence […]

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  • UVa plans to revise sexual misconduct policy

    May 5, 2011

    The University of Virginia plans to revise its sexual misconduct policy to broaden the scope of offenses and to lower the standard of evidence necessary to find a student guilty. Under the policy, sexual misconduct would become the umbrella term to include any unwelcome sexual behavior. The revision more precisely defines what constitutes assault, harassment and exploitation, including offenses such as cyberstalking, the recording of sexual images and the knowing transmission of a sexually transmitted infection. The policy also would eliminate the geographic limit on UVa’s jurisdiction, which under current policy covers university property or a student or employee residence […]

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  • First Amendment is safe at UVa, W&M

    February 5, 2011

    As Virginians we can be justly proud that our state has some of the top colleges and universities in the nation. We have colleges that are ranked nationally in sports and academic achievement. But now we have a new reason for pride: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has identified the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary as two of only 13 colleges and universities in the country (in a total of 439 institutions) with “speech codes” that do not violate the provisions of the First Amendment of the Constitution. FIRE, an advocacy organization […]

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  • University of Virginia reforms speech code

    December 29, 2010

    The University of Virginia has eliminated four controversial policies that restricted the free speech of students and faculty, becoming one of a minority of schools across the country to do so. The recent decision to change the policies was led by Allen W. Groves, dean of students, who said he was alerted to the questionable policies last spring by Adam Kissel, vice president of an organization called Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, which aims to protect free speech on college campuses. The changes made at UVa: *Groves reformed the school’s “Just Report It!” “bias reporting” system to […]

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  • You Can’t Say That Here — This Is a University!

    November 2, 2010

    by A. Barton Hinkle Richmond Times-Dispatch Teresa Sullivan has been in the president’s office for only a brief period, but the University of Virginia already has made a tremendous improvement on her watch. The Foundation for Individ ual Rights in Education (FIRE), an organization dedicated to protecting free speech on campus, reports that it has conferred its green-light award on Mr. Jefferson’s university. UVa thereby becomes one of only 13 colleges in the nation — William & Mary is another — to receive the rare designation, which the Charlottesville school earned by revising its egregious speech codes. Those speech codes […]

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  • Speech on Campus After 9/11: Less Free than It Used to Be?

    May 25, 2006

    Universities have traditionally been places where debate and the free exchange of ideas have been welcomed. But after 9/11, that may be changing — as some recent, troubling incidents suggest. In this column, I’ll survey some recent incidents suggesting free speech on campus is in peril, and discuss the extent to which the First Amendment protects student and faculty speech Cracking Down on Student Demonstrators and Controversial Student Speech Recently, students at the University of Miami (a private school, but one with a stated policy of fostering free speech) demonstrated alongside striking maintenance workers to show solidarity. Now, they face […]

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  • Clash of campus freedom, civility

    December 11, 2005

    When Tariq Khan staged a one-man demonstration against military recruiters, he felt safe because he was on a college campus. Then he was arrested. “When the police officer started to handcuff me, I was pretty surprised,” Khan said last week. “Usually we tend to think of college campuses as sort of safe havens for this type of thing, for people who want to raise consciousness about controversial issues.” Most colleges and universities, whether public or private, pride themselves on adhering to principles of free speech and expression as protected by the First Amendment. But at many schools, the practical problem […]

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  • College newspapers fight for rights

    September 22, 2005

    By Erin France at The Daily Tar Heel The U.S. Supreme Court received a petition Tuesday to review a case from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that could affect free press policies on college campuses nationwide. The 7th circuit overturned a lower court decision this summer that ruled in favor of Margaret Hosty, who sued Patricia Carter, then dean of student affairs and services at Governors State University in Illinois, for censoring the school newspaper. The move was criticized by several First Amendment watch groups. Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said the case […]

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  • Churchill Wars Continue

    March 28, 2005

    Both Ward Churchill and one of his legislative critics compared the University of Colorado to an asylum this weekend — showing that the debate over the controversial professor has not been put to rest by a university review released Thursday. Churchill says that the new investigation requested by the review — this time an inquiry into whether he engaged in plagiarism and other forms of research misconduct — is unfair. In a speech in San Francisco Friday night, he said that the new investigation at Colorado, which will examine among other things his claims of being an American Indian, was […]

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  • A two-way street for race relations

    April 14, 2004

    ONE SENATOR praises a fellow colleague for his years of service. Another senator does the same for another colleague. Both say that they would have been excellent leaders during time periods heavily associated with racial unrest — the civil rights movement and the Civil War, respectively. Both of the senators that were extolled had questionable records on civil rights in the past. One of the senators who commended his colleague is forced to resign from his position. The other gets virtually no attention. The difference? The first is a Republican, and the second is a Democrat. While one may think […]

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  • Campus Hourglass

    March 17, 2004

    By Candace de Russy and KC Johnson at National Review Who will guard the guardians? This common saying applies to American higher education, where professors and administrators are normally exempt from the scrutiny given to other public institutions. A tradition of academic freedom, flowing from the belief that the faculty’s training in their academic disciplines equips them to decide what to teach, has protected the autonomy of American colleges and universities and helped make them the envy of the world. But the principle of academic freedom can be subject to abuse, particularly in personnel and curricular matters, where personal and ideological agendas can […]

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  • Saving campus free speech

    September 14, 2003

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  • On-Color Jokes

    November 30, 2002

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  • What attending a “green light” university taught me about free speech

    July 10, 2017

    The number of schools abandoning restrictive speech codes is growing — FIRE granted “green light” ratings to East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte last month, bringing the number of institutions earning FIRE’s highest rating for free speech to 33 nationwide. While it remains crucial to analyze and reform illiberal speech codes, examining schools that protect students’ First Amendment rights is equally valuable. Doing so sharpens the distinction between tolerant and repressive policies, provides a goal toward which advocates can work, and illuminates the benefits free and open debate can provide students and university communities. My […]

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  • Free Speech Panelists Highlighted in ‘Slate’ Podcast

    January 10, 2017

    In October, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression hosted a symposium at the University of Virginia School of Law entitled “Free Speech on Campus.” As a former intern and fellow at the TJ Center and a UVA Law alum, I was honored to participate in the symposium’s last panel, “Free Speech vs. Hostile Environment.” But I also was grateful for the opportunity to hear from campus administrators, professors, and free speech advocates throughout the two-day event. Just before the new year, symposium panelist, Slate senior editor, and TJ Center board member Dahlia Lithwick featured highlights from […]

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  • Speech Code Countdown: Most of America’s ‘Best Colleges’ Restrict Speech

    October 5, 2016

    U.S. News & World Report recently released its annual rankings of the “Best Colleges” for 2017. The rankings are based on a multitude of “indicators of academic excellence” that prospective students use to narrow down their college application lists, including graduation and retention rate, financial resources, the institution’s reputation, and student selectivity. But U.S. News’ ranking system fails aspiring students by overlooking one of the most important factors students should consider when choosing a college or university: whether the institution is committed to free speech. FIRE has revisited these rankings to answer that very question. And over the next few […]

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  • Former UVA Student Challenges Unlawful Sexual Misconduct Mandate in Federal Lawsuit

    June 16, 2016

    WASHINGTON, June 16, 2016—A former University of Virginia School of Law student filed a federal lawsuit today challenging the Department of Education’s unlawful mandate that colleges abandon due process protections and try sexual misconduct cases using the lowest standard of evidence. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is sponsoring the lawsuit. FIRE and other civil liberties advocates have continually objected to the Department of Education’s “preponderance of the evidence” mandate since its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced the requirement in a 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter (DCL). Advocates have warned that the letter diminishes accused students’ due process […]

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  • OCR Findings in University of Virginia Settlement Raise Questions for the Future of Campus Sexual Assault Proceedings

    September 30, 2015

    Last week, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a findings letter announcing the results of a four-year compliance review of the University of Virginia’s (UVA’s) handling of sexual misconduct complaints. The letter announced that OCR and UVA entered into a resolution agreement, ending the review before OCR examined complaints for the 2012–13 and 2013–14 academic years and indicating that the investigation could have gone on much longer. OCR’s findings were a mixed bag. The agency drew some very alarming conclusions given the actual evidence it found, made a few positive points related to due process, and […]

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  • Another State Court Upholds a University’s Decision to Withhold Requested Faculty Records

    April 17, 2015

    Exactly one year ago today, Virginia’s highest court issued an important ruling balancing government transparency with academic freedom for public university faculty. And last month, an Arizona state court did the same. On April 17, 2014, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the University of Virginia did not violate the state’s Freedom of Information Act by withholding certain emails and research by former UVA professor Michael Mann in response to a request filed by the American Tradition Institute and a state delegate. In finding for UVA, the Virginia Supreme Court cited affidavits filed by scholars testifying to the negative impact […]

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  • At UVA, Students Miss Opportunity for Discussion About Campus Sexual Assault

    April 7, 2015

    Last Wednesday, the University of Virginia School of Law’s Student Legal Forum hosted a panel discussion on “Title IX, Due Process, and Campus Sexual Misconduct,” in which I participated along with Stuart Taylor of the Brookings Institution, Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute, and Emily Renda, a victims’ rights advocate now working at UVA. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn from, and find significant common ground with, all three of my co-panelists. Many audience members told me they felt the same. The event was the target of impassioned pushback from a small group of UVA Law students who […]

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  • Public Presumption of Guilt Motivates Unfair Policies, Even as Details of Sexual Assault Allegations Come to Light

    February 3, 2015

    University students who claim that they were wrongly punished for alleged sexual assaults are increasingly fighting back, both in courts of law and in the court of public opinion. Unfortunately, questionable (or even debunked) narratives have already been used to justify policy changes and legislation that threaten the due process rights of accused students, while failing to adequately punish those who are actually guilty. Those who truly wish to protect the rights of all students must pay close attention as more details about cases come out, as these details often demonstrate why a fair hearing, and a presumption of innocence, […]

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  • UVA Professor and UVA Third-Year Son: ‘It’s Time for a UVA Apology’

    January 2, 2015

    It’s been six weeks since Rolling Stone published Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s now largely debunked article focusing on Jackie, a University of Virginia student who alleged she was raped by seven men at a fraternity house party. Amidst outraged readers calling for a swift response just after the article’s publication, UVA President Teresa Sullivan suspended all fraternities and sororities until January 9. This act remains in effect despite strong evidence that Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity Jackie named, had nothing to do with whatever might have happened to Jackie the night of her alleged rape. Last week, Professor Robert Turner and […]

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  • Emily Yoffe on ‘The College Rape Overcorrection’

    December 8, 2014

    Emily Yoffe has thoroughly examined and thoughtfully considered the complex issue of how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault, and the result is a must-read article published yesterday in Slate. Yoffe starts by detailing the case of Drew Sterrett, a former University of Michigan student who is claiming in a lawsuit (PDF) against the university that it punished him for an alleged sexual assault without a fair hearing and despite significant exculpatory evidence. This account may not surprise readers familiar with John Doe’s pseudonymous lawsuit against Occidental College (which Yoffe also discusses in her piece), or the case […]

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  • ‘Rolling Stone’ Developments Underline Need for Professional Response to Campus Sexual Assault

    December 5, 2014

    This afternoon, new reporting from The Washington Post called into serious question the veracity of a Rolling Stone story regarding an alleged 2012 gang rape at the University of Virginia (UVA). Following publication of the Post’s story, the UVA fraternity identified by Rolling Stone as home to the alleged gang rape’s perpetrators released a statement disputing key facts of the account. In response, Rolling Stone has now issued a note stating that the magazine has concluded that its trust in Jackie, the young woman at the center of the story, was “misplaced,” and apologizing to “anyone who was affected by […]

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  • What Might a Police Investigation of the UVA Rape Charges Have Looked Like?

    December 3, 2014

    Megan McArdle of Bloomberg View penned a much-needed column on Monday titled “UVA Should Help Police Catch Alleged Rapists — Now.” She points out that some have raised doubts about University of Virginia student Jackie’s story of her alleged rape by seven men at a fraternity party as retold in Rolling Stone by reporter Sabrina Rudin Erdely. McArdle says to herself, “[W]ell, if there are problems with Erdely’s story, it will probably come out eventually, because there’s enough detail that can be checked.”  But there’s a corollary to that: If the Rolling Stone article’s allegations are true, there’s also enough […]

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  • Has Title IX Failed in Dealing with Campus Sexual Assault?

    December 1, 2014

    In TIME magazine’s “Ideas” section today, I argue that it has. The recent account in Rolling Stone of a chilling, premeditated, seven-perpetrator gang rape that allegedly occurred at the University of Virginia (UVA)—and that went unreported to police for two years—has led many to question how a major felony report on campus could go without serious (or, according to the article, virtually any) investigation for so long. The UVA case provides a stark illustration of the often-ignored downside of encouraging alleged victims to use the processes universities have set up to try to comply with Title IX: Foremost is the […]

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  • Dahlia Lithwick: Campus Sexual Assault Response ‘Failed Spectacularly’

    November 25, 2014

    Last week, Rolling Stone published the harrowing account of a University of Virginia (UVA, where I went to law school) student who claims she was brutally raped by seven men at a fraternity house party. Following the article’s publication, UVA administrators, students, faculty, alumni, and commentators across the country have responded, seeking a way to effectively combat the problem of campus sexual assault. To start, UVA has suspended all fraternities and sororities until the start of the spring semester and is soliciting feedback on a proposed new sexual misconduct policy. But in the wake of this latest scandal, a more […]

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  • UVA Board of Visitors Nixes Troubling Policy Draft on ‘Discussion and Dissent’

    August 11, 2014

    After receiving harsh criticism from free speech advocates, the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia (where I attended law school) has revised a draft of its “Statement of Expectations” that would have curtailed open discussion by individual Visitors about Board decisions.

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  • Careful Reform Needed to Reduce State FOIA Chilling of Academic Activity

    June 16, 2014

    Each state has its own Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to provide public access to records produced by public officials, often called “sunshine laws” for the light they shed on government actions and decision-making. Sunshine laws typically list the kind of records that may and may not be requested, often with great specificity. As a result of their state funding, state universities are typically considered public bodies under these laws, and accordingly, the correspondence and documents of faculty members are often subject to public request by virtue of their government employment.

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  • FOIA Request for UVA Law Prof’s Records Threatens Academic Freedom

    May 28, 2014

    Last week, two students at the University of Virginia School of Law, working with LGBT rights group GetEQUAL, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking the “university-funded travel expenses and cellphone records for the past two-and-a-half years” of Professor Douglas Laycock, a prominent legal scholar with expertise in religious liberty jurisprudence.

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  • On Working with Administrators: Five Principles for Student Activists

    August 2, 2013

    by David Hicks David Hicks is a FIRE summer intern. At FIRE’s sixth annual CFN Conference, past-FIRE intern Luke Wachob talked about his student group’s work at James Madison University to bring his school from a FIRE “red light” to a “green light” rating by changing unconstitutional speech codes on the campus. He highlighted the willingness of JMU’s administrators to work with, rather than against, students to reform these policies. After years of cooperation, JMU administrators and students are now able to stand together in their respect for free speech. Like the students at JMU, I have had positive experiences […]

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  • ‘The Cavalier Daily’ Reports on FIRE’s “Best Colleges” List

    September 6, 2012

    The Cavalier Daily reports today on the University of Virginia’s (UVA’s) proud distinction as one of the best colleges for free speech. Released yesterday in The Huffington Post, FIRE’s 2012 list of the seven best colleges for free speech recognized UVA for the second straight year. FIRE worked with UVA in the fall of 2010 to revise several speech codes which had restricted student speech on campus, and we were very pleased to welcome them as a “green light” school in October 2010. As The Cavalier Daily reports, the school has continued to live up to this rating in the […]

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  • ‘Virginia Advocate’ Praises UVA’s Green Light Rating

    March 16, 2012

    In The Virginia Advocate, an independent student newspaper at the University of Virginia, Wendy Morrison writes a brief column noting with pleasure the university’s rank as a “green light” school after having seen FIRE’s latest national survey of campus speech codes,  “This ranking was no faint praise,” Morrison writes, “when you compare UVA to other top tier Universities like Yale, who were given yellow lights and whose profiles cited many examples of seemingly unreasonable censorship.”  Indeed, it is no faint praise, though it is praise we give out far less often than we’d like. Currently only sixteen colleges nationwide (with […]

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  • ‘Cavalier Daily’ Editor Cleared, But Questions Remain for Freedom of Student Press

    October 19, 2011

    The Cavalier Daily reported today that the charges against Editor-in-Chief Jason Ally for allegedly breaching the confidentiality of a University of Virginia (UVa) Honor Council case have been dismissed. The situation began last month when Ally and his managing board printed an editorial acknowledging that an unidentified former writer had included plagiarized material in his work for the paper, and informing their readership that the case had been referred to the Honor Council. Adam Goldstein from the Student Press Law Center also wrote about the case today for the Huffington Post, exploring the intersection of this case with First Amendment rights, […]

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  • Praise for Free Speech at Virginia Schools in ‘Richmond Times-Dispatch’

    June 1, 2011

    In response to Greg’s article on The Huffington Post commending the nation’s seven best colleges and universities for freedom of speech, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has offered glowing praise for the two Virginia schools that made the list (the University of Virginia (UVa) and the College of William & Mary) and for FIRE’s efforts in combating censorship on campuses nationwide. The Dispatch illuminates one of the pillars we rely on so strongly to win cases: FIRE’s advocacy is often effective, and always nonpartisan – it condemns all attacks on intellectual freedom regardless of political or ideological slant. Noting the importance of this advocacy, the Dispatch […]

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  • 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, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and the University of Virginia. “FIRE spends most of its time bringing much-needed attention to the sorry state of free speech for students and faculty on our nation’s campuses,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “Today, we wanted to […]

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  • Va. Supreme Court to Hear Appeal Involving ‘Climategate’ and Academic Freedom

    March 11, 2011

    Last week, the Supreme Court of Virginia agreed to hear an appeal by Kenneth Cuccinelli II, Attorney General of Virginia, regarding his investigation of former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann for possible fraud involving Mann’s environmental research. A lower court had set aside his investigative demands without ruling on whether fraud had been committed. FIRE had expressed concern over the academic freedom implications of such a broad request for documents in such an investigation.

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  • Virginia Newspaper Touts Growing Number of ‘Green Light’ Schools

    February 8, 2011

    With only 14 “green light” colleges and universities in the entire country, the state of Virginia should be proud to be home to two of them. Writing in the Daily Press (Hampton Roads, Va.), Michael F. Cochrane commends the University of Virginia (UVa) and The College of William & Mary for preserving free speech on campus: As Virginians we can be justly proud that our state has some of the top colleges and universities in the nation. We have colleges that are ranked nationally in sports and academic achievement. But now we have a new reason for pride: The Foundation […]

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  • More Praise for UVA’s New ‘Green-Light’ Rating

    January 17, 2011

    In a column for, Mike Adams praises the University of Virginia (UVA) for going from a red-light to a green-light school by eliminating the last of its unconstitutional speech codes back in October. Adams describes how FIRE staff encouraged Dean Allen Groves to implement the essential policy reforms: FIRE began working with UVA administrator Dean Allen Groves in April 2010 after Adam Kissel gave a lecture on free speech that was hosted by two UVA student groups – Students for Individual Liberty and Liberty Coalition. Shortly thereafter, Dean Groves received a letter from FIRE, which provided detailed objections to […]

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  • Radio Station Dubs UVa’s ‘Green Light’ One of the Most Significant Stories of 2010

    January 4, 2011

    FIRE’s involvement with University of Virginia earning a green-light rating was mentioned on WINA 1070’s Charlottesville Right Now! with Coy Barefoot by Rick Sincere, former chair of the Libertarian Party of Virginia, as one of his most significant news stories of 2010: When President Teresa Sullivan took over as president of the University of Virginia, she quietly changed some regulations in the student handbook dealing with free speech policies at the instigation of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE; Adam Kissel … came here to speak in April with the Students for Individual Liberty and it happened […]

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  • Praise Continues for UVa’s Green-Light Rating

    January 3, 2011

    Universities that are thinking about reforming their unconstitutional speech codes should be encouraged by the public praise they’ll receive by doing so. Torch readers will remember that last Wednesday, Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post wrote for her blog The Answer Sheet about the University of Virginia’s rapid transformation from a red-light to a green-light university. Today, and Brendan Fitzgerald of C-VILLE join the ranks of recent authors and publications to spread the good news, extolling UVa’s newfound commitment to freedom of expression. We welcome the continued coverage of UVa’s positive turn.

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  • UVa’s Green-Light Rating Back in the News

    December 29, 2010

    Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post wrote for her blog The Answer Sheet today about the University of Virginia’s (UVa’s) elimination of four policies that had restricted free speech on campus. Torch readers will remember that in November, UVa became the 13th school in FIRE’s Spotlight database to earn a green-light rating, meaning that FIRE is unaware of any policies that threaten students’ free speech rights on that campus. Strauss’ article highlights the four policies that UVa reformed: *Groves reformed the school’s “Just Report It!” “bias reporting” system to promise students that protected speech will not be “subject to university disciplinary action […]

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  • UVa’s Green-Light Rating, Fewer Red Lights Nationally Pave the Way to the New Year

    December 22, 2010

    This year, FIRE has made progress in helping to reduce the number of red-light colleges and universities, with a total of 28 institutions improving from red-light to yellow-light status, and one university, the University of Virginia (UVa),  making the huge step from a red-light to a green-light institution. This means that, at UVa, FIRE is unaware of any policies that threaten students’ free speech rights on that campus. In October, UVa eliminated all of its speech codes, earning FIRE’s coveted green-light rating.  It is important to stress UVa’s path to becoming a green-light school, as it might serve as an […]

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  • Former FIRE Intern Urges College Students to Fight for Free Speech

    November 30, 2010

    2010 FIRE intern Casey Given wrote an excellent blog post for Students For Liberty today drawing attention to the University of Virginia’s new green-light Spotlight rating and encouraging liberty-minded students to use FIRE as a resource to fight for free speech on their campuses. 

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  • University of Virginia Columnist Praises Commitment to Free Speech at UVa, Newest ‘Green Light’ School

    November 8, 2010

    The University of Virginia (UVa) made us proud by eliminating the last of its unconstitutional speech codes recently, earning a spot in our elite group of “green light” colleges and universities. Today, the Cavalier Daily, a UVa student newspaper, published columnist George Wang’s op-ed highlighting UVa’s commitment to free speech and stressing the importance of free speech on college campuses. Wang explains why he commends the university for its achievement and why he commends FIRE for encouraging universities to correct common mistakes in campus speech policies: Freedom of expression is crucial to a university’s educational environment. Without free speech, there is no […]

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  • ‘Volokh Conspiracy’ and Local Media Decry Virginia Speech Codes

    November 3, 2010

    Ever since the University of Virginia (UVa) eliminated all four of its speech codes to earn FIRE’s coveted “green light” rating, local and national media have put the spotlight on the speech codes remaining at other public universities in Virginia. When FIRE announced the news, we noted that UVa joins The College of William & Mary as two Virginia institutions in an elite group of 13 “green light” schools and that we are now turning our attention to three more Virginia public universities: George Mason, rated “red light,” and James Madison and Virginia Tech, both rated “yellow light.” How bad for free speech are these three […]

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  • University of Virginia Eliminates All Speech Codes, Earning FIRE’s ‘Green Light’ Rating

    October 28, 2010

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., October 28, 2010—This week, the University of Virginia (UVa) confirmed that it had eliminated the last of its policies that unconstitutionally restricted the free speech of students and faculty members. While more than two-thirds of the nation’s colleges maintain policies that clearly and substantially restrict freedom of speech, UVa is now a proud exception, having fully reformed four speech codes. UVa has now earned a coveted “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “President Teresa Sullivan and her staff should be commended for making these simple but important changes to guarantee the First […]

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  • Virginia Attorney General Issues New Demand for University of Virginia Documents

    October 6, 2010

    On September 29, Virginia’s Attorney General, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, issued a new Civil Investigative Demand (CID) for a huge amount of documents relating to his investigation of former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann. Mann is one of the people at the center of the well-known “Climategate” controversy. Cuccinelli’s previous CIDs were set aside by Judge Paul M. Peatross, Jr., who ruled that four out of the original five grants that were being investigated were not state grants and therefore out of the scope of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (FATA). Cuccinelli had issued the CIDs as part of […]

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  • At UVa, Bias is Reportable, but Not Always Punishable

    September 15, 2010

    2010 FIRE Intern Ginny Robinson takes on her school, the University of Virginia (UVa), for administrative overreach in a column in the student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, entitled “Big brother is watching.” Her primary target is the school’s recent “netbadge initiative,” which requires students to disclose all previous arrests to the university before logging on to their UVa e-mail accounts and then all future arrests within 72 hours.     Of greater interest to FIRE, she also wrote against the school’s bias reporting website, “Just Report It!”, in which: [t]he University encourages prompt reporting of bias complaints so that it […]

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  • Judge Sets Aside Virginia Attorney General’s University of Virginia Document Demands

    August 30, 2010

    Citing a failure to show “reason to believe” that fraud had occurred at the University of Virginia (UVa), Judge Paul M. Peatross, Jr., has set aside the Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) issued to UVa by Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, who has sought a huge swath of UVa documents in order to investigate possible fraud under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (FATA). The sweeping CIDs would have required UVa to find and hand over more than a decade’s worth of documents involving dozens of researchers related to former UVa professor Michael Mann and his five UVa-related research […]

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  • University of Virginia Revises Troublesome ‘Bias Reporting’ Policy

    August 27, 2010

    Following discussions with FIRE, University of Virginia Dean of Students Allen Groves has revised the university’s “bias reporting” policy, which previously infringed on students’ right to free speech. FIRE is grateful for Dean Groves’ commitment to Virginia students’ free speech rights and is happy to report on this exciting development. The old policy encouraged students to report all “bias complaints,” defined as [A] report of a threat or act of bigotry, harassment or intimidation – verbal, written or physical – which is personally directed against or targets a University of Virginia student because of that student’s race, age, color, disability, […]

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  • Virginia ACLU Petitions Supreme Court to Overturn Restrictions on Alcohol Advertising

    August 27, 2010

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has filed a petition asking the United States Supreme Court to review a recent decision by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit allowing for the restriction of alcohol-related advertisements in collegiate newspapers. The ACLU of Virginia, which filed the petition (.pdf) on Monday, is challenging the Fourth Circuit’s decision (.pdf) in Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech v. Swecker on behalf of The Collegiate Times and The Cavalier Daily, student newspapers at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, respectively. The Times and the Daily have challenged this regulation—instituted by Virginia’s […]

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  • University of Virginia Invokes Academic Freedom to Fight ‘Climategate’ Fraud Investigation

    July 6, 2010

    The University of Virginia filed a brief last week opposing Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli II’s demand for a huge amount of documents relating to Cuccinelli’s fraud investigation of Michael Mann, an American professor at the center of the “Climategate” controversy. The brief expands on the university’s academic freedom argument and other arguments, and it mentions FIRE twice.  In general, FIRE opposes investigations of professors for fraud when no evidence has been provided. Cuccinelli’s initial demands provided no evidence, which would have set an extremely troubling precedent if they had gone unchallenged in that form. FIRE thus pushed Cuccinelli to reveal […]

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  • Virginia’s Attorney General Defends Fraud Investigation of Professor

    June 18, 2010

    Last month, I wrote about Attorney General of Virginia Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II’s sweeping demands for documents relating to the research of a former University of Virginia professor, Michael Mann, one of the professors involved in the “Climategate” controversy. Cuccinelli now has responded (PDF) to the university’s legal challenge to his demands. When the university challenged his demands, I wrote: Fraud is a serious charge, one that needs to be firmly distinguished from simple disagreement with a researcher’s methods or analysis, even when the disagreement is very vehement. Trying to turn up evidence of fraud through a massive and burdensome […]

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  • It Only Takes a Minute to Make a Difference on the Campuses You Care About

    June 17, 2010

    My school, The University of Virginia, was listed number one in the Princeton Review‘s list of the 100 Best Value Colleges for 2009. Although I truly appreciate UVa’s dedication to fiscal responsibility, I wish that my school would be as conscientious a steward of my liberty as it is of my finances. I am deeply disappointed that UVa currently has a “red light” speech code rating because it maintains policies that both clearly and substantially restrict freedom of speech.  That is why, when talking to current Cavaliers and UVa alumni, I like to mention FIRE’s Give Half for Liberty campaign. […]

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  • University of Virginia Fights Attorney General’s Sweeping Demand for Research Documents

    May 29, 2010

    Thursday, the University of Virginia filed a petition to the Albemarle Circuit Court in Charlottesville, Virginia, asking the court to set aside the demands of the state’s attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, for a huge set of documents relating to the research and correspondence of a former professor, Michael Mann. As the petition notes, the origin of these demands was the set of “Climategate” documents that began to make international news in late 2009. As FIRE wrote earlier this month in a letter to Attorney General Cuccinelli, we are concerned that this demand for documents may be a politically […]

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  • FIRE Criticizes Virginia Attorney General’s Investigation of Professor

    May 12, 2010

    In a letter today, FIRE criticizes Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s decision to open a civil investigation of former University of Virginia professor Dr. Michael Mann. On April 23, Attorney General Cuccinelli sent a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) to the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (UVa) pursuant to his authority under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (FATA), requesting that the university produce the “data, materials and communications” created by Dr. Mann in conjunction with five research grants he and others obtained during his employment at UVa. Our letter documents the clear threat to academic freedom and […]

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  • University of Virginia Student Calls for UVA to Become ‘Green Light’ School

    April 12, 2010

    Last week, University of Virginia (UVA) student Megan Stiles published an excellent column in The Cavalier Daily, UVA’s student paper, calling on incoming UVA president Teresa Sullivan to “reevaluate current University speech codes to obtain the green light rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.” Stiles opens her column describing Adam’s speech at UVA last week and explaining UVA’s red-light rating. She then discusses the policies that FIRE objects to: The policies in question deal mainly with the University’s definition of sexual harassment. The University’s policy is very broad and includes certain speech, which may be distasteful and […]

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  • CFN Member Encourages Reform at the University of Virginia

    November 5, 2009

    CFN member Ginny Robinson yesterday used her column in the University of Virginia’s student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, to expose the school’s illiberal speech policies. Robinson notes that another public college in Virginia, The College of William & Mary, recently earned a green-light rating from FIRE after revising its speech-related policies to comport with the First Amendment. As Robinson notes, UVA’s policies continue to earn it a red-light rating, our worst rating, because of their severe limits on free expression. In her column, Robinson explains to her peers and the administration why it’s time to change. Discussing the school’s bias policies, she […]

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

    January 19, 2009

    Last week, we introduced a speech code countdown here on The Torch. Over the next six months, FIRE will be drawing special attention to the state of free speech at America’s top 25 national universities (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report). Last week we described the restrictive policies at UCLA, which receives a poor, “red light” rating from FIRE for restricting student speech. The next institution on the list is the University of Virginia, which FIRE also rates as a “red light” institution. The University of Virginia’s red-light rating is the result of a number of policies, the […]

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  • Finally official, conservative student group hosts first speaker

    October 28, 2008

    Months after a First Amendment controversy threatened the association, Thomas Jefferson now keeps the company of Edmund Burke. UVA’s branch of The Burke Society, a student group dedicated to understanding the theory of the late British political theorist, had their first major event on campus on October 15. The conservative student group hosted flame-thrower David Horowitz in a lecture on “Islamo-fascism.” Horowitz is as well known for his flip from the far left to the far right as he is for his often injurious speech. Horowitz garnered much displeasure from the Middle Eastern Leadership Council and some jeers from the […]

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  • What Would the Founders Think of the Modern University?

    July 9, 2008

    (Maggie Rackl is a senior at the College of Charleston, where she majors in History with a minor in Asian Studies, and a 2008 FIRE Summer Intern.) In my experience, a favorite question of college and university admissions applications is the classic, “If you could go to dinner with any one person, living or dead, who would it be and what would you discuss?” As much of a groaner as this question is, I find it particularly fun to imagine chatting with any one of the many founders of our nation over plates of meat and potatoes and steins of […]

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  • Unconstitutional ‘Bias Reporting’ Programs: A Nationwide Problem

    November 29, 2007

    This fall, The College of William & Mary launched a Bias Incident Reporting System “to assist members of the William and Mary community—students, staff, and faculty—in bringing bias incidents to the College’s attention.” In its initial incarnation, the system was fraught with constitutional problems, from both free speech and due process standpoints. The system initially allowed for anonymous reporting, providing that “[a] person reporting online may report anonymously by leaving the personal information fields blank.” The definition of “bias” was overbroad and encompassed constitutionally protected expression: “A bias incident consists of harassment, intimidation, or other hostile behavior that is directed […]

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  • ‘Cavalier Daily’ Cartoonist Fired for Politically Incorrect Cartoons

    September 12, 2007

    In one of the biggest non-surprises of the year, University of Virginia student newspaper cartoonist Grant Woolard has been fired from the Cavalier Daily student newspaper for authoring two cartoons published in recent weeks (as I discussed previously in The Torch, and thanks to a Torch reader for the tip). Woolard’s future with the paper had been in jeopardy since protests about his cartoons began, leading the newspaper to start “working with” administrators to deal with the fallout from the cartoons (and, undoubtedly, with the 65 “bias reports” against Woolard that stemmed from the newspaper’s publishing of the cartoons). Student […]

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  • Cartoon Controversy at the University of Virginia

    September 10, 2007

    Being a political cartoonist is a thankless task these days. From the worldwide controversy surrounding the famous Danish Mohammed cartoons, to more localized dustups at places like Harvard Business School and Missouri State University, it seems that to be a political cartoonist (or the person who publishes such cartoons) is to constantly risk not just condemnation but censorship by those who dislike your opinions. Now this virus of intolerance of political cartoons has hit the University of Virginia, where Inside Higher Ed reports that student cartoonist Grant Woolard is facing calls for an apology and his firing for two cartoons […]

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  • Zoning Out Free Speech at Joliet Junior College

    January 4, 2007

    Last week, the Daily Southtown (Ill.) published an editorial criticizing the trustees of Joliet Junior College for adopting a new free speech zone policy. Although the new policy seems to be improved because it moves these zones closer to where students actually gather, the editorial board rightly questions why the policy wasn’t completely abolished. The editorial correctly notes that “designating a ‘zone’ and setting up rules for how to use it doesn’t encourage free speech, it limits and discourages it.” Free speech zones are nothing more then a ruse used by college administrators to suppress the free exchange of ideas. […]

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  • More on the University of Virginia

    October 3, 2005

    As we have discussed before, a furor started about a month ago at the University of Virginia after a few incidents of racist speech. Yesterday, former FIRE intern Anthony Dick, a U-Va. grad who is now an editor at National Review, wrote in the Washington Post condemning the idea that the appropriate way to respond to hate is illiberal restrictions on liberty. The whole piece is excellent, but the end is the best: First, the Constitution prevents censorship of speech that is merely offensive or hateful. Like it or not, the First Amendment gives Americans the right to express vulgar, […]

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  • WWJD—What Would Jefferson Do?

    September 1, 2005

    The Associated Press (fresh off a masterful profile of FIRE) is reporting that “University of Virginia officials are considering making hate speech a violation of the campus honor code after racist messages were scrawled on doors and shouted from passing cars.” To be clear, UVA already has an appalling speech code. In a chilling inversion of everything its founder (Thomas Jefferson—you may have heard of him) held dear, UVA bans: jokes of a sexual nature; suggestive comments about physical attributes or sexual experience; gestures of a sexual nature; and sexually suggestive e-mails. But now, UVA is considering banning even more […]

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  • Cheating Scandal at UVA Highlights the Need for Fairness and Due Process

    June 12, 2001

    UVA prides itself on its honor system, whose hearings resolve accusations of lying, cheating, and stealing. In theory, they imitate civil trials. Only the fair search for truth in such a system maintains the credibility of campus justice. History teaches that procedural protections and fundamental fairness must be thought about impartially and put into place before crises. This is vitally important for America’s colleges and universities, where “justice” increasingly means “conviction.” UVA’s system had been flawed, but it almost became a reckless engine of injustice at a crucial juncture. In early May 2001, UVA experienced a crisis over charges of […]

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