University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

Location: La Crosse, Wisconsin
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 7th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Wisconsin – La Crosse 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.

  • University of Wisconsin: Students’ Due Process Rights

    March 13, 2009

    FIRE successfully persuaded the University of Wisconsin’s Board of Regents to affirm due process rights for students, including the option of a hearing before a committee including student peers, attorney representation in the case of serious allegations, and both e-mail and paper notification of proceedings. The Board had proposed changes to the State Administrative Code governing infractions and judicial procedures within Wisconsin’s public universities that would have limited due process rights and granted more discretion to administrators. FIRE’s Adam Kissel engaged in a speaking tour of University of Wisconsin schools in opposition to these changes, even speaking before the Board […]

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  • University of Wisconsin at La Crosse: Censorship of Student Magazine

    April 13, 2006

    The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s (UW-L) Student Senate reversed its decision to limit the printing of a student magazine that the Senate deemed offensive. The magazine, titled The Second Supper Alternative News, wrote an article in its February 2006 issue titled “Cheney Kills Five Crips in Inner-City Hunting Accident.” The Senate passed a resolution stating that the Second Supper’s “racist, sexist, homophobic, ablest (sic), anti-Semitists (sic) speech” would “threaten the recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented groups,” so it ordered the magazine to cut its distribution from 2,000 copies per issue to only 60–a 97% reduction. FIRE wrote UW-L Chancellor Douglas N. […]

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Hate/Bias Incident Report Form

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: July 7, 2016

    What is a Hate/Bias Incident? 
    Any physically or verbally harmful act that is motivated by (or appears to be motivated by, in whole or in part) any of the following factors: race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

    What is the purpose of this form? 
    The purpose of this confidential reporting form is to monitor the occurrence of hate/bias incidents both on and off campus. The identity of the victim/target will be kept confidential. Submitting this form may or may not result in criminal or university action, depending on the type of incident and the victim’s willingness to take further action.

    Who should complete this form? 
    Anyone who has experienced, witnessed, or learned of a hate/bias incident should complete this form. You may fill out as much or as little information as you choose, but in order for the University to respond most effectively, it is important to include as much information as possible. Please include your name if you wish to be contacted. If you are under 18 years of age and do not want to make an official police report, do not include your name on this form.

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  • Residence Life Policies and Procedures: Disorderly Behavior

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 7, 2016

    The disorderly behavior policies of the University and residence halls are designed to encourage a positive community experience and ensure a safe environment for all residents. The following statements outlines activities that are not permitted in our residence halls.

    Engaging in harmful, indecent, inappropriate, or otherwise disorderly communication.

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  • Student Handbook: Conduct on University Land (Chapter UWS 18)

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: July 7, 2016

    No person may, with intent to harass, annoy or offend another person, send a message to the person on an electronic mail or other computerized communication system and in that message use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act.

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  • Responsible Use of Computing Resources

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: July 7, 2016

    Use UWL’s computing facilities and services for those activities that are consistent with the educational, research and public service mission of the University. Other prohibited activities include: …

    • Use of UWL’s computing services and facilities for political purposes. …
    • Use of UWL’s computing services and facilities with intent to frighten, intimidate, abuse or harass another person.

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  • Residence Life Policies and Procedures: Posters

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: July 7, 2016

    Residence hall communities have both the right and the responsibility to regulate the “public” side of room windows and room doors, including any offensive material displayed. This argument stems from the belief that these parts of the window and door are a community area shared by everyone who uses the sidewalk or lives within the Residence Hall buildings and not solely by the resident(s) of the room. You will be asked to remove materials found to be offensive.

    Such materials include but are not limited to:

    • signs that threaten or offend a particular individual or group with racist, sexist, or homophobic message such that they have a concern for their personal safety
    • signs that present any individual or group in a demeaning fashion
    • signs that encourage violence within the Residence Hall community

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  • Policy Against Discrimination, Discriminatory Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, and Retaliation

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 7, 2016

    Discriminatory Harassment (RPD 14-6) is a form of discrimination consisting of unwelcome verbal, written, graphic or physical conduct that:

    (a) Is directed at an individual or group of individuals on the basis of the individual or group of individuals’ actual or perceived protected status, or affiliation or association with person(s) within a protected status (as defined herein above); and

    (b) is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to interfere with an individual’s employment, education or academic environment or participation in institution programs or activities and creates a working, learning, program or activity environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, offensive or hostile.

    (c) To constitute prohibited harassment, the conduct must be both objectively and subjectively harassing in nature. Harassment may include but is not limited to verbal or physical attacks, threats, slurs or derogatory or offensive comments that meet the definition set forth herein.

    Sexual Harassment (RPD 14-2) is one form of discriminatory harassment. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical conduct and expressive behavior of a sexual nature where:

    (a) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education;

    (b) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; or

    (c) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or professional performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive employment or educational environment.

    9.0 Conduct Not Covered By This Policy

    9.1. Offensive or biased language or conduct that does not meet the criteria of discrimination, discriminatory harassment, sexual misconduct, or retaliation, and/or is not directed at a person or group on the basis of a protected status, may not be covered by this policy. However, such conduct may be covered by other policies, code(s) of conduct, or handbooks.

    9.2. Regardless of whether or not disciplinary or punitive measures are available, the University may employ non-punitive measures to address such incidents, including dialogue, education, and conflict resolution efforts, with the goal of maintaining an inclusive educational and workplace environment while also respecting individual rights to freedom of speech and expression.

    9.3. Individuals seeking assistance regarding offensive or biased language or conduct that is not covered by this policy are encouraged to contact Affirmative Action or Campus Climate.

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  • University’s Hate Response Team Targets ‘Offensive’ Christian Cross

    September 30, 2016

    By Lorraine Caballero at Christian Daily Students at the UW-La Crosse campus have sent a series of complaints to the school’s Hate Response Team regarding a blog post about life as a white student and an image of a Christian cross which they said were offensive. Critics say the reporting system suppresses free speech on the campus and forces some student leaders and staff to resort to self-censorship, the La Cross Tribune reports… Read more here.

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  • ‘Offensive’ Christian Cross Among Subjects of Complaints to University’s Hate Response Team

    September 27, 2016

    By Staff at Fox News Students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse issued a string of complaints to the school’s Hate Response Team over the past year, with some claiming that an image of a Christian cross or a blog post about life as a white student were offensive… Read more here.

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  • Students Use UW-L Bias/Hate System to Report Everything from Christian Posters to Offensive Images

    September 26, 2016

    By Nathan Hansen at La Crosse Tribune As campuses do more to combat discrimination, students and watchdogs are pushing back with free speech concerns… Read more here.

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  • Sidewalk Messages Result in Free Speech Dust-up at UW-La Crosse

    April 22, 2016

    By Nathan Hansen at La Crosse Tribune Pro-Trump political messages — and the campus’ official response to them — have upset a number of students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse… Read more here.

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  • UW-L Professors Speak on Social Justice Activism During Panel

    April 5, 2016

    By Nathan Hansen at La Crosse Tribune Attitudes toward the First Amendment, peace activism and a literacy program at the La Crosse County Jail were among the topics a panel on social justice activism discussed Tuesday at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse… Read more here.

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  • Not-So-Great Expectations

    October 18, 2013

    Inside Higher Ed Rachel Slocum, assistant professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, was stunned earlier this month when what she thought was an innocuous if impetuous e-mail to students about why they couldn’t access census data to complete an important course assignment became national news. Her e-mail, which blamed the “Republican/Tea Party controlled House of Representatives” for the shutdown and consequent U.S. Census Bureau website blackout, appeared on Fox News, the Daily Caller and in her local paper, after a student posted a screen shot on Twitter. It also caused uproar on campus, prompting numerous calls and e-mails to […]

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  • The Second Supper’s distribution to remain in full

    May 1, 2006

    by Megan Keller The Racquet (UW–La Crosse) The UW-La Crosse Student Association withdrew its case against The Second Supper on Tuesday, April 18. After looking into the legalities of the situation, the Student Association decided not to pursue charges that would have dramatically limited The Second Supper’s on campus distribution. The ordeal started when The Second Supper printed an article that offended people of the UW-L community. The article that caused the controversy was “Cheney Kills Five Crips in Inner-City Hunting Accident” which used the “n” word. However, this was not just a campus issue. The Foundation for Individual Rights […]

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  • Satire back on track at UW-La Crosse

    April 24, 2006

    The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association withdrew its resolution to limit the distribution of a satirical student publication last week following a controversy over First Amendment rights. “We were never trying to stifle First Amendment rights or stop The Second Supper Alternative News from distributing on campus,” Ryan Kockler and AJ Clauss, president and vice president of UW-L’s Student Association, said in a release. “Our concerns stem from the fact that we know that directly and indirectly students, faculty and staff have been hurt by the language the paper publishes.” The Second Supper has been under scrutiny since its […]

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  • Killa Satire

    April 24, 2006

    In its February 28 issue, the Second Supper Alternative News, a satirical student-run journal at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse (UW-L), published an article titled “Cheney Kills Five Crips in Inner-City Hunting Accident.” The piece poked fun at Vice President Dick Cheney after his recent hunting accident, depicting him as a would-be gang member and “stone cold killa.” The UW-L Student Association was so outraged by the article that it passed a resolution cutting Second Supper’s press run from 2,000 to 60 — in effect, a deathblow since the journal depends on outside advertising for its funds. The resolution […]

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  • Satire magazine avoids censorship by student government

    April 21, 2006

    WISCONSIN — Succumbing to pressure by student press advocates, the student government at a Wisconsin university said it would not attempt to limit the distribution of a campus satire magazine Wednesday. The Student Association Senate at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse reversed a resolution it passed on March 29 limiting the number of copies The Second Supper Alternative News was allowed to distribute on campus. The publication normally distributes 2,000 copies; the resolution would have reduced the number to 60. The resolution was in response to an article printed in the paper that parodied Vice President Dick Cheney’s […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

    February 11, 2016

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for February 2016: the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UW-La Crosse). Like many universities, UW-La Crosse maintains a protocol for students to report “bias incidents” to the administration. While bias incident policies have been around for years, they are becoming yet more common according to a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. And while many of these policies stop short of actually allowing for punishment of protected speech, they nonetheless have a serious chilling effect on student and faculty expression. Writing for National Review, former FIRE president David French elegantly explains […]

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  • Is UW-La Crosse Prof Being Railroaded over ‘Partisan’ Speech?

    October 8, 2013

    A concerning report out of Wisconsin suggests that administrators at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UW-L) have inappropriately pressured a professor there to apologize for sending her class an email critical of the government shutdown and to refrain from using “politically partisan language” in the future. According to The Daily Caller, UW-L geography professor Rachel Slocum sent her class the following email: hi everyone Some of the data gathering assignment will be impossible to complete until the Republican/tea party controlled House of Representatives agrees to fund the government. The Census website, for example, is closed. Please do what you can […]

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  • University of Wisconsin Sued for Derecognizing Religious Organization

    October 6, 2006

    In non-Columbia-related news, the Alliance Defense Fund has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, which was derecognized by the University of Wisconsin for allowing only Christians to serve as leaders of the group. This case closely resembles another case recently decided by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes Wisconsin. In Christian Legal Society v. Walker, the appeals court ordered Southern Illinois University to recognize the Christian Legal Society, which was originally dissolved because of a policy banning voting members and leaders from engaging in or approving of premarital sex, adultery, or homosexual […]

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  • Victory for Student Press Freedom at University of Wisconsin–La Crosse

    April 20, 2006

    LA CROSSE, Wis., April 20, 2006—The University of Wisconsin­­–La Crosse (UW-L) has reversed its decision to censor a satirical student magazine. UW-L’s student government had attempted to limit the printing of the magazine to just a few dozen copies in response to articles some deemed offensive. The magazine’s rights were restored less than a week after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) intervened on its behalf. “Satire and parody are vital, effective, and very strongly protected forms of political speech. Unfortunately, they are under constant attack on today’s college campuses,” stated FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “UW-L did the […]

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