Virginia Commonwealth University

Location: Richmond, Virginia
Website: http://www.vcu.edu/
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 4th Circuit

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Speech Code Rating

Virginia Commonwealth University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more here.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.
Yellow Light Policies
  • Division of Student Affairs: Bias Response Team

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: May 3, 2018

    A bias incident is an action taken by an individual or group that may involve, but is not limited to, verbal abuse, assault, damage to property, sending of threatening mail or e-mail, writing racial slurs or graffiti, stalking, verbal harassment and other bias-motivated behavior that contributes to or enables an unsafe and hostile campus environment.  As such, these acts are an antithetical to the University’s values of inclusion, diversity and social justice. While such acts may be focused on one individual or group, these acts negatively impact our entire community.

    Even when it is determined that a complaint has not violated criminal law, University policy, and/or the Code of Conduct, the Bias Response Team may choose to address the issues in the form of an institutional response such as educational programing within buildings or residence halls, email response to all students, make recommendations to schools, departments, and university administration, etc.

    » Read More

  • Guide to Residential Living: Room Decorations

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: May 3, 2018

    The University encourages residents to consider that any messages or items posted or displayed in residence hall space communicate directly with neighboring residents, hall mates, and staff who pass. Posting provocative items or messages may affect the student’s relationship with the residential community. To support a safe and welcoming residential community, Residential Life and Housing staff, in consultation with the university Bias Response Team, will engage residents in educational programs and conversations to address community disruption resulting from provocative communications, as appropriate.

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  • Policy Library: Sexual Misconduct/Violence and Sex/Gender Discrimination

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: May 3, 2018

    Sexual harassment is also a form of discrimination and is unwelcome, sexual, sex or gender‐ based, verbal or physical conduct, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other conduct of a sexual nature. Purpose or intent is not a required element of sexual harassment.

    A hostile environment is created when sexual harassment is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive and objectively offensive that it unreasonably interferes with, denies or limits an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational, employment, social or residential programs.

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  • Policy Library: Demonstrations that occur on the Campuses of Virginia Commonwealth University

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: May 3, 2018

    There are two types of demonstrations: those which are scheduled and planned in advance and those which are more spontaneous and are not scheduled in advance.

    8VAC90-30-30. Planned demonstrations.

    A representative from the registered student organization, ad hoc student group, or nonstudent group should contact the assigned university official to discuss a date, time, and location for the demonstration.

    8VAC90-30-40. Demonstrations not scheduled in advance.

    Although all student organizations, ad hoc student groups, or nonstudent groups are urged to contact the assigned university official (see 8VAC90-30-30) to discuss a date, time, and location in advance of the demonstration, it is recognized that there will be rare occasions when this does not occur. …

    Any spontaneous or unscheduled demonstration which occurs on the campuses of Virginia Commonwealth University is subject to the following:

    1. The assigned university official or designee will, upon learning of the presence of a spontaneous demonstration, report to the scene of the demonstration and make contact with the apparent leader of the demonstration or with a representative group from the demonstration. The VCU Police, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, and the Assistant Vice President for University Relations will be notified of the presence of the demonstration by the assigned university official or designee.

    2. If the demonstration is not in one of the preferred locations (see subdivision 1 of 8VAC90-30- 30), the group participating in the demonstration will be asked by the assigned university official to move to one of these locations. If the group refuses to move, the demonstrators may be allowed to continue at the location, providing the demonstration is being conducted within the intent of the definition of “orderly” as described in 8VAC90-30-20.

    3. The assigned university official will monitor the demonstration. …

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • Policy Library: Student Code of Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: May 25, 2018

    Students are encouraged to engage in responsible social conduct that reflects credit upon the University community and to model good citizenship in any community.

    » Read More

  • Policy Library: Student Code of Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: May 25, 2018

    Violations include, but are not limited to, unauthorized entry, unauthorized transfer of a file, use of another individual’s identification and/or password, use of computing facilities and resources to interfere with the work of another University member, use of computing facilities and resources to send obscene messages as legally defined, use of computing facilities and resources to interfere with the normal operation of the University computing system, use of computing facilities and resources in violation of copyright laws, or any violation of the University Computer and Network Resources Use policy.

    » Read More

  • Policy Library: Computer and Network Resources Use Policy – Interim

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: May 3, 2018

    VCU computer and network resources must not be used in connection with the following:

    Conduct that harasses, threatens, or otherwise causes harm to individuals in violation of university policy, or state or federal law.

    » Read More


  • College Protests Lack Right Solutions

    November 19, 2015

    By Tallahassee Democrat at News-Press.com The mess at the University of Missouri recently is sending ripples of racial unrest through university campuses nationwide, with some significant long-term implications for American education and politics — as well as the news media. In a little more than 36 hours, thousands of students protesting what they consider the University of Missouri administration’s insensitivity to some ugly racist provocations forced university President Tim Wolfe to resign. The university chancellor also announced plans to quit soon, and Wolfe was replaced on an interim basis by Michael Middleton, a black man who was the deputy chancellor, as well […]

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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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  • 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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  • Students at Virginia Commonwealth Protest Proposed Policy on Demonstrations

    April 24, 2012

    In defense of their free speech rights, students at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) recently took to protesting a proposed new policy aimed in part at student demonstrations at VCU. The policy in question prohibited the following:  Participating in an on-campus or off-campus demonstration, riot or activity that disrupts the normal operations of the University and/or infringes on the rights of others; leading or inciting others to disrupt scheduled and/or normal activities within any campus building or area. The protesting students argued that the policy was too broadly worded and could be used against peaceful demonstrations and rallies, a core First […]

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