Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State 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
  • Student Code of Conduct: Offenses Against People

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 5, 2020

    Abusive Conduct: The use of physical force against an individual or any acts that cause physical harm; threats, including words or actions, that may cause a person reasonable apprehension of imminent physical harm. … Harassment: Unwelcome conduct not of a sexual nature that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, o... Read More
  • Hokie Handbook: Student Code of Conduct- Gender-Based Violence

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 5, 2020

    Gender-based Harassment: Acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature. Read More
  • Policy 5215: Sales, Solicitation and Advertising on Campus

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: September 5, 2020

    Informational activity is defined as the distribution of literature and/or petitioning for signatures where no fee is involved nor donations or contributions sought. Informational activities may be permitted if they are sponsored by a university-affiliated organization. Such activities require prior approval by the ... Read More
  • Policy 5000: University Facilities Usage and Event Approval

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: September 5, 2020

    All events must have a university sponsor. The sponsor must be an officially listed student organization (as defined by University Policy 8010, Classification of Student Organizations (http://www.policies.vt.edu/8010.pdf)), a university department, a university governance entity (as defined by the University Council... Read More
  • Bias-Reporting: What is Bias?

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: September 5, 2020

    Bias incidents are expressions against a person or group because of the person’s or group’s age, color, disability, gender (including pregnancy), gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other basis ... Read More
  • Acceptable Use of Information Systems at Virginia Tech

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 5, 2020

    In making acceptable use of resources you must NOT: … use university systems for commercial or partisan political purposes, such as using electronic mail to circulate advertising for products or for political candidates. … use mail or messaging services to harass or intimidate another person, for example... Read More
  • Virginia Tech Principles of Community

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience
    Last updated: September 5, 2020

    [W]e adopt and practice the following principles as fundamental to our on-going efforts to increase access and inclusion and to create a community that nurtures learning and growth for all of its members: …We reject all forms of prejudice and discrimination, including those based on age, color, disability, gen... Read More
  • Policy 1026: Policy on Title IX Sexual Harassment and Responsible Employee Reporting

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 5, 2020

    Title IX Sexual Harassment1 means any of the following conduct on the basis of sex: … unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would determine to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it would effectively deny a person equal access to a university program or activity; … Read More
  • Policy 1025: Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Assault

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 5, 2020

    Discrimination and/or Harassment- … Conduct of any type (oral, written, graphic, electronic or physical) that is based upon a person’s age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or ve... Read More
  • Jason Riley on His Campus ‘Disinvitation,’ Lack of Intellectual Diversity in Academia

    May 4, 2016

    In his latest Wall Street Journal (WSJ) op-ed, “I Was Disinvited on Campus,” author and Manhattan Institute senior fellow Jason Riley writes about how he was disinvited from a speaking engagement at Virginia Tech over vague concerns that his opinions might upset people on campus: Last month I was invited by a professor to speak… Read more

  • Political Litmus Test for Faculty at Virginia Tech Gets New Lease on Life

    July 31, 2015

    Virginia Tech is reinvigorating its crusade to impose an ideological litmus test on professors being assessed for promotion and tenure. The university’s recently updated guidelines for a tenure candidate’s dossier include several previously unwritten provisions highlighting the importance of reporting one’s contributions to “diversity and inclusion” in and out of the classroom in order to… Read more

  • Virginia Tech Supports the Troops and the First Amendment at the Same Time

    September 6, 2013

    My favorite bumper sticker is an American flag with the caption: “Think. It’s patriotic.” That’s essentially what Steven Salaita, a professor of English at Virginia Tech, was trying to say when he posted commentary on Salon arguing against uncritical support of the military. But he chose to do so in a deliberately provocative way, framing his… Read more

  • Virginia Tech and Student Expression Rights in ‘The Daily Caller’

    December 13, 2011

    In The Daily Caller today, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley discusses how unconstitutional policies on the books at Virginia Tech actually prohibit spontaneous gatherings like the candlelight vigil that university members organized after the shooting death of a campus police officer last week. Although the vigil was not shut down, it could have been,… Read more

  • Virginia Tech Vice President Worries about New OCR Guidance

    June 29, 2011

    Fighting for civil liberties on campus can sometimes be a lonely job, but FIRE has been buoyed by the outpouring of concern in recent weeks about the new mandates handed down in April by the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). It seems like we’re not the only ones concerned by the… Read more

  • 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… Read more

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

    January 17, 2011

    In a column for Townhall.com, 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… Read more

  • ‘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… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • Facing Criticism, Virginia Tech Disavows Efforts to Censor Student Paper

    February 15, 2010

    In the face of mounting criticism, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) administrators distanced themselves on Friday from efforts to cut the funding of the Collegiate Times, the school’s independent student newspaper, because of the paper’s refusal to eliminate anonymous comments from its website. University spokesman Larry Hincker told The Roanoke Times that… Read more

  • ‘Roanoke Times’ Covers Press Censorship at Virginia Tech; Gets FIRE Totally Wrong

    February 12, 2010

    The Roanoke Times (Va.) is covering Virginia Tech’s recent shameful foray into press censorship, which Adam discussed at length yesterday on The Torch. Writer Tonia Moxley’s coverage is actually pretty good and worth a read, but unfortunately Ms. Moxley seems to have a very erroneous idea about the nature of FIRE. Regarding FIRE, she writes:… Read more

  • Virginia Tech Threatens Student Newspaper’s Future Because it Allows Anonymous Online Comments

    February 11, 2010

    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s (Virginia Tech’s) Commission on Student Affairs has threatened the future of its independent student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, because the newspaper allows “irresponsible and inappropriate”—wait for it—anonymous comments on its own website. Virginia Tech contends that allowing anonymous comments “counter[s] the Principles of Community,” a set of ideological rules… Read more

  • ‘The Diversity Religion at Virginia Tech’

    October 28, 2009

    "Pushing professors to conform to any set of beliefs is inappropriate," writes Carey Stronach, president of the Virginia Association of Scholars (VAS), in a very good article yesterday for the Pope Center’s Clarion Call. Stronach writes about FIRE’s case at Virginia Tech, where professors have been increasingly pressured to demonstrate "diversity accomplishments" when being assessed for… Read more

  • Rights in the News: With FIRE’s Help, Students Standing Up to Their Speech Codes

    October 16, 2009

    FIRE was elated to begin the week with the announcement that The College of William & Mary had reformed the last of its troublesome speech codes and become one of just eleven colleges to earn a "green light" rating in FIRE’s Spotlight database. Perhaps the fever has spread to neighboring James Madison University, where the… Read more

  • Mandatory ‘Diversity Accomplishments’ at Virginia Tech Violate Faculty Rights; FIRE Details Violations in 15-page Letter to Board of Visitors

    September 16, 2009

    FIRE has sent Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors a 15-page letter with 13 enclosures detailing how administrators have begun to demand “diversity accomplishments” from faculty members across the university over the past several years. Professors are expected to alter their own research, teaching, and personal intellectual development in order to prove their loyalty to Virginia Tech’s political… Read more

  • Bit by Bit, Virginia Tech Softens Ideological ‘Diversity’ Requirements for Faculty; Much More To Be Done for Freedom of Conscience

    July 8, 2009

    After Virginia Tech rescinded its ideological litmus test for faculty (pending further review) in its liberal arts college under pressure from FIRE, the school has recently removed a long, ominous explanation of "diversity accomplishments" from its university-wide tenure and promotion guidelines. A separate document still contains the diversity guidelines, however. The university also has yet… Read more

  • FIRE’s Letter to the Editor of ‘The Roanoke Times’

    May 18, 2009

    Last week, I discussed the inaccuracies and distortions contained in an editorial published by The Roanoke Times attacking FIRE. Specifically, the paper dismissed FIRE’s concerns about the constitutionality of Virginia Tech’s proposed guidelines for evaluating candidates for promotion and tenure, labeling FIRE a "conservative group that oppose[s] campus diversity efforts across the country." In addition… Read more

  • Getting it Wrong: ‘Roanoke Times’ Editorial Mischaracterizes FIRE and Problems with Virginia Tech’s Diversity Requirements

    May 13, 2009

    An editorial in today’s edition of The Roanoke Times attacks FIRE for criticizing Virginia Tech’s proposed hiring guidelines for evaluating candidates for promotion and tenure. The guidelines, now withdrawn, would have required candidates to demonstrate a commitment to an abstract, ideologically loaded concept—"diversity"—that means many different things to different people. While perhaps well-intentioned, imposing the… Read more

  • FIRE Critic on ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’ Blog Acknowledges Error

    May 8, 2009

    I reported on April 16 that University of Pennsylvania professor John L. Jackson Jr. had attacked FIRE in a blog entry published on The Chronicle of Higher Education blog, Brainstorm, over FIRE’s successful efforts to keep Virginia Tech from violating its faculty members’ freedom of conscience and academic freedom. Jackson had erroneously stated that FIRE… Read more

  • Rights in the News: FIRE’s Thought Reform Efforts Continue to Resonate

    May 1, 2009

    It seems like every week we’re reporting that FIRE’s short film on the University of Delaware’s experiment in thought reform has doubled the amount of views received on YouTube from the week before—a trend I’m all too happy to continue. This week the folks at Reason (which—throwback!—published Alan Charles Kors’ article "Thought Reform 101" back… Read more

  • Rights in the News: FIRE on a Roll with Numerous Victories and Successful Videos

    April 24, 2009

    The past week at FIRE has been filled with victories for free speech on campus, and the media has responded. After FIRE’s victory for freedom of conscience at Virginia Tech, the St. Petersburg Times published a column by Bill Maxwell entitled "A diversity step too far." In it, Maxwell agrees with FIRE’s efforts to protect… Read more

  • Rights in the News: A Good Week for FIRE at Virginia Tech

    April 17, 2009

    I blogged on Wednesday on the press generated by FIRE’s successful effort to get Virginia Tech President Charles Steger to shelve a requirement that would have more deeply ensconced a "diversity" requirement for tenure and promotion for the university’s arts and sciences faculty. FIRE’s efforts and success at Virginia Tech were reported by The Chronicle… Read more

  • FIRE Attacked on ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’ Blog over Virginia Tech

    April 16, 2009

    University of Pennsylvania professor John L. Jackson Jr. has attacked FIRE in a blog entry published on The Chronicle of Higher Education blog, Brainstorm, over FIRE’s successful efforts to keep Virginia Tech from violating its faculty members’ freedom of conscience and academic freedom. FIRE is used to criticism from all corners of the political arena…. Read more

  • Victory at Virginia Tech: Good News Travels Fast

    April 15, 2009

    News of FIRE’s victory for freedom of conscience at Virginia Tech has been spreading quickly—unsurprising, given the proposed "diversity" requirement’s chilling implications for the academic freedom of the Virginia Tech faculty. The Chronicle of Higher Education is among the publications to report on Virginia Tech President Charles Steger’s decision to rescind the requirement, which had… Read more

  • FIRE Co-founder Commends Virginia Tech President for Withdrawing Ideological Litmus Test

    April 15, 2009

    FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus Alan Charles Kors e-mailed the president of Virginia Tech last night to commend him on his school’s decision to withdraw its ideological "diversity" requirements for promotion and tenure.  Alan writes: Dear President Steger, You have intervened where it is most appropriate, to preserve and protect the most cherished of freedoms: … Read more

  • Victory for Freedom of Conscience at Virginia Tech: New ‘Diversity’ Requirements for Tenure and Promotion No Longer Under Consideration, But Problematic Policies Remain

    April 14, 2009

    Today’s press release announces what the Virginia Tech faculty appear not even to know, yet: the proposed new guidelines for faculty assessment in Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, which would have mandated reporting of "diversity" activities in violation of academic freedom and freedom of conscience, are no longer under consideration. FIRE… Read more

  • Victory for Freedom of Conscience at Virginia Tech: New ‘Diversity’ Requirements for Tenure and Promotion No Longer Under Consideration, But Problematic Policies Remain

    April 14, 2009

    BLACKSBURG, Va., April 14, 2009—The president of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) has announced that proposed new guidelines for faculty assessment, which would have mandated reporting of “diversity” activities in violation of academic freedom and freedom of conscience, are no longer under consideration. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) had… Read more

  • Adam’s Letter to the Editor at Virginia Tech on Mandatory ‘Diversity Accomplishments’

    April 10, 2009

    FIRE’s Adam Kissel wrote a letter to the editor of the Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech’s student newspaper, in response to a column last week by Ellington Graves challenging FIRE’s criticism of Virginia Tech’s diversity requirements for faculty members and accusing FIRE of rendering a "poorly reasoned analysis." Adam sets the record straight. Readers should examine… Read more

  • New Virginia Tech ‘Diversity’ Requirements for Tenure Violate Academic Freedom, Will Be Comprehensively Reviewed by Board of Visitors

    April 6, 2009

    After being alerted to mandatory "diversity" requirements for faculty tenure, promotion, and personal development, the Board of Visitors at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) has agreed to fully review the school’s tenure and diversity policies, FIRE’s press release reports today. Over the past three years, Virginia Tech’s provost, Mark McNamee, has increasingly… Read more

  • New Virginia Tech ‘Diversity’ Requirements for Tenure Violate Academic Freedom, Will Be Comprehensively Reviewed by Board of Visitors

    April 6, 2009

    BLACKSBURG, Va., April 6, 2009—After being alerted to mandatory “diversity” requirements for faculty tenure, promotion, and personal development, the Board of Visitors at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) has agreed to fully review the school’s tenure and diversity policies. “Promoting one’s own view of diversity is one thing, but making narrowly defined… Read more

  • Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on ‘Hell Week for Campus Free Speech’

    April 3, 2009

    Defending free speech is often an exhilarating and rewarding experience, fighting the good fight in an uphill battle for constitutional rights against an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars. But sometimes, and this was one of those weeks, that hill looks pretty steep. Greg writes in his latest column on The Huffington Post on… Read more

  • FIRE Reaches Virginia Tech Community with Column in ‘The Collegiate Times’

    April 1, 2009

    Yesterday on The Torch, Adam wrote convincingly about how Virginia Tech’s efforts to impose vague requirements of a commitment to "diversity" on faculty for tenure and promotion is every bit as much a violation of academic freedom and freedom of conscience as requiring a commitment to similarly amorphous ideals, such as "patriotism" or "Christianity." The… Read more

  • Virginia Tech to Demand ‘Diversity’ Conformity by Vote

    March 30, 2009

    Suppose the provost at your college started a new "patriotism" initiative. In the first year, he would permit faculty members to self-report their "patriotism accomplishments." In the second year, faculty members would be strongly encouraged to report their "patriotism accomplishments" on their annual reports of their activities. In the third year, faculty members would be… Read more

  • Rights in the News: FIRE Stands up for Virginia Tech Faculty

    March 27, 2009

    As you may have read in The Torch this week, FIRE is leading the charge against requirements at Virginia Tech that tie tenure and promotion to a commitment to "diversity"—requirements that amount to a political loyalty oath for faculty members. Such requirements, as FIRE and others have written, are a serious threat to academic freedom… Read more

  • Mark Bauerlein on Virginia Tech Diversity Requirement for Faculty Assessment

    March 27, 2009

    Today CFN faculty member and Emory professor Mark Bauerlein adds his voice to that of FIRE, the National Association of Scholars, and others against Virginia Tech’s requirement of "diversity accomplishments" for faculty tenure and promotion. Bauerlein writes: This week in The Chronicle, Robin Wilson has a story on the "diversity" factor in tenure and promition… Read more

  • Virginia Tech Mandates ‘Diversity’ for Faculty Promotion, Despite Denial

    March 26, 2009

    Yesterday FIRE wrote Virginia Tech’s president, Charles Steger, calling on him to abandon proposed new guidelines for faculty assessment that would seriously violate faculty members’ academic freedom and their constitutional right to freedom of conscience. The proposal would force faculty members in Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences to adhere to an… Read more

  • FIRE Calls on Virginia Tech to Abandon New Political Litmus Test for Faculty

    March 25, 2009

    Today FIRE has called on Charles W. Steger, President of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), to abandon proposed new guidelines for faculty assessment that would seriously violate faculty members’ academic freedom and their constitutional right to freedom of conscience. The proposal would force faculty members in Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts… Read more

  • Political Litmus Test for Faculty at Virginia Tech

    March 18, 2009

    Peter Wood at the National Association of Scholars has drawn attention to a disturbing prospect at Virginia Tech—a requirement that all candidates for tenure and promotion display “active involvement in diversity,” threatening the academic freedom and freedom of conscience of Virginia Tech’s faculty. This new requirement is reminiscent of FIRE’s 2001 case at Bucks County… Read more

  • FIRE on the Virginia Tech Massacre

    April 17, 2007

    FIRE is saddened and horrified by the events at Virginia Tech yesterday, where 32 students and faculty were killed and yet more were injured by a fellow student. Words do not adequately capture the scale and tragedy of the loss. Parents, students, faculty members, administrators, and the Virginia Tech community have our deepest condolences.