Virginia State University

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

Speech Code Rating

Virginia State University has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.

Red Light Policies

  • Student Organization Handbook: Rallies, Public Assemblies and Demonstrations

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: January 4, 2017

    Organizations require written approval from the Department of Student Activities and Campus Police Department. An “Application for Demonstrations and Assemblies” form must be submitted to the Department of Student Activities at least 10 days in advance of the demonstration.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Residents Bill of Rights

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: January 8, 2016

    All residents will be held accountable for violations of all rules and regulations of Virginia State University as provided in this Student Handbook and Community Living Guide. You have the Right to… Environments free from fear of intimidation, physical and emotional harm, and racial and sexual harassment.

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  • Student Handbook: Sexual Harassment/Assault/Rape Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 8, 2016

    Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other conduct of a sexual nature, or action taken in retaliation for reporting such behavior, when: … such conduct has the purpose of effect of unreasonably interfering with a person’s work or academic performance or creating a hostile and offensive work or learning environment.

    Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to, the following: 1. sexually suggestive conduct or remarks about clothing, body, or sexual activities directed personally to a member of the University community; 2. Suggestive whistling directed personally to another University community member; 3. sexual propositions, invitations, or other unwanted pressures for sexual contact ….

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  • Student Handbook: Student Code of Conduct- Moral Turpitude

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: January 8, 2016

    Sexual harassment is defined by law and includes requests for sexual favors, sexual advances, or other sexual conduct when submission is either explicitly or implicitly a condition affecting academic or employment decisions; the behavior is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to create an intimidating, hostile, or repugnant environment; or the behavior persists despite objection by the person to whom the conduct is directed. The University considers such behavior, whether physical or verbal, to be a breach of its standards of conduct.

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  • Student Organization Handbook: Unacceptable Student Organization/Member Behaviors

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: January 4, 2017

    Disorderly Conduct
    (A) Behavior that disturbs the campus peaceful environment, or which offends public morals, or undermining public safety, is prohibited; (B) Harassment, threats, bullying, physical abuse, intimidation or the threat of physical abuse, including bias related incidents, and; (C) Excessive noise which is disruptive to the campus or surrounding community are prohibited.

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  • Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, and Retaliation Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 8, 2016

    Harassment is a form of discrimination in which unwelcome verbal, written, or physical conduct is directed toward an individual on the basis of his or her protected characteristics or statuses by any member of the campus community. Harassment does not have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents. Harassment violates this policy when it creates a hostile environment, as defined below.

    Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based on sex. It is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature including: verbal (e.g., specific demands for sexual favors, sexual innuendoes, sexually suggestive comments, jokes of a sexual nature, sexual propositions, or sexual threats); non-verbal (e.g., sexually suggestive emails, other writings, articles or documents, objects or pictures, graphic commentaries, suggestive or insulting sounds or gestures, leering, whistling, or obscene gestures)….

    This policy prohibits the following types of sexual harassment: …

    D. Hostile environment may be created by oral, written, graphic or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive and objectively offensive that it interferes with, limits or denies the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from educational programs, services, opportunities or activities or the individual’s employment access, benefits or opportunities.

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  • Student Organization Handbook: Distribution of Literature

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: January 4, 2017

    Registered student organizations may sell, distribute or display literature on campus in accordance with the following guidelines: … The material must be approved and signed by the Department of Student Activities.

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  • Student Organization Handbook: Posting Signs

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: January 4, 2017

    The term “sign” may include billboard, decal, notice, poster, banner, fliers, and any kind of hand-held sign. The following guidelines apply for publicly posting signs on University property: … All signs must be approved and signed by the Department of Student Activities before they are distributed for posting. (Submit original).

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Student Code of Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 8, 2016

    Conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person within or related to the University community, including physical abuse, threats, intimidation, or harassment, is prohibited.

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  • Student Handbook: Student Code of Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: January 8, 2016

    Users should not do any of the following: … Download or transmit fraudulent, threatening, obscene, intimidating, defamatory, harassing, discriminatory, or otherwise unlawful messages or images.

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At present, FIRE does not maintain information on this school's policies.
  • Speech Codes of the Year: 2013

    December 26, 2013

    Each month, FIRE singles out a particularly reprehensible campus speech code for our Speech Code of the Month designation. While all of 2013’s Speech Codes of the Month flagrantly violated students’ or faculty members’ right to free expression, two of them were so egregious that they deserve special mention as 2013’s Speech Codes of the Year. Troy University Troy, a public university in Alabama, defines harassment (PDF) as “any comments or conduct consisting of words or actions that are unwelcome or offensive to a person in relation to sex, race, age, religion, national origin, color, marital status, pregnancy, or disability or veteran’s status.” This […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Virginia State University

    December 11, 2013

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for December 2013: Virginia State University. According to Virginia State’s Student Code of Conduct (PDF), “[s]tudents shall not injure, harass, threaten, offend, or degrade a member of the University community” (emphasis added). Any violation of this provision “is subject to disciplinary sanctions including, but not limited to warning, probation, loss of privileges, fines, restitution, residence hall suspension, residence hall expulsion, Virginia State University suspension, and Virginia State University expulsion.” So here we have a public university, legally bound by the First Amendment, threatening to expel students if they “offend” another student on campus. Do you support […]

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