Wellesley College

Location: Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts
Website: http://www.wellesley.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

Tell Wellesley College to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Wellesley College 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
  • Student Sexual Misconduct Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 3, 2019

    Sexual harassment consists of two basic types … Intimidating or Hostile Environment: Any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive, and creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment, or has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment, academic performance, education, or participation in extracurricular programs or activities. … In either type of sexual harassment noted above, the effect will be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of the person experiencing the conduct, considering the relevant circumstances.

    Examples of behavior that might be considered sexual harassment include, but are not limited to

    • Unwanted sexual innuendo, propositions, sexual attention or suggestive comments and gestures; inappropriate humor about sex or gender-specific traits; sexual slurs or derogatory language directed at another person’s sexuality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or gender expression; insults and threats based on sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or gender expression; and other oral, written or electronic communications of a sexual nature that an individual communicates is unwanted and unwelcome;
    • Written graffiti, or the display or distribution of sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials in a public area; sexually charged name-calling; or the circulation or creation of e-mails, text messages, or web sites of a sexual nature;
    • Display or circulation of written materials or pictures degrading to an individual or gender group where such display is not directly related to academic freedom, or an educational/pedagogical, artistic, or work purpose …
    • Acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping.

    » Read More

  • Code for Religious Organizations on the Wellesley College Campus

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 3, 2019

    All persons associated with religious groups and organizations are expected to abide by the Wellesley College’s policies regarding the publicizing of events and programs and the honor code’s definition of harassment. Harassment may be considered to include:

    • a) any patterns of pursuit, conversationally or physically (e.g. knocking on dorm doors, approaching people in public spaces) with the intent of recruiting someone for membership in a religious group without an initial request for information from the person herself,
    • b) any attempt to induce someone to drop a religious affiliation in favor of another.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: General Policies- Policy Against Sexual Harassment and Unlawful Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 3, 2019

    Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: … Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work, academic performance, education, or participation in College programs or activities, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, work or academic environment.

    Depending upon the circumstances and how they impact the workplace or academic environment, examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to such conduct as the following: … verbal abuse, insults, jokes, comments or innuendo of a sexual nature that include lewd, obscene or sexually suggestive displays or remarks;

    Depending upon the circumstances and how they impact the workplace or academic environment, examples of unlawful discrimination could include the above-referenced examples concerning sexual harassment, as well as the following types of conduct: … Verbal abuse, offensive innuendo or derogatory words, concerning a person’s race, color, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, ethnic or national origin, disability, veterans’ status, or any other protected status …

    » Read More

Green Light Policies
  • Policy Governing the Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: January 3, 2019

    Users are prohibited from using information technology resources (including but not limited to: email, directory information, websites, and google groups) in a manner that is inconsistent with other college policies, or for purposes or uses that are commercial, including solicitation and mass communications intended to benefit private individuals.

    » Read More

  • Wellesley college professors say offensive speakers like Laura Kipnis ‘harm’ students and shouldn’t be invited

    March 22, 2017

    By Robby Soave at Reason Six professors at Wellesley College sent an email to members of campus imploring the community not to invite controversial speakers who might upset certain students—speakers like Northwestern University Professor Laura Kipnis, the noted critic (and victim) of the Title IX bureaucracy… Read more here.

    » Read More
  • Ten Colleges And Universities Where Free Speech is in Danger

    June 20, 2016

    By Kelly McDonald at The Daily Caller  These popular schools all have one thing in common: they use vaguely-worded policies to prevent the free exchange of ideas, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Below are ten colleges and universities that FIRE has designated “red light” schools. “A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech,” FIRE explains… Read more here.

    » Read More
  • But What about Good Taste?

    February 13, 2014

    by Jane S. Shaw at National Review Online Okay, Robert Shibley of FIRE argues that a statue is like a speech. Thus, those Wellesley feminists (as it turns out, I must be one of them) who don’t want the sleepwalking man in his underwear on campus are against free speech. I agree with Robert  most of the time. And, certainly, the petition’s claims that the statue is the source  of “undue stress” are silly, but can’t we talk about good taste? Wellesley has a beautiful and serene campus. I think the women on Wellesley have a right to keep their campus beautiful. There’s plenty of […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE Investigates: An (il)liberal arts education at Wellesley College? (VIDEO)

    April 19, 2018

    What happens when the liberal arts education you expected turns out to be an illiberal one? That’s the question a small group of Wellesley College students are grappling with at the historic Boston-area school, famous for educating some of the world’s most successful women. Over the course of two days, members of The Freedom Project — a nonpartisan program at Wellesley dedicated to exploring a range of ideologically diverse viewpoints — described to FIRE the opposition they’ve encountered for their mere willingness to discuss controversial ideas, or question widely-accepted ones. The students explain how a campus culture where students face […]

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  • In wake of troubling campus incidents, students stand up for free speech

    April 19, 2017

    Last week, a staff editorial in Wellesley College’s student newspaper, The Wellesley News, garnered significant public attention for arguing that “[s]hutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech.” The editorial also had a creepy whiff of ideological re-education about it, arguing that while many people cannot help arriving on campus with “problematic” views instilled in them by our “discriminatory and biased society,” at some point, these benighted students simply deserve what’s coming to them: “if people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or […]

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  • In anti-intellectual email, Wellesley profs call engaging with controversial arguments an imposition on students

    March 21, 2017

    In an email to fellow faculty yesterday afternoon, a committee of Wellesley College professors made several startling recommendations about how they think future campus speakers should be chosen. If implemented, the proposals by the faculty Commission for Ethnicity, Race, and Equity would have a profound impact on the quality and quantity of voices Wellesley students would be permitted to hear. FIRE has obtained the email, sent by one of the signatories to a faculty listserv, and republished it in full below. While paying lip service to free speech, the email is remarkable in its contempt for free and open dialogue […]

    » Read More
  • Conference Coverage: ‘The Fate of Freedom of Expression in Liberal Democracies’ at Wellesley (VIDEO)

    April 20, 2016

    “The Fate of Freedom of Expression in Liberal Democracies,” held at Wellesley College in October 2015, brought together scholars, public intellectuals, journalists, and editors from across the world to discuss matters related to free expression in the West. FIRE was there to cover the action at the event, organized by Wellesley College Professor Thomas Cushman and Danish human-rights advocate Jacob Mchangama. “I think we’re both concerned about the fate of freedom of expression in liberal democracies,” Mchangama said. “It has its origins in the West and supposedly this is where it should be protected the strongest.” But it’s not, Mchangama […]

    » Read More
  • FIRE’s Catherine Sevcenko Speaking at Wellesley College Today

    September 11, 2014

    Students, faculty, and FIRE supporters in the Boston area are invited to hear Catherine Sevcenko, FIRE’s Associate Director for Litigation, speak at Wellesley College today at 4:30 p.m. in Pendleton West 212. Catherine will be speaking about “Why Stopping Hate Speech is Harmful” as a part of The Freedom Project’s Fall 2015 lecture series.

    » Read More
  • The Shibleys Explain the Harms Caused by Campus ‘Trigger Warnings’

    May 27, 2014

    With the recent controversies at Oberlin College and Wellesley College, it’s no surprise that trigger warnings have been the subject of a lot of media attention. Today, FIRE’s Robert Shibley and his wife Araz (who is also a lawyer) joined the chorus of those concerned about this practice in a column on Reason.com. In the piece, the Shibleys set forth the many harms caused by trigger warnings on campus:

    » Read More
  • Lenore Skenazy: ‘Art Is a Trigger’

    February 12, 2014

    Free-Range Kids author Lenore Skenazy penned a compelling editorial for yesterday’s Wall Street Journal on the ongoing controversy over the “Sleepwalker” statue at Wellesley College. Whereas the director of Wellesley’s art museum tried to convince students that the statue, far from being frightening, was actually “vulnerable” and “passive,” Skenazy argues that even if students do feel “triggered” by the statue, that is not a reason for censorship: While no one would ever deny the misery of real-life traumas like rape and assault, including the lingering trauma of flashing back on them, since when is it the job of a university […]

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  • Shibley on Wellesley’s Reaction to ‘Sleepwalker’

    February 11, 2014

    Wellesley College students have had mixed responses to “Sleepwalker,” a statue of a man in briefs who appears to be stumbling along the side of a road through campus, arms outstretched and eyes closed. While some students posed playfully with the statue for pictures, a Change.org petition to have the statue moved to an indoor space garnered over 900 signatures. FIRE’s Robert Shibley shared his take on the situation in The Daily Caller last Friday. Among the main objections to sculptor Tony Matelli’s piece is that the statue might serve as a “trigger” for students who had been sexually assaulted—that […]

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  • University at Buffalo ‘Spectrum’ Points to Problems for Student Rights at Satellite Universities

    September 13, 2013

    Last week, University at Buffalo (UB) student newspaper The Spectrum published an editorial warning about the loss of liberty for students who attend schools in some countries abroad, even when the programs are cooperative ventures between American and foreign institutions. As we’ve written before here on The Torch, satellite universities affiliated with domestic institutions often promise the freedom of expression that students in the United States enjoy (or are supposed to enjoy) but deliver much less. The Spectrum’s editorial questions whether UB’s partnerships with the Singapore Institute of Management and the Nanyang Technological University further the goals of a modern […]

    » Read More