Wellesley College

Location: Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts
Type: Private
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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

Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 154 colleges surveyed Read more
  • Student Handbook: Campus Life Policies & Procedures- Poster Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: July 7, 2022

    All on-campus posters must include contact information, a name, and an expiration date. Posters may only be placed inside buildings and in places designated for such posters. Definition of Posters Posters are material with information on them. This includes posters in the traditional sense, table tents, and fliers. ... Read More
  • Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 7, 2022

    Title IX sexual harassment: As required by the federal Title IX regulations, Title IX sexual harassment is defined as conduct on the basis of sex that is unwelcome and determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to Wellesley... Read More
  • Policy Against Unlawful Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: July 7, 2022

    Harassment on the basis of any legally protected status is prohibited, including harassment based on: race, color, age (40 and over), sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, ethnic or national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, HIV testing, genetic information (including tes... Read More
  • Policy Governing the Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: July 7, 2022

    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... Read More

FIRE surveyed roughly 37,000 students at 154 colleges and universities about the climate for free speech at their institutions. In 2021, FIRE released rankings of those schools, based on a number of factors, including openness, tolerance, self-expression, administrative support for free speech, and campus policies, scoring overall speech climate on a scale from 0-100. See the full report on FIRE’s 2021 College Free Speech Rankings for more information.



Overall Ranking 41/154
Ideological Diversity 157/159

Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 60.74
Openness 11.32
Tolerance (Liberals) 12.75
Tolerance (Conservatives) 5.96
Administrative Support 6.16
Comfort 16.01
Disruptive Conduct 8.54
Speech Climate
Supported Scholars
Sanctioned Scholars
Successful Disinvitations
Speech Code YELLOW
At present, FIRE has not been publicly involved in any cases at this school.
  • The role of authority in free speech

    July 8, 2020

    I’ve often wondered why free speech feels so important. John Stuart Mill, in what may be the most famous philosophical defense of free speech, argued that free speech ought to be preserved because it allows society to seek truth through dialogue. Free speech, Mill wrote, is not only intrinsically but also instrumentally valuable: we value… 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… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • 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… 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… 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.

  • 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:

  • 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… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • 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… Read more