Westfield State University

Location: Westfield, Massachusetts
Website: http://www.westfield.ma.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

Tell Westfield State University to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Westfield 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 here.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.
Yellow Light Policies
  • Policy 2170: Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Affirmative Action Plan

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 10, 2018

    Sexual Harassment

    Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature is prohibited when: … such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or professional performance or creating a sexually intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational, or living environment.

    Examples of sexual harassment may include, but are not limited to:

    • repeatedly pressuring another person for sexual activity;
    • making sexist remarks about an individual’s clothing, body or sexual activities;
    • unnecessary touching, patting or pinching another person;
    • demanding sex from a subordinate while making threats concerning the subordinate’s job;
    • demanding sex from a student while making implied threats concerning the student’s grade;
    • electronically transmitting derogatory, demeaning or pornographic materials;
    • posting explicit sexual pictures on an exterior office door or on a computer monitor; and
    • sexually assaulting another person.

    Sexual harassment can occur between people of any gender. It can occur between equals (e.g., student to student, staff to staff, faculty to faculty) or between persons of differing power status (e.g., supervisor to subordinate, faculty to student, coach to athlete). It is possible for a person who appears to have the lesser power to commit sexual harassment (e.g., a student harassing a faculty member).

    In order for conduct to constitute sexual harassment under this Policy, a reasonable person under similar circumstance would have to conclude that the behavior was harassing or discriminatory.

    Reasonable directions or warnings by authorized University personnel as to the time, place and manner in which employees perform their assigned responsibilities, students carry out their educational assignments or program participants engage in sponsored activities do not constitute evidence of sexual harassment under this Policy.

    Hostile Environment

    A hostile environment exists when sexual harassment is sufficiently serious to deny or limit a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s programs or activities. A hostile environment can be created by anyone involved in the University’s programs or activities (e.g., administrators, faculty members, students, and campus visitors).

    To make the ultimate determination of whether a hostile environment exists for campus community member(s), the University considers a variety of factors related to the severity, persistence, or pervasiveness of the sexual harassment, including: (1) the type, frequency, and duration of the conduct; (2) the identity and relationships of persons involved; (3) the number of individuals involved; (4) the location of the conduct and the context in which it occurred; and, (5) the degree to which the conduct affected one or more person’s education or employment.

    A single or isolated incident may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to show evidence of a hostile environment, particularly if the harassment is physical.

    3. Gender-Based Harassment

    Unwelcome conduct of a nonsexual nature based on a person’s actual or perceived sex, including conduct based on gender identity, gender expression, and nonconformity with gender stereotypes, is prohibited when: … such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or professional performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational, or living environment based on gender.

    Examples of gender-based harassment include, but are not limited to:

    • using derogatory comments and terms toward a male or female who do not act in ways that align with their gender stereotype, such as a male being called names for being interested in the arts or a female being called names for being interested in construction;
    • telling someone to use a restroom that does not align with that person’s gender identity; and
    • making generalized derogatory comments about one gender, such as “all females” are ______ or “all males” are _______.

    While harassment based on non-sexual factors may be distinguished from sexual harassment, these types of behaviors may contribute to the creation of a hostile environment. Thus, in determining whether a sexually hostile environment exists, the University may consider acts of gender-based harassment. In order for conduct to constitute gender-based harassment under this Policy, a reasonable person under similar circumstance would have to conclude that the behavior was harassing or discriminatory.

    » Read More

  • Policy 2170: Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Plan

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: April 25, 2018

    Discriminatory harassment. A form of unlawful discrimination including verbal and/or physical conduct based on legally protected characteristics and/or membership in a protected class that:

    1. has the purpose or effect of creating an objectively intimidating, hostile or offensive work or educational environment;

    2. has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educational opportunities; or

    3. otherwise unreasonably adversely affects an individual’s employment or educational opportunities.

    For purposes of this Plan, unwelcome conduct constitutes hostile environment harassment when:

    it is targeted against a person on the basis of his/her membership in a protected class;

    AND

    it is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education or employment and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive; OR

    submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education; OR

    submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual.

    The determination of whether an environment is “hostile” is based on the totality of the circumstances. These circumstances could include the frequency of the conduct, its severity, and whether it is threatening or humiliating. Simple teasing, offhand comments and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not amount to hostile environment harassment under this Plan.

    Examples of discriminatory harassment, all of which are prohibited by this Policy, include, but are not limited to:

    • Physically harassing another individual or group because of that person’s or persons’ membership in a protected class by assaulting, touching, patting, pinching, grabbing, staring, leering at them, making lewd gestures, invading their personal space, blocking their normal movement, or other physical interference.
    • Encouraging others to physically or verbally abuse an individual (or group of individuals) because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
    • Threatening to harm an individual or group because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
    • Directing epithets, slurs, derogatory comments, unwelcome jokes or stories at an individual or group because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
    • Displaying hostile, derogatory and/or intimidating symbols/objects, such as offensive posters, cartoons, bulletins, drawings, photographs, magazines, written articles or stories, screen savers, or electronic communications, to an individual or group because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.

    CONDUCT THAT IS NOT PROHIBITED

    The Universities are committed to protecting, maintaining and encouraging both freedom of expression and full academic freedom of inquiry, teaching, service, and research. Nothing in this Policy shall be construed to penalize a member of the University community for expressing an opinion, theory, or idea in the process of responsible teaching and learning. Accordingly, any form of speech or conduct that is protected by the principles of academic freedom or the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is not subject to this Policy.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Student Conduct Regulations and Procedures

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: April 25, 2018

    The following regulations demonstrate conduct that is prohibited and will subject students to disciplinary action. …

    Physical abuse, verbal abuse, intimidation or threats to any member of the university community, visitor or guest. …

    Harassing, intimidating, or bullying any member of the University community, visitor or guest. This includes verbal or physical conduct of a threatening, intimidating, or humiliating nature committed by any means such as orally, electronically, in writing, or through any social media.

    » Read More

  • Policy 0380: Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources

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

    The University prohibits the use of its information technology resources for the following purposes: …

    • For any political purpose; …
    • To access or share sexually explicit, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate materials; …

    » Read More

  • Policy 3020: Demonstration/Picketing

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: April 25, 2018

    Faculty, staff and/or students must notify the Vice President, Student Affairs 48 hours in advance of any demonstration and or picketing activity.

    » Read More

  • Policy 1340: University Anti-Bullying, Mobbing, and Harassment Policy

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: April 25, 2018

    Bullying consists of abusive conduct relative to acts, omissions, or both, that a reasonable person would find hostile, based on the severity, nature, and frequency of the conduct and without regard to the method of delivery, such as verbal, written or electronic. Abusive conduct may include, but is not limited to: repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets; verbal or physical conduct of a threatening, intimidating, or humiliating nature; the sabotage or undermining of an individual’s work performance; or attempts to exploit an individual’s known psychological or physical vulnerability. A single act normally will not constitute abusive conduct, but an especially severe and egregious act may meet the standard.

    » Read More

  • Bias Incident Response Team

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: April 25, 2018

    A bias incident is described as any behavior or act—verbal, written or physical—which is personally directed against or targeted toward an individual or group based on perceived or actual characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national or ethnic origin, disability or veteran status. Behavior reflecting bias may or may not constitute a violation of Westfield State University policy or constitute a crime (i.e. hate crime). Events that may constitute a bias incident include, but are not limited to, threatening telephone calls or messages (including e-mail and social media), graffiti, physical assault, sexual assault or abuse, stalking, vandalism, destruction of personal property, harassment, or coercion.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Student Life and Related Policies- Residence Hall Posting Policy

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: April 25, 2018

    Individuals and groups wishing to advertise events or services that may be of interest to on-campus residents should contact the Office of Residential Life for permission. The Executive Director of Residential Life (or designee) reserves the right to refuse permission to advertise for those events or services that promote the use of alcohol or are insensitive to members of the campus community. Approved items will be then posted in the halls by the Residential Life staff in appropriate areas.

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Student Conduct Regulations and Procedures

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: April 25, 2018

    Westfield State University recognizes that the student, as an adult member of society and a citizen of the United States of America, is entitled to respect and consideration and has the right to the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech, assembly and association.

    » Read More

  • Policy 1010: Academic Freedom and Responsibility

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: April 25, 2018

    The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition. Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to both teaching and research.

    […]

    The teacher is entitled to full freedom in research and in the exhibition, performance, and publication of the results of his/her research, to full freedom in the classroom in discussing his/her subject, and most specifically in the selection of classroom materials including selection of texts. The teacher is entitled to discuss controversial issues.

    » Read More


At present, FIRE does not maintain information on this school's policies.
  • Speech Code of the Month: Westfield State College

    February 3, 2010

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for February 2010: Westfield State College in Massachusetts. Westfield’s Student Handbook prohibits “discrimination,” which it defines to include “making disparaging remarks that insult or stigmatize a student’s cultural background or race” as well as “making insensitive remarks that reflect a student’s disability.” Westfield State College is a public university, bound to protect its students’ First Amendment right to free speech. The college recognizes this fact elsewhere in its policies, clearly stating that “Westfield State College recognizes that the student, as an adult member of society and a citizen of the United States of […]

    » Read More