Youngstown State University

Location: Youngstown, Ohio
Website: http://www.ysu.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Youngstown 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 4009.01: Acceptable Use of University Technology Resources

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: January 30, 2017

    Examples of Unacceptable Use: … Using technology resources to engage in fraud, defamatory, abusive, unethical, indecent, obscene, pornographic and/or unlawful activities is prohibited. … Any form of harassment by electronic means (e.g., email, web access, phone, paging) whether through language, content, frequency or size of messages is prohibited.

    » Read More

  • Policy 3356-2-03: Discrimination/Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 30, 2017

    “Harassment.” Conduct, or a course of conduct, that degrades or shows hostility toward an individual or group of individuals is based on sex (including pregnancy), race, color, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, disability, or veteran status or any other basis protected by law, and is sufficiently severe and pervasive to a reasonable person that it:

    (a)  Unreasonably interferes with an individual’s employment or education; or
    (b)  Objectively creating a working, living, or educational environment that is hostile, intimidating, offensive, or abusive.

    “Sexual harassment.” Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome and sufficiently severe or pervasive from both a subjective (the complainant’s) and an objective (reasonable person’s) viewpoint when it meets any of the following:

    (a) Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, academic status, or participation in a university program or activity.
    (b)  Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment, academic, or programing decisions affecting the individual.
    (c)  The conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an employment, academic, or participation environment that is objectively intimidating, hostile, offensive or abusive.
    (d)  Sexual harassment can be directed at a member of the same or different sex or sexual orientation. Examples of inappropriate conduct which may constitute sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

    Examples of inappropriate conduct which may constitute sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

    (a)        Sexual advances or propositions, either explicit or implied.

    (b)       Sexually suggestive or sexually degrading innuendo, comments or gestures.

    (c)        Remarks or inquiries about sexual activity, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression

    (d)       The display or communication of sexually oriented material (including through e-mail or other electronic means).

    (e)       Unwanted touching, hugging, or contacting another’s body.

    » Read More

  • Student Organization Policies: Invitation of Off-Campus Speakers

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: January 30, 2017

    A request in writing to invite an outside speaker will be considered by the Vice President for Student Affairs only when made by a registered student organization at least ten (10) University working days in advance of the scheduled event. The request shall include (a) the name of the sponsoring organization; (b) name of the speaker; (c) time and date; (d) desired location of the meeting; (e) expected size of the audience; and (f) topic of speech.

    » Read More

  • Student Organization Policies

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: January 30, 2017

    Students acting individually or on behalf of a registered student organization/group may distribute written material at designated on-campus locations after reserving those locations with the site administrator.

    » Read More

  • Resident Handbook: Obscene Material

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: January 30, 2017

    Obscene materials including posters, signs etc. are not allowed in public areas (suite common area doors & walls, hall walls and outside of room doors). Obscene material is defined as 1) Material that is overtly, sexually suggestive. 2) Material that is offensive or morally objectionable to the community standard. 3) Material that is utterly without any social or artistic value.

    » Read More

  • The Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct: Student Conduct Standards

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: January 30, 2017

    Use of computing facilities and resources to send obscene or abusive messages.

    » Read More

  • Resident Handbook: Harassment/Threats

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 30, 2017

    You are expected to treat all persons with respect and dignity. You should not harass any individual or group. Harassment is defined as a course of conduct which subjects a person or group of persons to unwanted physical contact or threat of such contact or the creation of an intimidating or hostile educational, work or university environment, or interfering with or unreasonably affecting that environment. This includes activity over the phone or via social media (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)/Internet. Threatening remarks/behavior will be taken seriously and will be treated accordingly. (Also see Physical or Verbal Abuse.) Display or distribution of material that constitutes harassment or is threatening to others is prohibited.

    » Read More

  • Resident Handbook: Physical or Verbal Abuse

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: January 30, 2017

    You are expected to treat all persons with respect and dignity. You are not permitted to physically or verbally assault any resident including yourself. This includes sexual assault, harassment and/or threats. Slurs regarding a person’s racial, ethnic, or sexual orientation are considered verbal abuse. All forms of physical or verbal abuse are prohibited, including over the phone or via the internet/social media (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)

    » Read More

  • Student Conduct: Sexual and Relationship Violence

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: January 30, 2017

    As a recipient of Federal financial assistance the University is subject to the requirements and prohibitions of Title IX.

    Under Title IX discrimination on the basis of sex can include:

    SEXUAL HARASSMENT: unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • Advocacy Group Takes Aim at Several YSU Policies

    April 17, 2014

    By Lauren Wood at WKBN The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, using the website thefire.org, analyzes speech policies on universities across the country and grades them green light, yellow light or red light. FIRE said its mission is to make students and universities aware of policies that are not in line with the rights granted by the First Amendment. YSU is one of 10 Ohio universities to receive red light ratings from the agency for at least one policy. FIRE said its concern is with several anti-harassment policies that ban “offensive” speech. They said “offensive” is too broad a term and […]

    » Read More
  • Do campus tribunals wield too much power?

    March 13, 2006

    By John Higgins at The Beacon Journal A Summit County jury found Charles Plinton not guilty of selling drugs to a confidential informant in 2004. A few weeks later, a University of Akron disciplinary board found him “responsible” for “selling drugs to a confidential informant.” The difference between those two words — guilty and responsible — may not sound meaningful to the average person. But it’s a distinction that begins to explain the secretive world of college justice in which campus committees may re-try the facts of serious crimes after criminal courts have already decided them. Critics see the hearings […]

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  • Youngstown State University Leads Censorship of ‘Straight Pride’ Posters

    May 22, 2015

    Last month, flyers advertising “Straight Pride Week” were posted at Youngstown State University (YSU) in Ohio, asking students to celebrate thusly: “Just … go about your day without telling everyone about how ‘different’ you are.” Reporting at the time indicated that the Student Government Association got in touch with administrators in order to receive permission to take the posters down, but email correspondence recently obtained through a public records request suggests that the YSU administration initiated the censorship itself. It is still not clear who hung the flyers, but small text at the bottom said: Brought to you by the […]

    » Read More