FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for October 2007: Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho.
Lewis-Clark’s Student Handbook defines “harassment” as follows:
Any practice by a group or an individual that detains, embarrasses, or degrades a member of the College community, endangers his/her health, jeopardizes his/her safety, or interferes with class attendance or the pursuit of education or work responsibilities and which occurs on College-owned or controlled property or while the violator is attending or participating in a College-sponsored event or activity is prohibited.
“Any practice by a group or an individual that…embarrasses…a member of the College community…and which occurs on College-owned or controlled property or while the violator is attending or participating in a College-sponsored event or activity is prohibited.” This policy is truly unbelievable. Not only is it unconstitutionally overbroad—most speech that might ‘embarrass’ another person is nonetheless entirely constitutionally protected—but it could never be enforced across the board. Lewis-Clark has more than 3,000 students—can the administration truly respond to each and every incident of student embarrassment on its campus? The answer is clearly no, meaning that this policy can only be enforced arbitrarily and at the whim of the administration.
The Lewis-Clark State College administration’s ignorance of the First Amendment is an embarrassment to the entire College community—I guess that means its administration is guilty of harassment!
For these reasons, Lewis-Clark State College is our October 2007 Speech Code of the Month. If you believe that your college or university should be a Speech Code of the Month, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the policy and a brief description of why you think attention should be drawn to this code.