Ten Colleges And Universities Where Free Speech Is In Danger

Shutterstock/Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley

Kelly McDonald Contributor
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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.

  1.  Boston University
    At Boston University, students are not allowed to “impose” offensive or upsetting views on others. According to the school’s Policy and Tolerance of Religion: “In displaying or distributing expressions of opinion, students are expected to show respect for the aesthetic, social, moral, and religious feelings of others upon whom their views may be imposed.”
  2. Grinnell College
    Grinnell College’s “Bias-Motivated Incident Code” states that “an expression of hostility against a person, group, or property thereof because of such person’s (or group’s) identifying or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, and/or sexual orientation.”
  3.  Syracuse University
    Syracuse’s “Information Regarding Sexual Misconduct” states that “Even without creating an intimidating or hostile environment for study, work, or social living, unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature is a violation of the University’s Code of Ethical Conduct.” The university doesn’t elaborate on what constitutes “unwelcome behavior.”
  4. The College of the Holy Cross
    Holy Cross’s Code of Student Conduct prohibits “Emotional Abuse” and states that students can be punished for “Issuing harassing, degrading or abusive threats or statements that cause emotional injury; and or, causing emotional injury through careless or reckless behavior.”
  5.  Clemson University
    Clemson University’s Anti-Harassment Policy states that sexual harassment is “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” but doesn’t clarify what makes conduct “unwelcome.”
  6. University of South Carolina
    The Carolinian Creed decrees that students must actively care for each other’s feelings. Students must:

    “demonstrate concern for others, their feelings, and their need for conditions which support their work and development; A commitment to this ideal is a pledge to be compassionate and considerate, to avoid behaviors which are insensitive, inhospitable, or which unjustly or arbitrarily inhibit other’s ability to feel safe or welcomed in their pursuit of appropriate academic goals.”

  7. Harvard University
    Harvard’s Harassment Policies indicates that not all forms of speech are allowed on the campus. “There are obligations of civility and respect for others that underlie rational discourse… Behavior evidently intended to dishonor such characteristics as race, gender, ethnic group, religious belief, or sexual orientation is contrary to the pursuit of inquiry and education.”
  8.  Florida State University
    Florida University’s Equal Opportunity Statement informs students that “Behavior that may be considered offensive, demeaning, or degrading to persons or groups will not be tolerated.”
  9. Ohio State University
    Ohio State University’s Bias Incident Response Team notes that “Bias incidents are acts or behaviors motivated by the offender’s bias against age, ancestry, color, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic information, HIV/AIDS status, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status.”
  10.  Wellesley College
    Wellesley’s Policy on the Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources states that: “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 construed by another as hateful, threatening or harassing, that otherwise might contribute to the creation of a hostile academic or work environment.”