Frequently asked questions
Harassment - Threats, insults, ridicule and personal attacks directed at a person’s sex, race, color, national origin, religion or other personal characteristics; or unwelcome speech of a sexual nature. This must be serious (i.e., persistent, pervasive and severe) to the point of limiting or prohibiting a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program. The institution cannot censor or punish speech merely because a person or group considers it offensive, obnoxious, or hateful.
True Threats and Fighting Words – Words of intimidation, epithets, ridicule or personal attacks with the intent to produce fear of bodily harm or death in the victim. Fighting words are insults which, “by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” The institution must intervene to protect from fear of physical harm, but not emotional injury.
Defamation (Libel/Slander) – Causing harm or damage the reputation of another person by false statements that hold the victim up to hatred, ridicule or contempt. If the alleged victim is a public figure there are additional levels of malicious intent that must be proved in a case of defamation.
Obscenity – Expression that depicts or describes sexual conduct, as outlined in state law, in a patently offensive way. Rather than offended any individual, it must violate community standards, appeal to prurient interests, and lack literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
Incitement of Imminent Lawless Action – When the speaker intends to provoke illegal action, openly urges or encourages it, and his or her words are likely to result in subsequent commission of a crime. For example, incitement and aiding in the destruction of property (even for the purpose of making a point) or disruption of classes or campus activities is prohibited and may be punished.
Commercial speech or solicitation – Advertising or promoting any product or service for sale (including the use of for-profit logos and trademarks.