Tag Archives: Stockton College Of New Jersey

We knew this was coming, but it is still frightening.

The Speech Code of the Month "Award" goes to Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

Richard Stockton's anti-harassment policy not only infringes on protected speech - it explicitly infringes on the free exchange of ideas in the classroom setting.

Here is the policy: "All forms of unlawful discrimination based upon race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, familial status, affectional or sexual orientation, atypical herededitary cellular or blood trait, genetic information, liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or disability are prohibited and will not be tolerated."

The policy also prohibits "Displaying or distributing material in the academic setting that contains language or images that are derogatory or demeaning, based on any of the foregoing classifications." The policy also notes:“harassment or the creation of a hostile work environment can occur even if there was no intent on the part of an individual to harass or demean another” (emphasis added).

FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) notes: Since “derogatory” and “demeaning” are not defined, students are left to guess at what a fellow student or professor might find “derogatory” or “demeaning.” This is made worse by the fact that the policy does not require intent on the part of the “harasser,” and explicitly applies to classroom speech. In other words, students who express an opinion in the classroom that someone else interprets as derogatory or demeaning may be punished. One can imagine many legitimate classroom discussions in which this might happen, such as: a student in an American politics class who opposes affirmative action or gay marriage; a student in a women’s studies class who suggests that men are responsible for society’s ills; or a student in a religion class who expresses the opinion that religion is fantasy or escapism. The result of a policy like this is a terrible chilling effect on student speech in the classroom, stifling the free exchange of ideas that is so crucial to a liberal arts education.

This policy "applies to conduct which occurs in the workplace/educational environment and also extends to conduct which occurs at any location that can be reasonably regarded as an extension of the college, such as any field location, any off-site camput-related social function, or any facility where Richard Stockton College of New Jersey business is being conducted or discussed."

Extend this out a couple of years...a young person at a football game who turns down a date (on campus) because the person asking is gay (or straight), or for religious reasons could reasonably have a complaint filed against them...