What is Harvey Mudd Hiding?
May 19, 2008
Every year, FIRE updates information about speech codes at hundreds of colleges and universities for Spotlight, our speech codes database. As I was updating our entry for Harvey Mudd College (one of the Claremont Colleges, which collectively have been the site of several free speech incidents this year), I noticed something very interesting—the college's Discriminatory Harassment Policy is no longer accessible online. There is a link to the policy in this year's Student Handbook, but when you follow the link (try it), you get a message that says "Forbidden: you don't have permission to access" the policy.
A link to an older version of the policy is still live, though you have to know the URL—you can't navigate there from Harvey Mudd's current website (we have the link from earlier years' research). That policy raises serious free speech concerns: the policy defines "discriminatory harassment" as "behavior that creates an offensive, demeaning, intimidating, or hostile environment," and lists as possible examples such things as "jokes," "name calling," and "demeaning depictions in a public place."
Harvey Mudd makes almost all of its policies—including policies promising students the right to free expression—accessible on its website. Why, then, are prospective students, their parents, and the general public forbidden from accessing the discriminatory harassment policy? If, as the college states, it "respects the rights of free speech and peaceable assembly, and supports their exercise," it shouldn't have anything to hide. We challenge the college to make this policy available for all to see and to live up to its commitments to free speech.