University of Southern California
Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more here.
Do you have any information, updates, or changes regarding the policies at this institution? Let us know!
On this page, FIRE has excerpted policies that address speech and expression. You may download the full policy in .pdf form, below.
Restrictions on Expressive Rights
Harassment Policies (Learn More)
SCampus: Behavior Violating University Standards and Appropriate Sanctions 13-14
Comments or actions which are individually directed and which are harassing, intimidating or threatening or interfere with work or learning, for the person at which they are directed and for a reasonable person.
View full policy (PDF, 255 KB).
SCampus: Sexual Misconduct 13-14
No student may commit sexual harassment, defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: ... such conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment.
Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, the following examples: ... verbal examples: derogatory comments, slurs, jokes, or epithets of a sexual nature or sexist remarks, discussions about sex or sexual activities not related to a specific course topic, requests for sexual favors, repeated and unwelcome propositions for dates, offensive sexual remarks about an individual’s looks, clothing, body parts.
View full policy (PDF, 114 KB).
USC Equity and Diversity: Sexual Harassment 13-14
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when any of the following apply: ... such conduct has the effect of interfering with a student's academic performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or otherwise adverse learning environment.
Specific examples of sexual harassment by a student may include, but are not limited to, making written, verbal, physical, and/or visual contact of a sexual nature when the conduct or speech is so severe or pervasive, and offensive, as to undermine others' educational experiences and thus deny equal access to university resources.
View full policy (PDF, 108 KB).
* Written examples: suggestive or obscene letters or notes.
* Verbal examples: derogatory comments, slurs, jokes, or epithets of a sexual nature; sexist remarks, requests for sexual favors; repeated and unwelcome propositions for dates.
* Visual examples: sexual gestures, inappropriate display of sexually explicit objects, pictures, cartoons, posters, drawings with sexist implications.
SCampus: Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation 13-14
No student may take actions that are harassing, abusive or intimidating against anyone based on any protected characteristic, or commit actions which adversely affect another because of a protected characteristic.
Such conduct may include, but is not limited to, the following examples: ... Ridicule, abuse, insults or derogatory comments that are directly or indirectly based on a protected characteristic; Offensive remarks about an individual’s looks, clothing, body parts, that relate to a protected characteristic; Offensive comments about an individual’s racial, ethnic or religious characteristics; Disparaging or offensive remarks about an individual’s gender whether or not sexual in nature; Disparaging comments about an individual’s religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs; Expressing negative stereotypes regarding an individual’s country of birth, ancestry, citizenship, or race ....
View full policy (PDF, 99 KB).
Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility (Learn More)
SCampus: University Policy on Free Expression and Dissent 13-14
Coercive disruption is construed to include any activity which, contrary to law: ... Contains "fighting words" where (i) the speech, considered objectively, is abusive and insulting rather than a communication of ideas and (ii) it is actually used in an abusive manner in a situation that presents an actual danger.
View full policy (PDF, 93 KB).
Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience (Learn More)
SCampus: University Philosophy 13-14
Code of Ethics of the University of Southern California ... We do not harass, mistreat, belittle, harm, or take unfair advantage of anyone.
Principles of Community ... As a scholarly community, we aspire to create an environment in which racism, sexism, ageism, xenophobia and homophobia do not go unchallenged.
View full policy (PDF, 113 KB).
All who work, live, study and teach in the USC community are here by choice. As part of that choice, we share a commitment to these principles as an integral part of USC’s mission.
Free Speech Zones
SCampus: Free Expression and Dissent- Guidelines for Campus Demonstrations 13-14
Reservations and prior arrangements are not required for campus demonstrations.
View full policy (PDF, 98 KB).
SCampus: Free Expression and Dissent- Literature and Publications Distribution 13-14
If more than five individuals will be distributing literature, individuals must complete an Event Request form and wait for event confirmation. Reservations are granted on a first-come, first-served basis.
View full policy (PDF, 118 KB).
Internet Usage Policies
Implementation Policies Governing Use of Computing Resources at USC: Electronic Communications 13-14
The following list provides examples of inappropriate use of electronic communication: ... Transmitting intimidating, harassing, or threatening electronic communication and/or forging electronic communication. ... All types of unauthorized bulk or junk email are prohibited. Unauthorized email includes, but is not limited to, mass emailings inconsistent with the goals of the institution, unsolicited junk email, and the propagation of chain email.
View full policy (PDF, 155 KB).
Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
Office for Residential Education: Bias Protocol 13-14
Bias protocol procedures apply to all residents who observe bias incidents and bias/hate crimes and/or discover bias material (whiteboard messages, vandalism, symbols, etc.) in and around University Housing properties (including parking lots, courtyards, dining facilities, and pools).
If potentially offensive or harmful material (written or verbal) is found in the residence halls, resident advisors serve as first-responders and enact our bias response protocol.
View full policy (PDF, 125 KB).
Not all expressions of hate or group bias rise to the level of a hate crime as defined in state and federal statute. Derogatory words or epithets directed against a member of a protected class, as listed above if not accompanied by a threat of harm with the ability to carry it out are considered protected speech and not a hate crime.
Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
SCampus: University Governance- Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities 13-14
Every member of the academic community shall enjoy the rights of free speech, peaceful assembly and the right of petition.
The university must, therefore, provide an optimal learning environment, and all members of the university community have a responsibility to provide and maintain an atmosphere of free inquiry and expression.
View full policy (PDF, 161 KB).
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The speech codes and policies above were last fully checked via internet and other research means by FIRE in October 2013. According to FIRE’s research the substantive policies are current at least until this date. Directory information, including the name of the president of the college or university, may have been updated more recently. If any policy has been revised, or if you believe that we are in error, please contact us.