Free Speech Rights On Private College Campuses

Summary of Free Speech Rights on Private Campuses

Because private colleges have such broad freedom to determine their own policies, and because state laws vary so widely, it is safest to speak only of having "potential" rights on a private campus. However, the following generalizations can be made with a certain degree of confidence, unless you have given informed consent to (you have knowingly agreed to) the terms of a voluntary association (generally a group, club, or organization) of which you have chosen to be part (in which case you have waived the rights that you knowingly agreed to waive):

  1. You have the right to rational disciplinary proceedings that are not arbitrary and, to a lesser extent, to rational, nonarbitrary results.
  2. You have the right to receive treatment equal to that received by those who have engaged in similar behavior.
  3. You have the right to honesty and "good faith" (generally defined as conformity with the basic, human standards of honesty and decency) from university officials.
  4. You have the right to enjoy, at least in substantial degree, all of the rights promised you by university catalogues, handbooks, websites, and disciplinary codes.