Fighting Words Harassment in the University Community

University Policy 503, Fighting Words Harassment in the University Community

Executive Summary: 

The University recognizes the right to freedom of speech and seeks to provide a fair, humane, and respectful environment for students, faculty, and staff from which violence or the threat of violence is eliminated. Thus, the University prohibits the face-to-face use of "fighting words" by a student, faculty member, or staff member to harass any person or persons on the University campus or other property under University control. Persons accused of violating this policy are subject to disciplinary action through applicable disciplinary procedures.

Policy
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte recognizes the right to freedom of speech as a fundamental tenet of the University and seeks to provide an environment for students, faculty, and staff that is fair, humane, and respectful, and from which violence or the threat of violence is eliminated. While the University is committed to allowing vigorous and open academic discourse and intellectual inquiry, including speech that espouses controversial or even offensive ideas, the University reserves the right to intervene when "fighting words," as defined in this Policy, are used in the University community.
 
This Policy prohibits the face-to-face use of "fighting words" by a student, faculty member, or staff member to harass any person or persons on the University campus or other property under University control. "Fighting words" are those personally abusive epithets which, when directly addressed to any ordinary person are, in the context used and as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke an immediate and violent reaction, whether or not they actually do so. Such expressions include, but are not limited to, those terms or gestures widely recognized to be derogatory references to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, and other personal characteristics.
 
An employee of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte having a complaint of fighting words harassment should first notify his or her supervisor. If the employee’s supervisor is the subject of his or her complaint, the employee should first notify that supervisor’s direct superior.  If neither of these options is feasible, then the employee having a complaint should notify the Director of Employee Relations, Training and Compliance.  A student should notify the Office of the Dean of Students.
 
Members of the University community are subject to disciplinary action for violation of this Policy through applicable disciplinary procedures. Persons not faculty, students or staff, who engage in disruptive conduct, may be subject to penalties stipulated by civil and criminal law. 
Revision History: 
  • Initially approved June 30, 1989
  • Revised January 4, 1993
  • Revised February 28, 2008
  • Revised September 3, 2012

 

Authority: Chancellor

Responsible Office:  Office of Legal Affairs