Free Speech & Inclusion
The University is committed to providing a safe living and learning environment, in which every person is valued, and free speech and free expression and debate are encouraged within a culture of inclusion and mutual respect.
"Every effort by the government to regulate hate speech has been declared unconstitutional." - Edwin Chemerinsky, author and free speech scholar
Why Does This Process Exist?
The University accepts the task of educating the next generation of leaders to understand and appreciate the ideas and opinions generated by an increasingly global community. The Protected Identity Harm Reporting process establishes a mechanism for addressing situations involving actual harm. In instances such as these, we wish to proceed thoughtfully, providing support to all of those affected, while also affirming that we value differences, free speech, free expression and debate as sources of strength and learning for our community.
The goal of the protocol is to set forth the procedures to be followed when Protected Identity Harm incidents (or perceived Protected Identity Harm incidents) occur and to promote a climate of respect. This protocol is not intended to and will not be applied as a means of censorship or to limit in any way dialogue and the free expression of opinions and ideas.
Specifically, this protocol establishes:
- A reporting process for any student who believes that they have experienced or observed a Protected Identity Harm incident.
- Mechanisms for delivering a rapid response to reported Protected Identity Harm incidents.
- A clearly defined consultation process to ensure broad collaboration and appropriate expertise for assessing incidents.
- A statement conveying the University's commitment to creating a respectful and civil living and learning environment.
Definition of Protected Identity Harm incident
For the purposes of this protocol, a Protected Identity Harm incident is conduct or an incident, that occurs outside of academic engagement (academic engagement includes any pedagogical, research and/or educational activities), that adversely and unfairly targets an individual or group on the basis of one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics:
- race, ethnicity, color or national origin
- sex, gender identity or expression
- sexual orientation
- veteran status
- marital status or
- any other characteristic protected by applicable law.
Definition of Hate Crime and Crimes Based on Hate
Some PIH incidents may rise to the level of a hate crime. A hate crime is a criminal act committed in whole or in part because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. Hate crimes can include but are not limited to any crime involving bodily injury, assault, rape, vandalism, and intimidation. A hate crime includes but is not limited to, a violation of both California law (California Penal Code Section 422.6) and Stanford's Fundamental Standard.
Some PIH incidents may also rise to the level of a crime based on hate. A crime based on hate states that (a) no person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States in whole or in part because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. (b) No person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall knowingly deface, damage, or destroy the real or personal property of any other person for the purpose of intimidating or interfering with the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to the other person by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States, in whole or in part because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim listed in subdivision (a) of Section 422.55.
Hate crimes and crimes based on hate should also be reported to the Stanford University Department of Public Safety and to the Office of Community Standards (OCS). More information regarding reporting hate crimes can be found on the Reporting a Hate Crime and What Should I Do pages on this website.
Protected Identity Harm incidents that do not rise to the level of a hate crime, crime based on hate, unlawful discrimination or harassment may involve constitutionally protected speech. Engaging in constitutionally protected expressive activities will not subject a student to discipline or any other adverse action. When in doubt, we encourage students to report Protected Identity Harm incidents through the process.