Princeton University’s Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment
Discrimination and harassment policies at colleges and universities have been contentious. While some argue that they tend not to go far enough in protecting people who experience harassment, others argue that those same policies are overbroad and have a chilling effect on free expression. Much of the debate has centered around the effects of the Office of Civil Rights’ guidelines on the implementation of Title IX. There is no contradiction between advocating for more stringent measures to address sexual harassment and assault on campus and insisting on measures to protect free speech and academic freedom. Princeton University’s policy on discrimination and/or harassment strikes this balance, offering robust protections against discrimination and harassment while also reiterating the centrality of academic freedom. The policy is situated in the larger framework of the university’s dual commitments to free speech and inclusion.
Excerpt from policy
“The University’s policies and procedures relating to harassment are not intended to inhibit or restrict free speech or the expression of ideas. The University’s policy on Respect for Others, which can be found in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.2.1, states: ‘Princeton University strives to be an intellectual and residential community in which all members can participate fully and equally, in an atmosphere free from all manifestations of bias and from all forms of discrimination, harassment, exploitation, or intimidation. As an intellectual community, it attaches great value to freedom of expression and vigorous debate, but it also attaches great importance to mutual respect, and it deplores expressions of hatred directed against any individual or group. The University seeks to promote the full inclusion of all members and groups in every aspect of University life.'”
What we like about this policy
- Explicitly affirms the university’s commitment to free expression and cites its free expression policy.
- Connects the discrimination and harassment policy to the university’s larger effort to promote inclusion, respect, and the ability of everyone to fully participate in university programs.
- Provides clear definitions of relevant terms, including discrimination, harassment, and protected characteristics.
- Explicitly delineates what kinds of behavior constitute discrimination and harassment and provides examples of such behavior.
- Is easily accessible through multiple channels, including Princeton’s central resource for diversity and inclusion, ‘Many Voices, One Future.’