According to the website of the University of Utah’s Department of Communication, it appears that its Anti-Racism Code of Conduct has been removed from its website.
According to an archived version of the website, dated February 2023, the Anti-Racist Code of Conduct required that faculty intervene in any alleged racist incidents, including microaggressions, and to “work intentionally to eliminate speech or actions which stereotype, inferentially identity, culturally discriminate towards, or harm people of colour.” After FIRE, a free-speech watchdog, removed the link to the webpage. It claimed that the code violated faculty members’ right to free speech.
According to the code, faculty would recognize that racism can often occur in tandem with other oppression systems (e.g., gender, classism and ableism), and employ an “intersectional approach to responding to such incidents.
The Anti-Racist Code of Conduct’s primary purpose is to assist the department in its transition from a racist culture toward one that is anti-racist. The Code also aims to assist students, faculty and staff who have experienced racial trauma due to White normativity, discriminatory actions, such as microaggressions and microassaults and microinsults.” The Code’s third goal is to clarify what constitutes racially aware, appropriate, respectful treatment of peoples of color in order to guide thinking and action in the service of creating a departmental culture which is more humanizing, supportive, and less injurious.
FIRE informed department officials that the code was in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It compelled faculty members to adhere to a certain ideology according to a March 23rd letter. FIRE told department officials that they could not “eradicate protected expression.”
FIRE received a response from the university on March 24, “affirming its commitment freedom of speech and academic liberty” and “sharing that the new leadership is currently evaluating statements regarding inclusive practices,” Haley Gluhanich, FIRE Program Officer, told Daily Caller News Foundation.
Gluhanich did not specify if the page was permanently or temporarily removed.
She told the DCNF, “We cannot be certain, but we like to believe that this is due to our letter and bringing awareness to First Amendment violations within the [code],” she said.
FIRE wrote that leadership should not ‘directly interfere’ with or have’mediated conversations(s)’ to respond to microaggressions and microassaults. This principle is unacceptable and chills expression activity. When a faculty member is brought into one of these resolution issues by people with disciplinary authority they might assume that their conduct can result in punishment. They may also self-censor when other faculty members are punished for exercising their expressive right.
FIRE states that the code is “overbroad” and “fuzzy” because there’s no definition for microaggressions, microassaults, and microinsults.
The Daily Caller News Foundation requested comment from U of U and Department of Communication but they did not respond immediately.