NAICU Washington Update

Reporting Requirements for Free Speech Violations Published

December 04, 2020

The Department of Education published reporting requirements detailing how institutions must submit information about violations of new federal regulations addressing freedom of speech on college campuses

Under the regulations, private institutions must certify that they have complied with their free expression policies as a material condition for receiving federal education or research grants. Private colleges and universities are deemed to be in compliance with their stated policies unless there is a final, non-default court judgment finding that the institution or its employees violated the institution’s policy regarding freedom of speech or academic freedom. Final, non-default judgments include those that institutions either choose not to appeal or that are not subject to further appeal.

The final rules on freedom of speech implement President Trump’s Executive Order addressing freedom of speech on college campuses.  They also facilitate faith-based institutions’ eligibility to participate in various grant programs under the Higher Education Act.  Due to significant concerns about the regulations’ impact on institutions of higher education, NAICU submitted comments on the proposed rules and endorsed legal comments submitted by the Association of American Universities. 

To report violations, institutions must submit a copy of final, non-default judgments by a state or federal court via email to no later than 45 days after such judgments are entered. Because the regulations are not retroactively applicable, institutions are not required to submit judgments that involve conduct that occurred before November 23, 2020, the date the final rules became effective.