Professor Andrew Tonkovich
3 May 2019
How campus codes of conduct have failed to regulate cyberbullying on campus
Abstract: In this paper, I will argue that campus codes of conduct in many universities have
failed to regulate and discipline offensive and inappropriate expression on the Internet, which is
called cyberbullying. I discussed the insufficiency of campus codes of conducts by referring to
the First Amendment and citing an expert’s words that it is impossible to supervise the Internet.
Then I utilized the data and figures from several studies of cyberbullying indicating the urgency
and scope of this issue. Analyzing the specific campus code of conducts at Cornell university and
Hostetler, David R and Philip Lee’s statements, I point that cyberbullying should be involved in
the regulation of campus code since it brings harassment to students and destroy their
educational well-being which is under protection by campus code of conduct. And I indicated
government should provide more instruction and support in addressing cyberbullying issues
which is a possible solution of the problem.
Campus codes of conduct are policies enforced in universities to manage individuals’
expression and prohibit offensive language which might lead to physical or mental damage.
However, codes are not as powerful as a law or an act of the legislature. Since the First
Amendment claim absolute freedom of speech, the campus codes can only apply on school level
to regulate students’ expression at most. The controversies of whether the speech code violates
the First Amendment still exist and different universities have different campus codes depends
on their particular situation. For the complexity of creating campus codes of conduct, those codes
are insufficient in protecting students from all harmful speech and building absolute clean and
safe study environment. Students who express discrimination and improper speech on campus
will be disciplined but when they bullied victims on another platform, Internet, will sometime get
away from punishment. The problem of campus codes on conduct is the absence of regulation on
cyberbullying. According to Kenneth Trump, the president of National School Safety and
Security Services, he claims the problem that “Schools can work to set some policies and
behavioral expectations, but it's nearly impossible for school administrators to police the
internet” (Trump). Campus codes of conduct serve to prohibit protected expression on campus
but they are failed to perfectly regulate cyberbullying, which on a more complicated and wider
Cyberbullying, defined by an official government website stopbullying.gov, is “bullying
that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets”. It is becoming a
serious and growing issue with the development of electronic devices and more usage of the
internet. A survey named Teen Online & Wireless Safety Survey indicated that sixty-eight
percent of students agree that cyberbullying is a serious problem. According to a recent study
“Cyberbullying, Trends and Tubes” accomplished by Chris Moessner, nearly forty three percent
of them have been bullied online, which means almost half of people live under the threaten of
cyberbullying (Moessner). What’s more, bullying victim are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider
committing suicide. The main reason is that bully in the real life always requires exceeding
physical power and in risk of being arrested. However, cyberbullying can be done by anyone on
the internet; the property of the internet also makes the cyberbullying much harder to trace and
Figure 1: Lifetime Cyberbullying Victimization Rates Among Ten Different Studies
In Figure 1, it is obvious to notice that there are 27.9 percent of students have
experienced cyberbullying among ten different studies from 2007 to 2016 concerning
cyberbullying in average. “We have surveyed more than 20,000 students from middle and high
schools from across the United States in twelve unique projects”, Justin W. Patchin explained.
Based on such number of students, cyberbullying is already in a position that need to be solved
as soon as possible.
Speech code, defined by Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) on the
website, is “any university regulation or policy that prohibits expression that would be protected
by the First Amendment in society at large. Any policy—such as a harassment policy, a protest
and demonstration policy, or an IT acceptable use policy—can be a speech code if it prohibits
protected speech or expression” (FIRE). By the definition, a speech code as a policy regulates
inappropriate expression and protect students from harassment on campus, thus, cyberbullying
should be involved and under control by the speech code on campus as long as in universities.
The campus code of conduct at Cornell university indicated three essential principles, which are
“attain their educational objectives”; “the generation and maintenance of an intellectual and
educational atmosphere throughout the University community”; and “the protection of the health,
safety, welfare, property, and human rights of all members of the University community, and the
safety, property, and reputational interests of the University itself”. It informs to the public that
any behaviors on campus break the previous principles will be disciplined by the campus code of
conduct. Bring mental and physical damage to people and having possibility of destroying a safe
educational environment, Cyberbullying definitely violate the speech code and should be
regulate completely. However, it leads to another problem that what kind of behavior should be
considered cyberbullying, or in other words, how could universities distinguish cyberbullying.
According to the First Amendment that the freedom of speech is protected by the
Constitution, the supreme court and legislature considered the cyberbullying unconstitutional.
One of the news reports on FIRE said “Supreme Court of North Carolina Finds Cyberbullying
Law Violates First Amendment”. The failure leads to an absence of specific laws to prohibit
cyberbullying. Only in the situation that cyberbullying bring physical damage or threats of
violence, then those behaviors are unlawful and turn into a crime which will not be protected by
the First Amendment anymore. The campus code of conduct has purpose of protecting students
from harassment. However, since most of the cyberbullying will remain anonymous and operate
on electronic devices, it is hard to determine whether it is under control of campus code of
conduct. In the Off-Campus Cyberbullying: First Amendment Problems, Parameters, and
Proposal, written by David R. Hostetler, he claimed that “Cyberbullying can threaten victims'
educational wellbeing both on and off campus because of its debilitating emotional, social and
other consequences. Nevertheless, few courts have addressed the legally complicated problem of
off-campus cyberbullying. The extent, therefore, to which schools can effectively address this
problem without running afoul of First Amendment free speech rights is unclear” (Hostetler).
From the quotation, even the Supreme Court cannot address this problem due to the protection of
free speech from the First Amendment. In order to prohibit cyberbullying, campus code of
conduct will be a good method protecting students’ educational well-being but require the
university to distinguish what behavior should be considered as cyberbullying and involved in
the regulation of the speech code. A professor from the University of the District of Columbia
David A. Clarke School of Law named Philip Lee indicated that when the cyberbullying creates
a hostile learning atmosphere by spreading rumors, harms students’ educational well-being and
disturb the regular teaching process then it should be prohibited by the campus code of conduct.
He claimed that “if a student’s online cyberbullying is likely to reach the school and the school
can show that preventing this speech protects a student’s wellbeing, the school should be able to
regulate the speech”. (Lee) Lee is providing the guidance to help universities addressing
cyberbullying. His offers a complete and deliberate solution of the cyberbullying issue.
Another problem of cyberbullying is that people cannot easily distinguish whether those
behaviors were happened on campus or off campus. Justin W. Bathon claims that campus code
“cannot regulate off-campus speech, the power to regulate is achieved by effectively bringing the
speech on campus.” (Bathon) And when it breaks the principle that bring harassment to students
“the off-campus speech is considered on-campus under the eyes of the law.” (Bathon). It can
help university regulate cyberbullying better since any cyberbullying that negatively affect
universities educational atmosphere or harm students can all be considered “on campus” even
though it was not physically happened on campus.
Refer to the official government website stopbullying.gov, cyberbullying “includes
sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else”, and
“It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing
embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal
behavior”. It implies that any bullying or harassment that occurs online is a form of
cyberbullying. However, under the protection of free speech by the first amendment, only
behavior that have potential threat to people or bring actual harm to victims will be punished
because those behaviors were treated unlawful; those minor cyberbullying behaviors includes
sneering at others’ sexual preference, express inappropriate words about race and disturb
studying environment. Sometimes they can escape from punishment since the consequence are
not serious enough to attract attention from university.
The indifference to regulating cyberbullying lead to a result that the majority of the states
do not even have such law to protect students from online violence. The stopbullying.gov, an
official government website indicates that “Although all states have laws requiring schools to
respond to bullying, many states do not include cyberbullying under these laws or specify the
role schools should play in responding to bullying that takes place outside of school”. This
quotation implies that most of the states government cannot address the issue of cyberbullying on
campus perfectly under the condition of not breaching the first amendment; even though some
states do have cyberbullying law but without certain instruction informs the school how to deal
with cyberbullying, they do not have clear demarcation on cyberbullying to determined whether
it should be punished or not. Moreover, due to several pervious examples that schools were sued
by excessive punishment on cyberbullying cases, the administrators will not take too much
attention on this issue until the legislature passed the cyberbullying law with particular guidance.
According to what Justin W. Patchin claimed in Cyberbullying Laws and School Policy: A
Blessing or Curse, “To be sure, schools should bring their bullying and harassment policies into
the 21st Century by explicitly identifying cyberbullying as a proscribed behavior, but they need
to move beyond the behaviors that occur on school grounds or those that utilize school-owned
resources. But in order to do this they need guidance from their state legislators and
Departments of Education so that they draft a policy and procedure that will be held up in
court”,(Patchin) the school, which is a place to educate people, have no ability to address the
issue alone; the support from the government in many forms including passing a law and
providing specific instruction is necessary during the process of restraining cyberbullying.
Bertin, Joan E. “NCAC Analysis: The First Amendment and School Policies on Harassment and
Bullying.” National Coalition Against Censorship, ncac.org/resource/ncac-analysis-the-firstamendment-and-school-policies-on-harassment-and-bullying.
Bathon, Justin W. Basic Student Rights: Off Campus Speech and Cyberbullying,
d2wldr9tsuuj1b.cloudfront.net/2802/documents/Middle School/MS Counselors/Cyber
“Campus Code of Conduct.” Cornell University, 20 June 2018.
Hostetler, David R. “OFF-CAMPUS CYBERBULLYING: FIRST AMENDMENT
PROBLEMS, PARAMETERS, AND PROPOSAL.” Brigham Young University Education &
Koebler, Jason. “Cyber Bullying Growing More Malicious, Experts Say.” U.S. News & World
Report, U.S. News & World Report, 3 June 2011, www.usnews.com/education/blogs/highschool-notes/2011/06/03/cyber-bullying-growing-more-malicious-experts-say.
Komsky, Jane. “How Should Schools Regulate Cyberbullying?” The Regulatory Review,
Moessner, Chris. “Cyberbullying, Trends and
Tudes.” Http://Www.ncpc.org/Resources/Files/Pdf/Bullying/Cyberbullying Trends - Tudes.pdf.,
10 Feb. 2014.
Patchin, Justin W. “Cyberbullying Laws and School Policy: A Blessing or Curse?” 10Sep. 2010.
Patchin, Justin w. “2016 Cyberbullying Data.” Cyberbullying Research Center.
"Teen Online & Wireless Safety Survey." Cox Communications. Accessed February 14, 2014,
“What Are Speech Codes?” FIRE, www.thefire.org/spotlight/what-are-speech-codes/.
“What is cyberbullying.” Stopbullying.gov, www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-isit/index.
Zoeller, Mary. “Supreme Court of North Carolina Finds Cyberbullying Law Violates First
Amendment.” FIRE, 16 Oct. 2017, www.thefire.org/supreme-court-of-north-carolina-findscyberbullying-law-violates-first-amendment/.
Christine H. Do
Lecturer Andrew Tonkovich
03 December 2017
Addressing Racial Discrimination Against Section 8 Minorities: Improve Funding to the Office
of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO)
In this essay, I propose two possible solutions in order to address the racial discrimination and its
consequent segregation against Section 8 minorities due to racially discriminating Section 8
landlords and local housing authorities. The first solution is to improve the funding to the United
States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Office of Fair Housing of
Equal Opportunity (FHEO) so that the organization can effectively enforce the Fair Housing Act
of 1968 in order to protect the Section 8 minorities. Another solution that could potentially assist
Section 8 minorities is to aggressively implement the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing
Final Rule (AFFH), which allows local governments to reduce segregation in their community
by proposing goals or actions that will help their community become more integrated. After
reviewing the promises of these two solutions, the best solution to address racial discrimination
against and the resulting segregation of Section 8 minorities is to improve funding of the FHEO
because it will be a more direct way to solve the problem and is a more feasible initiative to pass
according to the political climate of Congress today. 2760
According to Rebecca Tracy Rotem, who earned a J.D. from Fordham University School
of Law, “[t]he goals of the FHA [Fair Housing Act of 1968] and the Section 8 voucher program
are aligned to end segregation on the basis of race and income level in housing” (2008).
However, research suggests otherwise. In Vargas v. Town of Smithtown of 2007, the town of
Smithtown, New York deliberately practiced illegal housing advertising that discriminated
against Section 8 minorities from living within their community. The Fair Housing Testing and
Survey Project, conducted by the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in
2010, recorded landlords racially steering, a practice of selling homes where landlords would
“steer” renters away from the housing area, potential Section 8 minority tenants from renting
homes in areas that offered Section 8 housing. In 2015, United States v. The Housing Authority
of the County of Los Angeles, City of Lancaster, California, and City of Palmdale, California
involved Section 8 minorities being racially discriminated by the Housing Authority of Los
Angeles; the Cities of Lancaster and Palmdale; and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s
Department (LASD) by unfair enforcement policies. A common trend among these events is that
Section 8 landlords and local housing authorities who racially discriminate against Section 8
minorities caused these populations to become segregated. The failure to address this issue lies
on the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Office of Fair
Housing of Equal Opportunity (FHEO)’s failure to enforce the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which
is meant to protect people from being discriminated against based on their “race, color, national
origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability” from “direct providers of housing (landlords
and real estate companies)” (“1968: Federal Fair Housing Act”). The problem’s urgency is
exemplified in Figure 1 (New York Times). In this figure, the red circles represent the minority
voucher holders whereas the blue represent the white voucher holders. The numbers that point to
Figure 1: Figure 1: “Families Stuck in Poor Neighborhoods despite Vouchers |
Manhattan’s New Residential Sales Record.” furmancenter.org/thestoop/entry/familiesstuck-in-poor-neighborhoods-despite-vouchers-manhattans-new-reside
the circles show how clustered these voucher holders are. As observed in these maps, there is not
much integration within these communities. If this segregation continues, then it undermines the
purpose of the Fair Housing Act and the Section 8 program: to provide equal housing
opportunities for everyone. There are two possible solutions for this problem. The first solution,
recommended by the National Fair Housing Association (NFHA); Professors Robert Mark
Silverman and Kelly L. Patterson; and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC),
who are all experts in urban studies and advocacy, is to improve the funding for the FHEO in
order for the agency to be more efficient in enforcing the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The second
solution would be to aggressively implement the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Final
Rule (AFFH). Proposed by the HUD during the Obama administration, the AFFH would end
segregation against Section 8 minorities by “tak[ing] meaningful actions to overcome historic
patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities free from
discrimination” (“AFFH Rule Guidebook” 12). After comparing the feasibility of these two
solutions based on observing Congress’ present political climate, I believe that funding for the
FHEO is a better solution than aggressively implementing for the AFFH because the former is
not a politicized issue in comparison to the latter.
In order to address the initial problem of mitigating the effects of housing discrimination
against Section 8 minorities, the federal government must address the internal issue that the
FHEO is facing: underfunding. The FHEO is able to enforce the Fair Housing Act of 1968
through two funding programs: the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) and the Fair
Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) (Silverman and Patterson 127; Soto 1). Under the FHAP, the
FHEO lends grants to certified state and local governments in order for them “to enhance
complaint processing, special enforcement, t ...
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