Missouri State University

Location: ,
Website: http://www.missouristate.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 1st Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Missouri State University has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.

  • Missouri State University: Political Litmus Test in School of Social Work

    March 14, 2007

    Emily Brooker sued Missouri State University (MSU) after she was threatened with expulsion and charged with violating MSU’s “Standards of Essential Functioning” for refusing to lobby the Missouri legislature on behalf of homosexual adoption. The lawsuit was settled in her favor. An outside investigation of the School of Social Work found ideological coercion on the part of the faculty against dissenting students and noted the chilling effect of its actions and policies on the school’s intellectual atmosphere.

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  • Missouri State University: Investigation of Student Paper for Editorial Cartoon

    March 26, 2004

    At Missouri State University (then called Southwest Missouri State University), administrators investigated a faculty advisor, Professor Wanda Brandon, and student editor, Mandy Phillips of its campus newspaper, The Standard, for publishing an editorial cartoon that a Native American group found “offensive.” Jana Estergard of SMSU’s Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) contacted Professor Brandon to request a meeting about a complaint regarding The Standard. The complaint absurdly alleged that The Standard had violated a religious freedom law, a civil rights act, and university policy, all simply by publishing a cartoon. Professor Brandon refused an OEO proposal of “mediation” to settle the […]

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Red Light Policies

  • Guide to Residence Hall Living: Disorderly Conduct/Harassment 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    The following regulations include actions or behavior directed toward either students or staff:

    C. Disruptive or offensive behavior; lewd, indecent or obscene conduct, dress, or communication (written or verbal);
    D. Harassment, including sexual harassment, acts or communications (including phone calls and email) that are intended to intimidate or humiliate any person. Sending offensive materials to the reception desk laser printer is construed as harassment.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Guidance on Sexual Harassment and Amorous Relationships 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual harassment is interaction of a sexual nature between people that results in sex discrimination. It occurs where work or study relationships are inappropriately and gratuitously sexualized and encompasses such conduct as: … Repeated demeaning verbal or expressive behavior that is harmful to another’s work or learning environment.

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  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Student Responsibilities 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility

    Students are expected to respect differences of culture, lifestyles, and religions as well as to respect freedom of expression. Additionally, students are expected to behave in a manner that is both respectful and civil.

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  • Guide to Residence Hall Living: Room Decorations 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies

    Pictures and other materials that may be considered objectionable are not to be displayed in areas that may be visible outside a residence hall room or suite (including viewed from outside of room through window or door).

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Green Light Policies
  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Proscribed Conduct 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual Harassment: which includes any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other unwelcome written, verbal, or physical contact of a sexual nature when: … such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for that individual’s employment, education, or participation in a University program or activity.

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  • Expressive Activity Policy 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    The Bear Paw, located in the North Mall, is a location that was constructed for forums, rallies, demonstrations, and other similar limited public forum activities. While members of the University community are not restricted to the Bear Paw for expressive activities, any member of the University community may use the Bear Paw without prior reservation on a first come, first served basis. The Bear Paw may also be reserved through the Event and MeetingServices Office (417-836-5653). Organizations or individuals who reserve the Bear Paw have priority.

    Members of the University community may also reserve other locations on campus for expressive activities through Event and Meeting Services. To ensure priority use and to avoid possible conflict with scheduled University activities, reservations are recommended but are not required. Amplification equipment shall be limited to activities held at the Bear Paw.

     

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  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Student Rights 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    Federal and State constitutional guarantees of free inquiry, expression, and assembly are specifically restated as guarantees on this campus.

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  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Proscribed Conduct 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment, which is unwelcome conduct toward another person or an identifiable group of persons which is severe or pervasive and has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning, working, or living environment.

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  • Advertising, Distribution, Solicitation and Facilities Usage Policy 14-15

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    All members of the University community defined as faculty, staff, and students, whether identified or anonymous, may distribute non-commercial, written materials (i.e. leafleting) on campus. Distribution of written materials by members of the University community will be limited to the exterior of buildings, unless at a Plaster Student Union contract table.  To ensure that it is members of the University community engaging in this activity, persons on request would be required to identify themselves, and are required to be responsible for littering that they would create in an leafleting effort.  Normal vehicular and/or pedestrian traffic must not be disrupted.

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  • MSU will investigate reports of sexual assault more aggressively

    August 29, 2012

    Missouri State University now handles allegations of student sexual assault more aggressively and is more likely to take action against an alleged offender even if the victim reports the incident — perhaps to inquire about medical services — but wants the matter dropped. As part of this shift in policy, the university uses a new standard of proof in sexual harassment allegations. The standard is “more likely than not,” a civil threshold also called preponderance of evidence. MSU’s prior standard for concluding an assault had occurred was higher: “clear and convincing” evidence. These changes are in direct response to a push […]

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  • Higher education can lower your expectations

    August 3, 2010

    Ever since the Second World War, professional educators have promoted a college or university education for the wrong reason, viz., to make more money than otherwise would be the case. Around 1965 the passion for the egalitarian and pacifistic goals of the left began to corrupt higher learning even more. Today one enrolls at one’s own risk. The fundamental error of the claim that college makes you richer is that those who succeed after college are likely to succeed without it. While many students have indeed gone on to prosperous careers, many others have not, dropping out at some point […]

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  • Cartoon draws ire of group; Newspaper adviser caught in fallout

    August 30, 2004

    Just an hour’s drive from the Arkansas border, Southwest Missouri State University has come under the scrutiny of a Philadelphia-based civil liberties advocacy group for its handling of an editorial cartoon published last fall in the student newspaper.The Nov. 21 cartoon in The Standard, titled “The 2nd Thanksgiving,” depicts two American Indians approaching a Pilgrim woman bearing a gift of a large can of corn and a can opener.The caption has the Pilgrim saying: “Gladys, the Indians are here and it looks like they brought corn … again … “The student group American Indian Leaders of Today and Tomorrow filed […]

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  • Under the Radar: Political Correctness Never Died

    July 1, 2004

    By Cathy Young at Reason

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  • Free speech dilemmas; Free speech ‘zones’ and ‘codes’ go from campus to court

    January 12, 2004

    The free speech wars continue to be waged on university campuses, producing their fair share of First Amendment litigation.While campus “speech codes” that discipline students for offensive or so-called “politically incorrect” speech have been roundly condemned by the courts, they are still generating controversy.But still to be tested are “free speech zones,” which confine free speech activities to a specific area of a campus. Such zones are vulnerable to challenge if used as a kind of banishment that isolates speakers from their intended audience.Greg C. Lukianoff, director of legal and public advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, […]

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  • When Campus Intolerance Means Free Speech Gets Torn Up and Run Over, Literally

    March 21, 2014

    Being offended is what happens when you have your deepest beliefs challenged. And if you make it through four years of college without having your deepest beliefs challenged, you should demand your money back. I have been saying that line in speeches on campus for more than a decade. Even though it often gets a laugh, the idea that students have an overarching “right not to be offended” seems more entrenched on campus than ever.

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  • Missouri State Latest School to Succumb to OCR Mandate

    August 29, 2012

    According to an article by Steve Pokin in Springfield, Missouri’s The News Leader, another school has succumbed to the Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR’s) April 4, 2011, “Dear Colleague” letter. Missouri State University (MSU) is the most recent casualty of OCR’s push to have colleges and universities across the country lower their standard of evidence for campus sexual harassment and sexual assault cases to the “preponderance of the evidence” (or “more likely than not”) standard. As FIRE has pointed out before, this standard only requires a mere 50.01% proof that an incident occurred, the lowest standard used in American courts.  […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Missouri State’s Attack on Press Freedom

    April 20, 2012

    Eight years ago this month, FIRE continued its fight for freedom of the press at Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU, currently known as Missouri State University), renewing pressure on the school after it targeted the campus paper The Standard for an “offensive” cartoon.   The controversy began in November 2003, when The Standard printed the following cartoon entitled “The 2nd Thanksgiving.”  The cartoonist (who is, himself, of Native American descent) later explained, “The point of the cartoon has nothing to do with Native Americans or Pilgrims … I was trying to reflect a common Thanksgiving tradition of a host griping […]

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  • Thought Reform and Ideological Screening on Campus in 2009

    December 31, 2009

    Liberty cannot exist in a society where people are forced to conform their thoughts and expression to official viewpoints. Differences of opinion are natural in a vibrant, free society, yet at too many of our nation’s colleges and universities, students and professors are expected to share a single viewpoint under the banner of “community values” or “sustainability” or “cultural competence” or “social justice” or “diversity” or “multiculturalism.” The year 2009 was not a good year for freedom of conscience, but fortunately FIRE won case after case.  As Greg noted earlier today, the notorious thought reform program in the University of Delaware’s residence halls, […]

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  • FIRE DVD Distributed in Print Edition of ‘National Review’

    September 30, 2009

    Readers and subscribers of the print edition of National Review will have a pleasant surprise as they flip through their October 5, 2009 edition. FIRE has inserted a DVD with three of our recent documentaries: Think What We Think…Or Else! Thought Control on the American Campus, which documents the shocking indoctrination program at the University of Delaware; Threats, Coercion and Bullying at Missouri State, about the case of Emily Brooker whose social work professor attempted to force her to lobby the state legislature for a cause with which she disagreed; and Political Correctness vs. Freedom of Thought – The Keith […]

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  • FIRE’s YouTube Channel Grows in Popularity

    June 11, 2009

    Earlier this week, FIRE released a new addition to its video library with a short documentary titled “Threats, Coercion, and Bullying at Missouri State.” The video explores the case of Emily Brooker, a social work student at Missouri State University. Emily had her rights violated when a professor in the School of Social Work attempted to force her to write a signed letter to the state legislature advocating for homosexual adoption, a position she does not support. In response to a lawsuit from the Alliance Defense Fund, the school backed down and even initiated a review of the entire department. […]

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  • FIRE Releases New Short Documentary on Freedom of Conscience Case at Missouri State, Announces Student Video Contest Winners

    June 9, 2009

    FIRE is pleased to announce the release of a new video on DVD and online called “Threats, Coercion, and Bullying at Missouri State.” The short documentary covers FIRE’s case at Missouri State University (MSU), where social work student Emily Brooker was threatened with expulsion after she refused (as a matter of personal belief) to send a signed letter to the Missouri state legislature in favor of homosexual foster parenting and adoption. This violation resulted not only in a federal lawsuit (which the school settled) but also in an official report that found that a culture of intimidation was rife in […]

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  • FIRE Releases New Short Documentary on Freedom of Conscience Case at Missouri State, Announces Student Video Contest Winners

    June 9, 2009

    PHILADELPHIA, June 9, 2009—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is pleased to announce the release of a new video on DVD and online called “Threats, Coercion, and Bullying at Missouri State.” The short documentary covers FIRE’s case at Missouri State University (MSU), where social work student Emily Brooker was threatened with expulsion after she refused (as a matter of personal belief) to send a signed letter to the Missouri state legislature in favor of homosexual foster parenting and adoption. FIRE also is pleased to announce the winners of its “Freedom on Campus” student video contest. American college and […]

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  • Threats, Coercion, and Bullying at Missouri State

    June 9, 2009

    This short documentary covers FIRE’s case at Missouri State University, where social work student Emily Brooker was threatened with expulsion after she refused (as a matter of personal belief) to send a signed letter to the Missouri state legislature in favor of homosexual foster parenting and adoption. This violation resulted not only in a federal lawsuit (which the school settled) but also in an official report that found that a culture of intimidation rife in the school’s School of Social Work. For instance, many students and faculty stated a fear of voicing differing opinions from the instructor or colleague, and […]

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  • Binghamton Social Work Case Gets National Attention, Student Government Support

    November 14, 2008

    The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) and The Volokh Conspiracy both have reported on the case of Binghamton University Department of Social Work master’s student Andre Massena, who was suspended for one year with no guarantee of return, required to apologize, required to disavow his own views, and required to make every effort to get others to stop complaining to the department after he put up posters that embarrassed his department. The posters challenged the department for having hired the executive director of the Binghamton Housing Authority, an agency Massena thought was responsible for social injustice. Massena remains in […]

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  • Binghamton University Department of Social Work Declares War on Student for Posters Criticizing Department and Government Agency

    November 13, 2008

    Today’s press release paints a very disturbing picture of Binghamton University’s Department of Social Work. The department ordered the suspension of a master’s student for one year with no guarantee of return, required him to apologize, and demanded that he publicly disavow his own views after he put up posters challenging the department for having hired the executive director of the Binghamton Housing Authority (BHA)—an agency the student thought was responsible for social injustice. Student Andre Massena remains in school pending an appeal, which is to be heard tomorrow afternoon. On August 25, 2008, Massena put up posters on campus […]

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  • Vandals Trample Upon Students’ Rights at Missouri State—Literally

    October 24, 2008

    FIRE has received some troubling news from Missouri State University. Earlier this month, a student group at MSU had a campus display vandalized. The group, Bears for Life, sought to draw attention to their pro-life stance by setting up four thousand popsicle-stick crosses on a campus lawn. While the group’s intention may have been to fuel a campus discussion about abortion, they have instead ignited a broader conversation about the campus’ ability to tolerate controversial opinions. Watch a video of the incident below:     According to an article in The Standard, MSU’s student newspaper, members of the Bears for […]

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  • Another Emily Brooker?

    April 11, 2008

    In 2006 and 2007, FIRE publicized the case of Emily Brooker, who sued Missouri State University (MSU) after she was charged with violating MSU’s “Standards of Essential Functioning” for refusing to lobby the Missouri legislature on behalf of homosexual adoption. MSU settled the lawsuit, and Brooker came out a clear winner. Later, an independent report blasted MSU’s School of Social Work for violations of its own stated ethic of respect: “‘[B]ullying’ was used by both students and faculty to characterize specific faculty. It appears that faculty have no history of intellectual discussion/debate. Rather, differing opinions are taken personally and often […]

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  • Tenured bigots

    August 10, 2007

    David French has known for years that college campuses are bastions of anti-evangelical bias. He knew it when he served on the admissions committee at Cornell Law School and watched his colleagues ridicule evangelical applicants as “Bible thumpers” or members of the “God squad.” He knew it during his tenure with an education watchdog organization that routinely challenged university speech codes bent on silencing evangelical viewpoints. He knew it when he shifted into his current role as director of the Alliance Defense Fund’s Center for Academic Freedom, a position from which he’s filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of victimized evangelical […]

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  • Missouri State Releases Report on Social Work Department

    April 9, 2007

    Last year, FIRE reported that Missouri State University had settled a lawsuit filed by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of social work student Emily Brooker. Ms. Brooker sued MSU after she was charged with violating MSU’s “Standards of Essential Functioning” for refusing to lobby the Missouri legislature on behalf of homosexual adoption.   David French, Ms. Brooker’s attorney, reports at Phi Beta Cons that MSU has released a report of an investigation undertaken by an outside committee on the state of the MSU social work department. The report is scathing, citing ideological coercion on the part of the faculty […]

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  • Missouri State Settles Freedom of Conscience Lawsuit

    November 13, 2006

    In a quick turn of events, Missouri State University didn’t hesitate to settle a freedom of conscience lawsuit that was filed less then two weeks ago. The lawsuit was filed in response to an incident in which student Emily Brooker was interrogated for two and a half hours by faculty members who attacked her religious beliefs concerning homosexuality and threatened to withhold her degree. As part of the settlement, the university will pay Brooker’s attorneys’ fees and waive her tuition for graduate school.

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  • Social Work Injustice on Inside Higher Ed

    November 1, 2006

    Today’s Inside Higher Ed carries an article covering the ADF’s lawsuit against Missouri State University for its outrageous, ideologically based treatment of social work student Emily Brooker. The case, which was covered by our own Luke Sheahan in a blog yesterday, involves, among other things, Brooker’s being forced to write a letter to legislators supporting a political policy with which she disagreed. This is very similar to the case of social work student Bill Felkner at Rhode Island College, who was also forced to lobby the state legislature for a policy that he didn’t really support.   Those who follow […]

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  • Did assignment get too political?

    November 1, 2006

    Lawyers at the Alliance Defense Fund have filed a complaint in federal district court on behalf of a former Missouri State University student who says that the university punished her for failing to take part in a class assignment that went against her beliefs as a Christian. Emily Brooker, who graduated from the university’s School of Social Work last spring, took issue with a project in which students were asked to draft and individually sign a letter to Missouri legislators that supported the right of gay people to be foster parents, according to the complaint. The assignment was eventually shelved, […]

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  • Missouri State Violates Freedom of Conscience

    October 31, 2006

    Last week FIRE asked the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to “take action against political litmus tests in America’s schools of social work.” HHS requires its social workers to have degrees from schools accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, which requires its schools to “integrate social and economic justice content grounded in an understanding of distributive justice, human and civil rights, and the global interconnections of oppression.”   At Phi Beta Cons, David French, former FIRE president and current Director of the Alliance Defense Fund’s Center for Academic Freedom, gives an outstanding example of the threat […]

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  • More Shocking Offensiveness from a College Newspaper

    May 9, 2006

    With the ongoing censure of and strike at Le Moyne College that FIRE reported on yesterday, FIRE was reminded that there are many reasons that college administrators have decided that a free press is simply not something with which they should have to contend. The Missouri State cartoon we reprinted on the blog yesterday is a great example. Here’s another one, from Harvard Business School in 2003. See if you can figure out what about this cartoon was so offensive that Dean Kim B. Clark of Harvard Business School considered a violation of Harvard’s “community standards code”:     This […]

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  • Press Freedom Under Assault at Southwest Missouri State University

    March 26, 2004

    SPRINGFIELD, MO —Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU), a public institution bound by the First Amendment, is investigating the faculty advisor and student editor of its campus newspaper, The Standard, for publishing an editorial cartoon that a Native American group found “offensive.” SMSU has refused to rule out a formal hearing on the matter, has requested that Standard faculty advisor Professor Wanda Brandon and editor-in-chief Mandy Phillips attend “mediation” to discuss the issue, and, according to Philips, has contacted The Standard to “advise” it that even reporting on the administration’s intervention in this case could violate university policy.   “SMSU’s attack […]

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