University of Missouri: Policing of “Hurtful” Speech

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Missouri – Columbia

On November 10, 2015, the University of Missouri Police Department issued a campus-wide email asking “individuals who witness incidents of hateful and/or hurtful speech” to take a series of actions in response. These actions include calling the police “immediately” and providing “detailed description[s]” and photographs of the actors in question. The statement further added, “While cases of hateful and hurtful speech are not crimes, if the individual(s) identified are students, MU’s Office of Student Conduct can take disciplinary action.” FIRE sent Mizzou a letter on November 11 reminding the university that the majority of speech considered subjectively “hateful” or “hurtful” is protected by the First Amendment. FIRE has asked Mizzou to clarify that it will not discipline students on these unconstitutionally broad and vague grounds.

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