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Free-speech policies questioned

August 16, 2010

Students at Mississippi universities may have to watch what they say more than those in other states because of policies that free-speech advocates say are oppressive.

At Ole Miss, someone could theoretically get in trouble for sending an e-mail about how much they "hate" rival Mississippi State.

Jackson State students could be punished for unsolicited flirting.

Speaking freely outside so-called "free-speech zones" on most of the campuses could get students in trouble, even though a federal court has deemed that unconstitutional.

Adam Kissel, of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said the nonprofit group hears from hundreds of college students across the country each year who believe their rights have been violated.

Many of the complaints deal with students who have been prevented from expressing their views on controversial issues such as abortion, gay marriage or affirmative action.

"Students want to be able to advocate their position on the issues," Kissel said. "Unfortunately, the administrators sometimes use their power to shut down one side of the case."

In Mississippi, FIRE recently took up the case of a Hinds Community College student who was punished for saying the f-word as he was walking out of a classroom.

Isaac Rosenbloom said he remarked to another student that a grade he received was going to "f--- up" his GPA. His professor overheard the comment and reported him to administrators, who gave him 12 demerits and removed him from the oral communication class, knocking him below the required hours to qualify for financial aid...

Schools: Alcorn State University Mississippi State University University of Mississippi Hinds Community College Cases: Hinds Community College: Student Barred from Class