Ball State University

Location: Muncie, Indiana
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 7th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Ball State University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more here.

  • Ball State University: Policy on Outdoor Expression Used to Censor Professor’s Indoor Expression

    June 28, 2013

    On February 11, 2013, Ball State University Professor Dom Caristi was instructed by a Ball State official to remove an Italian flag hanging inside his office window. Leisa I. Julian, Associate Vice President for Business and Auxiliary Serves, cited Ball State’s Policy on the Use of University Property for Expressive Activities as the governing policy, despite the fact that the policy explicitly applied only to “temporary structures and signs out-of-doors in a designated area.”  FIRE wrote to Ball State University President Jo Ann M. Gora on April 29, 2013, pointing out that Ball State’s severe misapplication of its policy put […]

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  • Ball State University: Threat to Religous Group’s Freedom of Association

    June 29, 2000

    In May 2000, religious freedom was under assault at Ball State University when administrators sought to stifle unpopular views and sincere religious convictions. The Christian Student Foundation was required by the school to adopt language in its constitution that would violate its fundamental Biblical principles. The student group requested an exemption, but Ball State ignored the issue for more than a year until FIRE intervened in May 2000. FIRE joined forces with the Christian Legal Society (CLS) to protect the constitutional rights to religious freedom and voluntary association of the Christian Student Foundation.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Introduction- Beneficence Pledge 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience

    Members of the Ball State University Community… pledge to act in a socially responsible way: To treat each person in the Ball State community with civility, courtesy, compassion, and dignity; to respect the property and environment of the campus.

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  • Student Affairs: Bias Incident Reporting Form 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech

    The incident was (mark all that apply): … verbal comment

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  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Information Technology Users’ Privileges and Responsibilities 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies

    Harassing communications are prohibited and include repeated contacts with a person who has requested to be left alone absent some legitimate institutional purpose for such communication. Harassment may also involve malicious public disclosure of private facts, threats, defamation, and vulgar or repulsive content posted about an individual or group.

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  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Use of Property for Expressive Activities Policy- Demonstrations 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies

    All events involving expressive activities must be scheduled and approved in advance of the event with the following exceptions: (1) an out-of-doors demonstration or assembly that is not reasonably expected to involve more than fifty (50) people; and (2) a distribution of materials by hand out-of-doors in designated areas not involving the use of tables, booths or other similar set-ups. Persons or groups desiring to hold or sponsor an event involving expressive activities that must be scheduled and approved in advance should contact the Campus Reservationist at least three (3) business days prior to the event and complete the required forms.

    Demonstrations or assemblies that are reasonably expected to involve more than fifty (50) people must be held on the Quad, University Green or LaFollette Field.

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  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Sexual Harassment Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favor or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, whether committed on or off campus, when: … 3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment.


    Examples of conduct which may constitute sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

    1. Requests for sexual favors;

    2. Unwelcome physical contact such as hugging, rubbing, touching, patting, pinching or brushing another’s body

    3. Veiled suggestions of sexual activities;

    4. Requests for private meetings outside of class or business hours for other than legitimate academic or business-related purposes;

    5. Use in the classroom of sexual jokes, stories or images in no way germane to the subject of the class;

    6. Use in the workplace of sexual jokes, stories or images in no way germane to the subject of the work environment;

    7. Remarks about a person’s body or sexual relationships, activities or experience that are in no way germane to the subject of the work or academic environment;

    8. Use of inappropriate body images to advertise events.

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  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Code of Conduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Conduct towards another person or identifiable group of persons that has the purpose or effect of (a) creating an intimidating or hostile educational environment, work environment, or environment for participation in a University activity; (b) unreasonably interfering with a person’s educational environment, living environment, work environment, or environment for participation in a University activity; or unreasonably affecting a person’s educational or work opportunities or participation in a University activity.

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  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Sexual Misconduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies

    Other forms of misconduct may fall under this policy when gender-based.  They include, but are not limited to: … Bullying

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Green Light Policies
  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: University Anti-Harassment Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies

    Harassment of students or employees at Ball State University on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, creed, gender*, sexual orientation, age, or physical or mental disability is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. … The term “harassment,” as used in Paragraph 1 of the policy refers to verbal, physical, graphic, or written conduct that has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile or intimidating environment; i.e., conduct which is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent that it interferes significantly with an individual’s employment, education, or living conditions. The conduct alleged to constitute harassment under this policy will be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person similarly situated to the complainant and considering all of the facts and circumstances.

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  • Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Bill of Rights and Responsibilities 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression

    As citizens, students of Ball State University enjoy the same basic rights and are bound by the same responsibilities to respect the rights of others as all other citizens.

    Among the basic rights are freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, freedom of political beliefs, and freedom from personal force and violence, threats of violence, and personal abuse.

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  • Student editors react to ‘Hosty’ decision

    February 28, 2006

    By Ricky Ribeiro at Student Press Law Center Student editors at three student newspapers said college journalists need to start discussing the effects of Hosty v. Carter now that the Supreme Court has decided not to hear the case. “[Hosty]’s come up from time to time [in our newsroom],” said Aaron Seidlitz, editor in chief of Eastern Illinois University’s student newspaper, the Daily Eastern News. “Most of the time it’s with the staff and a few professors as well. I think that every collegiate newspaper should just have conversations with their advisers just to have a better understanding of the […]

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  • Ball State Student’s Tweets Receive Criticism, No Official Sanction

    September 13, 2013

    After Ball State University Student Government Association (SGA) president Malachi Randolph posted a series of derogatory tweets last week, the Ball State administration shared just the right message about the repercussions of such speech: “His remarks are not a violation of any university policy or law,” said Tony Proudfoot, a university spokesperson. “He is likely to find, however, that such remarks do have unintended social consequences beyond formal actions from the university.” The tweets in question included statements like “I hate when Chinese people make me write emails in Asian speak” and “Stereotypical Chinese

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  • Ball State Professor’s Flag Flies Again, Thanks to FIRE

    June 28, 2013

    Professor Dom Caristi in his officeA head-scratching case of censorship involving a telecommunications professor, an Italian flag, an office window, and a policy designed to regulate outdoor signs and structures has fortunately come to a satisfactory end at Indiana’s Ball State University.  For roughly four years, Professor Dominic Caristi, a professor in Ball State’s Department of Telecommunications, hung a flag unobtrusively in his office window. Initially, Caristi hung the Greek flag—a reference to his selection as a Fulbright scholar to Greece. Later, he replaced it with the Italian flag, a nod to his heritage. This past February 11, however, Associate […]

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  • First Amendment Lawsuit Challenges Ball State’s Regulation of Off-Campus Speech

    October 16, 2012

    A lawsuit filed last Thursday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana is challenging Ball State University’s punishment of two students for their actions involving an apartment-mate, Brent Allred, who apparently failed to pay his share of the rent.   The two student plaintiffs allegedly pulled two pranks on Allred. First, they placed an old sandwich in his room and locked the door. Second, they pulled a Chris Hansen on him, posing online as a high school student, inviting him to a movie theater in character, and posting a videotape of the ensuing confrontation on […]

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