Middle Tennessee State University

Location: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Website: http://www.mtsu.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Middle Tennessee 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.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.

Red Light Policies

  • I:01:23 Misconduct, Discrimination, and Harassment Based on Sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity/expression)

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 28, 2016

    Sexual Harassment. Includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, including sexual assault. Sexual harassment, including sexual assault, can involve persons of the same or opposite sex.

    Harassment does not have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents. Sex-based harassment includes sexual harassment, which is further defined below, and non-sexual harassment based on stereotypical notions of what is female/feminine v. male/masculine or a failure to conform to those gender stereotypes.

    Consistent with the law, this policy prohibits two types of sexual harassment: …

    2. Hostile Environment

    A hostile environment based on sex exists when harassment:

    a. is sufficiently serious (i.e., severe, pervasive, or persistent) and objectively offensive so as to deny or limit a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s programs, services, opportunities, or activities; or

    b. when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s education or employment.

    Harassment that creates a hostile environment (“hostile environment harassment”) violates this policy. A hostile environment can be created by anyone involved in a University program or activity (e.g., administrators, faculty members, students, and even campus guests).  Mere offensiveness is not enough to create a hostile environment.  Although repeated incidents increase the likelihood that harassment has created a hostile environment, a serious incident, such as a sexual assault, even if isolated, can be sufficient.

    Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following. The examples listed below are not exclusive, but simply represent types of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment.

    3. Suggestive or inappropriate communications, email, notes, letters, or other written materials displaying objects or pictures which are sexual in nature that would create hostile or offensive work, living, or educational environments;

    4. Sexual innuendoes, comments, and remarks about a person’s clothing, body, or activities;

    5. Suggestive or insulting sounds;

    6. Whistling in a suggestive manner;

    7. Humor and jokes about sex that denigrate men or women;

    8. Sexual propositions, invitations, or pressure for sexual activity;

    9. Use in the classroom of sexual jokes, stories, remarks, or images that are in no way or only marginally relevant to the subject matter of the class;

    10. Implied or overt sexual threats;

    11. Suggestive or obscene gestures;

    12. Patting, pinching, and other inappropriate touching;

    13. Unnecessary touching or brushing against the body;

    14. Attempted or actual kissing or fondling;

    15. Suggestive or inappropriate acts, such as comments, innuendoes, or physical contact based on one’s actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression;

    16. Graphic or written statements (including the use of cell phones and the internet), or other conduct that may be physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating in a manner related to sex.


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  • Judicial Affairs and Mediation Services: Sexual Violence- Helpful Definitions

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 28, 2016

    Sexual Harassment — Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature including sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

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  • I:01:22 Discrimination and Harassment Based on Protected Categories Other Than Sex

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 28, 2016

    Harassment is conduct that is based on a person’s race, color, religion, creed, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation/gender identity/expression, disability, age (as applicable), status as a covered veteran, genetic information, or any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law, that: … Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive or abusive environment to the individual … Examples of such conduct include, but are not limited to verbal or physical conduct relating to an employee’s national origin, race, surname, skin color or accent, offensive or derogatory jokes based on a protected category, racial or ethnic slurs, pressure for dates or sexual favors, unwelcome comments about a person’s religion or religious garments, offensive graffiti, cartoons or pictures, or offensive remarks about a person’s age.


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Yellow Light Policies
  • I:01:06 Use of Campus Property and Facilities Scheduling

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: December 28, 2016

    Before being allowed to use MTSU property and/or facilities, Affiliated Individuals/Entities shall file an application as set forth in this policy.

    All … applications must be submitted in writing at least five (5) working days in advance of the proposed use.

    Any proposed distribution of literature or advertising material by an Affiliated or Non-affiliated Entity or Individual must be approved through the application procedures set forth above.

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  • I:03:04 Electronic Mail Acceptable Use Policy

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: December 28, 2016

    The following list, although not all-inclusive, provides some examples of unacceptable uses: … Transmission of incendiary statements which might incite violence or describe or promote the use of weapons or devices associated with terrorist activities.

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  • III:00:03 Student Disciplinary Rules

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: December 28, 2016

    Misusing and/or abusing campus resources including but not limited to the following: … Use of computing resources and facilities to send abusive or obscene correspondence ….

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  • Judicial Affairs & Mediation Services: Statement of Community Standards of Civil Behavior

    Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience, Statement
    Last updated: December 28, 2016

    The choice to associate one’s self with this fellowship of scholars is freely made by each participant but obligates those who do join to observe the following expectations for civilized conduct within the MTSU community: … disdain for bigotry and hatred expressed in any form or medium and directed toward identifiable groups or individuals in the community; tolerance for the convictions and opinions of others, even when not in agreement with one’s own beliefs ….

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At present, FIRE does not maintain information on this school's policies.
  • Unconstitutional Security Fee Defeated at Middle Tennessee State University

    February 3, 2010

    The Alliance Defense Fund has announced a victory for free speech against yet another unconstitutional security fee. Pro-Life Collegians, a student group at Middle Tennessee State University, was required by the university to pay a fee for campus security to place exhibits through “Justice for All,” a pro-life advocacy group. According to ADF, no university policy requires a group to obtain such security and other groups holding comparable events were not charged a security fee. ADF makes the case for the unconstitutionality of such a fee: In the letter submitted to MTSU officials, ADF attorneys argue that such a vague […]

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