View Speech Code Memorandum for Mississippi State University
Location: Mississippi State, Mississippi
Federal Circuit: 5th Circuit
Mississippi State University has been given the speech code rating Green. Green light institutions are those colleges and universities whose policies nominally protect free speech. Read more here.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
[I]n circumstances in which allegations of sexual misconduct (including sexual harassment) are made against a student, the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy (OP 91.118) applies and shall take precedent over this policy.
As used in this Policy, the following terms have the following meanings:
Harassment: Conduct (physical, verbal, graphic, written, or electronic) that is (1) unwelcome; (2) discriminatory on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, or any other status protected by state or federal law; (3) directed at an individual or group in one of the protected classes outlined in this policy; and (4) so severe or pervasive, and objectively offensive that it unreasonably interferes with the victim’s ability to participate in or to realize the intended benefits of an institutional activity, opportunity, or resource, unreasonably interferes with the victim’s work or living environment, or deprives the victim of some other protected right.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Sexual Harassment: means unwelcome harassment of a sexual nature that is sufficiently severe or pervasive and objectively offensive that it unreasonably interferes with a complainant’s academic performance or equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from the University’s resources and opportunities, unreasonably interferes with the complainant’s work or living environment, or deprives the complainant of some other protected right.
Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
The advertisement, posters, flyers, notices, signs or banners should adhere to all university policies and state and federal laws. Promoting the use of alcohol and/or illegal substances is also prohibited. It may not include any reference to or support of blatant violations of the code of student conduct, residence hall policies, federal, state or local law. The Department of Housing and Residence Life reserves the right to reject any posting.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Harassment is uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct directed at a person because of his or her race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or group affiliation that is either of the following: … Hostile Environment harassment consists of unwelcome conduct when:
* such conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance, thereby creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or learning environment, and
* such conduct is so objectively and subjectively offensive as to alter the conditions of the person’s employment or academic advancement (conduct that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive and one that the victim does in fact perceive to be so). Hostile environment harassment is usually repeated and unwanted behavior, although a sufficiently serious, isolated incident may constitute harassment.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
Mississippi State University recognizes that in the community of scholars there are certain indisputable rights to freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression. The university encourages the search for truth and knowledge and does not abridge searchers’ rights to reveal their findings, by both spoken and written word, even if in so doing they might find themselves at variance with their peers as well as the lay community. To dissent, to disagree with generally accepted truth and knowledge is acceptable. The university also stands for the right of all faculty, staff, and students to pursue their legitimate activities without interference, intimidation, coercion, or disruption. The university affirms all rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
Conduct (physical, verbal, graphic, written, or electronic) that is (1) unwelcome; (2) discriminatory on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, or veteran status; (3) directed at an individual; and (4) so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that a reasonable person with the same characteristics of the victim would be adversely affected to a degree that interferes with his or her ability to participate in or to realize the intended benefits of an institutional activity, opportunity, or resource.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
Examples of inappropriate and unacceptable use of IT resources include, but are not limited to: … Using IT resources to harass or threaten others … Use of IT resources for non-University business or for-profit purposes of the user or for political purposes.
Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
Mississippi State University will protect the rights of freedom of speech, expression, petition, and peaceful assembly as set forth in the U. S. Constitution.
Mississippi State University provides forums for the expression of ideas and opinions, such as the following:
1. Traditional public forums include the university’s public streets, sidewalks, parks, and similar common areas such as the Drill Field. These areas are generally available for expressive activity, planned or spontaneous, for the individual or small group at any time without the need for reservation or prior approval.
March 11, 2015
By Mel Carlock at WTVA News PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WTVA) — Mississippi State and Ole Miss rank high on a new report about free expression on college campuses. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says the schools are among 10 to receive a “Green Light” ranking because campus policies that do not threaten free expression. FIRE looked at policies regarding protest, sexual harrasment, academic freedom, housing policies, student conduct and rules regarding information technology in creating the rankings. The group says 55 percent of the 437 colleges surveyed received a “Red Light” ranking. Those include Alcorn State, Delta State, the University […]» Read More
December 30, 2012
by James Varney The Times-Picayune Here’s a New Year’s wish for 2013: this year, on the 222nd anniversary of the Bill of Rights’ ratification, Louisiana colleges and universities will honor the freedom of speech. Thus far, unfortunately, defending the First Amendment is not a resolution many Louisiana schools of higher learning have kept. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education grades schools nationwide in terms of their commitment to free speech, a thing that, in theory anyway, would need no protection in a genuine marketplace of ideas. In Louisiana, not one of 7 public and 1 private colleges and universities analyzed […]» Read More
December 20, 2012
by Bob Unruh at WND More than six of 10 colleges and universities across the United States have yet to figure out the First Amendment, because their “speech codes” conflict with the Constitution, according to a new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “FIRE surveyed 409 schools for this report and found that over 62 percent maintain severely restrictive, ‘red-light’ speech codes – policies that clearly and substantially prohibit protected speech,” said the executive summary. “That this figure is so large is deeply troubling, but there is good news: for the fifth year in a row, the percentage of schools maintaining […]» Read More
September 11, 2012
As college football enters its third week, the Southeastern Conference continues its stranglehold on the national polls, claiming three of the top seven spots in two separate polls. But it turns out, the SEC has some other rankings to brag about this week. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released its second annual list of Best Colleges for Free Speech, and FIRE’s top seven list includes, you guessed it, three SEC universities. Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville may not be the poster children for SEC football, but they are at the […]» Read More
September 6, 2012
By Joshua Rhett Miller at FoxNews.com Just as college students head off to campus, a list of schools that hold the First Amendment above political correctness is out – with a slew of Southern schools leading the way. The list, released Wednesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), cites James Madison University, the College of William & Mary, the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania for protecting free speech on campus and maintaining policies honoring freedom of expression. “It’s easy for students to get caught up […]» Read More
July 6, 2012
In America, there once was a time when universities restricted where free speech demonstrations could be delivered. Mississippi State University Dean of Students Thomas Bourgeois said MSU was once one of several universities that created “free speech zones” to contain protests in the ’60s and ’70s. These zones were abolished in the ’90s, Bourgeois said, and for the past 10 years, MSU has been working to make its campus friendly for free speech. “It’s not just for students … faculty and staff,” Bourgeois said. “We have a few speakers and other people who want to come to campus and they […]» Read More
June 25, 2012
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is proud of Mississippi State University for being among an elite group of schools nationwide to earn a “green light” designation, FIRE’s highest rating. Robert Shibley, senior vice president for FIRE, explains that only 17 schools nationwide have earned the green light rating, which requires that an institution has no restrictions or rules against student speech. “In many cases, those rules have to do with establishing free-speech zones, which are limited geographical areas where students can speak freely; speech codes, where students are told they can’t say certain things — other sorts of restrictions,” […]» Read More
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 […]» Read More
April 17, 2005
WILMINGTON — The door to the office of Mike Adams, associate professor of criminal justice at UNC-Wilmington, seems more like a window into his soul. The bumper stickers, fliers, advertisements, printouts and photographs attached to the door provide a vivid sociopolitical view of the office’s occupant. Can’t feed ‘em, Don’t breed ‘em. Every fourth baby dies from Choice. Straight white male — The final minority. So you’re a feminist. Isn’t that cute. The door is so cluttered that its earlier decorations have been all but covered — most notably the sign declaring Adams’ office to be the campus “Men’s Resource […]» Read More
December 27, 2013
In a new series here on The Torch, FIRE will be examining some of the best “green light” university policies out there. These policies illustrate how colleges and universities can uphold the First Amendment on campus while still preventing unlawful and actionable conduct. Today, we take a look at how Mississippi State University’s harassment policy protects students’ free speech rights and simultaneously addresses true harassment. As one of the more recent schools to earn an overall green light rating from FIRE, it is no surprise that Mississippi State appears in this series. Indeed, its policy on “Harassment,” found in the Code of Student Conduct, is a model of clarity […]» Read More
September 28, 2012
This year FIRE was proud to add two new schools to our list of institutions that have “green light” policies for free speech: Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi. We also were happy to add both of those schools to our Seven Best Schools for Free Speech list published in The Huffington Post last month. Online student-written news site The College Fix has a good writeup about the list and its new members. Check it out!» Read More
September 12, 2012
Mississippi news outlets continue to celebrate the state’s good record for freedom of speech on its flagship campuses, with both Ole Miss and Mississippi State listed among the top seven colleges for free speech on campus by FIRE. The Dispatch is the latest to remark upon the Magnolia State’s high ranking for freedom of speech, with (of course!) an SEC football angle: As college football enters its third week, the Southeastern Conference continues its stranglehold on the national polls, claiming three of the top seven spots in two separate polls. But it turns out, the SEC has some other rankings […]» Read More
July 11, 2012
The Starkville Daily News of Starkville, Mississippi, draws attention to Mississippi State University’s success in becoming the latest “green light” school in FIRE’s Spotlight database. Not only does MSU’s commendable compliance with the First Amendment match the work done by rival Ole Miss earlier this year, we also hope it encourages many other colleges nationwide to follow MSU’s excellent example. Be sure to check out MSU’s press release celebrating the designation as well.» Read More
June 19, 2012
Here’s today’s press release: STARKVILLE, Miss., June 19, 2012—Free speech is the rule at Mississippi State University (MSU), which no longer maintains any policies restricting student speech protected by the First Amendment. MSU now holds the highest, “green light,” rating for free speech from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). While the overwhelming majority of the nation’s colleges maintain policies infringing upon students’ free speech rights, MSU is now a proud exception as one of just 17 schools nationwide to earn a green light rating. MSU administrators worked with FIRE to address the university’s speech codes. “The entire […]» Read More
May 2, 2012
This Thursday, FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, Will Creeley, will be one of the featured speakers at a Legal Issues Conference to be held at Mississippi State University. The conference, co-sponsored by Mississippi State University, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), and the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management (NCHERM), will discuss the Office for Civil Rights’ new guidelines regarding Title IX and campus responses to sexual harassment and sexual assault. Mississippi State University Legal Issues ConferenceFeaturing Will CreeleyMay 3, 20121 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Due Process and Free Speech2:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. Facebook vs. the […]» Read More
August 16, 2010
In today’s edition of The Clarion-Ledger, the Jackson, Mississippi newspaper reports on speech codes maintained at public colleges statewide. Spurred by FIRE’s recent victory at nearby Hinds Community College, reporter Elizabeth Crisp writes: 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 […]» Read More