Montana State University

Location: Bozeman, Montana
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 9th Circuit

Tell Montana State University to revise its speech policies by filling out this form.

Speech Code Rating

Montana 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.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.
Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Conduct Code: Proscribed Conduct- Theft/Misuse of Property

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: October 24, 2017

    Use of computing facilities to send harassing or abusive messages.

    » Read More

  • Board of Regents Policy & Procedures Manual: Policy 1304.1- User Responsibilities- Students

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: October 24, 2017


    Examples of Misuse of Information Technology Resources

    The following items represent, but do not fully define, misuse of information technology resources. Note that many of these examples may be considered appropriate uses of technology resources in specific academic contexts; determination of academic appropriateness is the initial responsibility of the user’s academic supervisor (e.g., instructor, department chair, dean, or provost). … Using resources for derogatory, racially offensive, sexually offensive, harassing, threatening, or discriminatory purposes.

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  • Bias and Bias Related Incidents

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech
    Last updated: October 24, 2017

    Bias can be defined as an inclination, temperament or prejudice for or against persons because of their memberships in a protected class, especially in a way considered to be unfair. While bias can take many shapes, it typically results in a state of emotional discomfort and insecurity for the victim. An incident that is motivated by bias may include such things as offensive conduct or language toward a person or group because of membership in a protected class. It may also include discrimination or expressions of disrespect motivated by bias or hate against actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, genetic discrimination or veteran status.

    MSU values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas and, in particular, the expression of controversial ideas and differing views that is a vital part of the academic discourse and intellectual growth.

    The conduct underlying some bias incidents might be protected speech, but still violate the Montana State University’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Constitutional rights will continue to be protected, and University community members will also exercise the right to speak, engage in educational dialogue, and seek a constructive response rooted in the university’s mission and vision.

    Although students have a fundamental right to free speech, this does not preclude Montana State University from taking action when a student’s speech or expression has impacted another student, faculty or staff’s ability to work and learn in an environment free of bias.

    » Read More

  • Residence Hall Handbook: Decorations/Room Displays

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: October 24, 2017

    Possessions or displays which are inconsistent with accepted standards or University policies should not be displayed on the outside of room doors or in general view of the public. This includes your room windows.

    For example, posters of nude persons, and harassing or intimidating visual materials are generally considered inappropriate. Some room displays in public view may constitute a violation of University policies including, but not limited to, racial and sexual harassment.

    » Read More

  • Student Conduct Code: Proscribed Conduct- Assault and Harm to Persons

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: October 24, 2017

    Bullying and Cyberbullying are repeated and/or severe aggressive behaviors that intimidate or intentionally harm or control another person physically or emotionally, and are not protected by freedom of expression.

    » Read More

  • Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking and Retaliation

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 24, 2017

    Please do not wait to report conduct of concern until harassment becomes sufficiently serious (i.e., severe, pervasive, or persistent) to create a hostile environment. The RO can take proactive steps to prevent harassment from continuing and perhaps escalating and to protect or otherwise assist the person harassed. For example, in the case of a student experiencing harassment, the University can arrange for no-contact orders, counseling and changes in class schedules, living arrangements, class requirements, and testing schedules as needed. The RO can also provide expertise and advice to help identify conduct that might be a warning sign of or constitute sexual harassment or hostile environment harassment prohibited by this policy and address concerns appropriately.

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

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

    Hostile Environment Harassment: A Hostile Environment based on race, color, religion, national origin, creed, service in the uniformed services, veteran’s status, sex, age, political ideas, marital or family status, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation exists when harassment:

    • 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
    • when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or academic performance.

    » Read More

Green Light Policies
  • MSU Policies and Procedures: Free Speech Policy

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: October 24, 2017

    MSU recognizes the First Amendment rights to expression.  These rights include individual and group activities including but not limited to:

    • Assembling,
    • Demonstrating,
    • Signing,
    • Pamphleting,
    • Structuring, and
    • Political campaigning.

    » Read More

  • Student Conduct Code: Proscribed Conduct- Harassment, Hazing, and Bystanding

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 24, 2017

    A.Harassment includes but is not limited to verbal, psychological, graphic and/or written abuse directed at another, beyond a reasonable expression of opinion, which:

    1. Is threatening or carries with it the intention to do bodily harm; or
    2. Disrupts or undermines a person’s exercise of their responsibilities as a student, faculty or staff member including unreasonably interfering with a person’s educational or work performance.

    » Read More

At present, FIRE does not maintain information on this school's policies.
  • SPLC: Montana State Court Latest to Apply Common Sense to Colleges’ FERPA Excuses

    March 5, 2012

    Over on the Student Press Law Center’s blog, Frank LoMonte has an excellent post calling attention to a recent decision by a Montana state court in the case of Bozeman Daily Chronicle v. Montana State University.  The case concerned Montana State University’s refusal to fulfill an open records request made by student journalists seeking documents about a professor’s alleged misconduct. The university had refused to turn over the records, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that limits schools from disclosing student files in certain instances. But as the SPLC and FIRE know all too […]

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  • Montana State University Passes New Policy Expanding Areas for Free Speech on Campus

    October 6, 2011

    Students at Montana State University – Bozeman (MSU) will now enjoy a much-improved right to engage in free speech and expressive activity on their campus. That’s because, as reported by the MSU student newspaper The Exponent, the Montana State University Council has passed a revised version of MSU’s Freedom of Expression Policy that appears to greatly expand the availability of campus space for speech activity. According to the Exponent article, Previously, free speech zones on campus were only located in front of Montana Hall, in front of Bobcat Stadium and on the sidewalk areas near the fieldhouse entrances. However, the […]

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