Southwest Minnesota State University

Location: Marshall, Minnesota
Website: http://www.smsu.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 8th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Southwest Minnesota 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
  • Judicial Affairs: Prohibited Code of Conduct- Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 23, 2015

    Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when: … b. Such conduct has the purpose of effect of threatening, or interfering with your work or academic performance. c. In situations where there is a superior/subordinate relationships between parties such as staff and student, faculty and student, or supervisor and staff.

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  • Judicial Affairs: Prohibited Code of Conduct- Respect for Persons/Hazing

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: December 23, 2015

    You are expected to respect the rights and privileges of other members of the University community. Violating this Code of Civility includes, but is not limited to: physical abuse of any person, engaging in brawling, engaging in any boisterous or noisy conduct reasonable tending to arouse alarm, resentment or anger in others, obscene behavior, hazing (defined below) or any conduct which interferes with the rights of others. Conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person is prohibited.

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  • Student Handbook: Freedom of Expression Procedure

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: December 23, 2015

    In an effort to ensure safety and to promote an environment conducive to study, advanced reservation for expressive activity is required (in the form of an approved Reservation Request for Space) for events or activities that are promoted in advance, and/or sponsored by student organizations, and/or expected to draw a crowd of more than 25 people. … If advance reservation is required, (see section III) requests must be made at least five business days in advance of the event.

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  • Minnesota State Colleges & Universities: 1B.1 Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination in Employment and Education

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 23, 2015

    Discriminatory harassment. Discriminatory harassment means verbal or physical conduct that is directed at an individual because of his or her protected class, and that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to have the purpose or effect of creating a hostile work or educational environment.

    As required by law, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities further defines sexual harassment as a form of sexual discrimination which is prohibited by state and federal law. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical conduct, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

    1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education, evaluation of a student’s academic performance, or term or condition of participation in student activities or in other events or activities sanctioned by the college or university; or
    2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions or other decisions about participation in student activities or other events or activities sanctioned by the college or university; or
    3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of threatening an individual’s employment; interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance; or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.

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  • Judicial Affairs: Prohibited Code of Conduct- Discriminatory Harassment; Intolerance/Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: December 23, 2015

    Discriminatory harassment means verbal or physical conduct that is directed at an individual because of his or her protected class, and that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to have the purpose or effect of creating a hostile work or educational environment.

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Student Rights and Responsibilities

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: December 23, 2015

    In addition to the basic constitutional rights enjoyed by all citizens, students in colleges and universities have specific rights related to academic freedom and their status as students. … Individual students and student organizations shall be free to examine and to discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately.

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  • More on Speech Codes at SMSU

    February 26, 2016

    When Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) removed an unconstitutional ban on “cultural intolerance” from its website after being named FIRE’s November 2015 Speech Code of the Month, FIRE quickly updated SMSU’s Spotlight entry and upgraded the university’s rating from “red light” to “yellow light” to reflect the improvement. That should have been the end of the story. But SMSU’s student newspaper, The Spur, is angry that FIRE highlighted the policy in the first place. Because while the policy FIRE highlighted was prominently displayed on the university’s Judicial Affairs’ website in the fall of 2015, an updated version of the policy—not […]

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  • SMSU: Truth Impedes Student Newspaper’s Attempted Hit Piece

    January 29, 2016

    When a university changes a policy following criticism from FIRE, they often tell us either that the policy was under review already—what a coincidence!—or that they had already updated the policy, but had simply failed to post the new one online. In fact, it’s a long-running joke among members of FIRE’s policy review team that our unofficial slogan should be “That policy was already under review.” Generally speaking, universities typically reserve this excuse for correspondence between FIRE and university officials, or maybe a stray remark to a newspaper. The student newspaper at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU), however, has taken […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Southwest Minnesota State University

    November 9, 2015

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for November 2015: Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU). SMSU’s Prohibited Code of Conduct for students bans “cultural intolerance,” defined as follows: Any verbal or physical contact directed at an individual or group such as racial slurs, jokes, or other behaviors that demean or belittle a person’s race, color, gender preference, national origin, culture, history or disability, is prohibited. [Emphasis added.] SMSU is a public university, which means it cannot lawfully maintain policies—such as this one—that violate students’ First Amendment right to free speech. In cases too numerous to mention, courts across the […]

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