University of Memphis

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

Speech Code Rating

University of Memphis 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.

  • University of Memphis: Student Newspaper Budget Cut Over Content

    August 31, 2012

    In May 2012, the University of Memphis’ Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee (SAFAC) reduced funding for the student newspaper The Daily Helmsman by $25,000, a one-third decrease from the campus publication’s previous funding levels. After concerns were raised about the cuts, SAFAC chair and Dean of Students Stephen H. Petersen questioned “whether the paper is really serving the students of the campus,” and SAFAC member and Student Government Association President Tyler DeWitt made similar content-based statements as reported in the press. FIRE wrote to UM President Shirley C. Raines in August 2011, explaining how the funding cuts violated the Helmsman’s First Amendment […]

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Yellow Light Policies
  • University of Memphis – Student Code – Disorderly Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: September 8, 2015

    Disorderly Conduct. Any individual or group behavior which is abusive, obscene, lewd, indecent, violent, excessively noisy, disorderly, or which unreasonably disturbs institutional functions, operations, classrooms, other groups or individuals (e.g. public urination/defecation, participation in a disruptive or coercive demonstration);

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  • University of Memphis – Student Code – IT Misuse

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 14, 2015

    (bb) Abuse of Computer Resources and Facilities. Misusing and/or abusing campus computer resources including, but not limited to the following:

    . . .

    (5)  Use of computing resources and facilities to send abusive or obscene correspondence;

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  • Tennessee Board of Regents – Policy 3:01:01:00 [Student Organizations – Recognition]

    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes
    Last updated: September 8, 2015

    III. General Policies on Student Organizations

    A. No student organization may carry on any activity on the campus of an institution or school unless the organization has been officially registered by the institution or school.

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  • University of Memphis – Use of Campus Facilities – Posting & Distribution Policy

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: September 14, 2015

    Bulletin Boards/Posting

     

    a. University may establish bulletin boards or approved areas for posting for specific uses and/or entities,

    b. University may identify individual boards/areas and specify or limit the authorized uses and/or entities for such boards/areas as well as the types of materials which may be posted on a board or area, the maximum size and duration of any notice, and any other special conditions on use,

    c. Such limits shall be conspicuously posted on each board or posting area, and shall control the use of the board when posted,

    d. University requires prior approval for the use of any or all bulletin boards or posting areas on campus, and if required, the name of the official authorized to approve use of the board shall be posted on the board. Use of a board may be denied on the basis of one or more of the following:

    (i) The person or group is not authorized to use the board in question;

    (ii) The material is not the type authorized for the board in question, or fails to meet any special conditions as posted on the board;

    (iii) The material is obscene or otherwise violates any federal or state law or regulation of University; or

    (iv) There is insufficient space available for the material on the board in question due to the previous posting of other materials,

    e. Areas not specifically identified and/or authorized for posting are not available for such purpose for any individual or entity, whether affiliated or unaffiliated,

    f. Exceptions to this policy can be made upon approval of the Vice President of Business and Finance.

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  • University of Memphis – Housing Policies

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: September 8, 2015

    III Policies and Conduct – Students must comply will all University of Memphis published rules including the Code of Student Conduct. Residents must also comply with all federal, state and local laws in addition to the following housing policies:

    […]

    c) Personal Conduct

    […]

    7. Rowdy, boisterous, offensive, obscene or disorderly behavior is not permitted. This includes any behavior considered to be aggressive or threatening to others.

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  • University of Memphis – Sign Policy

    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: September 14, 2015

    2. Posting of Signs/Banners

    The placement of signs, banners, posters, and other materials on campus is limited to University departments and activities, registered campus organizations and others as approved pursuant to these guidelines.

    The University retains the right to control and approve the time, manner, and place for all signs, banners, posters, and other materials.

    Signs, banners, posters, and other materials may only be used to provide general information, promote and advertise an on-campus activity or event, advertise student elections and candidates, or serve as a temporary direction or location of an activity or event on campus.

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Green Light Policies
  • Tennessee Board of Regents – Policy 3:02:04:00 [Student Rights and Freedoms]

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 8, 2015

    1. Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of students, and the general well-being of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth. Institutional procedures for achieving these purposes may vary from campus to campus, but the minimal standards of academic freedom of students outlined below are essential to any community of scholars.
    2. Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The freedom to learn depends upon appropriate opportunities and conditions in the classroom, on the campus, and in the larger community. Students should exercise their freedom with responsibility.

    .

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  • University of Memphis – Student Code – Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 8, 2015

    (ee) Harassment. Conduct directed toward another member of the University community that includes, but is not limited to, repeated or continuing unconsented contact that would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress. Harassment does not include constitutionally protected activity or conduct that serves a legitimate purpose.

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  • Tennessee Board of Regents – Policy 3:01:01:00 [Student Organizations – Membership]

    Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience
    Last updated: September 8, 2015

    1. No student organization shall deny membership to any person on the basis of age, race, sex, religion, handicap or national origin, provided that social fraternities and sororities may have sex restricted membership, subject to the following exceptions:
      1. No TBR institution that grants recognition to any student organization shall discriminate against or deny recognition to a student organization, or deny to a student organization access to programs, funding, or facilities otherwise available to another student organization, on the basis of:

        a. The religious content of the organization’s speech including, but not limited to, worship; or

        b. The organization’s exercise of its rights pursuant to subsection 2.

      2. A religious student organization may determine that the organization’s religious mission requires that only persons professing the faith of the group and comporting themselves in conformity with it qualify to serve as members or leaders.

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Not Rated Policies
  • Tennessee Board of Regents – Policy 3:01:01:00 [Student Organizations Hazing]

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 8, 2015

    III. General Policies on Student Organizations

    […]

    (4) No student organization or individual shall engage in or condone any form of hazing. Hazing shall include, but is not limited to:

    1. any action taken, or situation created intentionally, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment or ridicule;
    2. any form of verbal or physical harassment or abuse; and
    3. engaging in public stunts, morally degrading or humiliating behavior or games, whether on or off campus.
    4. Excessive demands on a student’s time so as to interfere with academic performance are prohibited.
    5. Threatening in any manner or form for the purpose of cajoling individuals into secrecy in regard to breaches (planned, threatened, attempted, or perpetrated) of hazing violations also is prohibited.
    6. Hazing activity which is in violation of any other institution regulation such as the misuse of alcohol, drugs, institution property, etc., is strictly forbidden.

     

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  • 5 More of the Worst Free Speech Violations on College Campuses

    September 12, 2012

    On Tuesday, I shared the first half of my list of ten of the most common free speech violations which the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE ) encounters in its work defending campus expression. As I noted yesterday, the list is far from comprehensive, and the offenses listed are in no particular order. They do, however, give a sense of the depth and variety of ways free speech is threatened at our colleges and universities. Here are five more of the most common violations against free speech on campus. Be sure to visit yesterday’s post for the first half of […]

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  • University of Memphis Professor Confuses Vandalism with Free Speech

    February 18, 2014

    Today the University of Memphis’ student newspaper The Daily Helmsman has an article about an art professor who feels he is being penalized for his criticism of the university. According to the Helmsman: An art professor who has been an outspoken critic of the University of Memphis’ administration said he was threatened with criminal prosecution and the loss of his faculty senate seat for stenciling messages on University buildings over winter break. Cedar Nordbye, associate professor, accused University administrators of harassing him for exercising his right to free speech. An artist by profession, Nordbye used acrylic ink to stencil the […]

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  • University of Memphis Slashes Student Newspaper’s Funding [VIDEO]

    January 23, 2014

    On most college campuses, the student newspaper is entrusted with reporting on issues important to the campus community and with holding powerful campus authorities accountable. But after the student newspaper at the University of Memphis found its budget slashed by $25,000 because the student government and university administration didn’t like the paper’s critical, investigative reporting on their activities, The Daily Helmsman’s role as a campus watchdog was threatened. Chelsea Boozer was editor-in-chief of the Helmsman when the paper’s budget was cut in May 2012. In FIRE’s latest video, Boozer talks about the events leading up to the paper’s funding cut and how the actions taken by […]

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  • Liberty Requires Tough Choices: The Student Funding Dilemma

    July 31, 2013

    Kanisha Parthasarathy is a FIRE summer intern. Allocating money to student groups is a tricky game. For many colleges, the amount of money given to groups is not increasing at the same rate as the number of student groups vying for recognition and funding. Funding boards usually solve this problem by creating guidelines to determine how much money a student group gets. The problem arises when these rules are applied without viewpoint neutrality, a requirement for public colleges’ funding boards established by the Supreme Court in Rosenberger v. Rectors of the University of Virginia (1995) and Board of Regents of the […]

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  • Report Details First Amendment Violations Against ‘Helmsman’ and Promises Future Changes

    September 18, 2012

    We’ve kept Torch readers updated on the free speech case involving the University of Memphis (UM) student newspaper The Daily Helmsman, which had $25,000 cut from its funding through a process that strongly suggested the involvement of viewpoint discrimination by the student government body responsible for distributing funding from student activity fees. Fortunately, the sum of the on-record comments and documented exchanges in which the content of the Helmsman was criticized convinced UM of the impropriety of its funding decision, and the Helmsman‘s funding was restored.  FIRE has since received a copy of the results of the investigation conducted by […]

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  • Funding for ‘The Daily Helmsman’ Restored

    September 4, 2012

    As Torch readers may have already noted, FIRE is pleased to report a successful resolution to the funding dispute for The Daily Helmsman at the University of Memphis (UM).  FIRE has been following this case closely since it first began in May, when UM’s Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee (SAFAC) cut the Helmsman’s funding by $25,000. According to several reports, this funding cut was motivated by troubling viewpoint discrimination on behalf of the SAFAC. Both former Student Government Association President Tyler DeWitt and SAFAC Chair Stephen H. Petersen were recorded (in DeWitt’s case, in multiple print venues) expressing their displeasure […]

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  • ‘Memphis Flyer’ Chronicles ‘Helmsman’s’ First Amendment Battles

    August 17, 2012

    Recently the Student Press Law Center publicized the struggles of The Daily Helmsman, the University of Memphis (UM) student newspaper which has had numerous wrangles with the university administration, many involving disputes over the release of public records (including for a rape committed on the UM campus). Most recently The Daily Helmsman saw its funding cut by $25,000 by UM’s Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee, which wasn’t shy about its reasons for doing so. According to the SPLC’s reporting: Helmsman editors said they have been told by several committee members — including student government representatives and university administrators — that […]

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  • University of Memphis Student Fee Board Only Funds Speech it Likes

    August 1, 2012

    The Student Press Law Center is reporting on a ridiculous situation at the University of Memphis. Memphis’s student-run Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee (SAFAC) has voted to reduce the funding for the student newspaper The Daily Helmsman by $25,000, or one-third of its previous funding. Here’s the kicker: Helmsman editors said they have been told by several committee members — including student government representatives and university administrators — that the cuts are due to growing displeasure with the newspaper’s content. If this is true, it represents a grave First Amendment violation. If the University of Memphis, a public institution, wanted […]

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