University of South Dakota

Location: Vermillion, South Dakota
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 8th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of South Dakota 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

  • Free Speech Policy

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: September 24, 2015

    All free speech protests/demonstration on the campus of the University of South Dakota will be restricted to the appropriate Free Speech areas on campus and must be approved by the Muenster University Center Administration.

    b. Areas available for Free Speech:

    i. Inman Field

    ii. North of Old Main

    iii. Other areas as approved

    Anyone wishing to protest or demonstrate must complete a Non-Commercial Free Speech Request Form ( and make reservations at least three (3) days prior to the event.


    » Read More

  • Guidelines for the Awareness and Prevention of Acts of Cultural Insensitivity and Bullying at USD

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: September 24, 2015

    Two critical issues that lead to a negative climate for and experience of diverse students are cultural acts of insensitivity and “bullying.” Making fun of or degrading individuals and the groups to which they belong is considered an act of cultural insensitivity. Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior that is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying is repeated, deliberate and disrespectful behavior that has the intent of hurting someone else. Teasing, making fun of, laughing at or harassing someone over time is bullying. Bullying hurts, creates a negative climate and can disrupt another student’s ability to function, sleep, concentrate and to be academically successful. Below are some guidelines for the awareness of and prevention of acts of cultural insensitivity and bullying at USD.

    1. Teasing and laughing at someone on the basis of weight/height, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and other personal and group characteristics is a form of bullying. It violates the university standards and values of diversity and inclusiveness. Moreover, this type of bullying can lead to disciplinary action by the university.

    2. Incidents of defacing personal property (room doors, decorations, walls, etc.) by writing or drawing racial, sexist or heterosexist and other insensitive expressions aimed at individuals can easily turn into a “hate” crime that carries serious legal penalties for the perpetrators. At the very least, students who perpetrate such actions could be reported to the Student Rights and Responsibilities Office of Student Services and face serious consequences including suspension.

    3. Often students engage in the acts of cultural insensitivity and bullying in what they consider “having fun” or “being funny”. There is nothing funny about these incidents and have the effect of hurting the people to whom they are directed.

    4. Just as “bullies” hurt people, so do the students who stand-by and do nothing to help the targets of bullying. The same is true of acts of cultural insensitivity. If you discover that someone is being harassed or bullied, speak up against the behavior and report the incident to university staff. Also, be aware if a student is being abused psychologically, emotionally or physically by anyone (e.g., boyfriend, partner, roommate, friend, etc.) and report it to the proper authorities.

    5. Using university property (i.e. the USD Internet server) to bully other students (cyber bulling) or express feelings of hatred via Facebook, Twitter, email or other forms of social media is not allowed per university policy that governs the use of USD resources and facilities.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Harassment Including Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 24, 2015

    Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual violence is a form of sexual harassment prohibited by Title IX.

    » Read More

Yellow Light Policies
Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Freedom of Speech

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: September 24, 2015

    The institutions shall ensure the rights of free speech and expression and shall encourage the timely and rational discussion of topics whereby the ethical and intellectual development of the student body and general welfare of the public may be promoted.

    » Read More

  • South Dakota Board of Regents Policy Manual: Harassment Including Sexual Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 24, 2015

    Harassment on the basis of sex, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, gender, gender identity, transgender, sexual orientation, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status or harassment on any other status that may become protected under law against discrimination or on any grounds, directed against individuals, may be established by showing,

    1) Conduct toward another person that has the purpose or the effect of creating an objectively and subjectively intimidating, hostile or demeaning environment that substantially interferes with the individual’s ability to participate in or to realize the intended benefits of an institutional activity, employment or resource.

    Harassment shall be found where, in aggregate, the incidents are sufficiently pervasive or persistent or severe that a reasonable person with the same characteristics of the victim of the harassing conduct 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, employment or resource. … If the victim does not subjectively perceive the environment to be hostile, the conduct has not actually altered the conditions of participation and there will be no violation of this policy.

    Other conduct that is extreme and outrageous exceeding all bounds usually tolerated by polite society and that has the purpose or the substantial likelihood of interfering with another person’s ability to participate in or to realize the intended benefits of an institutional activity, employment or resource.

    » Read More

  • Speech Crimes on Campus

    December 9, 2015

    By Staff at The Wall Street Journal The student censors at Yale claimed a scalp—pardon the micro-aggression—this week when lecturer Erika Christakis resigned her teaching position on childhood education. She had been pilloried for asking in an email if students weren’t too sensitive if they are offended by politically incorrect Halloween costumes. Yale’s powers-that-be ducked and covered in response, but the news on campus isn’t all bad, according to a forthcoming report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (Fire). The foundation’s annual survey of 440 colleges—comprising 336 four-year public and 104 private institutions—finds that the share of schools maintaining […]

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  • College Athletes Caught in Tangled Web

    May 24, 2006

    Four San Diego State students recently logged on to a computer and did what thousands of other college students do these days during their spare time. They were having fun on, posting personal party pictures and commentaries about life in college. Some included references to drinking alcoholic beverages and snide remarks about recent soccer practices, according to a student colleague of the four. But because the four students were athletes – in this case women’s soccer players – they suffered a penalty for it. When they didn’t heed their coach’s warning to stop posting on the site, they were […]

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  • The Mystery of the Missing Free Speech Zone

    December 12, 2014

    FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project has already seen several victories for free expression on campus. Earlier this month, two institutions agreed to revise their speech codes and abolish their “free speech zones” within a day of each other—but far too many institutions still maintain such zones. A thoughtful editorial published in the University of South Dakota’s student-run newspaper The Volante on Wednesday criticizing the school’s limitations on speech led FIRE staff to take a closer look at USD’s free speech zones, and we made a bizarre discovery. One of USD’s free speech zones doesn’t exist. USD lists in […]

    » Read More