University of Southern Mississippi

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 5th Circuit

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Speech Code Rating

University of Southern Mississippi 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
  • Policy STUA-UNA-012: Free Speech, Demonstration and Protest Policy

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: October 5, 2018

    1.0     The University has established high visibility areas on campus in order to facilitate robust debate and the free exchange of ideas.  These Free Speech Zones may be used by any person, including non-students and other campus guests:

    1.1      Hattiesburg Campus:
    1.1.1        Shoemaker Square Fountain (Paved area immediately surrounding the fountain)
    1.1.2        Free Speech Area North (Paved area on Southwest corner of HUB, North of the bollards)
    1.1.3        Free Speech Area West (Paved inset area, without bench, West of the Fountain, opening to Centennial Green)

    1.2      Gulf Park Campus:
    1.2.1        Shoo Fly area south of the tennis courts
    1.2.2        Green Space South of Library

    2.0   Areas defined in Section 1.0 may be used without permission from the University by students, faculty or staff so long as they have not been previously reserved or scheduled for a particular function, no sound amplification is used, no structure is erected, and the participants do not violate other University policies.

    4.0     Individual students, faculty or staff have the right of free expression anywhere on campus so long as the expressive activities or related conduct does not violate any other applicable University policies.

    5.0     If a student organization desires to demonstrate in an area of campus outside of the Free Speech Zones or if the student organization intends to advertise for an event or anticipates an event that may draw a large crowd or impede pedestrian or vehicular traffic or will involve a parade, march or other similar activity, the University requires the student organization to complete an event form through the Office of Leadership and Student Involvement (LSI) at least three (3) days in advance of the activity.

    » Read More

Green Light Policies
  • Policy PRES-AA-001: Sexual Misconduct Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: October 5, 2018

    Sexual harassment –Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature (e.g. sexual advances, requests for sexual favors etc.) when: (1) such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive, and objectively offensive to a reasonable person that it produces a hostile environment

    Whether sexual harassment is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive to violate the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy may depend on multiple factors. Not all inappropriate or unwanted sexual conduct is sexual harassment. Whether the unwanted sexual conduct rises to the level of creating a hostile environment will be determined using both a subjective and objective standard.

    » Read More

  • Student Organization Policies: University Anti-Bullying Policy

    Speech Code Category: Bullying Policies
    Last updated: May 18, 2018

    “Bullying or harassing behavior” is defined as any pattern of gestures or written, electronic or verbal communications, or any physical act or any threatening communication, or any act reasonably perceived as being motivated by any actual or perceived differentiating characteristic, that takes place on any property owned or controlled by the University of Southern Mississippi, or during any activity in whatever place sponsored by, directed or controlled by the University of Southern Mississippi, and that also fulfills ONE of the following conditions:

    · EITHER places a student, faculty or staff member in actual and reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property.

    · OR creates or is certain to create a hostile environment by substantially interfering with or impairing a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits.

    “Hostile environment” is defined as the condition wherein the victim subjectively views the conduct as bullying or harassing behavior AND the conduct is objectively severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would agree it is bullying or harassing behavior.

    » Read More

  • Residence Life Handbook: Southern Miss Standard

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: May 18, 2018

    The Southern Miss Standard was developed to embody the values we hope residents possess. At the same time, the University is strongly committed to freedom of expression. Consequently, these principles do not constitute University policy and are not intended to interfere in any way with a resident’s personal freedoms. We hope, however, that residents will voluntarily endorse these common principles, thereby contributing to the traditions and scholarly heritage left by those who preceded them, and will thus leave Southern Miss a better place for those who follow. We encourage residents to demonstrate respect, integrity and compassion in every facet of their University life, thus ensuring the success of each resident. Our community will be our strength as each resident values and appreciates scholarship, service and involvement, and assumes an active role in our society.

    Implicit within the Southern Miss Standard is
    • A respect for the hall environment and university property;
    • A respect for language that is appropriate, never obscene, and neither demeans nor intimidates;
    • A respect for the level of noise at all times and an understanding of how personal noise levels affect others in the community;
    • A respect for the academic community and a commitment to the academic principles of scholarly study and class attendance;
    • A respect for the differences that exist among residents and a commitment to know the members of the floor/hall;
    • A respect for the staff of the hall and compliance with all policies and procedures;
    • A respect and adherence to the principles of truth and honesty;
    • A respect for all safety measures and the adherence to safety practices; and
    • A commitment to refrain from violence when addressing conflict at Southern Miss.


    » Read More

  • Policy ACAF-IT-010: Acceptable Use Policy

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: May 18, 2018

    The following activities are strictly prohibited, without exception: … Any form of harassment via email, telephone, or paging; whether through language, frequency, or size of messages.

    » Read More

  • Faculty Handbook: Harassment

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: May 18, 2018

    This policy applies to all faculty, staff, employees, students, and student-employees with respect to activities occurring on any University property and University-related activities occurring off-campus, including University programs outside the United States.

    Harassment is defined as conduct, based upon a person’s race, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status, that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance or creating an intimidating or hostile environment for employment, education, on-campus living, or participation in a University activity.

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  • Code of Student Conduct: The Creed at Southern Miss

    Speech Code Category: Policies Restricting Freedom of Conscience
    Last updated: May 18, 2018

    While not a part of the Code of Student Conduct, The Creed at Southern Miss is a statement that was endorsed by the Student Government Association to express how students should ideally interact with each other in a community of diverse ideas and opinions. Students are only subject to disciplinary action based on violations of the Code of Student Conduct, and of municipal, state, or federal laws.

    » Read More

  • Alabama, Mississippi Colleges Cited For Free Speech Infringement Policies

    March 6, 2015

    By Johnny Kampis at CULLMAN, Ala. — At Athens State University in Alabama, students can’t transmit online anything deemed “threatening,” annoying” or “offensive.” At the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, student organizations must register with the Office of Student Activities a month in advance before conducting protests or demonstrations. These policies earned those schools a “red light” rating this year from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which issues an annual report examining free speech on the nation’s college campuses. Seventy percent of colleges and universities in Alabama and Mississippi examined by the Philadelphia-based FIRE received red light ratings — 10 […]

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  • Discipline of Southern Mississippi Band Members Raises Possible Free Speech Concerns

    March 21, 2012

    The Associated Press reports that the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has taken disciplinary action against five members of the university’s pep band for chanting “Where’s your green card” at Kansas State University basketball player Angel Rodriguez while he shot free throws during a game against USM last week. The university confirmed in a statement issued yesterday that “[t]he students have had their pep band scholarships revoked, have been removed from the band, and will be required to complete a two-hour cultural sensitivity training course this week.” University sports teams and bands are not independent from the university in the […]

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  • In Mississippi, ‘The Clarion-Ledger’ Reports on Dangers of State Colleges’ Speech Codes

    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