Free Speech and Assembly

 Free Speech and Assembly Policy

University of Southern Mississippi, April 2015


A.      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:


a.       Weathersby Lawn

b.      Union Plaza

c.       Shoemaker Square

d.      Kennard-Washington Lawn

e.       Centennial Lawn


B.       These may be used without permission from the University so long as the area has 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.

For a person using these free speech zones to obtain prior permission, they should visit the Dean of Students’ office 48 hours in advance in order to make adequate arrangements for safety and security and to insure the space desired is available. Any speakermaybe deniedoraskedto leave ifthe speechconstitutesanimmediate andserious danger tothe institution's orderlyoperation by thespeaker's incitement of suchactions by:


1.   The willfuldamage or destruction orseizure andsubversion of the institution's buildings orother property;

2.   The forcible disruptionorimpairmentorinterferencewith the

        institution's regularlyscheduledclasses orother educational functions;

3.   The physical harm,coercion,intimidation or otherinvasion oflawfulrights of the institution's officials,facultymembers orstudents; or

4.   Other campus disorderofa violentnature.


Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as limiting the right of student expression elsewhere on the campus so long as the expressive activities or related student conduct does not violate any other applicable University policies.


C.         Demonstrations or protests sponsoredbya student organization must be registered with the OfficeofStudentActivities. If a student organization desires to demonstrate in “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 Student Activities in advance of the activity. The Office of Student Activities will work with the organization to meet the request or find a suitable time and location that balances the rights of the student organization with the rights of others and the University’s educational mission. The purpose of this policy is not to designate University streets and common areas as a public forum or to accommodate demonstrations or protests by those who are not part of the University community (non-students and other campus guests). Rather, the purpose of this policy is to promote and facilitate student expression while allowing the University to make any necessary arrangements (such as arranging parade route, providing security) to assure such activities do not interfere with the University’s mission and operations or with the rights of others. Should an outside group or individual student wish to conduct an organized demonstration or to demonstrate in areas other than the “free speech zones”, the group should seek the sponsorship of a registered student organization.