Sign Policy

Students, student organizations, faculty, staff and departments commonly post signs in designated locations as a means of informing the university community of events which they are sponsoring. The university allows this practice within regulations designed to reasonably govern the time, place and manner for the protection of the students, university property and the appearance of the campus. All signs must include the name of the sponsoring student organization, department or person. Official signage of The University of Southern Mississippi, building designations, regulatory and traffic control, directional signage, etc., is not governed by this policy. The locations listed below are the only locations where signs may be posted.

A. Content

1. Signs that are deemed to be outside the scope of First Amendment protection may be removed. That includes signs such as obscenity and speech inciting individuals to unlawful activities. State and federal constitutional decisions will be used as guidelines for determination of what speech is protected by the First Amendment.

2. Student organizations and departments may not display signs, printed advertisement materials or wearables on campus that advertise alcoholic beverage companies or alcohol consumption.

B. Administration and Enforcement of Policy

1. Responsibility for assigning building and property liaisons lies with the vice president for finance and administration. Building liaisons may make the decision as to the removal of inside signs and signs posted outside the building’s surrounding areas. If in doubt whether an outside sign should be removed, the following should be contacted:

- Director of Physical Plant: Individual safety or property damage

- Office of the Dean of Students: Content

When there is a doubt that a sign should be removed because of the content, the decision will be made by a committee consisting of two faculty members who have an awareness of First Amendment law appointed by the dean of students and a student appointed by the president of the Student Government Association.

2. People who feel that a sign has been erroneously removed should immediately contact the dean of students. Since time is often an important consideration in these questions, the party involved may request the Student Judicial Board to meet as quickly as possible to determine whether the sign has been improperly removed.

3. While all student organizations, students and departments are subject to the rules and regulations contained within this policy, departments have the discretion of posting signs at their facilities for special events. Student organizations that violate this policy are subject to discipline by the Student Activities Committee. First offense will warrant a letter of warning, while the second offense will result in the president of the student organization being called before the Student Activities Committee. The committee has the right to impose penalties including, but not limited to, fines as well as activity restriction. The Student Activities Committee retains the right to recommend that an organization’s official recognition be withdrawn if serious or continual violation of the policy occurs. Violations by students will be referred to the Student Judicial Board and by departments to the appropriate vice president.

4.  During SGA elections, half of the designated spaces will be allocated to the election commissioner for candidate distribution. Please refer to the SGA Constitution for the sign posting dates.

C. Time, Place and Manner Regulations for Signs

1. Freestanding Signs

a. Signs may be posted in designated areas below; however, no reservation needs to be made to reserve space.

•   Entrance off of W. Fourth Street (across from Ferlise Center)

•   Shoemaker Square – east, west and north end

•   Library and Union Plazas

•   Freshman Quad

•   W. 31st Avenue Plaza

b. Only university-approved student organizations and departments may display freestanding signs on campus.  The department or student organization name must be printed on the sign.  Outside or non-campus affiliates are not permitted to display freestanding signs on campus.

c. Signs (not including SGA elections) are allowed to remain for a maximum of five days and then must be removed by the sponsoring organization.

d. Student Government Association election candidates are permitted to place freestanding signs on campus under the following conditions (Section C does not apply to SGA elections.):

Approved locations: Union and Library Plazas, Shoemaker Square, Freshman Quad, and W. 31st Avenue Plaza

Only one sign may be displayed per candidate per location.  If running on a ticket or as a group, one candidate sign and one group/ticket sign is permitted to be displayed in each approved location.

“Sponsored by SGA” must be printed on every sign.

No signs will be permitted to be displayed until the SGA election commissioner submits the request form with the Office of Student Activities for all candidates at least 48 hours before campaigning is to begin.

SGA election commissioner is responsible for removing all signs the day after the election (SGA constitution, Election Code section 1 A.6).

•  Refer to the SGA constitution, Election Code, section 3, for sign posting dates and other applicable policies.

2. Inside Signs

a. Handbills (posters, bulletins, flyers, and notices) shall be posted on inside bulletin boards and designated areas in university buildings by student organizations or campus departments only.

b. Each building manager, acting in accordance with these guidelines, may publish written regulations concerning the placing of signs on interior bulletin boards or designated areas of their building.  Only when available space on these surfaces becomes a problem may a building manager limit the size of signs.

c. Student organizations are responsible for the nature and content of the handbills and inside signs being posted.  The Office of Student Activities and the Department of Union and Programs reserve the right to take down any inappropriate signs.

d. The University of Southern Mississippi prohibits the posting or display of these signs by student organizations or departments outside of designated areas.  This includes the exterior of any university building, telephone/utility pole, tree, sidewalk, window, trash can, or any other exterior surface located on the campus, including vehicles.  The Office of Student Activities reserves the right to take disciplinary action against any student organization that does not follow this policy.

e. Non-university affiliates who wish to hang signs that advertise similar products or services currently offered at the university will not be permitted (i.e. apparel, food service, lodging, etc.).

3. Suspended Banners

a. Banners will be hung no higher than six feet in the following locations:

•   Entrance off W. Fourth Street by the residence hall

•   Entrance off W. Fourth Street in front of the Payne Center

•   Other areas approved by the director of Union and Programs

b. Banners should not obstruct the sidewalk or interfere with traffic.

c. Banners may remain posted for a maximum of five days, at which time the space may be renewed if available.  All signs should be removed after the event by the sponsoring organization.

4. Chalking

a. Water-soluble chalk is only allowed in the designated areas.  Markers, spray chalk, paints or oil-based products are prohibited. 

b. Chalking may occur only on horizontal, designated spaces.  No chalking is allowed on brick areas, buildings, trash receptacles, steps, fountains, benches, tables, light posts, columns and any other vertical areas.

c. The use of chalk on sidewalk and pavement areas is allowed for events only in designated areas:

•   Union Plaza

•   W. 31st Avenue

•   Freshman Quad area

d. The Freshman Quad area requires approval through the Department of Residence Life.

e.  Organizations using these designated areas are then responsible for the cost of having Physical Plant clean the chalked area if it has not been cleaned by the organization within 24 hours after the event.

5. M.M. Roberts Stadium: Generally, signs and banners are permitted at athletic events.  The Department of Athletics recognizes that banners/signs can positively contribute to an event but must adhere to the following conditions.  Banners and signs

               a. May not be attached to posts, standards or sticks;

               b. May not obstruct sight lines of others in attendance;

               c. May not block or detract from sponsor signage;

               d. Must be in good taste and show good sportsmanship;

               e. May not contain objectionable language or innuendo;

               f. Should be positive in nature and relate to the event;

               g. May not have the potential to incite others;

               h. May not detract from the event;

               i. Must be used in a safe manner; and

               j. May not be placed on railing or game goals.

These standards are at the complete discretion of athletic event management personnel and/or law enforcement.  The Department of Athletics reserves the rights to disallow signs and banner at any event without notice.

6. Residence Halls

a. All signs belonging to anyone other than Residence Life staff, the Residence Hall organizations or Hall Councils therein, must have their signage pre-approved by the Residence Hall Association before having it placed within the residence halls.

b. Anything posted must be sponsored by a registered student organization of the university.

c. Inside signage locations, excluding glass and painted surfaces, will be determined by the residence hall staff.

•   The minimum size of all inside signs is 8.5 x 11 inches.

•   Tattered and torn signs that have become “roughed” to the extent that they are no longer legible will be removed by the residence hall staff.

•   Signs will be posted by the residence hall staff and will be removed within 24 hours of the advertised event.

•   Students and student organizations may register up to two inside signage request per week per hall.

•   Once the signage is approved by the Residence Hall Association, the organization may begin printing the signage and may return it to the RHA Center to be dispersed to the residence hall staff for posting.

d. Student organizations may not place signage on the outside of residence halls for any reason.

e. Student organizations that place signage inside the residence halls without prior consent from the Residence Hall Association will be subject to suspension of posting signage in the future, which will be determined by the Residence Hall Association.

f. Departments of the university should contact the Student Housing Administration clerk in the Department of Residence Life in an effort to post signage in the residence halls.