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. Outside groups or organizations also post signs when utilizing the University’s designated “free speech” zones. The University allows these practices within regulations designed to reasonably govern the time, place and manner for the protection of the students, University property and the appearance of its campuses. All signs must include the name of the sponsoring student organization, department, group or person. Official signage of The University of Southern Mississippi, building designations, regulatory and traffic control, directional signage, etc., are not governed by this policy. The locations listed below are the only locations where non-official signage may be posted.
Reason for Policy/Purpose
This policy is required for the effective communication of University policy regarding the display of signs on all campuses of The University of Southern Mississippi.
Who Needs to Know This Policy
All members, guests and visitors to any of The University of Southern Mississippi campuses.
Website Address for this Policy
1. Signs that are deemed to be outside the scope of First Amendment protection may be removed. That includes signs containing obscenity and speech inciting individuals to unlawful activities. State and federal constitutional decisions will be used as guidelines for determining speech which is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
2. No Student organization, University department or any other group or organization may 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:
When there is a doubt as to whether 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 Office of Leadership and Student Involvement. 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 will be referred to the Student Judicial Board for student violations and to the appropriate vice president for departmental violations.
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.
b. University-approved student organization and departments may display freestanding signs on campus. The department or student organization name must be printed on the sign. Signs are allowed to remain for a maximum of five days and then must be removed by the sponsoring organization unless a specific extension is granted by Leadership and Student Involvement.
c. Outside or non-campus affiliates are not generally permitted to display freestanding signs on campus. However, in cases where an outside or non-campus group is on-campus at one of the University’s designated “free speech zone” locations to exercise its rights as outlined in the “Free Speech, Demonstration and Protest Policy,” it may display freestanding signs at the immediate site of the protest or demonstration. These signs may only be placed on a paved surface or the unpaved surface immediately adjacent to the free speech zone and must comply with all requirements of the University’s Sign Policy. Signs must be removed immediately upon completion of the protest or demonstration.
d. Signs (not including SGA elections) are allowed to remain for the maximum duration stated above and then must be removed by the sponsoring organization.
e. Freestanding Sign Locations
f. Student Government Association election candidates are permitted to place free-standing signs on campus under the following conditions (neither subsection c nor d above apply to SGA elections):
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 organization 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 the signs.
c. Student organizations are responsible for the nature and content of the handbills and inside signs being posted. The Office of Leadership and Student Involvement and the Department of Union and Programs reserve the right to take down any inappropriate signs on the Hattiesburg Campus. At Gulf Park, the Division of Student Affairs and Office of Leadership and Student Involvement will reserve the right to take down 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 Leadership and Student Involvement 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 by 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 Hattiesburg Campus locations:
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 occurs by the sponsoring organization.
d. Suspended banners are not allowed at Southern Miss Gulf Park. This excludes lawn banners for Homecoming approved by the Office of Leadership and Student Involvement.
a. Only registered student organizations can chalk on campus. Any outside group, non-affiliated with the university is not permitted to chalk on campus.
b. Water-soluble chalk only is allowed in designated areas. Markers, spray chalk, paints or oil-based products are prohibited.
c. 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.
d. The use of chalk on sidewalk and pavement areas is allowed for events only in designated areas:
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 Athletics department 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
j. May not be placed on railings 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 banners 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.
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 inside the residence halls.
The Director of University Union and Hub is responsible for the review of this policy every four years (or whenever circumstances require immediate review).
Event form for student organizations is available at http://www.usm.edu/lsi
Amendments: Month, Day, Year – summary of changes
11/01/11: Formatted for Institutional Policies website.
02/27/13: Formatted for template. Minor editing throughout.
10/24/2014: Updated with technical changes.
8/1/2016: Revised and Updated.