FREE SPEECH, DEMONSTRATION AND PROTEST POLICY
A policy has been established to facilitate free speech, demonstrations and protests on campus. Students and others should understand the parameters for such events.
Reason for Policy/Purpose
This policy is required for the effective communication of university policy regarding free speech, demonstrations and protests on campus.
Who Needs to Know This Policy
All members of The University of Southern Mississippi community.
Website Address for this Policy
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 ensure the space desired is available. Any speaker may be denied or asked to leave if the speech constitutes an immediate and serious danger to the institution’s orderly operation by the speaker's incitement of such actions by:
1. The willful damage or destruction or seizure and subversion of the institution's buildings or other property;
2. The forcible disruption or impairment or interference with the institution’s regularly scheduled classes or other educational functions;
3. The physical harm, coercion, intimidation or other invasion of lawful rights of the institution’s officials, faculty members or students; or
4. Other campus disorder of a violent nature.
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. 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 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.
The Director of Union and Programs is responsible for the review of this policy every four years (or whenever circumstances require immediate review).
Amendments: Month, Day, Year – summary of changes
04/12/13: Formatted for template. Minor editing throughout.
10/17/13: Revised - expanded free speech zones and changed registration authority.06/23/15: Revised – deleted no. 5 from Section B, removed one month notice requirement in Section C, clarified purpose of policy in Section C, corrected title of policy reviewer to reflect recent change in title, and made other minor changes.