Missouri State University - West Plains

Freedom of Expression

Missouri State University-West Plains is a public, two-year, open admission, separately accredited campus of the Missouri State University system. It is a campus that values diversity, intellectual dialogue and free speech. It is a campus that promotes its values widely and makes these values known publicly through the Course Catalog, as well as a number of publications and websites that include:

For student issues, a number of relevant sections from these documents are presented in this document to help the reader conveniently find and be aware of our institutional policies on freedom of expression. It is also important to know that a mechanism exists to allow a student to raise concerns including free speech, censorship, restrictive perspectives, or abuse of intellectual authority. Simply stated, a student with an academic concern should express that concern to the faculty member. If the issue is not resolved, the student should immediately share that concern with the division chair in an effort to reach a resolution. If resolution at this level is not successful, the student should then present his/her concern to the Dean of Academic Affairs. If the issue remains unresolved, the student may take the concern to the Chancellor. A student may always contact the Affirmative Action Liaison for assistance. Faculty and staff may also refer to the appropriate information and citations contained in this document and the documents listed above.

Specific citations from referenced documents appear in the following sections for your convenience.

  1. Declaration of University Community Principles

    Preamble: A University is a community whose common purpose is the creation, preservation, and sharing of knowledge.
  2. Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities

    1.2 Federal and State constitutional guarantees of free inquiry, expression, and assembly are specifically restated as guarantees on this campus.

    1.3 Students are free to pursue their educational goals and to have appropriate opportunities for learning in the classroom and on the campus as shall be provided by the University.

    1.6 Discussion and expression of all views relevant to the subject matter is permitted in the classroom subject only to the responsibility of the instructor to maintain order and a climate conducive to learning, within the stated goals and purposes of the University.

    1.7 All students shall have the right to be protected from prejudiced academic evaluations unrelated to academic performance based on the student’s views, opinions, political associations, organizational memberships, or the instructor’s biases based on the character of the student. Furthermore, all students shall have the right to appeal a grade to the instructor, the Division Chair, and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

    1.8 Discussion and expression not inconsistent with the laws of the State and the United States, and in the manner, time, and place prescribed by University policy, are permitted within the institution. Support of any cause by orderly means is permitted, subject to the paramount rights of the University, the safety and rights of individuals, the protection of property, and the continuity of the educational process.

    1.9 The University encourages expression of informative and differing viewpoints on issues and will support the presence on the campus of responsible persons representing various views. The University reserves the right to specify the conditions of time, place, and manner of speakers through the University Public Forum Policy.

  3. Expressive Activity Policy

    Missouri State University-West Plains is committed to providing an environment where issues can be openly discussed and explored. The freedom to exchange views is essential to the life of the University. In order to provide an atmosphere in which open communication can occur without disrupting the academic mission or daily University functions, this policy is in place to govern campus demonstrations and speakers.

    All members of Missouri State University-West Plains, which includes students, faculty, and staff, have the right to freedom of speech and expression. The University encourages a balanced approach in all communications and the inclusion of contrary points of view. This freedom, however, is subject to reasonable restrictions of time, place and manner, as described herein, with such restrictions being applied without discrimination toward the content of the view being expressed, or the speaker.

    Missouri State University-West Plains has identified three locations designated for campus debates, forums, rallies, demonstrations, peaceful protests and other similar public forum activities. These locations are:

    • The outdoor, concrete basketball and recreation area adjacent to the Student Recreation Center and Grizzly House residence hall;
    • The grassy area between Looney Hall and Garnett Library and
    • The open, grassy area west of and adjacent to Gohn Hall.

    Any individual or organization may use one or more of these locations to address the campus community on a first-come, first-served basis. However, all such activities must first be registered with the Office of Student Life and Development which will handle all reservations. Other campus locations for non-academic events and activities are also scheduled through this same procedure.

    The right of free speech and expression does not include unlawful activity or activity that endangers the safety of the campus community or the threat of damage to University facilities and property. In addition, this right does not permit the disruption of the normal operations of the University.  Furthermore, expression that is obscene, defamatory, or consists of fighting words, threats of physical harm, insightful of imminent lawless action, or vulgar to the extent not entitled to protection as expression is not permitted as part of a campus public forum activity.

  4. Due Process

    A University is a community with a broad based constituency and the opportunity for divergent opinions. As such, there is a possibility for conflict and disagreement. Due process is carefully identified in each respective policy to allow for the thoughtful and appropriate resolution to the disagreement or conflict. This process allows for civil discussion and various levels of appeal to individuals with the authority and responsibility for reaching a decision on issues.