Missouri State University - West Plains

Public Forum 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.

Location

The basketball court, located adjacent to the residence hall, is the only location on University property designated for campus debates, forums, rallies, demonstrations, peaceful protests and other similar public forum activities. Any individual or organization may use the basketball court 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 who will handle all reservations. Other campus locations for non-academic events and activities are also scheduled through this same procedure.

Time, Place, And Manner Parameters

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. To clarify expected behaviors for campus demonstrations and speakers, the following parameters must be met:

  • The public forum activity is not unlawful and does not violate or conflict with University policies or local, state, or federal laws.
  • The free expression of views and opinions does not violate any rights of others.
  • The public forum activity does not unduly disrupt the educational purposes of the University.
  • The public forum activity does not unduly disrupt traffic, either vehicular or pedestrian.
  • The public forum activity does not jeopardize public or individual safety.
  • The public forum activity does not prevent, unduly obstruct, or interfere with the regular academic and institutional activities, or other approved activities of the University.
  • There may be no amplification equipment used, and no structure(s) may be erected.
  • 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.

Objections to public Forum Activity

The University recognizes that individuals or groups may be opposed to certain campus demonstrations or speakers. Disagreement with different opinions is acceptable; however, hindering or obstructing such demonstrations is counter to creating an environment where issues can be openly discussed. An individual or group wishing to protest at an event may do so as long as any speaker’s right to free speech and the audience’s right to see and to hear a speaker are not violated.

Judicial Action

Violations of this policy are subject to judicial review and disciplinary sanctions, as are demonstrations which become disruptive. Any police arrests and criminal charges of students, faculty, or staff are separate from judicial actions at Missouri State University-West Plains. Students will be processed according to the Code of Students Rights and Responsibilities, as administered by the Office of Student Life and Development. Faculty and staff disciplinary procedures will be processed according to guidelines established by the Faculty Handbook and the Employee Handbook.

University Administration

The Director of Student Services or his/her designee will be responsible for administering this policy. In all events held on campus, a speaker's appearance does not imply acceptance or endorsement by the University of the views expressed.