Missouri State University

Committee on Freedom of Expression Policies and Procedures Charge

TO:
Howard Cavner, Chair, Community Representative 
John Catau, University College 
Lynn Cline, Library 
Jan Horton, Community Representative 
Don Landon, Emeritus Professor
Millie Lewis, Equity & Diversity 
David Lutz, Psychology 
Victoria Moger, Student Representative 
Melissa Ohlfest, Student Representative
FROM:
Michael T. Nietzel
President
SUBJECT:
Committee of Freedom of Expression Policies and Procedures

Thank you for agreeing to serve on the ad hoc Committee on Freedom of Expression Policies and Procedures. This was one of the two committees that I announced as part of the University's response to the Emily Brooker lawsuit which alleged that her freedom of expression had been violated in the Social Work program.

Simply stated, your charge is to review and evaluate existing University policies and procedures regarding the manner by which Missouri State University provides for freedom of speech and expression on campus. The University has endorsed a Declaration of Community Principles; it has a well-developed Code of Students Rights and Responsibilities; it publishes numerous academic regulations and policies governing numerous aspects of students' academic performance and evaluation; it has established grievance procedures for employees and students, and it has created an Office of Equity and Diversity to handle a variety of student and employment-related complaints. Specifically, I would like for the committee to consider these major questions:

  • Are these various policies clear, and they do they adequately communicate the University's commitment to basic individual rights, with particular attention to freedom of expression?
  • Are there any omissions in our policies and procedures concerning these rights that should be addressed?
  • Are grievance and complaint procedures clearly communicated and adequate for the array of issues that can be implicated in this area of concern?

Although I do not want to limit unduly your investigation of these matters, I would like you to concentrate on these issues specifically as they relate to students as they participate in the University's instructional programs. Please offer any recommendations that you believe would improve this University's ability to offer a rigorous education that engenders, as it often must, vigorous debate, but at the same time ensures an environment that promotes learning and permits individuals to exchange ideas in honest and civil ways and to share differences in a respectful and tolerant manner.

In the near future, Howard Cavner will contact you to schedule the first meeting of the committee, which I anticipate will be shortly after the start of the new year. I would like to have your report and recommendations no later than April 1, 2007.