Missouri State University

Expressive Activity Policy

Missouri State University is committed to providing an environment where issues can be openly discussed and explored. The freedom to exchange views is essential to the mission of the University. This policy is in place to provide a community environment in which open discussion can occur without disrupting the academic mission or daily University functions, subject to constitutional time, place, and manner limitations and without unconstitutionally interfering with the rights of other members of the University community.

Members of the University Community

All members of the Missouri State University community, which includes students, faculty, and staff, are encouraged to exercise the right of assembly, free speech and expression throughout the campus, when doing so does not disrupt the academic mission or daily University functions. Expressive activities will not be limited to any specific location on the University campus. However, the right of assembly and expression does not include unlawful activity that endangers the safety of the campus community or that destroys University property. Forums, rallies, demonstrations, and other similar expressive activities are also not to occur within academic or other University buildings including University residence halls and apartments, or Greenwood Laboratory School. Expressive activities are not to unduly disrupt traffic, either vehicular or pedestrian or violate other time, place and manner parameters specified in this policy.

The Bear Paw, located in the North Mall, is a location that was constructed for forums, rallies, demonstrations, and other similar limited public forum activities. While members of the University community are not restricted to the Bear Paw for expressive activities, any member of the University community may use the Bear Paw without prior reservation on a first come, first served basis. The Bear Paw may also be reserved through the Conference Services Office (417-836-5653). Organizations or individuals who reserve the Bear Paw have priority.

Members of the University community may also reserve other locations on campus for expressive activities through Conference Services. To ensure priority use and to avoid possible conflict with scheduled University activities, reservations are recommended but are not required. Amplification equipment shall be limited to activities held at the Bear Paw.

External Groups and Individuals (for non-commercial expressive activities)

Any non-University individual or group is welcome to share an opinion or viewpoint with the University community. Access for public forums is provided on the city sidewalks that run parallel to the city streets that surround and cross the campus, subject to relevant city ordinances, state and federal law. A map* of public forum locations and city streets and sidewalks is available through the Conference Services Office and from the Office of Safety and Transportation. Access is also provided at identified public forum locations.

Forums, rallies, demonstrations, and other similar expressive activities conducted by individuals and groups that are not members of the University community must be registered with the Office of Safety and Transportation (636 E Elm, phone 417-836-5509). The identified public forum locations are available for use or reservation by non-University individuals and groups. Access to the identified public forum locations is provided on a content neutral basis. Any denial of access will specify the reasons for which registration is denied, and offer an appeal procedure. The following time, place, and manner parameters apply to public forum locations as well as to expressive activities of members of the University community in other locations.

Time, Place and Manner Parameters

The following are parameters for the time, place, and manner of activities:

  • The activity does not violate local ordinances or state or federal laws.
  • The activity does not unduly disrupt traffic, either vehicular or pedestrian.
  • The activity does not create unreasonable safety risks.
  • There shall be no defacement or destruction to University property.
  • Amplification equipment shall be limited to activity held at the Bear Paw.
  • No event may exceed 8 hours in length in a 24 hour period.
  • The location will be left in its original condition at the conclusion of the event, and reasonable charges or deposits may be imposed to enforce this requirement.
  • Expression that is obscene, defamatory, or consists of fighting words, threats of physical harm, insightful of imminent lawless action or otherwise not entitled to protection as expression is not permitted.

Public Forum Locations

Public forum locations for individuals and groups which are not members of the University community include the following locations (other locations are identified in the Advertising, Distribution and Solicitation Policy for commercial activities). No amplification is permitted at these sites (except at the Bear Paw). These locations are made available on a content neutral basis subject to the defined time, place and manner parameters.

  1. The Bear Paw, located in the North Mall
  2. Trottier Plaza, located at the northwest entrance to Plaster Sports Complex
  3. Strong Hall Amphitheater, located outside the east entrance to Strong Hall

Objections to Expressive Activities

The University recognizes that individuals or groups may be opposed to certain expressive activities or speakers. Disagreement with different opinions is acceptable; however, use of violence or violation of law or University policy is counter to creating an environment where issues can be openly discussed. An individual or group wishing to protest an event is subject to the same standards as the presenters. Individuals who choose to listen bear the responsibility of recognizing and honoring the right of free speech.

Response to Violations

Violations of this policy by individuals who are not members of the University community may result in removal from campus, police arrest and criminal charges. Members of the University community are subject to judicial review and disciplinary sanctions. Students will be subject to procedures established in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Faculty and staff disciplinary procedures will be processed according to guidelines established in the Faculty Handbook and the Employee Handbook. Any police arrest and criminal charges of students, faculty, or staff are separate from University judicial review or disciplinary sanction. 

Related Policies

Related guidance for expressive activities is included in the University Advertising, Distribution and Solicitation Policy.

Adopted by the Board of Governors: January 16, 2004.

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