Protests & Demonstrations Policy
Custodian of Policy: VP Finance & Administration
Relevant Minnesota State System Policy:
Relevant Policies: Minnesota State Policy 1B.1 Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination in Employment and Education
State of Minnesota Respectful Workplace Policy
MSUM Freedom of Speech Policy
MSUM Facilities and Space Use Policy (currently under development)
Effective Date: October 2016
Last Review: New
Next Review: 2023
At Minnesota State University Moorhead, freedom of expression is vital to our shared goal of the pursuit of knowledge, as is the right of all members of the University community to explore new ideas and learn from one another. To preserve an environment of spirited and open debate, we should all have the opportunity to contribute to intellectual exchanges and participate fully in the life of the University.
This policy is effective on the campus of Minnesota State University Moorhead and any other property controlled by the University. Members of the University community, including employees, students, guests and visitors, are subject to this policy.
Members of the Minnesota State University Moorhead community may exercise their First Amendment rights of free speech on the campus. While the University respects the rights and freedoms of every individual, the University encourages individuals to be guided by the principles outlined in the “Civil Behavior in a University Setting” section of this document.
The University maintains its right to place reasonable restrictions on time, place and manner of expression and prohibits any acts that disrupt the normal operations of the University (e.g. teaching, study, research, administration, meetings and/or other authorized and permissible use of University facilities) infringe on the rights and privileges of others, endanger the safety of any person(s) and/or cause damage to property. While the interpretation of these factors may be subjective, the University must reasonably act in order to protect the members of the University community and any University property. Any member of the University community who engages in disruptive conduct will be subject to disciplinary action and any disruptive guests will be referred to local law enforcement.
In accordance with Minnesota State law, participants in a protest or demonstration must not obstruct the free movement of persons about the campus or block access to and from University offices and/or buildings. In the interest of public safety, attention must be paid to the occupancy limits in the space used. Adherence to building closures is expected of people participating in a protest or demonstration within a University building and University officials will require that protestors or demonstrators leave at the time of building closure.
Application of this policy does not preclude the application of other University or Minnesota State policies or regulations that may be warranted by a situation. Furthermore, a protest or demonstration that significantly disrupts the operations of the University or fails to adhere to building closures may lead to arrest and prosecution for violations of City or State ordinances or State or Federal statutes. Members of the University community may also be subject to disciplinary action.
Civil Behavior in a University Setting
The ideas of different members of the University community will frequently conflict, and we do not attempt to shield people from ideas that they may find unwelcome, disagreeable or even offensive. Nor, as a general rule, does the University intervene to enforce social standards of civility. There are, however, some circumstances in which behavior so violates our community's standards that formal University intervention may be appropriate. The University may restrict expression that violates the law or that is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the University. In addition, the University may reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the ordinary activities of the University.
Advance Arrangements for Public Expression
Minnesota State University Moorhead recognizes that campuses are marketplaces of ideas. Advance notification enables the University to ensure participants’ safety and to assist organizers so the event takes place in a constructive and peaceable manner and does not disrupt the normal functioning of the University.
For events occurring on the campus of Minnesota State University Moorhead or any other property controlled by the University, organizers are required to request approval from MSUM Public Safety at least 48 hours prior to the requested start of any event. MSUM Public Safety will identify a specific outdoor area for the public expression based on the needs of the event.
For events occurring on city sidewalks and streets adjacent to the University, organizers should make appropriate arrangements to acquire city permits and should adhere to city ordinances and applicable state and federal law. http://www.cityofmoorhead.com/departments/administration/city-clerk-s-office/licensespermits
Placards, Banners and Signs
Placards, banners, and signs are generally allowed but may not be dangerous for others or impede the participation of others in the normal life of the University. If the use of placards, banners, and signs are deemed to be dangerous or impede the participation of others, University officials will require the individuals carrying the placards, banners, or signs to move to a different location or remove their materials. Please refer to the MSUM Bulletin Board, Advertising, Graffiti and Publicity Policy, the University Signage policy.
The University reserves the right to control the use of amplified sound devices on campus and any other property controlled by the University. Please refer to the MSUM Outdoor Sound Amplification Policy. If the amplification of sound can be heard in surrounding neighborhoods, organizers need to acquire a City of Moorhead sound amplification permit and adhere to city ordinances and applicable state and federal law. http://www.cityofmoorhead.com/home/showdocument?id=2376
Protest and Demonstration Duration
Protests and demonstrations are normally permitted until or unless University officials determine that University operations have been compromised and/or the rights of others have been significantly infringed. Interference with instruction or regular scheduled events is viewed as particularly disruptive to the University. While the interpretation of these factors may be subjective, the University must reasonably act in order to protect the members of the University community and any University property.
A protest, demonstration or event on campus may invite another form of protest, demonstration or event by persons with views that differ. The University respects the rights and freedoms of every individual and the expression of all parties is important. If protected speech activities combine to become disruptive, the University reserves the right to relocate one or both activities or to maintain a perimeter to promote physical safety.
Speech That Is Not Protected
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution does not protect conduct that threatens the health, safety or welfare of persons. Any speech that inflicts or threatens harm, causes a breach of the peace, incites an individual(s) to commit a crime or causes panic is not considered protected speech. While the interpretation of these factors may be subjective, the University must reasonably act in order to protect the members of the University community and any University property.
In keeping with its long-standing traditions and policies, Minnesota State University Moorhead considers students, employees, applicants for admission or employment, and those seeking access to University programs on the basis of individual merit. The University does not discriminate with regard to race, sex, color, creed, religion, age, national origin, disability, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or other protected classes as required by law (including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972).
The Chief Diversity Officer is the University official responsible for coordinating compliance with this Notice of Nondiscrimination.