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New Policies Designed to Help Campus Community, Visitors Understand Rights Related to Protests and Use of Public Spaces

Committee of experts from law, political science, health and safety, public affairs, and journalism worked on policies for 15 months.

April 27th, 2017

Story Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­—University of Missouri officials announced today new and revised policies that will help the campus community and visitors understand their rights and responsibilities related to campus protests and the use of public space. Experts from law, political science, law enforcement, health and safety, public affairs, and journalism were consulted during the creation of the policies and procedures. The Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Protests, Public Spaces, Free Speech and the Press, which was created by Interim Chancellor Hank Foley and Faculty Council Chair Ben Trachtenberg, worked on the policies for nearly 15 months and received feedback from every area of campus.

“I tip my hat to the committee members and all those who spent countless hours working on these very important policies and revisions,” said Hank Foley, interim chancellor. “Free speech and the ability to engage in our democratic process in public spaces is vital to the future of the United States and core to the mission of the University of Missouri. As a land-grant, public research university, we are a marketplace of ideas; these new policies and revisions affirm our commitment to that philosophy, and we will uphold these constitutional rights to the best of our abilities.”

The new policies can be found in the MU Business Policy and Procedural Manual:

“It’s often said that out of challenge comes opportunity. After the stressful events our campus experienced in the fall of 2015, our campus – students, staff and faculty – has exercised leadership in developing policies that promote free expression, celebrate peaceful protest and dissent, and articulate standards for the responsible and reasonable exercise of these rights,” said Bob Jerry, Isidor Loeb Professor of Law and chair of the committee. “The Committee worked hard for many months, and the results – the commitment to free expression; the recommended policy; and the guiding principles – together constitute one of the strongest affirmations by any university in the country of the rights held by members of the university community to free expression, assembly, protest and dissent. I believe these policies can serve as a model that universities throughout the nation will want to study, and perhaps emulate or adopt.”

The committee first met in February 2016 and submitted a draft of the new and revised policies to the campus community in May 2016. Input from the campus community was gathered and submitted to university administration in October 2016; the new and revised policies were sent through a final approval process to be included in MU’s Business Policy and Procedural Manual. Final approval was obtained on April 20, 2017. The policies are effective June 1.

“This is how shared governance is supposed to work,” said Ben Trachtenberg, associate professor of law and chair of MU’s Faculty Council. “Faculty and administration came together, along with representatives of the staff who will implement this policy and the students whom it will regulate. By taking the time to gather expertise and consider a broad array of perspectives, we have made MU a leader for universities across the country to follow.”