A policy at a public university in Mississippi stipulates that students may be suspended or expelled for “inflict[ing] mental or emotional distress on others.”
Policy 27 of Delta State University’s “Student Regulations” states that “words, behavior, and/or actions which inflict mental or emotional distress on others and/or disrupt the educational environment at Delta State University” could possibly “subject violators to appropriate disciplinary action, including suspension and expulsion.”
Zakiya Summers, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi American Civil Liberties Union, said that the organization’s legal team had determined that the policy might be unconstitutional.
As a public university, Delta State is bound to uphold the First Amendment on its campus. “Restrictions on speech by public colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of the Constitution. Such restrictions deprive students of their right to invite speech they wish to hear, debate speech with which they disagree, and protest speech they find bigoted or offensive,” the ACLU states on its website.
A report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education last year determined that most schools “have speech policies that are vague enough to censor students.”