Free Expression

It is vitally important for UMKC to foster and maintain an educational environment that promotes free discussion, inquiry, and expression by students, faculty, staff, and administrators, without fear that their exercise of such rights will have negative repercussions in areas over which the University has responsibility. It is equally important that these individuals understand the narrow line separating their First Amendment rights and the legal and privacy rights of others so that they can exercise those rights within appropriate boundaries.

UMKC Guiding Principles for Free Expression (link)
UMKC has established Guiding Principles for Free Expression to provide advice to University offices and officials responsible for implementing policies relating to free expression at UMKC, and for evaluating proposed or actual behaviors that occur in connection with events or activities within the scope of these policies. These Principles are also intended to assist members of the University community in understanding legal principles relevant to the exercise of the rights of free expression, free speech, assembly, and protest on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

These Principles provide students, staff, and faculty information on the following topics: Speaker’s Right to Communicate, Protest and Dissent, Vocal Response/Noise, Silent or Symbolic Protest, Picketing and Distributing Literature, Respecting the Right to Dissent, Photography, Counter-Programming/Demonstrators, Civil Disobedience, and Threat/Use of Violence.

Learn more about free expression:

*Please note, UMKC does not endorse any specific organization, service, or author and provides this list for informational purposes only.

Classroom Expectations
Per the University of Missouri System Collected Rules and Regulations (CRRs), your instructors should encourage free discussion, inquiry, and expression in courses, conferences and meetings. Student performance shall be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards. This policy is outlined in more detail in CRR 200.015 (link).

In exercising your right to free expression, UMKC requests students adhere to these five guidelines:

  • Share responsibility for including all voices in the conversation, leaving sufficient time for others to engage in the discussion. Listen respectfully, avoiding interruptions or distractions.
  • Recognize how your own identity and experiences inform your opinions and reactions to others. Be open to changing your perspectives when exposed to the ideas of others.
  • Speak with care, acknowledging that your words may be perceived as disrespectful, marginalizing, biased, or harmful.
  • Understand that everyone makes mistakes; view these mistakes as valuable in the learning process. Notice your own defensive reactions, and channel them into furthering a productive discussion.
  • Differentiate between safety and comfort; accept discomfort as necessary for learning and exploring ideas through a social justice lens.

Although your right to free expression is protected, your instructors have the authority to take action under CRR 200.010 (link) when they believe the conduct of any student unreasonably disrupts the classroom environment and prevents others from learning or threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person. An instructor’s basis for taking any action must be content-neutral and in response to specific prohibited conduct, without consideration of the views or opinions expressed by you.