Controversial or Offending Speech
Oklahoma State University cannot restrict or “chill” speech based on content, even if the content is highly offensive to some. The university does have the right to state its own views and promote its own values. This can include opposing the views and actions of others, so long as it does not interfere with their right to express ideas. The university may not inhibit free speech by making direct or implicit threats of sanctions for engaging in protected speech.
If the university is notified of an individual or a group of individuals who are expressing remarks that could be interpreted as offensive or hateful, but do not otherwise run afoul of the law concerning free speech, the university cannot take conduct action. However, the university’s commitment to holistic education of its students does provide the opportunity to educate the student about the concerning comments. The Vice President for Student Affairs and the Vice President for Institutional Diversity may meet with involved students to engage in an educational conversation about their thoughts and decisions.
If, through the gathering of information, it is determined that a violation of policy, such as harassment or discrimination has occurred, the university will initiate the appropriate conduct process. It is important to note for a policy violation the conduct must be persistent, severe, or pervasive, and subjectively and objectively offensive. A single statement by an individual will rarely rise to the level of a policy violation.