Camping, megaphone rules revised with MU campus protest rules

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COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri released new and revised policies relating to protests and free speech on campus, including banning camping on campus, a tactic Concerned Student 1950 used in the November 2015 protests.

The policy says camping is not allowed on MU grounds, in or under MU structures, or in MU buildings except under approved circumstanced. It defines camping as the establishment of temporary or permanent living quarters anywhere other than MU housing; sleeping outdoors between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.; sleeping in a car on campus other than for short naps; and maintaining an outdoor place for cooking, storing belongings or sleeping.

Ben Trachtenberg, a faculty council member who worked on the revised policies, said the regulations on camping are actually clarifcations of existing rules.

He said the rules are pro-free speech.

"We have reasonable time, place and manner descriptions designed to prevent, for example, you having your rally at center court in a basketball game, or blocking the hospital or interrupting my exams or things like that," Trachtenberg said.


Other policies clarify rules about the use of sound amplification devices, such as speakers, musical instruments and megaphones.

"You can use sound amplification as long as you don't do it in a way that's disruptive to the functions of the university," Trachtenberg said.

Other policies set restrictions on chalk use; set limits on illuminated devices; provide guidelines for unscheduled events and the use of campus facilities; and revise rules for posting and removing material, like fliers.

According to an email sent to students and faculty, a committee of experts from law, political science, health and safety, public affairs and journalism worked on the policies for 15 months.

The month-long protests on campus in fall 2015 garnered national attention and were the catalyst for the revised policies. 

Bob Jerry, Isidor Loeb Professor of Law and co-chair of the committee, said the events were "stressful."

“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,” Jerry said.

Full details of the policies can be found on MU's website. The policies go into effect June 1.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the rules surround sound amplification devices.]