Delta State can expel you for hurting other people’s feelings

Brett Kittredge

For the past several years colleges and universities throughout the country have embarked on a mission to limit free speech, in the name of protecting the feelings of those who might not like to hear what someone else says.

Delta State University is one of those schools, but their speech codes go further than most.

For the most part, Delta State’s student regulations include commonsense rules and procedures for any university, such as a requirement that you pay your bills and punishment for destroying property. And there are some rules that likely aren’t followed (or enforced), such as the prohibition of alcoholic beverages on campus or at university sponsored events.

But far more problematic is policy number 27 which 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.”

Essentially, you could be punished up to expulsion for words that inflict emotional distress on others. What is emotional distress? Obviously, different words could upset different people in different ways.

We saw students nationwide requiring days off and tests postponed after the triggering event of Donald Trump winning the presidency in 2016. So we know there are plenty of items that cause mental and emotional distress among our youth on college campuses. And in many instances, for illegitimate reasons (i.e., being unhappy about an election).

Delta State has long had trouble with free speech. They were one of just two schools in Mississippi to receive a speech code rating of red from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE.

Policy number 27 is likely unconstitutional, but more than that it is scary. Scary that a university would put such a policy in place that violates the free speech rights of one student and threatens to expel that student for doing nothing wrong at all. Just something that may have upset someone.

For more than a century, the American university system was considered the best in the world for providing a classical liberal undergraduate education. And for preparing their students to be successful in life. For the sake of our future generations, we must reclaim our universities from the insanity we see daily.

But for now, if you’re on campus at Delta State, use extreme caution with your words. One man’s free speech might be another man’s emotional trigger and the university wants to be the arbiter.

(While the link to the policies is no longer live, a cached version from November 5 can be found here.)