PC Culture

Public University Could Expel Students for Causing Others ‘Emotional Distress’

Delta State University (YouTube via Delta State )
You read that right: The code of conduct at Mississippi’s Delta State University allows administrators to punish students simply for upsetting others.

Delta State University, a public university in Mississippi, has a policy that states that students can be expelled if they “inflict mental or emotional distress on others.”

Policy 27 of the school’s “student regulations” declares 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 “subject violators to appropriate disciplinary action, including suspension and expulsion.”

“Any student charged with or convicted of a violation of . . . University regulation, injurious to the health and welfare of the University community shall be subject to immediate administrative suspension, with or without prejudice, depending upon the nature and circumstances of the case by the President of the University or his delegate,” the policy states.

Zakiya Summers, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi American Civil Liberties Union, told The College Fix that the organization has concerns the policy might not be constitutional.

“In addition to Policy 27, Policies 4, 16, and 18 raise First Amendment concerns,” Summers told the Fix. “They are over-broad and vague and could restrict protected speech.”

As the Fix notes, the additional policies that Summers named ban “disorderly, lewd, indecent, or obscene conduct or language,” “inciting others to violate written University policies and regulations,” and participation in an “unauthorized demonstration.”

Now, I’m not a lawyer. Personally, I can’t say whether or not any of these policies violate the Constitution. What I can say, however, is that policy 27 definitely raises some practical concerns.

Think about it: There are plenty of ways that one student could potentially “inflict mental or emotional distress” on another without having done anything wrong. Breaking up with someone is the first thing that comes to mind, although it could technically be something as simple as one student getting the last bag of Doritos from the vending machine when the student behind him was craving those flavorful tortilla chips. Of course, I’m not saying that the school necessarily would punish the distress-causing student in these scenarios — let’s hope to God that it wouldn’t — but the truth is, this policy would allow it to, and that’s scary enough.

If a student is causing emotional distress to another student by, say, abusing him or her, then I could see how that would be grounds for punishment. The problem with policy 27 is that the standard in question is not even the behavior of the person causing the distress. No . . . the standard is that the person who is experiencing distress is, well, distressed. Taken as written, this policy could subject a student to expulsion for having done nothing wrong at all — and if that’s not frightening, then I don’t know what is.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Ten Questions for the ‘Squad’

Democratic infighting reached a fever pitch last week with bickering and personal attacks between members of the “Squad” and other House Democrats. During that period, Squad members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley mostly avoided doing interviews. However, that all ... Read More
U.S.

The Rise of the Chinese-American Right

On June 13, during a nasty storm, a group of Chinese New Yorkers gathered in front of the gates of Gracie Mansion, the New York mayor’s residence on the Upper East Side, to protest. Inside, Mayor Bill de Blasio was meeting with two dozen or so representatives of the Asian-American community to discuss his ... Read More
Elections

How Beto Made Himself into White-Privilege Guy

Robert Francis O’Rourke is white. If it’s any consolation, he’s very sorry about that. “Beto” has been running from his Irish ancestry for some time now. Long before the Left fell headlong into the logical termini of its triune fascination with race, power, and privilege, O’Rourke sensed that there ... Read More
White House

The Trump Steamroller

As we settle into high summer and the period of maximum difficulty in finding anything to fill in hours of television news, especially 24/7 news television, two well-established political trends are emerging in this pre-electoral period: The president’s opponents continue to dig themselves into foxholes that ... Read More
Culture

Why Was Richard Spencer on CNN?

Self-avowed white nationalist Richard Spencer went on CNN yesterday. What he said isn't particularly interesting, because Richard Spencer isn't particularly interesting. What is interesting, at least in the sense that a multi-car pile up on the side of the interstate is interesting, is the bastard logic of the ... Read More