On October 10, 1986, University of Missouri students build a "shantytown" on Francis Quadrangle to protest the university's investment in companies operating in apartheid South Africa. Campus administrators permanently restrict use of the Quad to official university events and the shantytown is dismantled.

On Feb. 2, 1987, UM System President C. Peter Magrath designated Conley Plaza, now known as Speakers Circle, as the only area on campus where speakers permits would not be required. On Feb. 6, 1987, 41 protesters are arrested. One of the protesters is charged and acquitted of trespassing in December 1987 and the Boone County Circuit Court rules that Francis Quadrangle is a public forum to which access can not be restricted. However the 1986 policy stays in student conduct handbooks until 2015.

In July 2015 Missouri becomes the second state to prohibit "free speech zones" on public universities. Subsequently MU removes references to reservations in its policy.

In October 2015 a student is “moved from campus” pending an investigation for making a racist remark at a Legion of Black Collegians Homecoming dress rehearsal. Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin wrote in an email that, "We support free speech in the context of learning, spirited inquiry and intellectual discussion, but acts of bias and discrimination will not be tolerated at Mizzou."

On Nov. 9, 2015, racial protesters at MU sought to exclude the media from a public space. A video of the encounter was widely shared on social media. The next day a university bulletin directs students to report "hateful or harmful speech" to campus police.

On Nov. 12, 2015, a street preacher iss assaulted by a student on campus. Interim chancellor Hank Foley issues an emailed statement saying, "opposition to speech aside – this is completely unacceptable."

In January 2016 Foley creates the Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Protests, Public Spaces, Free Speech, and the Press to address conflicts over use of public spaces and "preserve, protect, and promote the exercise of free expression, free speech, and First Amendment rights."