Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Colleges nationwide are responding to outbreaks of rude behavior with campaigns to promote civility on campus.

Schools such as the University of Tennessee, Penn State and Virginia Tech are treating the decline of civility as a public health epidemic on par with measles outbreaks and sexually transmitted diseases.

The University of Missouri's "Show Me Respect" campaign emphasizes common courtesies. Tennessee outlines its expectations at freshman orientation. Rutgers launched its "Project Civility" just before a freshman killed himself when a roommate secretly recorded the teen's sexual encounter with another man.

Some First Amendment advocates challenge the civility push, fearful that such programs muzzle unpopular speech. That was the complaint at North Carolina State University, which revised a residence hall policy in response to outside criticism.

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