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Free Speech and Public Assembly Policy

Approved By and Date:Board of Trustees02-20-2014
 Executive Leadership Team01-02-2014

Stanly Community College encourages its community to exercise the right to freedom of speech granted by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.  This policy informs members of the college community and the public of the manner in which they may engage in constitutionally protected speech and expression at SCC.  It is intended to protect one’s right to freedom of speech without interfering with the primary educational purpose of the College.

The College will protect the rights of freedom of speech, petition, and peaceful assembly.  The right to restrict the time, place, and manner of expression is specifically reserved for the College.  Any acts that are disruptive to normal operations of the College, including but not limited to instruction or college business, or actions that interfere with the rights of others will not be tolerated.  Faculty, staff, and students engaging in disruptive activity will be subject to disciplinary action.  Any participant in a disruptive activity may face criminal charges.

Free Speech and Public Assembly Procedures

Approved By and Date:Executive Leadership Team01-02-2014

1. The College hereby designates only the following areas as Free Speech/Expression areas

These areas shall be available for use by both members of the college community and members of the general public. However, events sponsored by members of the college community shall have first priority in using the Free Speech/Expression areas. The College reserves the right to relocate any assembly to ensure that the activity does not interfere with the normal operation of the College or interfere with the rights of others.

2. Individuals or groups wishing to exercise their free speech right in a public manner and/or display should use one of the designated Free Speech areas, and should submit a written and signed request to the Vice President of Administrative Services/CFO at least three working days prior to the desired date. The following information must be included in this written request:

Approvals are for one day only for a maximum of three continuous hours, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. The Director of Auxiliary Services will notify the Director of Security of any approved Free Speech event.

3. The following guidelines shall govern Free Speech and Public Assembly activities:

a) Amplification Systems: Because amplification systems pose a significant potential for disruption of college operation, public address and amplification systems may not be used. This includes, but is not limited to, megaphones and PA systems.

b) The Right to Dissent: The right to dissent is the complement of the right to speak, but these rights need not occupy the same forum at the same time. The speaker is entitled to communicate his or her message to the audience during their allotted time, and the audience is entitled to hear the message and see the speaker during that time. A dissenter must not substantially interfere with the speaker's ability to communicate or the audiences’ ability to hear and see the speaker. Likewise the audience must respect the right to dissent.

c) Picketing and Distribution of Literature: Picketing in an orderly manner or distributing literature within the free speech area is acceptable when approved during the request process as coordinated and approved by the Director of Auxiliary Services. Picketing is not permitted inside college buildings.

d) Symbolic Protest: During a presentation, displaying a sign, gesturing, wearing symbolic clothing, or otherwise protesting silently is permissible so long as the symbolic protest does not unduly interfere with the ability of the person or entity reserving an area for free speech/expression to express themselves.

e) Marches: Campus marches are permitted on campus only with the approval of the Vice President of Administrative Services/CFO in coordination with the Director of Security. In order to ensure the safety of participants and bystanders and to minimize the disruption of college classes and daily operations, this request must specify the desired march route and estimated total/maximum number of participants. Pickets/marchers must march in single file, not abreast. Minor children, six years of age or younger, may walk abreast or be carried by their parent or guardian. Pickets shall not at any time nor in any way obstruct, interfere with, or block persons entering or exiting vehicles; persons crossing streets or otherwise using the public way; the entrance or exit of any building or access to property abutting the street or sidewalk; or pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

4. Those who exercise free speech as a part of this policy must conduct themselves in an appropriate manner.

a) Those who exercise free speech as a part of this policy must not:

b) Public speech or activities likely to incite or produce imminent lawless action or that are, under current legal standards, either defamatory or obscene are prohibited. Violations of the SCC Student Code of Conduct are prohibited.

c) Individuals who damage or destroy college property shall be held responsible for such damage or destruction. This includes lawns, shrubs, trees, etc.

d) All applicable college regulations, state, and federal laws and municipal ordinances apply when engaging in activities on college property. Failure to do so may result in immediate removal fromcollege property and other appropriate action by college officials and/or police.

5. Persons engaged in Free Speech or Public Assembly activities shall not physically interfere in the use of the sidewalk or use obscene, indecent, or threatening language to or at individuals to provoke them or lead to a breach of the peace.

Whenever free passage is obstructed by a crowd, the persons composing such crowd shall disperse when directed by college officials, security, or police. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action and/or criminal prosecution.