Bowling Green State University Freedom of Expression

3341-2-45 Bowling Green State University Freedom of Expression

All University Units and Visitors to the University

Responsible Unit: 
Student Affairs / Finance and Administration

Policy Administrator:
Vice President for Student Affairs / Vice President for Finance and Administration

(A) Policy Statement and Purpose

Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, but to weigh and consider. – Francis Bacon, Of Studies, Inscribed on the north façade of the McFall Center, Bowling Green State University. Bowling Green State University exists to create and share knowledge, promote open debate and dialogue, and be a place where multiple views and perspectives can be weighed and considered. So essential are these principles to BGSU that words affirming them were carved in stone on the façade of the university’s first dedicated library building. BGSU is a community of learners and teachers. The university strives to ensure that members of our community feel valued and respected and have a shared responsibility to maintain and promote an environment of civil discourse and mutual respect. At times, the university must allow speech on our campuses that may not align with our values of fostering a campus environment of diversity and inclusion. As a public university, we are committed to freedom of expression and the rights protected by the First Amendment. The purpose of this policy is to affirm the university’s commitment to Free Expression and to provide a resource for students, faculty, staff and visitors. An FAQ has been developed to provide additional context including definitions of legal terms. The University of Chicago Statement on Principles of Free Expression informs this Policy and BGSU acknowledges and appreciates the work of the Statement’s authors.

(B) Policy Scope  

This policy applies to members of the university community and to visitors to the university while on university grounds. 

(C) Time, Place, and Manner Limitations on Expression and the Avoidance of Disruption 

(1) The university welcomes a robust exchange of ideas and acknowledges that this will include protests, marches, demonstrations, petitioning, leafletting, chalking, and other expressions that will take place in outdoor spaces and some indoor spaces. When conducted on university property these activities are subject to two categories of university regulation: 

(a) Rules prohibiting activities that substantially and materially disrupt university operations; and

(b) Rules that regulate the time, place and manner of expressive activities. 

The university has both types of rules. The precise application of these rules varies depending on the nature of the university space. The rules must always be content-neutral, reasonable, and allow for numerous alternative methods of expression. These rules are to be applied narrowly and never in a manner that is inconsistent with the university’s core commitment to the free and open exchange of ideas. 

(D) Assembly and Expressive Activities 

(1) BGSU strives to support any individual or group who endeavors to engage in expressive activities while undertaking the responsibilities that come with exercising these rights. Some of the responsibilities associated with these rights include ensuring that:  

(a) University operations are not substantially and materially disrupted

(b) Building entries and exits, walkways, and roadways remain accessible

(c) A planned event does not prevent campus community members from being able to move freely about campus

(d) The use of signs, banners, and display boards do not impede university operations

(e) There is no destruction to property or harm to persons

(f) The planned event does not violate any laws

(g) The planned event complies with university policies

(h) The planned event does not pose a true threat to persons or the community

(i) The planned event does not constitute harassment against a specific individual/group that unreasonably interferes with that individual’s/group’s educational experience

(j) The planned event does not endanger the physical safety of others 

(2) In order for the university to best assist in meeting these responsibilities, we encourage organizers to inform us of planned activities. Prior to sponsoring a rally, demonstration, march, or other group event, the organization or individual coordinating the event is encouraged to complete the space reservation process two business days in advance through the main campus Office of Conference & Event Services or the Office of Budget and Operations for the Firelands campus. Advance notice enables the university to help ensure the event takes place in a safe manner and support for the event is identified, if needed.

(3) Demonstrations, marches, and non-university invited speakers may not be in campus buildings, or obstruct or disrupt any university operations. In the past, non-university affiliated speakers have used the following areas for demonstrations, marches and similar expressive activities: 

(a) Bowen-Thompson Student Union, Oval

(b) Education Building Steps

(c) Education/Business Administration/Library Lawn (Carillon Park)

(d) University Hall Lawn

(e) Math Science Lawn

(f) Oaks/McDonald Lawn  

(4) Expressive activities are not confined to the outdoor locations listed in D.3 above and may take place elsewhere in accordance with this policy. 

(E) Space and Facilities Reservations

So as not to interfere with its mission and operation, without regard to content of expressive activities, the university has the right to determine the time, place and manner its spaces and facilities can be used. The use of university facilities and grounds must conform to the following university policies and to local, state and federal laws. Use of campus grounds must comply with the provisions on “Space and Facilities Reservations Including Use of Campus Grounds”. See, policy 3341-6-42.

(F) Use of Amplification Equipment

Use of amplification equipment must be in accordance with regulations as stated in the Sound Amplification Policy. See, policy 3341-6-3.

(G) Temporary Structures

No temporary structure may be erected on campus grounds without prior written approval. See, policy 3341-6-42 (C).

(H) Compilation of Relevant Policies

Following are URLs to the university policies most relevant to expressive activities.

(1) Faculty and Academic Freedom

(a) Article I: The Basic Principles of BGSU Academic Charter, Policy 3341-1-08: general-counsel/documents/ Academic-Charter.pdf

(b) Article 9, Collective Bargaining Agreement. ies-guidelines/cba-2-updated-article-38-.pdf

(c) Policy on university libraries collection policies, see 3341- 3-60(B)(5)(c): general-counsel/documents/University-Libraries-CollectionPolicies.pdf

(2) Commercial solicitations on university property is governed by the university policy on solicitation, see policy 3341-5-25: Solicitation.pdf

(3) Students and Student Organizations

(a) Student Rights and Responsibilities See, policy 3341-2-37: BGSU/general-counsel/documents/Student-Rights-andResponsibilities-Policy.pdf

(b) Advertisements and Postings
This university policy addresses the display of posters, notices, handbills, fliers, banners, yard signs, chalking, and other forms of posting. See, policy 3341-2-2: documents/Advertisement.pdf. 

(c) Guest Speakers The university encourages student organizations and university departments to invite speakers to our campuses. Recognized student organizations and university departments must comply with all university policies regarding the reservation of space for non-university affiliated speakers in order to assure orderly calendaring and appropriate support to facilitate the event. The Policy and procedure for student organizations inviting guest speakers to campus is policy 3341-2-16: documents/Guest-Speakers.pdf.  

(d) Event Management

The Event Management Policy governs student organizations and the provision of security for campus events. See, policy 3341-2-11: documents/Event-Management.pdf.  

(e) Prohibited Conduct

The Prohibited Conduct Policy provides for student discipline relating to, among other things, the disruption or obstruction of teaching; communications that are intended to threaten, harass or injure a person; harassment; hazing; demonstrations; riots; and disorderly conduct. See, policy 3341-2-28: 

(f) Student Political Activity 

Student participation in political activity is protected expressive activity. Such activity must be conducted in such a way as to not state or imply the university’s endorsement or opposition to any candidate or ballot initiative. See, policy 3341-2-27: general-counsel /documents/Political-Campaigning.pdf.  

(I) Workplace 

(1) Non-Discrimination, Equal Protection Discrimination, including the harassment of any person based on a protected status, is prohibited and contrary to the university’s core values. Policy 3341-5-33: documents/Anti-Harassment.pdf. Policy 3341-5-36: documents/Racial-and-Ethnic-Harassment.pdf. Policy 3341-5-38: documents/Sexual-Harassment.pdf.

(2) Safe Workplace Policy 3341-5-28: documents/Violence-in-the-Workplace.pdf.

(3) Lobbying on Behalf of the University Policy 3341-5-8: documents/Contact-with-State-Federal-Agencies.pdf.  

Registered Date: December 3, 2018