Freedom of Expression Policy
College of Coastal Georgia - University System of Georgia
CITATION REFERENCE
Official Title: Freedom of Expression Policy
Abbreviated Title: Freedom of Expression Policy
Volume: CCGA Policies
Responsible Office: All faculty, staff, students and visitors
Originally Issued: April 4, 2017
Effective Date: April 5, 2017
Revised: September 6, 2022

Freedom of Expression Policy

Policy Statement

The College of Coastal Georgia (College) values and encourages the right of all members of its community to exercise free speech and peaceful assembly as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Georgia Constitution. As an institution dedicated to training and educating the future leaders of the state and nation, and in a spirit of establishing and maintaining a “marketplace of ideas,” the College supports the right of all members of its campus community to discuss varying perspectives on complex issues. This is often known as intellectual diversity. All College students, faculty, staff, their recognized groups, and non-College affiliated persons, groups, organizations and entities sponsored by a recognized College group may exercise their freedoms of expression on the College’s campuses as set forth in this policy. Public speeches and assemblies can be valid means of expression for dissenting opinions provided they do not disrupt the academic and administrative functioning of the College. Therefore, while protecting and promoting the freedoms of expression, the College maintains its right to impose reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on those activities in order to serve the interest of public health and safety, prevent disruption of the educational process, and protect against the invasion of the rights of others. By placing reasonable limitations on time, place, and manner of expression, the College does not take a position on the content or viewpoint of the expression, but rather allows for a diversity of viewpoints to be expressed in an academic setting.

Reason for Policy

This policy in no way prohibits members of the College community from engaging in conversations on campus and does not apply to College-sponsored activities, but rather only establishes the unrestricted outdoor areas of the College’s campuses are public forums for the College community. This policy also designated certain areas of campus as public forum areas for outside individuals and groups who are not members of the College community.

Entities Affected by This Policy

This policy applies to all faculty, staff, students, visitors, groups, institutions, organizations, and individuals who sponsor or participate in expression on campus.

Who Should Read This Policy

All faculty, staff, students, visitors, groups, institutions, organizations, and individuals who sponsor or participate in expression on campus.

Contacts

Website Address for This Policy

https://portside.ccga.edu/policies/displayPolicy.php?pid=49

Related Document/Resources

Definitions

These definitions apply to these terms as they are used in this policy:

Overview

I. Institutional Neutrality

The College maintains a position of neutrality as to the content and viewpoint of any expression, written or spoken, that occurs on its campuses. In enacting the provisions of this policy, the College will not regulate the content or viewpoint of expressive activity protected by the First Amendment.

II. Designation of Public Forum Areas

To better facilitate the free exchange of ideas, the College has designated the following areas as “Public Forum Areas” on campus for non-members of the College community:

These “Public Forum Areas” are generally available for expression between 8:00 am and 7:00 pm Monday through Friday, provided that the areas have not been reserved. Though reservations to use the Public Forum Areas are only required as set forth in Section III(a) and Section III(b) below, the College recommends that all parties interested in utilizing the Public Forum Areas submit a completed Forum Reservation Request Form to the College so that the College may minimize scheduling conflicts, accommodate all interested users, and provide for campus safety and security.

III. Procedures

  1. Provisions for Members of the College Community. Members of the College community who plan to engage in expressive activity on campus in a group that is expected to consist of 25 or more persons must submit a completed Forum Reservation Request Form to the College two (2) College business days prior to the scheduled activity and must receive approval in writing from a Student Affairs official prior to engaging in the activity. Requests to reserve the Brunswick Campus “Public Forum Area” must be submitted to the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs / Dean of Students. Requests to reserve the Camden Center “Public Forum Area” must be submitted to the Office of the Dean of the Camden Center. Members of the College community may also request to reserve other unrestricted outdoor areas of campus provided that the requested area can reasonably accommodate the activity being planned. Prior notice is required to ensure that there is sufficient space for the large group event, that necessary College resources are available for crowd control and security, and that the academic and other operations of the College are not disrupted. The College official may only deny a reservation for the limited reasons set forth in Section III(d) below.

    If an individual or group of individuals who are members of the College community, while engaging in spontaneous expression, attracts a group of 25 or more persons, then a representative from the group should provide the College with as much notice as circumstances reasonably permit. The College reserves the right to direct a group of 25 or more persons to another area if required to ensure the safety of campus members, to provide for proper crowd control, or to limit disruption of the academic and other operations of the College.

  2. Provisions for Persons Who Are Not Members of the College Community. Individuals or groups of persons who are not members of the College community may only engage in expressive activity on the College’s campuses in the designated Public Forum Areas and only after submitting a completed Forum Reservation Request Form to the College at least two (2) College business days prior to the scheduled expression and obtaining approval for such use in writing from a College official pursuant to the procedures set forth in Section III(c) below. Requests to reserve the Brunswick Campus “Public Forum Area” must be submitted to the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs / Dean of Students. Requests to reserve the Camden Center “Public Forum Area” must be submitted to the Office of the Dean of the Camden Center. The College official may only deny a reservation for the limited reasons set forth in Section III(d) below. Organizers are encouraged to submit their requests as early in the planning stages as possible. This provision does not apply to any College-sponsored events.
  3. Reservation Request Submission. Completed Forum Reservation Request Forms must be submitted at least two (2) College business days prior to the requested event or activity. Requests to reserve the Brunswick Campus “Public Forum Area” must be submitted to the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs / Dean of Students. Requests to reserve the Camden Center “Public Forum Area” must be submitted to the Office of the Director of the Camden Center.
  4. Approval or Denial of Forum Reservation Request. Reservations will be awarded by a College official on a first-come, first-served basis. The College official will respond to all reservation requests as soon as possible, but in no event, more than one College business day after receipt of the reservation request, either authorizing the reservation and noting any special instructions, if applicable, or setting forth the reason for denial of the reservation. The College official may only deny a reservation for one of the following reasons:
    • The Forum Reservation Request Form is not fully completed;
    • The Forum Reservation Request Form contains a material falsehood or misrepresentation;
    • The Public Forum Areas have been previously reserved, in which case the College will designate another appropriate date, time, or location to accommodate the expression;
    • The use or activity intended by the applicant would conflict with or disrupt previously planned programs or functions organized or conducted by the College;
    • The Public Forum Area is not large enough to accommodate the expected or actual number of persons engaging in large group expression, in which case the College must provide a reservation for the applicant at an alternate location that can safely accommodate the expression provided that the applicant is a member of the College community and that an adequate location exists in the outdoor areas of the College’s campuses;
    • The use or activity intended by the applicant would present a danger to the health or safety of the applicant, other members of the College community, or the public; or
    • The use or activity intended by the applicant is prohibited by law, College policy, or Board of Regents policy.

    When assessing a reservation request, the College official must not consider or impose restrictions on the expression based on the content or viewpoint of the expression.

  5. Appeal of Denial of Forum Reservation Request. If a request is denied for any of the reasons set out in paragraph d. above, the applicant may appeal the decision in writing within five (5) college business days to the Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management. After providing the applicant an opportunity to be heard, the Vice President will, within a reasonable time period, determine whether to uphold or overturn the denial. If the original denial is overturned, a permit will be issued and the event or activity may take place. If the denial is upheld, the applicant may appeal to the President of the College in writing within five (5) college business days. The decision of the President will be issued in a reasonable time period and will be final.
  6. Sound Amplification. Any use of amplified sound must only be intended to be heard in the immediate area of the expression in order to minimize any disruption of the academic operations and other functions of the College.
  7. Conduct. The College expects members of the faculty, staff, student body and community to refrain from and discourage behaviors that threaten the rights, freedoms, and respect that every individual deserves. Groups or individuals engaging in expression on campus, including those who are engaging in expression in connection with a reserved Public Forum Area, are expected to adhere to applicable College policy, including the College Student Code of Conduct and/or pertinent portions of the Faculty and Staff Handbooks, and federal, state, and local laws. In order that persons exercising freedom of expression not interfere with the operation of the College or the rights of others, the following will apply without exception to any form of expression.
    • There must be no obstruction of entrances or exits to buildings.
    • There must be no impediment of passersby.
    • There must be no pointing out specific persons for harassment.
    • There must be no interference with scheduled College ceremonies, events, or activities.
    • There must be no damage or destruction of property owned or operated by the College, or property belonging to students, faculty, staff, or guests of the College. Persons or organizations causing such damage may be held financially responsible.
  8. Termination of the Event or Activity. Any expression on campus, including expression that is occurring in connection with a reserved Public Forum Area, may be immediately terminated if a speaker incites the group addressed to any of the following:
    • The willful damage or destruction of property;
    • The disruption of the College’s regularly scheduled functions;
    • The physical harm, coercion, or intimidation of the College faculty, staff, students, visitors, or guests;
    • Violation of federal, state, or local law or College or Board of Regents policy; or
    • Other campus disorder of a violent nature.
  9. Posting and Distribution of Written Material. The posting and distribution of pamphlets, handbills, circulars, newspapers, magazines and other materials must comply with the College Posting of Materials Policy.
  10. Political Speech. The College does not endorse, support, or promote any political candidate or any partisan political activity. It is the intent and expectation of the College that all faculty, staff, and students avoid any behavior that could be reasonably interpreted as official College endorsement, support, or promotion of any political candidate or partisan political activity. Nothing in this policy limits the right or ability of any member of the College community to express personal opinions or to exercise his or her right to engage in political activities outside his or her official capacity or affiliation with the College. The use of College materials, supplies, equipment, machinery, or vehicles in political campaigns is forbidden.

Responsibilities

The Responsibilities each party has in connection with this policy are:

Forms

Reservations to utilize one of the Public Forum Areas should be made using the Forum Reservation Request Form. Forms required to reserve College facilities for an event are found in the Supporting Manual to the Facilities Usage Policy.

Appendices

None