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Expressive Activity

Purpose: This policy applies to all buildings, grounds, and other spaces owned or controlled by Rappahannock Community College.

Definition: The term “expressive activity” includes:

  • Meetings and other group activities of students and student organizations;
  • Speeches, performances, demonstrations, rallies, vigils, and other events by students, student organizations, and outside groups invited by student organizations;
  • Distributions of literature, such as leafleting and pamphleting; and
  • Any other expression protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Policy Statement
College property is primarily dedicated to academic, student life and administrative functions. But it also represents the “marketplace of ideas,” and especially for students, many areas of campus represent a public forum for speech and other expressive activities. Colleges may place restrictions on expressive activities occurring indoors, but especially for students and student organizations, the outdoor areas of campus remain venues for free expression, including speeches, demonstrations, and the distribution of literature.

Indoors or outdoors, colleges shall not interfere with the rights of individuals and groups to the free expression of their views or impermissibly regulate their speech based on its content or viewpoint. However, RCC reserves the right to establish reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on expressive activity. Such restrictions must be content-neutral, narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and allow ample alternative channels for communication of the information.

No event or expressive activity shall be permitted to violate or hinder the rights of others within the campus community or substantially disrupt normal college operations.

Procedures

A. Reserving Campus Facilities:
1. If students, student organizations, or college employees desire to reserve campus facilities, they shall submit their requests to the appropriate college administrator.

Twenty-four hours advance notice is required for reservation requests. However, events that require set-up, technical, or facilities support are required to submit requests at least two weeks in advance due to campus space limitations and support and to ensure the safety and security of the campus.

2. If individuals or organizations who are not members of the college community (i.e., not students, student organizations, or college employees) desire to reserve campus facilities, they must be sponsored by a recognized student organization or the college to conduct expressive activities or events on campus.

3. RCC reserves the right to designate certain indoor facilities as not available for expressive activity, such as administration offices, libraries, and (during instructional hours) classrooms. When such circumstances apply, RCC will make the campus community aware of these designations. Any other restrictions on expressive activities occurring in indoor facilities (a) apply equally to all individuals and organizations and (b) are not dependant upon the content or viewpoint of the expression or the possible reaction to that expression.

4. Students, student organizations, and college employees may request to reserve campus facilities on a first-come, first-served basis. These requests may be denied for the following reasons only:

a. The requested venue is an indoor facility that the college has designated as not available for expressive activity as noted in item 3 above;

b. The requested venue is an indoor facility and the request conflicts with restrictions as noted in item 3 above;

c. The venue is already reserved for another event1;

d. The activity will attract a crowd larger than the venue can safely contain;

e. The activity will substantially disrupt another event being held at a neighboring venue2;

f. The activity will substantially disrupt college operations (including classes);

g. The activity is a clear and present threat to public safety, according to the college’s police or security department;

h. The activity will occur during college examination periods; or

i. The activity is unlawful.

5. During an event, the student, student organization, or college employee requesting the reservation is responsible for preserving and maintaining the facility it reserved. If it causes any damage to those facilities, the person(s) or organization (and its officers, if applicable) shall assume responsibility.

6. When assessing a request to reserve campus facilities, the college and its administrators must not consider the content or viewpoint of the expression or the possible reaction to that expression. The college and its administrators may not impose restrictions on students, student organizations, or college employees due to the content or viewpoint of their expression or the possible reaction to that expression. In the event that other persons react negatively to a student’s, student organization’s, or college employee’s expression, college officials (including college police or security) shall take all necessary steps to ensure public safety while allowing the expressive activity to continue.

B. Spontaneous Expressive Activity:

1. RCC has no requirement to designate any indoor area as available for spontaneous expressive activities. Should RCC elect to do designate an indoor area as available for spontaneous expressive activities, college officials shall prominently post the areas in which students, student organizations, and their sponsored guests may engage in spontaneous expressive activities. Any areas so designated must (a) apply equally to all students and student organizations and (b) not depend upon the content or viewpoint of the expression or the possible reaction to that expression.

2. For outdoor campus facilities and areas, students, student organizations, and their sponsored guests may freely engage in spontaneous expressive activities as long as they do not (a) block access to campus buildings, (b) obstruct vehicular or pedestrian traffic, (c) substantially disrupt previously scheduled campus events3, (d) substantially disrupt college operations, (e) constitute unlawful activity; or (f) create a clear and present threat to public safety, according to the RCC’s security department and or chief safety officer.

3. No college personnel may impose restrictions on students, student organizations, or their sponsored guests who are engaging in spontaneous expressive activities due to the content or viewpoint of their expression or the possible reaction to that expression. In the event that other persons react negatively to these activities, college officials (including college security) shall take all necessary steps to ensure public safety while allowing the expressive activity to continue.

c. All college policies on expressive activities must have prior approval from the Office of Legal Services.

 

1In the event that multiple individuals or organizations submit conflicting reservation requests, the following order of precedence shall govern: (1) official college sponsored activities and events; (2) recognized student organization activities and events; (3) student activities and events; and (4) all other activities and events.

2The expression of competing viewpoints or multiple speakers in proximity to each other does not, without more, constitute a substantial disruption.

3The expression of competing viewpoints or multiple speakers in proximity to each other does not, without more, constitute a substantial disruption.

This page was last modified on June 11, 2014. If you are looking for previous catalog information, please reference the 2008-2010 Catalog, 2010-2012 Catalog, or 2013-2014 Catalog.


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