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FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION PROCEDURES

Terms used below have the same definition as the Policy on Freedom of Speech and Expression, C11.0. These procedures shall apply to the RIT campus, at any RIT international location, at university sponsored events or programs off campus, and while students are studying abroad, unless otherwise stated

Regulation of Speech or Expression

  1. Unprotected Speech. Speech or expression which is not protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution is Unprotected Speech. Unprotected Speech shall be censored, curtailed, regulated, or prohibited on property owned or leased by RIT and at RIT sponsored events or programs. Obscene speech, subversive speech, fighting words, defamation, and commercial speech are deemed to be Unprotected Speech. Harassment is similarly unprotected and subject to RIT’s Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment C6.0, RIT’s Student Conduct Process D18.0, RIT’s Student Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy- Title IX D19.0, and applicable laws. All Unprotected Speech may also be subject to other RIT policies and procedures.
    1. Obscene Speech is speech that appeals to prurient interests, depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive way, and lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
    2. Subversive Speech is speech that advocates the use of force or unlawful action and is likely to incite or produce such force or action. It must present a clear and present danger and include a strong and pervasive call to imminent violence.
    3. Fighting words are words that by their very nature are likely to incite an immediate breach of the peace.
    4. Defamation are false words about an individual, that are published without the permission of that person, and which causes injury to their reputation.  Defamation may be subject to other policies and procedures, as well as applicable laws. The university's determination that speech is defamation shall not imply that the speech is defamation for purposes other than this Policy.
    5. Commercial Speech is speech where the intended audience is consumers. It is spoken by an individual or entity with a good or service to sell for the purpose of inducing consumers to engage in a commercial transaction.
  2. Protected Speech. Speech or expression that is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution is Protected Speech. Protected Speech may not be censored, curtailed, regulated or prohibited by the university, except in accordance with the following principles.
    1. Reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions can be used to:
      1. Protect public safety,
      2. Ensure that the work of the university is not impaired in any way,
      3. Ensure that access to university buildings is maintained,
      4. Prevent the infringement upon the equal rights and freedoms of others, or
      5. Balance the costs associated with an event against the principles articulated in this policy.
    2. Whenever possible, any regulation of Protected Speech shall minimize the impact such regulation shall have on the ability of members of the RIT community to freely express their views and to peacefully and lawfully protest against actions and opinions with which they disagree.
    3. Protected Speech shall not be censored, curtailed, regulated or prevented on the basis of content or viewpoint.
  3. Event Approval Process. The determination of whether or not an event shall be allowed on property owned or leased by RIT shall be made in accordance with existing university procedures for the approval of events. If university procedures do not exist for the approval of a particular event, the divisional vice president for the division sponsoring the event shall make the determination, in consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs. When determining if an event will be approved, consideration shall be given to the type of event planned. Public speaking events shall be subject to these procedures and, to the extent the public speaking event contains Protected Speech, it shall not be censored, curtailed, regulated, or prohibited, except in accordance with the Policy on Freedom of Speech and Expression (C11.0) and the principles outlined herein. For purposes of these procedures, demonstrations, protests, and rallies may be considered events requiring approval if the sponsor of the demonstration, protest, or rally seeks to arrange adequate space to accommodate the expected audience.
    1. Events sponsored by student clubs, organizations, chapters, and groups shall utilize the procedures established by the division of Student Affairs. (https://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/campuslife/event-planning).
    2. Events sponsored by external visitors, faculty or staff shall utilize the procedures established by the division of Government and Community Relations. (https://www.rit.edu/gcr/hosting-event-rit).
    3. The sponsorship of events may also be subject to other procedures established by an appropriate department, college, or division. Those seeking to sponsor an event have the responsibility of determining and complying with all applicable procedures.
  4. Demonstrations, Protests, and Rallies. RIT vigorously supports the rights of all members of the RIT Community to freely express their views and to peacefully and lawfully protest against actions and opinions with which they disagree.  Outdoor picketing, marches, rallies, protests, and other demonstrations are traditional and legitimate forms of speech and expression. Such activities are allowed provided that they occur in accordance with the principles outlined in the Policy on Freedom of Speech and Expression (C11.0) and these procedures, including but not limited to, time, place, and manner restrictions.
    1. Any decision that RIT might take to regulate speech or expression by members of the RIT Community, shall be based on RIT’s commitment to foster a safe and civil environment where differing views and opinions are expressed.  Open-mindedness, civility, respect, decency, and sensitivity for the opinions and rights of others, however different from one’s own, are crucial to fulfilling the university’s academic mission.
    2. Demonstrations, protests, and rallies occurring indoors, for example in classrooms, libraries, residential halls, or faculty or administrative offices, shall not be permitted except when approved in accordance with the event approval process.
  5. Advertisements and Announcements.  Advertisements and announcements are a form of speech and shall be subject to these procedures. To the extent that advertisements and announcements are deemed to be Unprotected Speech (as determined utilizing the appropriate approval process) they shall be censored, curtailed, regulated, or prohibited on property owned or leased by RIT. To the extent that advertisements and announcements are deemed to be Protected Speech, they shall comply with the applicable posting requirements.
    1. Student clubs, organizations, chapters, and groups seeking to advertise an approved event shall comply with RIT’s Vending Policy (C20.0), the RIT Center for Campus Life’s Posting Procedures for Advertisement and Announcements and any additional procedures that may be established from time to time.
    2. External visitors, faculty or staff seeking to advertise an approved event shall comply with RIT’s Vending Policy (C20.0) and any additional procedures that may be established from time to time.
  6. RIT Housing. RIT’s various housing options are considered RIT property. These procedures and the Policy on Freedom of Speech and Expression (C11.0) shall apply to speech and expression occurring on RIT property, including but not limited to, the residence halls, bedroom suites, apartments, and Greek housing.
    1. Residents of RIT housing are expected to comply with the terms and conditions of their housing contracts. (Housing Terms and Conditions). In the event of a conflict between the terms and conditions of the housing contract and these procedures or the Policy on Freedom of Speech and Expression, the terms and conditions of the housing contract shall govern.
    2. Residents of RIT housing are expected to comply with other applicable RIT policies, such as the Honor Code (P3.0), Core Values (P4.0), the Student Conduct Code (D18.0), and the Student Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy – Title IX (D19.0).
    3. These procedures and the Policy on Freedom of Speech and Expression (C11.0) does not grant an unfettered right to protest in RIT housing, or interfere with or infringe upon the equal rights of others, or create unsafe or unwelcoming conditions for roommates or other RIT housing residents. Given the special purpose that RIT housing serves as residences for student, these procedures and the Policy on Freedom of Speech and Expression (C11.0) shall be narrowly interpreted to afford all residents of RIT housing the ability at the quiet enjoyment of their residence.
    4. For purposes of these procedures, quiet enjoyment of their residence means the ability to sleep and study without unreasonable interference, an environment which does not endanger the health, safety, or well-being of a resident, or the unfettered access to the resident’s room, apartment, or suite.
  7. Offices and Workspaces. RIT offices and workspaces are considered RIT property. These procedures and the Policy on Freedom of Speech and Expression (C11.0) shall apply to speech and expression occurring on RIT property, including but not limited to, employee offices and workspaces.
    1. Employees are expected to comply with other applicable RIT policies, such as the Honor Code (P3.0), Core Values (P4.0), the Compliance Code and Code of Ethical Conduct (C0.0), Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment (C 6.0), and the Policy on Resolution of Conflicts and Concerns Among RIT Employees (C6.1).
    2. Employee offices and workspaces are not considered personal property as defined in the Privacy Policy (C7.0).
    3. Employee offices and workspaces shall be used for the sole purpose of conducting RIT business. Given the special purpose that employee offices and workspaces serve, these procedures and the Policy on Freedom of Speech and Expression (C11.0) shall be narrowly interpreted to ensure non-interference with the business of the university and the creation of a safe work environment for all university employees.
    4. Individual supervisors and/or managers shall have the responsibility, in consultation with the Department of Human Resources and the appropriate divisional vice president, to ensure that a university employee’s office and workspace does not interfere with the business of the university or create an unwelcoming or unsafe work environment. An unwelcoming or unsafe work environment shall be one that reasonably discourages members of the RIT Community from entering into or walking by an employee’s office and workspace.
    5. For purposes of these procedures, there shall be no distinction among individual employee offices or between employee offices and workspaces. These procedures and the Policy on Freedom of Speech and Expression (C11.0) shall apply to all employee offices and workspaces regardless of location, size, or the frequency of visitors.

 

Time, Place, and Manner Restrictions
 

  1. Time, place, and manner restrictions shall be established by the Department of Public Safety. They shall be published and made available to the RIT Community. The Office of Legal Affairs shall review the time, place, and manner restrictions on a regular basis, but not less than annually. Any revisions to time, place, and manner restrictions shall be approved by the senior vice president of Finance and Administration, in consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs.
  2. Time, place, and manner restrictions are reasonable when seeking to control excessive sound, prevent disruption or violence, and ensure ingress and egress of the campus, its buildings, and the areas within its buildings.
    1. Restrictions seeking to control excessive sound must be based on evidence of complaints relating to excessive noise and shall be such that they address the complaints. For these purposes, the likelihood that such complaints will be made shall be a consideration of whether or not to impose restrictions, but shall not be the only or determinative factor considered. Evidence of complaints can be based on prior complaints made for previous events.
    2. Restrictions seeking to prevent disruption or violence shall be broadly applied and take into consideration the impact that the disruption or violence is having, or will have, on members of the RIT community. Disruptive or violent actions are not allowed on property owned or leased by RIT, including but not limited to, classrooms, academic and administrative buildings, faculty and staff offices, and common indoor or outdoor spaces.
      1. An action is considered to be disruptive if it interferes with the quiet enjoyment of a particular university space or prevents participation by another in a university activity. For purposes of these procedures, quiet enjoyment of a particular university space means the ability to utilize the space for its intended purpose. Faculty may determine if an action is disruptive in their classroom and their determination shall be given great latitude.
      2. An action is considered to be violent if it is more likely than not to cause physical or emotional harm to another. The likelihood of harm shall be based on a reasonable person standard.
    3. Restrictions seeking to ensure ingress and egress of the campus, its buildings and the areas within its buildings shall take into account any alternative entrances and exits to the campus and its buildings, the number of individuals preventing the ingress and egress, the nature of the building at issue, and the time of day.
  3. Time, place, and manner restrictions are unreasonable when they are content or viewpoint based. Content and viewpoint neutral restrictions shall be presumed reasonable.
  4. All time, place, and manner restrictions shall apply equally to all speakers, events, demonstrations, or protests regardless of the subject matter to be presented or discussed.
  5. All time, place, and manner restrictions shall seek to achieve the least restrictive outcome and shall be narrowly tailored to address the situation presented.
  6. In certain situations, the university may create speech free buffer zones. Speech free buffer zones are intended to create physical space between individuals expressing opposing views.
    1. Speech free buffer zones are not intended to prevent or silence opposing views. They are areas between individuals expressing opposing views where no protest or demonstration can occur.
    2. The university shall exercise its discretion in determining if speech free buffer zones should be created, as well as their duration, and their size.
    3. No speech free buffer zone shall be created which impairs the ability of individuals expressing opposing views to see and hear each other.
  7. RIT Henrietta Campus Time, Place, and Manner Restrictions. The university reserves the right to review, revise and/or amend these time, place, and manner restrictions upon its sole and exclusive discretion from time to time and without prior notice to the RIT Community. The following are time, place, and manner restrictions applicable to the RIT Henrietta Campus. RIT’s international campuses may have time, place, and manner restrictions applicable to their locations.
    1. Students, student clubs/organizations, faculty, and staff may engage in freedom of speech or expression activities at any time, provided that they do not interfere or disrupt the business operations of the university, classes in session, or other scheduled academic, educational, cultural/arts program.
    2. Third parties and/or invited guests may only engage in freedom of speech or expression activities daily between the hours of 8 AM to 10 PM, provided that the appropriate approvals have been obtained. (See “Event Approval Process”).
    3. No freedom of speech or expression activities shall take place in the residential areas of the campus before 8 AM or after 10 PM. Freedom of speech or expression activities may take place in non-residential areas of the campus at any time provided they occur in accordance with the principles outlined in the Policy on Freedom of Speech and Expression (C11.0) and these procedures.
    4. All freedom of speech or expression activities shall following the event approval procedures applicable to the sponsorship and/or type of event.
    5. No freedom of speech or expression activity, utilizing sound amplification, shall take place when classes are in session.
    6. No freedom of speech or expression activity shall take place in parking lots, inside university buildings, or within twenty (20) feet of any location in which instructional, educational, or official business activities are being conducted.
    7. No freedom of speech or expression activity shall interfere with or obstruct the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
    8. No freedom of speech or expression activity shall involve or promote an unlawful end, such as the violation of any federal, state, or local laws or regulations.
    9. The distribution of petitions, circulars, leaflets, newspapers, and other printed materials shall occur only in designated areas and only in accordance with applicable RIT policies and procedures, including but not limited, to RIT’s Solicitation Procedures.


Appeal Process

RIT Community members requesting an appeal regarding the enforcement of this policy shall present such request to the Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer or their designee within five (5) business days of the receipt of the enforcement determination. The community member requesting an appeal shall be permitted an opportunity to present information to the Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer. No later than ten (10) business days from the date of the request for an appeal the Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer shall present their written decision.  The Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer’s decision shall be final.

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