Policy No: 2081 Responsible Office: Student Affairs Last Review Date: 07/05/2022 Next Required Review: 07/05/2027
Speech, Expressive Activities, and Use of University Space, Facilities, and Grounds
The purpose of this policy is to promote the free exchange of ideas and the safe and efficient operation of the University.
Access and use of facilities managed by USA Health or University of South Alabama Health Care Authority are addressed elsewhere in USA Health policies.
Expressive activities: does not include expression that relates solely to the economic interests of the speaker and its audience and proposes an economic transaction. It includes, but is not limited to:
- Meetings and other group activities of registered USA student organizations;
- Speeches, performances, demonstrations, peaceful assemblies, rallies, vigils, and other similar events by students, employees, and visitors;
- Carrying signs or hanging posters;
- Circulating petitions;
- Distribution of literature, such as leafleting and pamphleting; and
- Any other expression protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and applicable state law.
4. Policy Guidelines
4.1 Non-Interference with Expressive Activities
The University shall not permit members of the campus community to engage in conduct that materially and substantially disrupts another person's protected expressive activity or infringes on the rights of others to engage in or listen to a protected expressive activity that is occurring in a location that has been reserved for that protected expressive activity. “Material and substantial” disruption occurs when a person:
- Significantly hinders the protected expressive activity of another person or group, prevents the communication of a message of another person or group, or prevents the transaction of the business of a lawful meeting, gathering, or procession by engaging in fighting, violence, or other unlawful behavior; and
- Physically blocks or uses threats of violence to prevent any person from attending, listening to, viewing, or otherwise participating in a protected expressive activity. Conduct protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, including, but not limited to, lawful protests and counter-protests occurring in outdoor areas of campus generally accessible to members of the public, are not considered material and substantial disruptions except during times when those areas have been reserved in advance for other events.
Likewise, minor, brief, or fleeting nonviolent disruptions of events that are isolated and short in duration are not considered material and substantial disruptions. Any member of the campus community who materially and substantially disrupts the free expression of others on campus may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including removal from the University community and/or termination of employment.
4.2 Anti-Harassment Statement
The University shall prohibit any expression that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to effectively deny a student, administrator, faculty, or staff member access to an educational opportunity or benefit provided by the University.
4.3 University Neutrality
The University supports free association and will not deny a student organization any benefit or privilege available to any other student organization or otherwise discriminate against an organization based on the expression of the organization. University students, administrators, faculty, and staff are free to take positions on public controversies and to engage in protected expressive activity in outdoor areas of the campus, and to spontaneously and contemporaneously assemble, speak, and distribute literature. The University will not require students, administrators, faculty, or staff to publicly express a given view of a public controversy. The University will also not create free speech zones or other designated outdoor areas of campus in an effort to limit or prohibit protected expressive activities by campus community members.
The University shall be open to any speaker whom the University’s student organizations or faculty have invited, and the University will make all reasonable efforts to make available all reasonable resources to ensure the safety of the campus community. The University will not charge security fees based on the protected expressive activity of any member of the campus community or the member's organization, the content of the invited guest's speech, or the anticipated reaction or opposition of the listeners to the speech.
5.1 General Requirements
5.1.1 Indoor Expressive Activities
22.214.171.124 Non-Members of the Campus Community
Pursuant to the University’s Community Reservations Policy, non-members of the campus community may use or reserve only those indoor facilities of the University that are specifically identified in the Community Reservations Policy as available for use. Non-members of the campus community may not use or reserve any other University indoor facility.
126.96.36.199 Members of the Campus Community
Members of the campus community and registered student organizations must schedule all non-academic events to be held inside University facilities through the events management software (EMS) system.
Any procedures, deposits, forms, etc., that are required by the building requested must be completed at least five (5) working days prior to the event. The event must be listed on the University Calendar through the Office of Special Events. Only University-sponsored events may be advertised in University publications without charge.
5.1.3 Sound Equipment and Amplification
No musical instrument or sound amplification equipment of any kind, including stereo turntables, stationary, or mobile public address systems, are allowed on concourses, streets, or in areas adjacent to occupied buildings or around the Student Center unless otherwise allowed by the Dean of Students or a person designated by the Vice President for Student Affairs.
Any litter generated by any material being distributed must be collected and properly disposed of by the person or organization distributing the material. Failure to do so may result in charges to the responsible organization or department for the cleaning services. Placement of printed materials on motor vehicles is prohibited.
5.1.5 Interference with University Operations and Traffic and Protection of University Buildings and Property
All persons engaging in activities on University property are subject to and must comply with all University policies and procedures. Any individuals engaging in activities in University spaces may not block or otherwise interfere with the free flow of vehicular, bicycle, or pedestrian traffic. The right of way on streets and sidewalks must be maintained. Persons may not block or interfere with entrances and exits to campus buildings, and shall not prevent, obstruct, or interfere with regular academic, administrative, student, employee, or other approved activities at the University. University property must be protected, and any alteration, damage, or destruction of University facilities, property, or outdoor landscaping is strictly prohibited. Open flames, fires, or pyrotechnics are not permitted on any University property unless previously approved by the University Fire Marshal.
5.1.6 Safety and Security
The safety and well-being of members of the campus community and visitors to the University must be protected at all times. All persons engaging in activities on University property shall not engage in physically abusive or threatening conduct toward any person or group and shall always comply with the directions of the University of South Alabama Police Department. The University reserves the right to impose reasonable restrictions on events occurring on campus to ensure the safety of the University, including the use of security for campus events and modifications to the time, place, or manner of campus events to ensure the safety of the participants and of the campus as a whole.
5.1.7 Outdoor Expressive Activities
188.8.131.52 Non-Members of the Campus Community
Expressive activity by individuals or groups who are not members of the campus community may only be held around the Student Center. Reservations are not required, but priority for use of the space will be given, first to those with reservations and then on a first-come, first-serve basis for those without reservations. A limit of time may be imposed if a reservation has been previously made by another individual or organization. Reservations may be requested for same-day expressive activity, but more advanced notice is recommended due to demand for the space.
Reservations may be made with the Associate Director of the Student Center. The Associate Director of the Student Center may deny a reservation for the following reasons:
- The space is already reserved for another event;
- The activity will attract a crowd larger than the venue can safely contain;
- The activity will substantially disrupt University operations (including classes);
- The activity will impede the flow of traffic;
- The activity is a clear and present danger to public safety; and
- The activity is unlawful.
184.108.40.206 Members of the Campus Community
For members of the campus community (i.e., students, administrators, faculty, staff, and invited guests of University students, administrators, faculty, and staff), all outdoor areas of the University campus are open for expressive activities except for the following:
- Areas within 100 feet of academic buildings (between 7 am – 10 pm); and
- Areas within 100 feet of residential housing buildings.
Any expressive activity beyond the Student Center will require that the University be able to identify the University individual or organization involved and that person or organization must abide by this policy.
Reservations are not required for members of the campus community, but priority for use of the space will be given, first to those with reservations and then on a first-come, first-serve basis for those without reservations. A limit of time may be imposed, or the exhibit or demonstration may be relocated by the Dean of Students, if a reservation has been previously made by another member of the campus community. Reservations may be requested for same-day expressive activity, but more advanced notice is recommended due to demand for the space. Reservations may be made with the Director of the Student Center.
The Director of the Student Center may deny a reservation for an outdoor area of campus for the following reasons:
- The space is already reserved for another event;
- The activity will attract a crowd larger than the venue can safely contain;
- The activity will significantly and substantially disrupt University operations (including classes);
- The activity is a clear and present danger to public safety; and
- The activity is unlawful.
5.2 Indoor Posting
This policy applies to materials hung in or affixed to the inside of University buildings or bulletin boards. Individuals authorized by the University to do so may remove materials posted that are not in accordance with this policy. Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Associate Director of the Student Center.
5.2.1 Reservation Process
Reservations for all flyers, posters, and banners should be made at the Student Center Information Desk located on the second floor or the Student Center Services Office on the first floor (unless a different group has approval authority as indicated below in Section 5.2.3). Groups or departments that have their own bulletin board do not need to make reservations for postings on their own board. All reserved flyers, posters, and banners must bear the stamped reservation date of the Student Center Office except those utilized in spaces designated for a specific organization or department.
Posters that announce meetings, programs, and special events sponsored by members of the campus community will be permitted in all University buildings. All material must include: the name of the sponsoring group, individual, or department and, if necessary, an accompanying English translation. Materials may not contain obscene language, drawings, or illustrations. Materials may not make any reference in print or graphics to alcohol. For fundraisers, all beneficiaries of the fundraising effort must be specified in the promotional material.
A flyer is any paper not exceeding the size 8.5 x 11 inches. A poster is any paper that is not a flyer and does not exceed the size 24 x 17 inches.
- All flyers/posters must be approved and stamped by the Student Center Information Desk, except as noted below. The Student Center Information Desk, or other reviewing body noted below, will only review flyers/posters for compliance with the criteria set forth in Section 5.2.2, “Criteria.”;
- Up to 50 flyers/posters allowed for USA student organizations;
- Up to 15 flyers/posters allowed for individuals or non-USA groups;
- Not more than 1 flyer/poster per bulletin board per individual / group;
- No flyers/posters are allowed on painted surfaces, on the outside of any building, doors, or windows, or on trees;
- No posters are allowed on painted surfaces, doors, or glass. Special regulations governing student campaigns may be adopted by the SGA Election Committee;
- All sheet signs must be approved by Student Government Association in accordance with the guidelines for sheet signs set forth below in Section 5.3.1;
- Items must not be hung in a manner which would obscure previously posted (and current) flyers;
- Materials may be posted until the event is completed or for a maximum of 30 days. The Student Center staff will remove posters on the last day of each month. All groups are encouraged to remove their own materials in a timely fashion and to remove other dated material when posting their own; and
- Multi-date events may be posted for an entire quarter; however, such posters will be taken down at the conclusion of each quarter. Exceptions to time limitations may be made for posters promoting on-going programs of Student Services.
Flyers and posters may be posted in the following building and locations:
- Administration bldg: Bulletin board in basement. No flyers/posters on first floor;
- Classroom bldg: Approved bulletin boards;
- MCOB: Approved bulletin boards;
- HPELS: Approved bulletin boards College of Medicine: student lounge bulletin board;
- Library: bulletin board in front lobby;
- Life Sciences: Approved boards on each floor;
- Humanities: in hallway joining two wings;
- USA Mail Hub: approved bulletin boards;
- Shelby Hall: only electronic advertisements;
- Student Recreation Center (must be approved by Director of Campus Recreation);
- Student Center: Approved bulletin boards; and
- Student Center Mall: Between two front doors.
If in doubt, please check with the appropriate building staff to determine acceptable locations for posting of flyers/posters. Failure to comply with the above rules may result in the suspension of poster privileges for offending organization(s) and/or individuals.
5.2.4 Special Rules for Posting in the Student Center
These rules for posting in the Student Center apply to all members and non-members of the campus community, including, but not limited to, students, recognized and registered student organizations, academic and administrative departments, and non-USA affiliated groups and individuals, unless indicated otherwise.
- A maximum of four flyers may be posted in the Student Center per unique event, with only one such flyer permitted per bulletin board;
- Banners may only be hung from 2nd floor lobby rail and only by registered student organizations; and
- Banners may not exceed 3 feet in width and 10 feet in length. Banners exceeding these dimensions will be taken down by Student Center staff.
Groups wishing to hang banners must reserve a location with the Associate Director of the Student Center located in RM 150.
5.3 Outdoor Signage / Chalking
Outdoor signage, including, but not limited to, sheet signs, yards signs, and directional signs, and chalking by members of the campus community are permitted under this policy, subject to the limitations set forth herein. All other solicitations, promotions, advertisements, displays, sheet signs, yard signs, directional signs, or chalking on campus are prohibited. Individuals authorized by the University to do so may remove signage/chalking that is not in accordance with this policy.
5.3.1 Sheet Signs
Sheet signs advertising an event may be hung seven days prior to the specified event and must be removed within three days following the event. All other sheet signs may be posted for a maximum of 30 days. Each sheet sign must indicate the name of the associated University group or individual and the date that the sign was posted. Sheet signs must be hung between two trees (not on or between buildings or structures), must be hung with biodegradable cord, and may be placed anywhere on campus except Moulton Tower, Alumni Plaza, the area in front of the McQueen Alumni Center, and the area between the street side of University buildings and facilities on the periphery of campus from the portal of North Drive to the corner of campus at Old Shell Road, and Areas between the street side of University buildings and facilities on the periphery of campus from the portal of North Drive to the corner of campus at Old Shell Road and University Boulevard and to the portal of Stadium Drive and the public sidewalks. (For reference, the areas between the public sidewalks along Old Shell Road and University Boulevard and the red line depicted on the map available here: https://www.southalabama.edu/departments/studentaffairs/resources/usaperimetermap.pdf are restricted areas as described in this section.)
Sheet signs must not obstruct or impair visibility related to roadways or the ingress and egress to a building or area of campus. Any sheet signs that are not in full compliance with this policy are subject to removal and disposal without notice.
Chalking is allowed only on natural gray concrete sidewalks and streets that are subject to being washed by the rain, and the chalk used must be washable. No chalking can occur on sidewalks or building entrances that are covered in any way, nor on any type of brick or concrete pavers. Chalking is not allowed on walls, doors, windows, trees, or any vertical surfaces. Organizations or persons who violate this policy may be charged for time and materials to remove the chalk.
5.3.3 Yard Signs / Displays
Non-commercial yard signs or displays (no larger than 18 x 24 inches) or other displays placed in the ground with a stake or similar device may be placed only in outdoor areas of campus where members of the campus community are commonly allowed. They cannot be placed in flowering or non-flowering landscaping beds, tied to trees, or placed in the area immediately around the Mitchell Center, Moulton Tower, or Alumni Plaza or within the area between the street side of University buildings and facilities on the periphery of campus from the portal of North Drive to the corner of campus at Old Shell Road and Areas between the street side of University buildings and facilities on the periphery of campus from the portal of North Drive to the corner of campus at Old Shell Road and University Boulevard and to the portal of Stadium Drive and the public sidewalks. (For reference, the areas between the public sidewalks along Old Shell Road and University Boulevard and the red line depicted on the map available here: https://www.southalabama.edu/departments/studentaffairs/resources/usaperimetermap.pdf are restricted areas as described in this section.). The total number of related yard signs allowed on campus per event may not exceed twenty (20).
Yard signs may be reasonably displayed 72 hours before an event and must be removed within 24 hours of the event. Signs must be dated.
5.3.4 Special Rules for Directional Signage
Small directional signs (no larger than 18 x 24 inches) may be placed in outdoor grass areas within ten feet of roadways for events for which University space has been reserved when the majority of expected attendees are not members of the campus community. Directional signs must be placed the day of such event and removed at the conclusion of the event.
In addition to the rules set forth above, the University regulates the use of its facilities for solicitation of money by students, student organizations, employees, departments, other affiliates, and visitors. Solicitation by placing flyers on vehicles by USA or non-USA groups or individuals is strictly prohibited. Door-to-door solicitation is not allowed.
5.4.1 USA-Affiliated Groups
University of South Alabama student organizations, departments, or other affiliates of the University are permitted to engage in solicitation activities such as fundraisers on campus. Use of space for the selling of goods and/or services that is in close proximity to and in direct competition with exclusive University vendors such as the University Bookstore, Dining Services, Housing, Vending, or any other entities that have an exclusive contract with USA is prohibited.
Each event must follow the polices, rules, and regulations of the University and the laws of the State of Alabama or other governing body. Solicitation privileges may be revoked for violation of polices, rules, and/or regulations or for conduct that may be characterized as unlawful harassment or is otherwise in violation of University policy or applicable laws, rules, or regulations.
220.127.116.11 Solicitation in the Student Center
Solicitation in the Student Center. The USA Student Center requires any organization requesting space for solicitation in the Student Center to contact Student Center Services (460-6077) to make a reservation. Designated spaces are limited and restricted to the use of that space only. All organizations using designated solicitation space must adhere to all reservation policies of the Student Center.
5.4.2 Non-USA Groups
Non-University groups, individuals, or businesses are not permitted to solicit or distribute business-related materials, including, but not limited to, advertising, in University buildings or on the grounds except at designated places during designated times. Please contact Student Center Services at 460-6077 for more information about designated times. Any business, company, or service attempting to recruit for student employment must obtain approval from USA Career Services (460-6188) to reserve vendor space.
This policy shall be administered and enforced by the Dean of Students or other University officials as designated. Visitors to the campus and all others violating these regulations regarding time, place, manner of speeches, and demonstrations will be subject to immediate eviction or removal from campus by appropriate University agents or officials and may be subject to legal or University disciplinary action. Students and student organizations operating in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary action under the Student Code of Conduct, up to and including removal from the University.
Any violation or alleged violation of this policy must be reported to the Vice President for Student Affairs, whose office will coordinate management of the violation or alleged violation and document all relevant details of its resolution. Annual reports as required by Alabama law will be published on the University’s website beginning September 1, 2021. University employees will not consider the viewpoint of expressive activities when enforcing this policy. In the event any University policies are inconsistent with this policy on speech, expressive activities, and the use of University space, facilities, and grounds, this policy shall control.
Persons, agencies, or organizations wishing to appeal a decision based upon this policy may file a written appeal with the Vice President for Student Affairs within three working days of the decision. The decision of the Vice President for Student Affairs regarding the appeal will be rendered within three working days of receipt of the appeal and is final.