RU Deans memo 2012

First Amendment Resolution (Passed by RU Dean’s Council Jan. 15, 2012)


* Institutions of higher education exist to promote the development of critical minds and the furthering of individual rights, honest inquiry, and the core values of liberty, legal equality, and dignity, and

* Radford University’s QEP theme, Scholar-Citizen, seeks to promote “active or scholarly participation in the complex, multicultural, and  ever-changing world by connecting, engaging, and applying academic skills and disciplinary knowledge to the challenges facing local, national, and global communities, and

* Radford University’s 7-17 Plan embraces a “commitment to the development of mature, responsible, well educated citizens,” and

* Radford University’s policies should reflect and exemplify our values, and

* Being a publicly funded institution, free speech by members of the public on the RU campus is guaranteed by the First Amendment, and

* The requirement for an RU student group to sponsor an assembly is an unnecessary prior restraint that limits free speech, and

often demonstrations and rallies are spontaneous responses to recent or still-unfolding events. Requiring people to wait 48 or even 24 hours to hold such a demonstration may interfere with the demonstrators’ message by rendering it untimely, and

* Restricting free speech to just one or two areas of a large campus or that require substantial advanced registration are undoubtedly “substantially broader than necessary” to protect the educational process, and

* The current Radford University policy defining free speech zones presents unnecessary restraints of the exercise of free speech on campus, and

* Free speech zones constitute “prior restraints” on speech that are generally inconsistent with the First Amendment, and

* The burden on speech caused by the free speech zones is “substantially broader than necessary” to achieve the government’s interest, and limiting free speech to a particular zone(s) is not a prerequisite to maintain a safe, secure, and quiet educational environment, and

* Other RU student policies are adequate to prevent and punish of any disruptive conduct, and

* It should not be assumed before the fact, that student or faculty expression will be impermissibly disruptive, and

* The Radford University Police Department is staffed by trained professionals, who are fully capable of enforcing any violations of the law (including such as noise, blocking sidewalks, destruction of property, disorderly conduct, etc.), and

* The current Radford University policy defining posting of flyers presents unnecessary restraints of the exercise of free speech on campus, and

* James Madison University, the University of Virginia, and the College of William & Mary, recently eliminated their speech codes to earn “green lights” by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

Be it resolved that:

”’The Council of Deans recommends that:”’


* The Radford University free speech zone policy be eliminated,

* The requirement for assembly sponsorship by a student group be eliminated,

* The RU campus policy should state that those involved in planning an assembly on the RU campus are strongly encouraged to notify the RU Police Department in advance of their intent to hold an assembly, and

* Any noise policy be clearly defined and measurable (e.g. 85db(C) @ 20 ft., or 80 db(A) with 300 Hz equalizing filter measured from the nearest building)

* The policy of requiring approval of flyers to be posted on campus bulletin boards be eliminated (stamping, limited numbers, student group sponsorship, etc.)

* A policy on posting flyers to bulletin boards should encourage free speech, while allowing building managers to manage the bulletin boards

** (e.g. McConnell Library Posting policy states: McConnell Library is a hub for information. We encourage Radford University organizations and individuals to utilize the library’s bulletin boards and media racks to advertise events and services, following these guidelines:


*** Materials may be posted on any of our three public bulletin boards. They are located in the lobby by the front door; outside of Classroom B on Level 3; and in the older section near the elevator on Level 2. They may not be distributed anywhere else in the library.


*** Materials will be cleared every Wednesday unless they are advertising events on specific dates, or have specific deadlines.


*** Advertisements for commercial or non-charitable enterprises cannot be posted.)