President’s Cabinet Revises Freedom of Expression Policy

Emily Smith, Editor in Chief

The President’s Cabinet approved a revised Freedom of Expression Policy Feb. 7.

Although the revised policy still states that students must submit a “Free Speech Area Request Form” and avoid using sound amplification equipment, changes have been made to other guidelines.

The revised policy provides broader freedom of expression guidelines for members of the Armstrong community — including students, faculty and staff — compared to campus visitors.

“We wanted to make it clear that students, faculty and staff have the right to assemble anywhere on campus, not just in a designated Free Speech Area,” Armstrong’s vice president for student affairs, Georj Lewis, said in a statement. “Armstrong’s Free Speech Area establishes guidelines and parameters for campus visitors who may be interested in expressing their views on our campus.”

The Free Speech Area (allotted for visitors but open to the Armstrong community) is defined in the policy as “two grass lawns bordered directly by the Sports Center Parking lot and the Student Union with sidewalks on three sides.”

The revised policy also allows demonstrations to be held within a larger time frame. In the former policy, the free expression area was “generally available between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.” The updated version states that demonstrations can now be held between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11p.m., Monday through Sunday.

“I’m pleased that we have strategically revised the policy to make it clearer that Armstrong students, faculty and staff have the right to demonstrate or to assemble anywhere on campus between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., provided that they follow certain guidelines, including not violating state or federal law, not destroying university property and not interrupting normal university activities,” Lewis said.

Faculty, staff, student, or campus visitors that wish to use the Free Speech Area must still submit a Free Speech Area Request Form and requests must be submitted at least two business days in advance of the activity. According to the policy, this advance notice is to prevent simultaneous or competing assemblies/demonstrations and to arrange for adequate staffing.

The online Free Speech Area Request Form requires the applicant to provide a contact name, address, and phone number. It can be found at the Armstrong website.

“We support the right to freedom of expression at Armstrong, as we always have, for our students, faculty and staff,” Lewis said in a statement.