6.31 Free Speech, Public Assembly, and Distribution/Petitioning Regulations
Central Piedmont Community College is committed to supporting freedom of speech and recognizes that free speech is the best means for arriving at truth and mutual understanding. The College also recognizes that the rights to assemble peaceably and to petition the government for redress of grievances are important components of free speech. Therefore, the College will protect the rights of free speech, petition, and peaceable assembly as set forth in the U.S. Constitution. However, it is also the responsibility of the College to provide a suitable environment for its students, faculty, and staff to study, conduct research, and perform other activities without undue interference or disturbance.
Thus, the College has adopted reasonable time, place, and manner regulations concerning acts of expression and dissent.
II. Speech and Assembly for College Students, Staff, and Faculty
The College is committed to making the majority of its outdoor spaces available to currently enrolled students, staff, and faculty who wish to exercise the rights of free speech, petition, and peaceable assembly, provided they do not: disrupt the normal or previously scheduled activities of the College; violate the free speech, assembly, or movement of other individuals or organizations; damage property; or create an unsafe situation for any individual, group, or organization. Outdoor assembly may not be conducted within 30 feet of any building or otherwise interfere with free flow of vehicular, bicycle, or pedestrian traffic.
Although prior registration by students, staff, and faculty is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended. Prior registration and planning ensures that the desired space will be available on the desired date and time. Prior registration should be handled in accordance with the provisions set out in Section IV below.
III. Speech and Assembly for Non-College-Affiliated Individuals and Groups
Central Piedmont places reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner in which non-College-affiliated individuals and groups may exercise rights of free speech, petition, and peaceable assembly on College property.
The College has designated certain areas for free speech, outdoor public assemblies, and distribution/petitioning and requires non-College-affiliated individuals and groups, without regard to the content of their activities, to confine such activities to these areas. The College reserves the right to relocate any assembly to ensure that the activity does not interfere with the normal operation of the College.
If campus buildings are used as public polling places, all activity must be in accordance with statutory and state/local Board of Elections requirements.
IV. Registration and Regulations
Participants exercising their rights of free speech, petition, and peaceable assembly must follow these regulations:
A. Registration: Non-College-affiliated individuals and groups must register with the Student Life Office at least 3 business days, but no more than 30 business days, in advance by completing the Registration for Use of Designated Area form (PDF). The Student Life Office will notify Campus Security, the Campus Dean, and the Public Information Officer regarding any registration. A separate registration form is required for each day and site. Upon request of a College official, non-affiliated individuals and groups will be required to provide proof of registration for use of the designated area. College students, staff, faculty, and affiliated groups who have chosen not to register must be able to show current and valid College identification.
B. Time Restrictions: The designated areas are available for use between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays when the College's general curriculum classes are in session.
C. Priority: The College will assign use of a designated area to the person or organization that requests the area first; however, the College reserves the right to deny use of an area if necessary for public safety reasons.
D. Non-Interference: Assembly and petitioning activities may not interfere with or inconvenience College operations or programs and must be consistent with the College's educational purposes. Participants in assembly and petitioning activities must comply with the College’s Student Code of Conduct and/or policies governing staff and faculty and may not obstruct, disrupt, interrupt, or attempt to physically force the cancellation of any event or activity sponsored by the College or by users authorized to use the College facilities. Further, participants may not engage in harassing, physically abusive, threatening, or intimidating conduct toward any person. Participants shall comply with the directives of any College official acting in the performance of his or her duty.
E. The Right to Dissent: The right to dissent is the complement of the right to speak, but these rights need not occupy the same forum at the same time. A speaker is entitled to communicate his or her message to the audience during his or her allotted time, and the audience is entitled to hear the message and see the speaker during that time. A dissenter must not substantially interfere with the speaker's ability to communicate or the audience's ability to hear and see the speaker. Likewise, the audience must respect the right to dissent.
F. No Public Address System: Use of public address systems or amplified sound will not be permitted.
G. Dissemination or Display of Printed Material: Participants may petition and/or distribute pamphlets, booklets, brochures, and other forms of printed material within designated areas on the condition that such material is designed for informational (not commercial) purposes. Any parties interested in pursuing commercial activity must be in compliance with Policy 6.33. The participants must provide a receptacle for the disposal of such materials. The College does not assume any obligation or liability for the content of such distributed material. Any signs used may not be larger than three feet by four feet in size. Signs must either be held by participants or be freestanding signs that do not stick into the ground. No signs may be mounted on buildings, trees, or other College property.
H. Care of Designated Areas: Participants are responsible for the cleanliness and order of a designated area following its use; they should leave the designated area in the same condition it was in before the activity. Participants who damage or destroy College property shall be held responsible for such damage or destruction. This includes the campus buildings, sidewalks, lawns, shrubs, and trees.
I. Non-Compliance: All individuals and organizations participating in expressive speech, outdoor assemblies, and distribution/petitioning are subject to sanction for failing to comply with these regulations or other College policies. Such sanctions may include payment of reasonable charges resulting from non-compliance, including, but not limited to, repairing; cleaning; painting; and/or replacement costs. College students, faculty, and staff may also be subject to institutional disciplinary or administrative action as outlined in the Central Piedmont Student Handbook and/or policies governing staff and faculty. Those who violate these regulations may be issued a trespass warning and denied future access to College premises. Violations that require police intervention will be reported to the College's Security Services.
V. Public Forums
City sidewalks are public forums, available to all members of the public. The assembly must comply with federal and state laws and city ordinances.
Changes approved by Cabinet on March 26, 2007; September 28, 2009; September 26, 2011; February 11, 2013; November 2, 2015