Free Speech, Public Assembly, and Distributing/Petitioning Guidelines and Procedures

I. Policy

Central Piedmont Community College is committed to supporting freedom of speech. The College 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, safe, and healthy environment for its students, faculty, and staff, and non-college affiliated groups, which is conducive to study, teaching and learning, public service, conducting research, and performing other activities, without undue interference or disturbance. Thus, the College has adopted regulations concerning acts of expression and dissent.

II. Speech and Assembly for Non-College Affiliated Individuals and Groups Guidelines and Procedures

A. Guidelines

Central Piedmont Community College endeavors to make as many spaces on campuses as practical available for use by non-college affiliated individuals and groups, subject to reasonable guidelines and registration procedures. Prior registration by non-college affiliated groups and visitors to campus for the use of spaces is required. Central Piedmont places reasonable restrictions on the time and place in which non-College-affiliated individuals and groups may exercise rights of free speech, petition, and peaceable assembly on College property.

The use of spaces must not violate federal, state, or local statutes, regulations, codes, or ordinances. Space use must be consistent with and complimentary to the educational mission of the College. As such, priority use of facilities and grounds shall be given to students, staff, faulty, and student organizations. Use of facilities by non-college affiliated groups or individuals shall not disrupt the administrative and educational functions of the College shall be appropriate in size for activities conducted therein, and shall not create an unsafe or threatening condition for participants and non-participants.

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. In addition, College facilities may be used by groups and for uses required by North Carolina General Statutes 115D-20(8).

B. Registration and Usage Procedures

Participants exercising their rights of free speech, petition, and peaceable assembly must follow these Procedures:

1. Registration

Non-College-affiliated individuals and groups must register with the college at least three business days, but no more than 30 business days, in advance, by completing the Registration for Use of Designated Area form. Communications, Marketing, and Public Relations 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 College identification.

2. Time Restrictions

The designated areas are available for use between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, when the College's general curriculum classes are in session.

3. Priority

The College will assign use of a designated area to faculty, staff, students, and College-affiliated groups first; then, to Non-College affiliated groups or individuals. The College reserves the right however to deny use of an area if necessary for public safety or health reasons.

4. 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, discriminatory, 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. The purpose of this guideline is not to restrict or prevent freedom of speech, petition, or assembly; rather, it is to ensure the uninterrupted processes of teaching, learning, and College operations, to prevent the obstruction of free movement, and to promote the general welfare of the entire campus community.

5. 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 their 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.

6. No Public Address System

Use of public address systems or amplified sound on College grounds will not be permitted. Only College-owned or installed amplification equipment may be used indoors.

7. 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, non-commercial purposes. Any parties interested in pursuing commercial activity must comply with Non-College Related Solicitation of Employees and Students on Premises Guidelines and Procedures. 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 (3” X 4’) 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, walls, glass surfaces, trees, lamp posts, or other College property.

8. Care of Designated Areas

Participants are responsible for the cleanliness and order of a designated area. Following its use, organizers 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 financially responsible for such damage or destruction. This includes the campus buildings, furniture, sidewalks, lawns, shrubs, and trees.

9. Non-Compliance

All individuals and organizations participating in expressive speech, outdoor assemblies, distribution of literature, and/or 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-up, 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.

III. Public Forums

City sidewalks are public forums, available to all members of the public. Any assembly in these fora must comply with federal and state laws and city ordinances.

Public Assembly Locations at Each Campus

Public assembly locations are designated on each campus map:


Registration for Use of Designated Area form

Related Policies and Procedures