1. Commitment to Diversity and Inclusiveness
The varied perspectives of a diverse community enhance the academic and social environment of the College through the sharing of a broad range of ideas and the affirmation of cultural and social traditions. A multicultural experience is rewarding for all community members and the College is committed to fostering and celebrating this experience.
Freedom of inquiry and exploration are valued in this learning environment and members of the community are encouraged to express their ideas. However, a genuine sharing of ideas, perspectives, and values presupposes both freedom and responsibility. Consequently, all members of the community are expected to engage in civil discourse, reasoned thought, sustained discussion and constructive participation without degrading, abusing or silencing others.
Living up to these standards is not always easy. But because the community is enriched when they are honored and diminished when they are not honored, everyone at Gettysburg College is expected to make a good faith effort to grow into these standards. Behavior that violates these standards is considered a serious breach of responsibility and the College will determine an appropriate response; which may include mediation, public forum or other educational means.
Gettysburg College subscribes to the wisdom in the words of Justice Louis D. Brandeis:
“If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” (Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 1927).
It is the policy of Gettysburg College not to discriminate improperly against any matriculated student, employee or prospective employee on account of to race, ethnicity, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, marital/familial status, possession of a General Education Development Certificate (GED) as compared to a high school diploma, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex, age, or genetic information. Religious qualifications, however, may be required by organizations whose practices and observances depend upon religious homogeneity.
3. Freedom of Public Expression
Gettysburg College is committed to providing an environment where issues can be openly discussed and explored. The freedom to exchange views is essential to the life of the College. In order to provide an atmosphere in which open communication can occur without disrupting the academic mission or the daily functions of the College, this policy is in place to govern public expression of ideas and information (e.g. campus demonstrations, speakers, public distribution/posting of written materials, etc.).
Gettysburg College affords all members of the College community, which includes students, faculty, and staff, substantial privileges with respect to freedom of speech and expression. The College encourages the open expression of ideas, and the inclusion of contrary points of view. This freedom, however, is subject to reasonable restrictions of time, place, and manner so that the activities do not intrude upon or interfere with the academic mission and daily functions of the College, or with the rights of members of the College community as defined under College policy.
Commitment to Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse Policy
- Statement of Philosophy
Gettysburg College is committed to providing an environment where social and political issues and ideas are openly discussed and explored. The freedom to express ideas, exchange views and to engage in protest is essential to the life of the College. Gettysburg College affords all members of the student body substantial privileges with respect to freedom of speech and expression.
The College recognizes that some ideas will be viewed as offensive and disagreeable by some, perhaps even most, members of the community. Participating in a community where there is a diverse range of opinions, perspectives, and experiences is rewarding for all community members and the College is committed to fostering and celebrating this experience. It is expected that diverse views and opinions will, at times, create conflict and disagreement among members of the community. A genuine sharing of ideas, perspectives, and values presupposes both freedom and responsibility. Consequently, all members of the community are expected to engage in civil discourse, reasoned thought, sustained discussion, and constructive participation.
The College encourages its members to make independent judgements about the worth and validity of ideas and to contest ideas with which they disagree. Responsible dissent is a means of exposing errors in reasoning and the process of discovering truth. Any effort by members of the College community to limit openness in this academic community is a matter of serious concern and militates against the freedom of expression and the discovery of truth. Each member of the community is therefore free to express their point of view on, or opposition to, any issue of public interest within reasonable restrictions of time, place and manner. Each member of the community is also expected to help guarantee the ability of other community members to express themselves freely. No group or individual has the right to interfere with the legitimate activity of other authorized persons and groups as interference with expression compromises the College’s goal of creating an environment where issues can be openly discussed.
Postings, leaflets, chalking, and public gatherings are permissible except unless they violate the specific provisions outlined in Sections B and C of the Freedom of Expression policy. These are the narrow exceptions to a policy that otherwise encourages and celebrates free expression of ideas and public debate.* The college will use the educational means at its disposal, including mediation, public forums, sponsorship of debate and discussions, to promote civil discourse and reasoned debate of key social and political issues of the day.
Gettysburg College subscribes to the wisdom in the words of Justice Louis D. Brandeis:
“If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” (Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 1927)
- Time, Place, and Manner Guidelines for Public Expression on Campus (Events)
1. Demonstrations, speakers, the distribution or posting of leaflets, statements, petitions, chalking, and other forms of public expression are permitted on the campus within reasonable restrictions of time, place, and manner. Public expression includes assemblies, demonstrations, debates, forums, rallies, protests, picketing, speakers, etc. that are held on College property and are open to the general campus community.
- Public expression cannot be unlawful and must not violate or conflict with local, state, or federal laws.
- Public expression must not violate College policy and cannot jeopardize public or individual safety.
- The public expression of views and opinions cannot prevent, unduly obstruct, or interfere with the normal operations of the College. Normal operations of the College include:
- Academic activities, such as classes, labs, activities in any academic building, etc.
- Business activities of the College.
- Events or speakers hosted in accordance with College policy by academic departments, administrative departments, or registered student organizations.
- The functioning of the College’s residence hall communities.
- Access to any College facilities.
- Non-College individuals and organizations are not permitted to be involved in public expression on College property unless they are invited and sponsored by a recognized student organization.
A Sponsor, defined as a recognized College organization, academic department, or administrative department that invites a non-College individual or organization to speak or demonstrate on campus, shall have the following responsibilities:
- The Sponsor is responsible for assuring that the activities of the sponsored group are carried out in accord with the expectations delineated in the College Policy on Freedom of Public Expression and these guidelines that support the Policy.
- The Sponsor of any speaker, event, demonstration, etc. must be clearly identified in all publicity materials for the event, and at the beginning of the event itself.
- If the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students (in consultation with other College staff/faculty members) determines that additional security measures are necessary to assure compliance with the Policy on Freedom of Public Expression, the Sponsor must agree to such additional security and shall be responsible for the cost of these additional security measures.
- Individual members of the College community can serve as sponsors only through the support of a recognized student organization.
- For public expression by members of the College community: Members of the College communities are encouraged to give prior notice of their plans to the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students, at least 48 business hours prior to the event. Faculty members are encouraged to give prior notice of their plans to the Provost’s Office, at least 48 business hours prior to the event. This prior notice will help assure that this policy and these guidelines are followed.
- For public expression by non-members of the College community: Student organization sponsors (from the College community) of public expression activity by non-members of the College community must give prior notice of their plans to the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students, at least twenty-one (21) business days prior to the event. This prior notice will help assure that this policy and these guidelines are followed.
- For public expression by members of the College community: The College reserves the right to relocate or suspend any assembly that becomes disruptive to the normal operations of the College or that violates College policy.
- The area in front of Plank Gym, including steps and sidewalk, has been designated as an acceptable location for outdoor demonstrations. Demonstrations or events may not interfere with access to the building.
- For public expression by non-members of the College community: The College reserves the right to designate the location for these events, to help assure that this policy and these guidelines are followed.
The College reserves the right to restrict the use of outdoor amplification equipment in association with any public expression activity. The use of amplification for student protest or demonstration must be approved by the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students in advance of the activity, to insure that its use does not create an unreasonable disruption to College activities.
Building of Structures
The College reserves the right to restrict the building of any structure or the placement of flags, decorations or other objects in campus public space in association with public expression. The building of any structure or placement of decorative objects on campus property must be approved by the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students in advance of the activity, to insure that the structure does not create a safety hazard or an unreasonable disruption to College activities.
Objections to Public Free Expression Activity
The College recognizes that individuals or groups may be opposed to certain acts of public expression. Disagreement with different opinions is acceptable; however, hindering or obstructing such activity compromises the College’s goal of creating an environment where issues can be openly discussed. An individual or group wishing to protest at an event may do so as long as:
- The protest is held in accord with the Time, Place, and Manner guidelines detailed in this policy.
- The speaker’s ability to speak and the audience’s right to see and to hear a speaker are not unreasonably impeded.
Time, Place, and Manner Guidelines for Public Distribution of Written Materials (Posting Policy)
Students and student organizations are permitted to publicly distribute written materials in accordance with this Policy and Guidelines on Freedom of Public Expression. Non-College Individuals and Organizations are not permitted to publicly distribute or post written materials on College property.
2. Prohibited Content
Written materials, which contain the following are prohibited and the College will remove postings, leaflets, or chalking which:
- Violate law or College policy
- Promote or incite behavior violating law or College policy
- Constitute a demonstrable threat or harassment
- Defame an individual
- Consist of obscene images, photos, or representations
- Unreasonably invade individual privacy
- Contain unapproved commercial advertisements
- Disrupt the normal operations of the College (as defined in Section B1-c of this policy)
3. Location Guidelines for Posting of Written Materials
a. General Guidelines
1) Posting is permitted only on designated boards or other areas designated for posting or the exterior of Plank Gym (see item 3e of this policy below). No windows, including windows or glass panels in or beside doors, may be covered.
2) Students or organizations posting information may place one (1) posting on each board or designated posting area.
3) Postings on designated boards or posting areas may not exceed 11 inches by 17 inches in size.
4) Individuals posting materials may not remove the postings placed by other groups and may not cover up other postings. Removing or covering the unexpired postings of other students or groups is a violation of this policy.
5) Advertising events with alcohol is limited to only those events which are fully compliant with the Social Event Policy and approved by the College.
6) Please see additional guidelines below (see items 3b-f of this policy below).
b. College Union Building
Posting is permitted only on designated bulletin boards. No posting is permitted on boards designated for administrative department use.
c. Academic and Administrative Buildings, Including the Library
Postings are permitted only on designated bulletin boards and designated posting areas (e.g. wall space which is clearly utilized as a posting area). No posting is permitted on boards designated for academic or administrative department use without permission from the department.
d. Residence Halls
Postings are permitted only on designated bulletin boards and designated posting areas which may include one posting on hallway walls. No posting is permitted on boards designated for use by the Office of Residential and First Year Programs without permission from the Office. No windows, including windows or glass panels in or beside doors, may be covered.
e. Plank Gym - Exterior
Sheet signs and banners may be hung on the exterior of Plank Gym in accordance with this policy. Sheet signs may not cover, in whole or in part, other sheets signs on Plank. Due to the outdoor location and limited space, sheet signs may remain up for a period of one week.
f. Other Locations
No postings may be made in any location other than those designated in these Guidelines without prior approval from the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students.
4. Information Required for Posting Written Materials
a. Identification of Individual or Group Responsible for Posting
As stated in Section C of this policy above, students, student organizations, and academic or administrative departments are permitted to publicly distribute written materials. Any postings must clearly identify the name of the organization or individual responsible for the posting. In addition, contact information for the organization or individual must be included. Specifically, a valid Gettysburg College email address or valid Gettysburg College group alias email must be clearly visible on the poster.
b. Dates and Time Period for Posting
1) All postings must be dated. For posters advertising events which must include the date of the event, posters may go up no more than 2 weeks prior to the event and must be taken down by the sponsoring organization or individual within 24 hours of the conclusion of the event.
2) Posters which are not affiliated with an event must include the posting date. These posters may remain up for no more than 2 weeks and must be taken down promptly after two weeks.
3) Any out of date postings may be removed by the College.
Chalking is permitted on concrete walkways and plazas in areas open to the weather. Chalking is not permitted on any other surfaces, including buildings, walls, covered entryways, covered patio areas, or brick steps and patios. It is a violation of policy to remove chalking placed on campus in accordance with this policy. Chalking in non-sanctioned areas may be removed by the College.
Campus Media Organizations
- The principles of free inquiry, expression, and dissent articulated above also apply to student communications media of Gettysburg College. The freedom of student editors and managers entails corollary responsibilities to be governed by the canons of responsible journalism, such as the avoidance of libel, slander, obscenity, undocumented allegations, and the techniques of harassment and innuendo. All student communications media must explicitly state that the opinions there expressed are not necessarily those of the College or student body. Editors and managers of student communications media are protected from arbitrary suspension or removal because of student, faculty, administrative, or public disapproval of editorial policy or content. Orderly procedures for the selection and removal of editors and managers are established by the organization involved and subject to review by the Student Life Committee or its delegate.
- Since Gettysburg College assists student communications media by providing funds and facilities, it may incur legal liability for the content and operation of such publications. Within the limits imposed by such canons of responsible journalism as are catalogued above, the College is committed to freedom of expression in order that student communications media may preserve their integrity of purpose. When these limits are exceeded, the College reserves the right to take such action as may be necessary by virtue of its legal responsibility and its potential liability.
Resources and Reporting of Concerns
- The Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students is responsible for administering this policy. The Office of College Life is available to serve as a resource for students or groups planning events or written materials according to this policy.
- Any concerns or question regarding events, postings, sheet signs, chalking, or other distributed material which may be in violation of the Freedom of Expression Policy should be reported to the Office of College Life in CUB 220 or by calling 717-337-6900.
- Reported and alleged violations of this policy will be investigated by the Office of College Life. Students or student organizations in violation of this policy will be referred to the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities for conduct adjudication, according to process outlined in the Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Employees are subject to disciplinary action outlined in the Faculty and/or Employee Handbooks.
- Violations of law or violations of this policy by non-college individuals or groups may be referred to the Gettysburg Police. Arrests and criminal charges are separate from the College’s conduct process.
* Portions of this policy reflect the language and principles of a 2015 Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago
The Commitment to Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse Policy was approved unanimously by the Student Life Committee on April 7, 2016 for immediate implementation.
Generally speaking, the facilities of Gettysburg College are for the use of all who comprise this institution. For any member of the community to damage, destroy, or otherwise impair the effective use of these mutually shared facilities is to deny to others the full measure of their participation in this community. The students of Gettysburg College have the right to the effective use of these facilities subject to reasonable regulation established by the College. They have the corresponding responsibility to maintain these facilities unimpaired for the use of all.
Theft, vandalism, or other abuse of individual personal property leads to the impairment of the community function through fear, disruptive suspicion, and a preoccupation with security measures. Students of Gettysburg College have the right to expect their own individual personal property to be kept inviolate. Students have the corresponding responsibility to maintain the individual personal property. The College has a responsibility to protect its guests and authorized visitors from mistreatment or danger, and expects student cooperation in exercising that responsibility.
Gettysburg College is a residential college. All undergraduate students are required to live on-campus or in a College-related fraternity house, unless they commute from their parents/guardians’ home or receive approval to reside off-campus.
B. Off-Campus in Gettysburg
In February, students apply to live off-campus the following academic year. The Office of Residence Life reviews applications and informs applicants whether they have been approved to live off-campus. Students should not sign leases for off-campus accommodations before receiving approval (in writing) at the end of February. Students who sign leases without College authorization may end up paying for both on-campus and off-campus housing. Students will not be released from on-campus housing obligations due to unauthorized leases. Once approval is granted, the responsibility for securing suitable accommodations rests entirely on each student. The College is not involved in borough inspections of non-College facilities and therefore cannot ascertain whether such facilities are safe, sanitary, or in compliance with local ordinances. The College does not provide residential services (including the Department of Public Safety) for those living off-campus. Students’ landlords, the Gettysburg Code Enforcement Office and the Gettysburg Borough Police are among the many resources available to students living off-campus. Students residing off-campus are still subject to the College’s Student Code of Conduct. The Associate Dean of College Life and Director of Public Safety work closely with the Gettysburg Borough Police, the Gettysburg Borough Code Enforcement Office and the Borough Council College Relations subcommittee. Communication between borough officials, college administrators, and students help maintain good relations between the Gettysburg Borough and Gettysburg College communities.
A commuter student is a student who lives with their parents or guardians within reasonable driving distance to campus. Students must reside at the official parent/ guardian address provided to the College (address submitted for financial aid and noted on the previous year’s tax return). A student who is commuting must be classified as a commuter by the Office of Residence Life, the Office of Financial Aid, and the Office of Financial Services.