In keeping with the College’s Freedom of Expression Statement of Philosophy, Gettysburg College students are encouraged to express their point of view or opposition to any issue of public interest. No individual has the right to interfere with the expression of others and students are expected to support the free expression of other members of the community.
All expression is subject to restrictions of time, place, and manner which are addressed in Section A of this policy. Postings, leaflets, chalking, and public gatherings are permitted unless they violate the specific provisions outlined in Sections B and C of the Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse Policy. These are 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 and social political issues of the day
B. Time, Place, and Manner Guidelines for Public Expression on Campus (Events)
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 law
- 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 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.
2. Sponsorship Responsibilities
The section below that is in italicized font includes procedures approved by the Student Life Council in Fall 2017.
A Sponsor, defined as a student organization that invites a non-College individual or organization to speak, perform, 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 below and in the Policy on Partisan Political Activity (see page 44):
- The sponsoring student organization must request a space in 25Live for the speaker/performer. At that time, the Scheduling and Technical Support Manager will send the sponsor the External Speaker/Performer form, which must be completed at least 21 days in advance of the requested date of the event. The Form requires the following information: Details about the event, a statement of purpose for the event, an advisor acknowledgement, reservation of space, and identify anticipated funding needs for the event. In addition, the Form requires sponsoring organizations to:
- Complete a Security Audit with the Campus Safety. The purpose of the audit is to determine if security is necessary for the planned event. One of three determinations will be made: Security is not required or requirement is limited; security support is required; or, the security needs of the proposed event exceed what can be provided and the College cannot support the event. The results of the security audit will be provided to OSAGL and/or the Vice President for College Life or designee. If the Vice President for College Life or designee (in consultation with other College staff/faculty members) determines that additional security measures are necessary to assure compliance with the Policy on Freedom of Expression, the Sponsor must agree to such additional security.
- Complete an Invited Speaker/Performer Agreement. This agreement, provided by the College, must be signed by both the speaker and the College at least five (5) calendar days prior to the event. Speakers/performers with their own contracts may submit those in addition to the terms in the College’s Agreement.
Students and student organizations planning to invite a speaker/performer to campus should contact OSAGL at OSAGL@gettysburg.edu or 717-337-6304. The completed form is due to OSAGL no fewer than 21 days in advance of the planned speaking event/performance.
- 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.
- Individual members of the College community can serve as sponsors only through the support of a recognized student organization.
3. Prior Notice
- 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 or desinee, at least 72 business hours prior to the event. Faculty members are encouraged to give prior notice of their plans to the Provost’s Office, at least 72 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 or designee, at least 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.
5. Amplification Equipment
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 or designee in advance of the activity, to insure that its use does not create an unreasonable disruption to College activities.
6. 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. No open flames or torches are allowed unless approved for a specific event by College Life. The building of any structure or placement of decorative objects on campus property must be approved by the Vice President for College Life or designee in advance of the activity.
7. 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.
C. 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. Questions or concerns about advertised events should be directed to the sponsoring organization or department.
Students are highly encouraged to use good judgment when posting information, images and language about campus. Profanity, vulgarity or other offensive language and images not conducive to the educational environment may not be included on postings. Any postings that contain derogatory information directed to one specific member, or group of members, of the Gettysburg College community will not be tolerated. In this spirit, the College will remove postings 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
- General Guidelines:
- 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.
- Students must use blue tape or masking tape when adhering to designed posting areas. Student organizations can obtain tape from OSAGL. Utilization of unapproved tape or adhesive resulting in damage to walls or other surfaces is not permitted (pilot for spring 2023).
- Students or organizations posting information may place one (1) posting on each board or designated posting area.
- Postings on designated boards or posting areas may not exceed 11 inches by 17 inches in size.
- 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.Expired postings may be removed and properly disposed of.
- Advertising events with alcohol is limited to only those events which are fully compliant with the Social Event Policy and approved by the College.
- Please see additional guidelines below (see items 3b-f of this policy below).
- College Union Building: One posting is permitted only on designated bulletin boards. No posting is permitted on boards designated for administrative department use.
- Academic and Administrative Buildings, Including the Library:One 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.
- Residence Halls:Information for distribution in the residence halls should be provided to Residential Education to be posted in the 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 Residential Education without permission from the Office. No windows, including windows or glass panels in or beside doors, may be covered.
- 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 sheet signs on Plank. Due to the outdoor location and limited space, sheet signs may remain up for a period of one week.
- 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 or designee.
4. Information Required for Posting Written Materials
- Identification of Individual or Group Responsible for Posting: As stated 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 example an email address, for the posting
- Dates and Time Period for Posting:
- All postings must be dated. Posters advertising events must include the date of the event and must be taken down by the sponsoring organization or individual within 24 hours of the conclusion of the event.
- Posters which are not affiliated with an event must include the posting date. These must be taken down promptly after two weeks.
- 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.
Any violations of the posting policy should be reported to College Life at (717) 337-6900 or Campus Safety at (717) 337-6911. College Life will make determinations about postings in violation of the policy and, if necessary, removal of postings.
D. 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.
E. Resources and Reporting of Concerns
- The Vice President for College Life or designee 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.