Rallies, Demonstrations & Public Assemblies
Consistent with the preamble to the Student Life Policies and the Statement of Ethics and Student Rights, Webster University is committed to providing an environment where diverse issues can be openly discussed and explored. The freedom to assemble and exchange views is essential to the life of the University.
In order to provide an atmosphere in which open communication can occur without disrupting the academic mission or daily functions of the University, this policy is in place to govern campus rallies, demonstrations (individual or group), and public assemblies. Public activities are subject to reasonable restrictions of time, place, and manner, as described herein, with such restrictions being applied without discrimination toward the speaker or the content of the view being expressed.
Members of the University community wishing to hold or sponsor a rally, demonstration, or public assembly must provide the Dean of Students Office with 24-hour (if possible) advanced notification of the desired date, time, location, and expected attendance of the activity as well as the type of activity planned.
Specific locations on campus for rallies, demonstrations, and/or public assemblies have not been designated in an effort to provide the greatest flexibility for the organizers of such activities. However, the following parameters may impact the choice of an appropriate location in order to have the activity comply with the policies described herein.
Parameters for Time, Place and Manner
The rights of assembly, free speech, and expression do not include unlawful activity or activity that endangers the safety of the campus community or the threat of damage to University facilities and/or property. In addition, these rights do not permit the disruption of the normal operations of the University. To clarify expected behaviors for campus rallies, demonstrations, and public assemblies, the following parameters must be met:
- The public activity must be lawful, and may not violate or conflict with University policies or local, state, or federal laws.
- The public activity may not unduly disrupt the educational purposes of the University.
- The public activity may not unduly disrupt traffic, either pedestrian or vehicular.
- The public activity may not jeopardize public or individual safety.
- The public activity may not prevent, unduly obstruct, or interfere with the regular academic and institutional activities, or other approved activities of the University.
- The public activity may not include expression that is obscene, defamatory, or consists of fighting words, threats of physical harm, or inciteful of imminent lawless action, to the extent not entitled to protection as expression.
Objections to Rallies, Demonstrations or Public Assemblies
The University recognizes that individuals or groups may be opposed to certain campus demonstrations or speakers. Disagreement with different opinions is acceptable; however, hindering or obstructing such rallies or public assemblies is counter to 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 such action does not disrupt or obstruct the activity, hinder the free expression involved in the activity, or the audience’s right to attend or participate in the activity. In addition, individuals may not tamper with the publicity for scheduled events in an effort to affect awareness or attendance for the activity.
Violations of this policy are subject to immediate order (or verbal directive) by the Dean of Students to end the public activity, immediate action (or intervention) by Public Safety or Webster Groves Police Department to end the public activity, and/or judicial review and disciplinary action. Any police arrests and/or criminal charges of students, faculty, and staff are separate from judicial or disciplinary actions that may be invoked by Webster University.
Administration of this Policy
The Dean of Students or his/her designee is responsible for administering this policy and for maintaining a registry of all rallies, demonstrations, and public assemblies. In all events held on campus, a speaker’s appearance does not imply acceptance or endorsement by the University of the views expressed. The Dean of Students’ decision may be appealed to the Vice President of Students and Enrollment Management.