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Speech and Expression on Campus


As a state institution, Purdue University adheres to the protections guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Free speech, free expression, and peaceable assembly are basic to the exchange of ideas and beliefs. Academic progress and freedom flourish when the rights of free expression are assured, particularly at an institution of higher education. However, in this "marketplace of ideas," civility and respectful dialogue free from obstruction and disruption of University functions must prevail.

Although the University can place reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on expression, great deference is given to the expression of viewpoints and

"Freedom of speech, press, petition, and assembly guaranteed by the First Amendment must be accorded the ideas we hate, or sooner or later they will be denied to the ideas we cherish."

~Justice Hugo Black

any restrictions must be viewpoint neutral and serve a legitimate University purpose. Being offended by someone's speech is not sufficient justification for prohibiting it. To restrict or prohibit the content of one's expression just because it is offensive or insensitive does not receive judicial support except under narrowly defined circumstances such as defamation or true and unlawful threats of violence. Yet, the University must consider issues such as maintaining safety, preventing disruption of University sponsored activities, and preserving academic and administrative functions.

The University can be viewed as a forum in which primary consideration is given to student, faculty, and staff expression. It is not a public forum in the same sense that a public park is. Thus, the University may place greater restrictions on expression by persons not affiliated with Purdue University. In that sense the forum may be limited but traditionally the University has not shielded members of the University from exposure to non-affiliate debate, speech, or assembly as long as it is conducted in a reasonable manner void of disruption and obstruction of University functions.

The area south of the flagpole on Purdue Memorial Mall has been designated as a public forum due to it being a highly visible area, easily accessible, and the place least likely to disrupt or obstruct University activities and functions. Priority is given for use of the space by groups who register their assemblies with the University. Persons interested in exercising their rights of expression are encouraged to schedule the desired location through the University. Registering the event helps assure the preservation of free speech and peaceful demonstration that can only occur in an orderly environment in which individuals are free from coercion and interference in the exercise of their rights, and the University is free from interference in carrying out its activities.

Procedures for Demonstrations and Rallies

Students or student organizations who wish to sponsor demonstrations and rallies may do so as long as they do not materially disrupt or interrupt the regular and essential operation of the University, interfere with the rights of others, or destroy property. A routine registration of the event through the Office of the Dean of Students will help insure that there is an orderly scheduling of facilities, adequate preparation for the event, and an occasion that is conducted in a manner appropriate to the University community. The registration of the event is requested in order to avoid the problem of competition for space. This process serves as a means to facilitate the coexistence of students' rights to speak and the rights of others to access academic programs and scheduled functions of the University. Since the south end of Memorial Mall is the expected area for demonstrations and rallies, if more than one event is planned for the same area, the one that is properly registered and scheduled first will have priority. Sound equipment may be regulated to prevent interference with academic programs or other scheduled events. Amplifying equipment for musical instruments is not permitted. An event planning form may be obtained from the Office of the Dean of Students in Room 250 of Schleman Hall, or online at www.purdue.edu/odos/sao/.