Email from Leisa Julian to Dominic caristi
June 28, 2013
I understand your concern, the freedom to express oneself, in regard to moving the flag in your office window from a place of public display on campus to the privacy of your office. I appreciate your cooperation in moving the flag and am glad to provide you the policy basis. It seems like a fundamental idea that we all have freedom to express ourselves, but the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment is not absolute and has never been interpreted to guarantee all forms of speech without any restraint whatsoever. Instead, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that public entities may place reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of individual expression. In the Faculty and Professional Employee Handbook, the rights and responsibilities of university and each individual’s relationship with the university is set out in broad policy statements in the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. Part of the University’s rights and responsibilities includes setting rules on the use of the campus. Years ago, I think it was in the 1980s, maybe early 1990s, the Board of Trustees passed a comprehensive policy concerning distribution, solicitation, fund-raising, sales, and commercial activity on university property which encompassed the rules on the use of the campus. It was updated in the late 1990s or early 2000s and again just recently in 2012 to make it clearer as to its applicability and split into 3 policies – the Policy Concerning Campus Use, the Policy on the Use of University Property for Expressive Activities and Guidelines for Political Campaign-Related Activities. In the Policy on the Use of University Property for Expressive Activities, the University recognizes the importance of free speech, but does regulate the time, place and manner of individual expression in a content neutral and viewpoint neutral fashion. The display of a flag in a window would fall within rules set forth in the section on signs, which only permits such a display in a designated area outdoors for a period of up to 10 calendar days. The intent here is to ensure that expressions are conducted in an orderly manner that respects the rights of others in the campus community. We can’t pick and choose which signs to allow people to display as an individual expression, rather we can only regulate the time, place and manner of a display as I mention above, and the university has done that in a very clear manner.
I hope this information is helpful. We are working with University Marketing and Communications to get the revised policies up on the University’s website. I have copied Lynda Wiley, the AVP for Student Affairs, on this email as well as her office handles these inquiries as well. Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.
Best regards, Leisa
Leisa I. Julian, JD, MBA
Associate Vice President for Business & Auxiliary Services