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Expressive Speech and Activity Policy

Purpose of the Policy:

As a private institution, Rhodes College is a voluntary association of persons invited to membership with the understanding they will respect the policies and principles set forth by the College. Rhodes College is a place that aspires to graduate students with a life-long passion for learning, a compassion for others, and the ability to translate academic study and personal concern into effective leadership and action in their communities and the world. We seek to engage a talented and diverse student body in a challenging, inclusive, and culturally broadening college experience that values and promotes academic freedom. We uphold the values of academic freedom, as stated in the College handbook. 

The expressive speech and activities governed by this policy are planned or spontaneous actions by a group or individual which are expressions of opinion, by words or action about particular events, policies, or situations. These actions are co-curricular or extra-curricular events that are not part of normal curricular courses, lectures, and educational activities being taught or hosted by Rhodes faculty and staff members. These co-curricular or extra-curricular activities are a core part of the life of the College. However, when planned and implemented without care, they can impede our values and diminish us individually and as a community.

The following policy has been developed in cooperation with the Rhodes faculty and administration. Questions and concerns about this statement should be directed to the Executive Director of Communications or to the Senior Leadership Team member for your area. 

 Guiding Principles:

While respecting academic freedom and the rights of its members to peaceful and unobstructed expressions of opinion, Rhodes College requires such activities not disrupt the College’s operations or endanger the safety of others. Further, Rhodes College reserves the right to establish a reasonable time, place, and manner for all such activities. Expressive activities must not interfere with normal College business. It is a violation of the norms of the College community for anyone to prevent the conduct of College business, including lectures, meetings, events, ceremonies, classroom/educational activities, or other necessary business and community functions. 

 Specific Policy Requirements

  • Organizer/Liaison: A current student, staff, or faculty member of the College community and/or recognized student organization must be the designated Organizer/Liaison for each expressive activity. Any off-campus person or entity not affiliated with the College wishing to hold such an activity on campus must be sponsored by a department, program or recognized student organization. Organizers and associated participants speak only for themselves in the public events and actions. 
    • The organizer is expected to ensure that the event complies with existing College policies and procedures, applicable state and federal laws, rules, and regulations. Organizers intending to use city sidewalks and streets adjacent to the College should make appropriate arrangement with the city of Memphis.
    • For all events on campus, the organizer shall be responsible for the orderly execution of the event, for any possible liability, and is required to coordinate security, cleanup, and parking with administrative staff. Should the organizer wish promotional support from the Office of Communication, such requests must be made in a timely manner (usually, at least 3 weeks in advance of the event). The College may or may not choose to promote an event depending on availability of resources or the nature of the event.  
  • Space: Expressive speech and activities typically occur in (public) spaces normally approved for reservation by individuals, departments, and recognized organizations for their activities. A list of these common available spaces will be provided by the Office of Events Planning to interested parties when requested. Because of the need for normal college activities to be conducted without interruptions, expressive activities are typically not permitted in the following locations: classrooms, offices, library, residence hall rooms, and lecture halls to ensure that normal work, residential experiences, and services of the College can continue. Organizers must ensure that corridors, stairways and doorway entrances remain clear and provide unimpeded passage.

Space Reservations: As with all requests to use College space, in order to further the effectiveness of the event and to avoid any conflicts in scheduling, faculty and staff organizers of expressive activity events that require the use of a College space are expected to reserve the space on the Events Management online portal. Students who are planning an event should consult with the Offices of Student Leadership and Events Planning to make space reservations. Usually, these spaces need to be reserved by students at least 2 weeks in advance. If an event cannot be planned in advance, the Organizer/Liaison must contact the Dean of Students or Dean of Faculty to determine the availability of space, and provide contact information before the event begins. Once an event is scheduled, the Office of Events Planning and/or appropriate administrative office (Dean of Students or Dean of Faculty) will assist with planning the event details as is needed and helpful.

  • Timing: The length of any given event may vary. However, campus events will occur within a 24-hour period; no overnight or multiple day events are allowed. Events occurring within inside spaces shall comply with building schedules for opening and closing times, as determined during the space reservation process prior to the event. Within the above stated timing parameters, expressive activities will be permitted to continue until and unless the College officials determine that there has been a violation of College policy, interruption of its operations and/or the rights of others have been compromised.
  • Signage: Temporary placards, banners, chalking, and signs that are used in an expressive activity must follow the policy outlined in the College Handbook. They should not be dangerous to others or physically impede the participation of others in the life of the College. Should such items not comply with these expectations, the materials will be removed.

Violations:

The College has an obligation to develop policies and procedures that safeguard the freedom of expression while maintaining an atmosphere conducive to the overall functioning of the College and the commitment to academic freedom. Each member of the community is expected to be respectful of the corollary right of other community members to perform their duties and participate in the life of the College free from disruption, interference, or harassment. Violations of this policy can result in the immediate cancelation of an event, and/or all relevant disciplinary actions that fall under the appropriate section(s) of the College Handbook. In order to avoid any misunderstanding of what are peaceful, permitted, and safe expressive activities, the following non-exhaustive list of prohibited behaviors and characteristics is provided as examples. 

 Violations of this policy include activities that:

  • Violate the Rhodes College Handbook or, as applicable, the Rhodes College Student Handbook, including but not limited to the Rhodes College Title IX Policy, Diversity Policy, Policy on Discrimination and Harassment, Sex/Gender Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy, Administrative Policy, Communications Policy, Information Services Policy, and Safety and Security Policy contained therein. 
  • Physically or otherwise impede the daily business of the College;
  • Employ or threaten to use force or violence against another person or property; 
  • Place the health or safety of others at risk; 
  • Create a volume of noise that prevents community members from carrying on normal activities;
  • Intimidate others, and/or deny or unreasonably interfere with the rights of others; 
  • Violate any obligation, policy or requirement of Rhodes College concerning privacy or confidentiality in any manner or form; 
  • Violate any other federal or state laws or ethical standards. 
     

Questions or Appeals

 Any questions or appeals of decisions regarding such events should be directed to the Office of Academic Affairs or Office of Student Life. They will consult with others on campus as needed to finalize a response to the appeal.