Institutional Report on Free Speech| Texas Education Code 51.9315

TO: The Honorable Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas Texas Legislature

FROM: Dr. Kenneth R. Evans, President Lamar University

DATE: November 30, 2020

RE: Compliance with Texas Education Code § 51.931

 




In the interest of protecting the expressive activity rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, Texas Education Code § 51.9315(k) requires Lamar University to submit a one-time report regarding Lamar University compliance with § 51.9315.  To that end, we submit the following information.


Lamar University is a member institution of the Texas State University System (TSUS) and under the organization, control, and management of the TSUS Board of Regents.[1]  The Texas State University System Rules and Regulation specifically address expressive activities on all component university campuses, including Lamar University:

  • Chapter VII, Subparagraph 3.1 deems the grounds of all system university components as traditional public fora.[2] 
  • Chapter VII, Subparagraph 3.4 permits any group or person to assemble and engage in expressive activities, subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions.[3]
  • Chapter VII, Subparagraph 3.3 permits all students, faculty, and staff to invite speakers to speak on campus, subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions.[4]
  • Chapter V, Subparagraph 2.133 provides for the dismissal of any employee, including a member of the faculty, who obstructs or disrupts any activity authorized to be held on a component university campus.[5]
  • Chapter VI, Subparagraphs 5.41(3), 5.6, and 6.45 establish the System’s prohibition against, and disciplinary procedures for, interference with the expressive activity rights of others by students or student organizations.  


The above Texas State University System Rules and Regulations are posted on the System’s website and the Lamar University’s Speech and Assembly policy’s website.

Lamar University specific procedures are also available on the University’s website at https://www.lamar.edu/students/student-engagement/dean-of-students/policies/speech-and-assembly.html.  Any applicable time, place, and manner restrictions therein comply with the specific requirements of § 51.9315(d) because they:

  1. are narrowly tailored to serve a significant institutional interest;
  2. employ clear, published, content-neutral, and viewpoint-neutral criteria;
  3. provide for ample alternative means of expression; and
  4. allow members of the University community to assemble and distribute written material without permit or other permission from the University.

Lamar University reviews its policies on an on-going basis and will continue to modify applicable policies as necessary to ensure continued compliance with the requirements of §51.9315, Texas Education Code.  Lamar University has updated its policy detailing students’ rights and responsibilities regarding expressive activities and such is posted on Lamar University’s Student Handbook at https://www.lamar.edu/students/student-handbook.html and Code of Student Conduct at https://www.lamar.edu/students/academic-support/code-of-conduct.html#speech.   The policy has been or will be made available to students during freshman and transfer student orientations and included in Lamar University student handbook. The policy is also included in Lamar University personnel handbook at https://www.lamar.edu/faculty-staff/human-resources/policy-manual/hr-manual-sec2-1.html and faculty handbook at https://www.lamar.edu/faculty-staff/_files/documents/academic-affairs/faculty-handbook-jan-2019-uploaded-031020.pdf#page=140.   

 
Lamar University has developed procedures to train employees responsible for educating or disciplining students to ensure they understand the requirements of § 51.9315, Texas Education Code and Lamar University’s internal policies.

 

[1] This report is available online at https://www.lamar.edu/about-lu/mission-and-accreditation/institutional-report-texas-education-code-51.9315.html.
[2] Tex. Educ. Code § 96.61; see also § 95.01.
[3] See § 51.9315(c)(1).
[4] See §§ 51.9315(c)(2), (d), and (f)(1)(A). 
[5] See § 51.9315(f)(1)(B)
[6] See § 51.9315(f)(2); see also TSUS Rules and Regulations Chapter V, Subparagraph 4.51(7).