Speech and Assembly

Speech, Expression, and Assembly

Freedom of inquiry and free expression are important means by which the university community meets different ideas and achieves its educational purposes.

The freedoms of speech and assembly guaranteed by the first and fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution shall be enjoyed by the students, faculty and staff of Lamar University under the Texas State University System (TSUS) Chapter VII, 3. Speech and Assembly and Texas Education Code Section 51.9315.

Such freedoms are exercised in a manner that does not illegally derogate the rights of others or interfere with the academic programs and administrative processes of the institution. The grounds of the University are traditional public forums subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.

While freedom of speech and assembly is encouraged, the law recognizes that there is no absolute right to assemble or to make or hear a speech at any time or place regardless of the circumstances, content of speech, purpose of assembly, or probable consequences of such meeting or speech.

If any information in this policy conflicts with The Texas State University System “Rules and Regulations,” the latter will control.

Outside Speakers

Invitations to an outside speaker shall be conducted in the following manner:
  1. A request to invite an outside speaker will be considered by the University only when made by a registered student, faculty or staff organization. An invitation cannot be issued to an outside speaker without prior written concurrence of the President or designee for scheduling of speaker dates and assignment of campus facilities.

  2. Any speaker request shall be made in writing to the President or a designee by an officer of a registered student, faculty or staff organization, or by an administrative officer of the University, desiring to sponsor the proposed speaker not later than six (6) business days prior to the date of the proposed speaking engagement, the proposed date, time, and location of the meeting, expected size of the audience, and topic of speech. Any request not acted upon by the President or designee within five (5) business days after submission shall be deemed granted.

  3. A registered campus organization (student, faculty or staff) sponsoring a campus speaker must clearly state that the organization, not Lamar University, is extending the invitation to speak and that any views the speaker may express are the speaker’s own and not necessarily those of the University or TSUS.

  4. Students, faculty, staff and registered campus organizations campaigning for public office on behalf of candidates for public office must abide by the provisions in this policy.

  5. Speakers paid from state funds to speak on campus shall speak in a facility that is open to the public. This provision does not apply to classes, seminars, symposia, and conferences intended for the use and benefit of students, faculty, staff and invited guests. The number of students, faculty, staff, and guests may be limited to prevent a hazard to the safety of the audience.

  6. A request made by a registered campus organization may be denied only if the President or a designee, determines, after proper inquiry, that the proposed speech would constitute a clear and present danger to the institution’s orderly operation by the speaker’s advocacy. **Advocacy means preparing the group addressed for imminent action and steeling it to such action, as opposed to the abstract espousal of the moral propriety of a course of action by resort to force; and there must be not only advocacy to action but also a reasonable apprehension of imminent danger to the essential functions and purpose of the institution.

  7. In determining the existence of a clear and present danger, the President or designee, may consider all relevant factors, including whether the speaker has, within the past five (5) years, invited violence, coercion, intimidation or other invasion of lawful rights, of the institutions’ officials, faculty members or students, violence resulting in the seizure and subversion or destruction of property or has willfully caused the forcible disruption of regularly scheduled classes or other educational functions at any such institution.

  8. Where the request for an outside speaker is denied, the sponsoring organization may appeal to the President or an authorized designee in writing within three (3) business days of the denial. A hearing within will be held within four (4) business days following the filing of its appeal before an impartial board or administrator appointed by the President for a de novo consideration of the request. Such board or administrator shall make a recommendation to the President, whose decision shall be final. If the President fails to decide the matter within seven (7) business days following the filing of the appeal, it shall be deemed granted, and the speaker’s invitation may be issued by the organization.

  9. Where the request for an outside speaker is granted and the speaker accepts the invitation, the sponsoring organization shall inform the President or a designee, immediately in writing of such acceptance. The President or a designee, may, at his or her discretion, require that the meeting be chaired by a member of the administration or faculty and that a statement be made at the meeting that the views presented are not necessarily those of the University or of the sponsoring organization. By acceptance of the invitation to speak, the speaker assumes full responsibility for any violation of law committed by the speaker while on campus.

  10. An off-campus speaker who has not been sponsored or invited by a registered student, faculty, or staff organization or by Lamar University administration is prohibited from speaking to groups in campus facilities and buildings unless the speaker is speaking to an off-campus organization that has been authorized to meet on the campus.

  11. Lamar University, with the prior written approval of the President, may rent space in appropriate buildings or grounds for political rallies and meetings provided that space is made available to legitimate political candidates in a nondiscriminatory fashion and rent for such space is based on fair market value.
Public Assembly

The freedoms of speech and assembly are basic and essential to intellectual development. However, these activities are subject to the well-established right of colleges and universities to regulate time, place, and manner so that the activities do not intrude upon or interfere with the academic programs and administrative processes of the institution and TSUS.

The University supports outdoor assembly of persons for free speech activities, including vigils, protests, demonstration, and similar activities. Outdoor spaces are also frequently used for University-sponsored events and activities, such as educational activities, Homecoming, Cardinal Activities Board programming and similar.

The institution may designate one or more appropriate areas on the campus where students, faculty, and staff may engage in rallies, group demonstrations, or public oratory without prior administrative approval. All rallies, group demonstrations, and public oratory must be conducted in accordance with the provisions and the reasonable and nondiscriminatory rules and regulations of the institution.

Any group or person, whether or not a student or employee, and whether or not invited by a registered student, faculty, or staff organization, may assemble and engage in free speech activities on the grounds of the campus. However, the President or a designee may adopt reasonable nondiscriminatory rules and regulations as to time, place, and manner of such activities and may prohibit such activities if it is determined, after proper inquiry, that the proposed speech constitutes a clear and present danger as described in this policy.
  1. Persons may not block or otherwise interfere with the free flow of vehicular, bicycle or pedestrian traffic and entry into buildings, classes or offices. The right of way of streets and sidewalks must be maintained.

  2. Persons may not obstruct, interrupt or attempt to physically force the cancellation of any event or activity sponsored by the University or by any users authorized to use University property.

  3. Persons may not seize control of an area of the campus or any building or portion of a building for the purpose of interfering with any administrative, educational, research, or other authorized activity.

  4. A lawful assembly is disrupted when a person in attendance is rendered incapable of participating in the assembly due to force or violence or a reasonable fear of force or violence.

  5. Persons on University property may be required to provide picture identification and to provide evidence of qualification to a University official upon request. Evidence of qualification means a current and valid University identification card, or a valid federal or state issued identification card, or accompaniment by a University community member that is a representative of the group that issued the invitation.

  6. No outdoor assembly, vigil or outdoor event may be conducted within 100 feet of any building. In addition, assemblies may not take place in the Quad as it is surrounded by academic classrooms and administrative functions or within the confines of any recreation facility or athletic facility. No outdoor assemblies may take place immediately adjacent to the residence halls between the hours of 9:00 pm to 9:00 am. Exceptions to this may be granted by the Office of the Vice President of Student Engagement, or a designee and must be requested in writing at least three business days prior to an event.

  7. Notification to the University: Prior to an outdoor assembly reasonably expected to include a large crowd (more than 100 persons) or the potential for violence, the event organizers need to notify Event Services in the Setzer Student Center so the University may institute any necessary safety measures.

demonstrations, Publications, Posters

Students, faculty, staff and registered campus organizations may petition, distribute publications, post signs, set up booths and/or peacefully demonstrate on the University campus. Such regulation shall prohibit any activity that would interfere with academic or University programs.

  1. No group or person, whether or not a student or employee, shall publicly display, distribute, or disseminate on the University campus any petition, handbill, or piece of literature, work, or material that is obscene, vulgar, or libelous, or that advocates the deliberate violation of any federal, state, or local law. Literature may not be distributed where the manner or form of the distribution constitutes disorderly conduct, disrupts classroom discussion, impedes the maintenance of public order, or constitutes a danger to the person distributing or disseminating the material or to any group or individual.

  2. Materials used for an assembly must be for informational (not commercial) purposes.

  3. The University does not assume responsibilities for the content of the materials.

  4. Those who participate in an outdoor assembly are responsible for any security detail costs, clean-up, recycling of materials and/or damages associated with the event.
Sound Amplification
  1. Only registered student organizations, faculty, and staff at Lamar University may request the use of electricity for amplified sound for the purpose of a specific event. “Amplified sound” means sound whose volume is increased by any electric, electronic, mechanical, or motor-powered means. Shouting, group chanting, and acoustic musical instruments are exempt from this definition and are not subject to the special rules on amplified sound but are subject to general rules on disruption. Approval for amplified sound request is based upon the following factors:
    1. impact on surrounding classes.
    2. impact on facilities and operations.
    3. prior reservation of space.
    4. completion of necessary forms/s and receipt of approvals.
    5. risk management of the event.
    6. Facilities will determine costs, if any, for electrical service to amplify sound. The requesting student organization may pay costs for connection to Lamar utilities.

  2. Commercial messages and/or advertising using amplified sound are prohibited.

  3. The use of amplified sound for the purpose of speech which is violent (directed to, or likely to, incite violence, obscene (appealing to a prurient interest in sex and offensive or without redeeming social value) or defamatory is prohibited. Within that framework, the use of amplified sound by registered student organizations, faculty and staff is allowed on the Lamar University campus with the following reasonable time, place and manner requirements:
    Location and Times Allowed:
    1. Dining Hall Lawn (at least 100 feet from any building)
    2. Cardinal Park (at least 100 feet from any residence hall)
    3. Gray Pond (at least 100 feet from the Gray Center)
    4. All other locations are prohibited.

      The use of amplified sound will be allowed between 12:00 noon and 9:00 pm. The maximum duration for an event with amplified sound taking place Monday-Friday prior to 4:00 pm is one hour. For events taking place between 4:00 pm Friday through 9:00 pm Sunday, events may be permitted to exceed two hours but still must conclude by 9:00 pm.

  4. When using spaces that can be reserved, the group who has reserved the space has priority over any other group. When using space that cannot be reserved, the first group to provide notification to the Setzer Center Event Services as required above has priority to use it.

Use of University Facilities

Registered student, faculty or staff organizations may use Lamar University buildings and grounds in compliance with reasonable and nondiscriminatory rules and regulations and comply with local, State, Federal law, Texas State University System (TSUS) and any other Lamar University Facility Use policies. Such activities shall not disrupt or disturb academic or University processes nor result in damage to or defacement of property. Registered student, faculty or staff organizations may not enter into joint sponsorship of any on-campus project or program which involves financial commitments or the scheduling or use of facilities with non-students without prior written approval of the President or a designee.

Use of University Facilities By Outside Groups

Use of grounds and physical facilities of the University, especially, auditoriums, gymnasiums, and large rooms, by outside individuals, groups or associations (outside groups) shall be subject to the following as well as policies approved by the President or a designee:

  1. Outside Groups may not have unrestricted use to any University facilities and grounds. Whenever outside groups share in the use of University buildings, it must be upon the invitation of the University and under its joint sponsorship, with the further understanding that all conditions governing the sponsorship is set by Lamar University.

  2. Joint sponsorship by the University and an outside group of any project or program that is to result in private gain for the cooperating individuals, group, or associations must be reviewed by the President or a designee and determined that such joint sponsorship serves a public purpose with adequate contractual control.

  3. Joint sponsorship by the University and an outside group must show educational implications or benefits and directly supplement the educational purposes. The University reserves the right to approve advertising and news releases.

  4. The University cannot be a joint sponsor with any non-campus organization for political or sectarian gatherings. There are conditions prescribed in the outside speaker section of the policy.

  5. Facilities and grounds for functions other than the University’s own activities are the sole discretion of the President or designee and subject to the needs and convenience of the University which have a priority in scheduling facilities.

  6. In the event the University is a joint sponsor with another individual, group, or organization, the fee to be paid by the co-sponsor will be a matter for negotiation and is subject to final approval by the President or a designee and will be specified in the agreement providing for the joint sponsorship.

Report a Violation

To report a faculty, staff, student, or student organization who has interfered with the expressive activity rights of others or is not following these policies for Speech, Expression, and Assembly, you can submit a report:

  1. Report student or student organization actions to the dean of Students.
  2. Report faculty or staff actions to Human Resources:
    Mr. Jeff Bell, Director of Human Resources, phone 409-880-2215, email jbell25@lamar.edu.

DEAN OF STUDENTS

230 Setzer Student Center
PO Box 10018
CALL 
409-880-8458
EMAIL 
deanofstudents@lamar.edu