Expressive Activity Policy
New River Community College has adopted Virginia Community College System (VCCS) Policy 6.5.1, Policy on Expressive Activity. This policy and related procedures have been developed to fullfill the requirement of Va. Code §23.1-401.1 (know informally as "the speech law.")
The purpose of this policy is to set out the policy and procedures that will govern all expressive activities on campus.
- This policy applies to all buildings, grounds, and other spaces owned or controlled by the college. The term “expressive activity” includes:
- Meetings and other group activities of students and student organizations;
- Speeches, performances, demonstrations, rallies, vigils, and other events by students, student organizations, and outside groups invited by student organizations;
- Distributions of literature, such as leafleting and pamphleting; and
- Any other expression protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
This policy does not apply in instances when speakers, performers, groups, etc. are invited by the college or to external groups that arrange to use college space under the college’s polices/procedures for facility usage.
- College property is primarily dedicated to academic, student life and administrative functions. But it also represents the “marketplace of ideas,” and especially for students, many areas of campus represent a public forum for speech and other expressive activities. Colleges may place restrictions on expressive activities occurring indoors, but especially for students and student organizations, the outdoor areas of campus remain venues for free expression, including speeches, demonstrations, and the distribution of literature.
- Indoors or outdoors, colleges shall not interfere with the rights of individuals and groups to the free expression of their views or impermissibly regulate their speech based on its content or viewpoint. Nevertheless, colleges may establish reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on expressive activity. Such restrictions must be content-neutral, narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and allow ample alternative channels for communication of the information.
- No event or expressive activity shall be permitted to violate or hinder the rights of others within the campus community or substantially disrupt normal college operations.
At NRCC, the Vice President for Instruction and Student Services is responsible. Inquiries regarding the policy may contact this individual.
D. Procedures for Reserving Campus Facilities
- If students, student organizations, or college employees desire to reserve campus facilities, they shall submit their requests to the administrative assistant in the Division of Arts and Sciences. Requests must be made with at least 48 hours’ notice.
- If individuals or organizations who are not members of the college community (i.e., not students, student organizations, or college employees) desire to reserve campus facilities, they must be sponsored by a recognized student organization or the college to conduct expressive activities or events on campus. These individuals or organizations should contact the Vice President for Instruction and Student Services if interested in being sponsored by the college.
- The college may assess appropriate fees for equipment and facility use to users who are not members of the campus community. Security fees may be assessed to defray the actual costs of providing security when the size of the audience may pose a risk to safety.
- Facilities available for use are available only during normal operating hours or as otherwise agreed in negotiation with appropriate college staff.
- Students, student organizations, and college employees may request to reserve campus facilities on a first-come, first-served basis. These requests may be denied for the following reasons only:
- The requested venue is an indoor facility that the college has designated as not available for expressive activity under section F of this policy;
- The requested venue is an indoor facility and the request conflicts with restrictions enacted pursuant to section D(4) of this policy;
- The venue is already reserved for another event ;
- The activity will attract a crowd larger than the venue can safely contain;
- The activity will substantially disrupt another event being held at a neighboring venue ;
- The activity will substantially disrupt college operations (including classes);
- The activity is a clear and present threat to public safety, according to the college’s police or security department;
- The activity will occur during college examination periods or when the college is closed; or
- The activity is designed as for-profit activity;
- The activity is unlawful.
- During an event, the student, student organization, or college employee requesting the reservation is responsible for preserving and maintaining the facility it reserved. If it causes any damage to those facilities, the person(s) or organization (and its officers, if applicable) shall assume responsibility.
- When assessing a request to reserve campus facilities, the college will not consider the content or viewpoint of the expression or the possible reaction to that expression. The college will not impose restrictions on students, student organizations, or college employees due to the content or viewpoint of their expression or the possible reaction to that expression. In the event that other persons react negatively to a student’s, student organization’s, or college employee’s expression, college officials (including college police or security) shall take all necessary steps to ensure public safety while allowing the expressive activity to continue.
E. Spontaneous Expressive Activity
- For outdoor campus facilities and areas, students, student organizations, and their sponsored guests may freely engage in spontaneous expressive activities as long as they do not
- block access to campus buildings,
- obstruct vehicular or pedestrian traffic,
- substantially disrupt previously scheduled campus events,
- substantially disrupt college operations,
- constitute unlawful activity; or
- create a clear and present threat to public safety, according to the college’s police or security department.
- No indoor areas or facilities are available for spontaneous expressive activity.
F. Areas Not Available for Expressive Activity
The following indoor areas/facilities are not available for expressive activity:
- Classrooms (during instructional hours)
- Administrative/business offices
G. Banners and Distribution of Commercial Materials
- Banners used in expressing speech should comply with the provisions of this policy and cannot be used to block, obstruct or otherwise deny access to any pedestrian or to block or obstruct vehicular traffic.
- Distribution of commercial advertising or the placement of commercial material is prohibited in the following areas:
- Classrooms, computer rooms, laboratories, and other places where instruction takes place
- Administrative offices
Policy approval: July 17, 2014, by the NRCC President’s Staff