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UO proposes speech and protest policy in wake of campus demonstrations



The Office of General Counsel for the University of Oregon is circulating a six-page proposal for a Time, Place and Manner Rules for Campus Speech and Protest Activities policy. UO President Michael Schill announced the reasoning behind the policy on Friday.

The proposal, given to the Emerald by UO Vice President and General Counsel Kevin Reed, was delivered to the Board of Trustees secretary November 2 for input.

The Policy Advisory Committee will review a final proposal. If approved, the policy would move to the UO Senate for a vote. In Friday’s email, Schill wrote if a permanent policy is not in place within four months, he will enact a temporary policy.

UO does not have a policy that outlines the rules and regulations concerning protests, a point Reed addressed in an email to UCLA law professor and free speech advocate Eugene Volokh last month.

Reed wrote this leaves “the regulation of campus speech activities to the ad hoc discretion of various administrators in student life/event planning/campus operations/campus police, etc.”

The current standards for acceptable protest actions are listed in the Facilities Scheduling policy and Freedom of Inquiry and Free Speech policy.

The policy’s introduction says intends to reaffirm the university’s commitment to freedom of speech and expression while “simultaneously respecting the safety of speakers and audiences alike as well as the safe operation of the campus.”

The proposed policy states “it attempts to clearly define the line where protected conduct ends and civil disobedience begins.”

According to Section 8 of the proposed policy, all items used during protests must be attended at all times. Section 9 provides restrictions on the size of signs, banners and placards that can be used.

Last April, administrators removed a Divest UO banner from the front of Johnson Hall. According to administration, the sign was removed because it was left unattended in front of the building, not because of the message protestors were sending.

The proposed policy stipulates that any persons violating the policy will be subject to “institutional disciplinary proceedings,” including “an order to leave the immediate premises,” and may be cited or arrested for criminal trespass for failing to do so.

Section 12 details the appeals process for those who violate the proposed policy. It states that appeals may be made in writing within 10 days of the incident. Appeals will be denied if the Office of the President, Chief of Staff or designee does not respond within 10 days of receiving the appeal. 

The proposed policy will not supersede the rights of employee organizations such as the Graduate Teachers Fellowship Foundation.

Both OSU and UCLA have similar policies in place. 

“It’s not the world’s most perfect policy, but I do think it’s a lot more permissive than the policies at other campuses that I’ve ever looked at,” said Reed.

According to Reed, the ASUO has not endorsed the policy.

“I shared several of the policies with ASUO, and they had problems with some of the wording,” said Reed.

Comments on the original posting of the draft on the UO Senate website indicated that some students, staff and community members saw issues with the current state of the proposal and the restrictions it would impose.

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Will Campbell contributed reporting to this article.

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