Expressive Speech Annual Report
December 31, 2021
Pursuant to 70 O.S. §2120, Southwestern Oklahoma State University submits the following to demonstrate its course of action for compliance with the requirements of this statute.
Campus Expression Policy
Oklahoma statute has defined “Campus Community” as SWOSU students, administrators, faculty, staff, and their invited guests.
“Expressive Activity” protected under Oklahoma statute include but are not limited to the participation of the Campus Community in any lawful verbal, written, audio-visual or electronic means by which individuals may communicate ideas to one another, including peaceful assembly, protests, speeches, guest speakers, distribution of literature, carrying signs, and circulating petitions.
For the purposes of this policy and procedures, the term “public” shall mean all persons and organizations who are not members of the Campus Community, as defined above.
1. Policy Statement
The University will 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. SWOSU may establish reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on Expressive Activity. Such restrictions shall 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 substantially disrupt normal University operations.
Oklahoma statute identifies that the outdoor areas of the SWOSU campus are deemed public forums for the Campus Community. Outdoor areas of campus are the generally accessible outdoor areas where members of the Campus Community are commonly allowed, such as grassy areas, walkways, and common areas. Outdoor areas where access is restricted from the majority of the Campus Community are not included.
The University designates the following indoor facilities as unavailable for Expressive Activity: Wellness Center, Rankin Williams Fieldhouse gymnasiums, administrative offices, laboratories, and (during instructional hours) classrooms. Classrooms are available for use during non-instructional hours by members of the Campus Community only. Rooms can only be reconfigured in a limited fashion and the sponsoring organization is responsible for clean-up, damages to property, and other costs associated with use. Restrictions on Expressive Activities occurring in indoor facilities will apply equally to all individuals and organizations and not depend upon the content or viewpoint of the expression or the possible reaction to that expression.
2. Reserving Indoor Campus Facilities
Members of the public are required to complete indoor facilities’ reservations with the director of the venue:
Weatherford, OK Campus
Pioneer Cellular Event Center
Fine Arts Center
Memorial Student Union
Timothy T. Day Business Enterprise Center
Sayre, OK Remote Location
Student organizations must submit a completed Application for Approval of Student Organization Activity to reserve indoor facilities. Other members of the Campus Community shall complete indoor facilities’ reservations with the director of the venue, as stated above.
3. Reserving University Outdoor Space
Student organizations must submit a completed Application for Approval of Student Organization Activity to reserve outdoor space.
Other members of the Campus Community and the public may reserve university outdoor space on the Weatherford campus by contacting the Office of Public Relations and Marketing at 580-774-3063 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. To reserve university outdoor space on the Sayre campus, contact the Dean of the College of Associate and Applied Programs at 580-928-5533.
4. Notice of Reservation
At least twenty-four (24) hours advance notice, as defined by the calendar of administrative office days, should be given for the reservation of indoor facilities and university outdoor space. If the event is to be scheduled on a Monday, notice shall be given no later than the preceding Friday. More notice may be required to allow for sufficient logistical support and to ensure the safety and security of the campus or if the requested location is already scheduled for use by another party.
All requests to reserve indoor and outdoor campus facilities will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. These requests may be denied for the following reasons:
- The requested venue is an indoor facility or outdoor space that the University has designated as not available for Expressive Activity;
- 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 University operations (including classes);
- The activity is a clear and present threat to public safety, as determined by the University’s police department;
- The activity will occur during examination periods; or
- The activity is unlawful or unprotected.
5. Unscheduled Use of Outdoor Space
The Campus Community and the public may use generally accessible outdoor areas for non-commercial expressive activities on a first come, first served basis without giving prior notice if the activity does not materially and substantially disrupt the function of the University, as defined by state law, including but not limited to the following:
- blocking the entrance or exit to campus buildings;
- obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic;
- substantially disrupting previously scheduled campus events;
- substantially disrupting University operations;
- constituting unlawful activity; or,
- creating a clear and present threat to public safety, as determined by law enforcement.
No University personnel may impose restrictions on the Campus Community or the public who are engaging in spontaneous expressive activities 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 these activities, University officials (including Campus Law Enforcement) shall take necessary steps to ensure public safety while allowing the Expressive Activity to continue.
6. Time, Place & Manner Restrictions
Expression may be limited or restricted with respect to time, place, or manner. These limitations shall be customized (i.e. to ensure the protection of public order, to avoid scheduling two events at the same time, to avoid disruption of functions of the University including its teaching, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings, public-service functions, or other authorized University activity) to assure compliance with local, state and federal laws. Limitations shall be reasonable and applied without regard to the content of the expression or the purpose of the assembly, except for expression that is not protected by the First Amendment.
Examples of such restrictions on the SWOSU campus include:
- All use of outdoor space must occur at least 20 feet away from buildings that normally hold classes.
- The number of participants who occupy any given space may be regulated.
- The safety of individuals, campus property and the continuity of the educational process will be protected.
- Signs or banners will be carried or personally attended at all times by at least one participant. Unattended displays may not be used.
- Vehicles and heavy equipment may not be used in expressive outdoor space.
- No items (e.g., signs, equipment, décor, etc.) may be attached in any manner to trees, bushes, benches, light poles, buildings, vehicles, or permanent signs.
- No free-standing structure may be constructed for any event not specifically sponsored by the university. Freestanding removable displays are permitted as long as the display occupies a space of less than 200 cubic feet, has a footprint of not more than 100 square feet, weighs less than 300 pounds, is accompanied at all times by an individual responsible for the display, and is removed in its entirety daily. If a group chooses to secure its display to the ground, it must only be affixed using a water ballast system, no stakes or other affixtures or bases are allowed.
- Non-commercial pamphlets, handbills, circulars, newspapers, leaflets, magazines, fliers, and other written materials may be distributed on a person-to-person basis in open areas outside of buildings if done in a way to avoid substantial littering on the campus.
- The carrying of torches or open flames, wearing helmets, carrying shields or bats, and wearing masks is prohibited, per Oklahoma statute (21 O.S. 1301).
7. Solicitation of Funds and Donations
- University properties cannot be used by faculty, staff, or students for commercial purposes or personal financial gain.
- Groups are prohibited from selling credit cards or newspaper subscriptions. Other merchandise-type items will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
- Off-campus organizations are not permitted to charge admission or collect monies for an event held in university space for which no rental fee is being charged. Costs incurred for the rental of tables, chairs, and/or other additional equipment items must be covered by other means.
- Off-campus noncommercial groups such as charitable organizations, public service agencies, and university or university-related groups may engage in fund-raising activities on campus only if they comply with campus regulations as to the time, place, and manner of solicitation.
- Fundraising by commercial off-campus groups is prohibited.
6. Digital Signage
On-campus digital signage is for University use only. Messages may not include or promote commercial activities, or advertisements from non-university organizations. Personal or political statements, links, or information may not be included in digital signage messages. Messages may not include use of copyrighted materials or content without permission or license.
Professional Development for Employees and Students
Southwestern Oklahoma State University communicates policy and expectations to students and employees through educational programming provided to the faculty, staff, and students, as well as publication of policies in their respective handbooks and on the university’s website. The university may also choose to communicate new policy and/or updates through electronic communication. Professional development materials include a summary sheet of general education points and an information postcard for the campus community and the public.
Copy of Professional Development Training Information Sheet
The following professional development information was provided to the campus community via meetings with faculty, staff, and students. The information is also located in the Faculty Commons on the Canvas Learning Management System.
Part 1: State Law
- Passed in the 2019 Oklahoma Legislature, signed by the Governor, effective August 30, 2019. Available Online.
- In brief, the law requires that, on Oklahoma public colleges and universities, the campus community and the public may use unrestricted accessible outdoor space for non-commercial expressive activities because this space is now considered a traditional public forum. As such, this space can be used unless it materially and substantially disrupts the University subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions.
- This law is consistent with historical federal guidance regarding 1st Amendment protected events on this issue, but also requires:
- New University policy
- New training for faculty, staff, and students
- Annual report to the Governor and Legislature
- Posted on university webpage (<3 links)
- Notification of lawsuits
Part 2: University Policy
- In accordance with the state law, SWOSU has developed a policy which addresses the bolded key terms above. The policy is available on the website.
- Take time to review the time, place, and manner restrictions.
Part 3: Expectations
- Guide outdoor visitors to the correct resources on the website.
- Greet outdoor expressive speech visitors with a Visitor Information Card and introducing yourself.
Part 4: Frequently Asked Questions
- The University designates the following indoor facilities as unavailable for Expressive Activity: Wellness Center, Rankin Williams Fieldhouse gymnasiums, administrative offices, laboratories, and (during instructional hours) classrooms.
- The public may reserve these indoor campus facilities: Pioneer Cellular Event Center, Memorial Student Union, Fine Arts Center, Timothy T. Day Business Enterprise Center, and the Patterson Fieldhouse (Sayre campus). Requests should be made to the director of each venue.
- The public and SWOSU employees may reserve outdoor space by contacting the Office of Public Relations and Marketing at 580-774-3063 or by emailing email@example.com
- SWOSU students may reserve both indoor and outdoor space by completing the Application for Approval of Student Organization Activity (green sheet) through the Dean of Students’ office.
- The campus community and the public may use generally accessible outdoor areas for non-commercial expressive activities on a first come, first served basis without giving prior notice if the activity does not materially and substantially disrupt the function of the University, as defined by state law.
- Time, place and manner restrictions are in effect. Please read the policy in its entirety. Examples include:
- No items may be attached in any manner to trees, bushes, benches, light poles, buildings, vehicles, or permanent signs.
- Non-commercial pamphlets, handbills, fliers, and other written materials may be distributed on a person-to-person basis in open areas outside of building if done in a way to avoid substantial littering on the campus.
Copy of Visitor Information Card
Barriers or Disruptions of Free Expression
Southwestern Oklahoma State University experienced no barriers or disruptions of free speech during the calendar year ending December 31, 2021.