Friday, January 9, 2009

Committee Member Responds to Speech Zone Issue

I heard from a committee member who clarified the policy on Demonstrations. It is this person's understanding that the whole campus IS a free speech zone and that designated areas were for those who needed amplified sound and the like. Events outside the forum areas are open to speech, as governed by the "Standards of Respect and Civility."

If that is the case, and I hope the administation clarifies, then the issue is the RSO Handbook that FIRE challenged. The Handbook directly contradicts the Board policy by stating that no areas outside the zones can be used as public forums. It also fails to list Morris Library as a designated area where amplified sound is available.

NOTE: FIRE challenged the RSO Handbook rules. As a faculty adviser to two RSO's over the years, I rely upon the Handbook to counsel students on what to do -- or not to do. Moreover, if a student -- or faculty adviser -- searched for "protest policy" on the SIU-C web site, the first hit would be the RSO Handbook, not the Board policy.

I hope the administration supports this committee member's interpretation of the matter and seeks to change the wording of the RSO Handbook.

No comments: