Policies & Procedures

UC IRVINE ADMINISTRATIVE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Section 1

Physical Environment and Properties

Buildings and Grounds: General Use

Sec. 900-01: Free Speech at UCI Interim Policy


Responsible Administrator: Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs
Issued:
March 2019

References / Resources

Contact: Office of the Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs

Contents


A. Free Speech at UCI


  1. Freedom of speech is a bedrock value of our constitutional system and is at the core of UCI’s mission. Courts recognize that this principle, declared in both the United States and the California constitutions, “acquires a special significance in the university setting, where the free and unfettered interplay of competing views is essential to the institution’s educational mission.” (see endnote 1). UCI is committed to assuring that at UCI all persons may exercise the constitutionally-protected rights of free expression, free speech and free assembly.
  2. Free speech requires all members of the UCI community to accept that we will be exposed to viewpoints, arguments or forms of expression that make us uncomfortable or even offend us. It is in precisely these circumstances that free speech often serves its most vital purpose, especially in our educational context: universities exist to provide the conditions for hard thought and difficult debate so that individuals can develop the capacity for independent judgment. This cannot happen if universities attempt to shield people from ideas and opinions they might find unwelcome, so UCI is committed to policies that encourage, not chill, protected speech.
  3. Hard thought and difficult debate also are chilled if members of the university or broader community try to silence or interfere with speakers with whom they disagree. Although members of our community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed on campus, and to criticize and contest speakers who are invited to express their views on campus, they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe. To this end, UCI is committed to promoting a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation and to protecting that freedom when others attempt to restrict it. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis advised in his famous Whitney v. California opinion in 1927, “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
  4. At the same time, freedom of speech is not and cannot be absolute. The freedom to debate and discuss the merits of competing ideas does not mean that individuals may say whatever they wish, whenever, wherever and however they wish to say it. Thus, UCI may restrict expression that is not constitutionally protected, including expression that:
    • violates the law;
    • defames a specific individual;
    • constitutes a genuine threat or harassment;
    • unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests; or
    • is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the university.
    In addition, UCI may reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the ordinary activities of the university.
  5. UCI serves society because it is a place where people work together to create a scholarly community dedicated to rigorous inquiry, evidence-based reasoning, logical argumentation, experimentation and a willingness to reassess one’s perspective in light of new evidence and arguments. These beliefs and practices – these scholarly norms – are inextricably linked to related values, including a genuine desire to engage competing perspectives and learn from those who have had different experiences or who hold different viewpoints. These values teach us that we attempt to resolve (or at least better understand) disagreements through reasoned and sustained conversation, debate and the acquisition of new knowledge. They also prompt us to speak out in support of each other when members of our community are subject to hateful, discriminatory or inflammatory personal attacks. If our commitment to freedom and democracy leads us to defend the rights of free speech, our commitment to scholarly inquiry and education leads us to promote norms and practices that enable us to learn from each other in an atmosphere of positive engagement and mutual respect, however offensive or disagreeable we may believe some speech to be.
  6. Numerous policies at UCI embody UCI’s commitment to free speech. (See Related Policies and Procedures below.) To the extent that any other policy, or provision thereof, conflicts with or is inconsistent with this Free Speech at UCI Policy, this policy shall apply.

B. Space at UCI


  1. UCI is a research university, and the mission of the university is to support the teaching, learning, research and public service of our faculty, staff and students. Because UCI is a public, government entity, it may regulate speech and speech-related activities only as much as necessary to serve these missions and to keep the campus community safe. The rules about speech and speech-related activities set forth here take into account these interests.
  2. In general, the more public a campus space is, the fewer restrictions on speech will apply in that space. Similarly, the more private a campus space is, the more restrictions on speech may apply there. In an effort to articulate this continuum, courts have categorized public spaces as “traditional public forum,” “designated public forum,” “limited public forum” or “non-public forum.” Different rules apply to each category. Thus, the first step in determining which rules apply to a space is determining to which category the space belongs.
    Specifically:
    1. In a traditional public forum or in a designated public forum, UCI may impose content-neutral, viewpoint-neutral time, place, and manner regulations that serve a significant university interest and that leave open ample alternative places for speech. In addition, UCI may impose content-based regulations only if they are necessary to achieve a compelling university interest and there is no less-restrictive alternative.
      • As an example, in Aldrich Park, UCI may have rules that regulate the time (not after dark), the place (not on the walkways), and/or the manner (without amplification) of speech that apply to all speech (not solely to speech about, say, pencils), no matter the viewpoint (say, pro-pencils but not anti-pencils).
    2. In a limited public forum or in a non-public forum, UCI may impose content-neutral, viewpoint-neutral time, place, and manner regulations that serve a significant university interest and that leave open ample alternative places for speech. In addition, UCI may impose content-based regulations only if they are reasonable in light of UCI’s legitimate interest in preserving the purpose of the forum.
      • As an example, in laboratories, UCI may have rules that regulate speech that is not related to teaching, learning and research.
    3. Some spaces at UCI are not a public forum at all but are university space that the university uses for its own speech. In these places, UCI can regulate speech, even based on its content.
      • As an example, in administrative offices, UCI may have rules that regulate any kind of speech.
  3. Applying the above categories, UCI spaces are divided into the following types:
    1. Outdoor Space Open to the Public: Outdoor areas of UCI that:
      • are at least 20 feet from an entrance to/exit from a building or parking lot;
      • do not restrict movement on walkways or roadways; and
      • are a safe distance from roadside curbs
      are designated public spaces open to speech and other expressive activity, subject to content-neutral, viewpoint-neutral time, place, and manner regulations that serve UCI’s significant interest in allowing the functioning of the campus. Any content-based restrictions must be necessary to achieve a compelling university interest.
    2. Student Center and Newkirk Alumni Center: Certain spaces within the Student Center and the Newkirk Alumni Center are designated public spaces open to speech and other expressive activity, subject to content-neutral, viewpoint-neutral time, place, and manner regulations that serve UCI’s significant interest in allowing the functioning of the campus. Any content-based restrictions must be necessary to achieve a compelling university interest.
    3. Academic Space: Classrooms, laboratories, libraries and other academic spaces are limited public spaces dedicated to speech for teaching, learning and research, but they are not forums for the general exercise of free speech rights. Thus, they are governed by the norms of academic freedom as outlined in the University’s Academic Personnel Manual, APM-010, which recognizes in teaching settings the faculty’s authority to control all aspects of a course, including the relevance of alternative points of view, and by other regulations designed to ensure that the space is used for its intended purpose.
    4. Student Living Space: Residence hall common areas and living spaces are limited public spaces dedicated to student speech attendant to student life, subject to content-neutral, viewpoint-neutral time, place, and manner regulations that serve a significant university interest and that leave open ample alternative places for speech. Any content-based regulations must be reasonable in light of UCI’s legitimate interest in preserving the purpose of the space.
    5. Administrative Offices: Administrative offices are not a forum for public speech and are dedicated to university speech attendant to administering the operation of the campus.
  4. The following spaces at UCI are available for expressive activity:
    1. Available without reservations (subject to availability because others may have made reservations). Time (for example, not after dark), place (for example, not on walkways), and manner (for example, without amplification) rules apply:
      • Aldrich Park
      • Ring Road (unreserved spaces)
      • Aldrich Hall Oval
      • Outdoor Plazas
    2. Available with reservations (contact the UCI Conference Center to reserve space: https://www.conferencecenter.uci.edu/meetings-events/book-an-event/). Time (for example, not after dark), place (for example, not on walkways), and manner (for example, without amplification) rules and other rules may apply:
      • UCI Conference Center
      • Classrooms
      • Newkirk Alumni Center.

C. Related Policies and Procedures


  1. UC Policies
  2. UCI Policies and Procedures

D. End Notes


  1. Doe v. University of Michigan, 721 F. Supp. 852, 863 (E.D. Mich. 1989)