Student Life Handbook: Policies and Procedures Free Speech and Peaceful Assembly
“Learning depends on truth-centered attitudes and thrives in an atmosphere of discriminating openness to ideas characterized by a measurement of modesty towards one’s own views, the desire to affirm the true, and the courage to examine the unfamiliar (from Westmont’s Living in Community statement).” At times the pursuit of truth may produce conflicts of ideas, opinions, and proposals for action. Individuals may seek to voice ideas, opinions and proposals for action in a public way. As convictions are expressed, one enters the “great conversation” of collegiate life.
Westmont’s Free Speech and Peaceful Assembly Policy seeks to find appropriate balance between two important sets of potentially competing values. The first is the right to exercise free speech and/or organize a peaceful assembly to express one’s convictions on particular issues. The second is the obligation of the college to ensure that the educational program and the pursuits of non-participating faculty, staff, and students are not unreasonably disrupted. It is expected that individuals who exercise their rights of free speech and/or contemplate organizing a peaceful assembly will do so with the understanding that they will comply with all college policies and procedures. Among these are the following time, place, and manner conditions:
- The time is limited to 2 hours between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday-Friday (to allow other uses of the space and to ensure that adequate staffing is available if needed to help ensure safety and civility of all present).
- Permissible locations, if not already in use, are the Dining Commons Lawn, the lawn in front of Murchison Gymnasium (except for the hour before, during and after chapel), Magnolia Lawn and the lawn across from the pathway from Magnolia Lawn.
- Amplified sound (in compliance with the County of Santa Barbara) and signboards larger than 3’x4’ are prohibited (for safety and aesthetic reasons).
A Free Speech and Peaceful Assembly form must be submitted 24 hours prior to the assembly to acknowledge awareness of this policy prior to the event. Staff members in the Campus Life or Vice President/Dean of Students offices are available to provide feedback on Peaceful Assembly planning to help insure that the event complies with the college policy.
Violations of the Free Speech Assembly Policy are subject to the conduct process and the full range of sanctions. Exercising free speech and/or organizing a peaceful assembly violates college policy when the event:
- Includes participants that are not current faculty, staff or students;
- Threatens property or public safety;
- Infringes upon the rights of others by: occurring during or interrupting chapel; interrupting a classroom or any college sponsored events or activities (e.g. halting a lecture, debate, or any public forum by indirectly preventing the speaker from speaking – even for a brief period of time – or seizing control of a public forum for one’s own purposes);
- Violates the time, place, and manner restrictions listed above;
- Violates the Photographing and Filming On Campus Policy; or
- Occurs without acknowledging awareness of this policy (i.e. failure to submit the Free Speech and Peaceful Assembly form).
Westmont values freedom of expression and, therefore, supports students’ desires to exercise this freedom in a public way as expressed in this policy. The use of the college forum for expression of ideas or viewpoints in compliance with this policy does not imply college acceptance or endorsement of the views expressed.
Last Updated on 8/6/19
Last Reviewed on 8/16/21