Policy D10
Policy Name: Free Speech and Public Assembly
Responsibility for Maintenance: Campus Safety and Security

I. Policy Statement  

Onondaga Community College recognizes and supports the rights of free speech. This policy informs members of the College community and the public of the manner in which they may engage in constitutionally protected speech and expression at Onondaga Community College. It is intended to ensure the primary educational purpose of the College, which includes promoting debate and the sharing of information.

II. Reason for Policy  

The College will protect the rights of freedom of speech, petition, and peaceful assembly as set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Onondaga Community College maintains the right to regulate reasonable time, place and manner restrictions concerning acts of expression and dissent. Any acts that are disruptive to the normal operations of the College including but not limited to classes and College business, or invades the rights of others, will not be tolerated and may result in termination of the assembly. Faculty, staff and students engaging in disruptive activity may be subject to disciplinary actions. Any participant in a disruptive activity may face criminal charges.

III. Applicability of the Policy  

All members of the College community should be familiar with this policy.

IV. Related Documents  

  • Noise Ordinance, Town of Onondaga

V. Contacts  


Office Name  

Title or Position  

Telephone Number  


Questions regarding
Free Speech and Public Assembly

Campus Safety and Security

Vice President for Campus Safety and Security

(315) 498-2173


VI. Definitions  


VII. Procedures  

Free Speech Area
That area located between the Coulter Library and the Ferrante Building, also known as the “Quad”.

Registration and Use of Free Speech Areas
Individuals or groups wishing to use Free Speech Areas should request use of the space through the Vice President of Campus Safety and Security. Reservations for Free Speech Areas must be made at least two business days in advance of the event for scheduling purposes. Usually, use of the space will be assigned to the person or organization that requests the area first. College sponsored events have first priority on the use of campus grounds. The College reserves the right to relocate any assembly to ensure that the activity does not interfere with the normal operation of the College or interfere with the rights of others. At the time of request, the following information will be required:

  • Name of the person or organization sponsoring the event
  • Location, date and time requested
  • List of planned activities (i.e. speech, rally, march, signs, picketing, distribution of literature)
  • Special equipment being used
  • Anticipated attendance

Volume of Sound Equipment
The volume of sound equipment may not exceed 70 decibels as set forth in the Noise Ordinance of the Town of Onondaga.

Guidelines for Speech and Public Assembly  

  • Speakers: In view of the desire of the College to promote free speech, the free speech areas of the campus are open to speakers for whom official arrangements to speak have been made with the College, following provisions of this policy.
  • The right to dissent: The right to dissent is the complement of the right to speak, but these rights need not occupy the same forum at the same time. The speaker is entitled to communicate his or her message to the audience during his or her allotted time and the audience is entitled to hear the message and see the speaker during that time. A dissenter must not substantially interfere with the speaker’s ability to communicate or the audience’s ability to hear and see the speaker. Likewise, the audience must respect the right to dissent.
  • Symbolic Protest: During a presentation, displaying a sign, gesturing, wearing symbolic clothing, or otherwise protesting silently is permissible unless it is a disruptive activity or impedes access, such as acts that block the audience’s view or prevent the audience from being able to pay attention.
  • Marches: Marches are acceptable on campus with the appropriate parade /march permit and with prior notification in order to prepare for the march and provide for the necessary safety of the participants and bystanders. The permit will outline expected attendance, and approved parade/march route. Permits should be requested at least two business days in advance of the event for campus marches.

Prohibited Conduct
Those who schedule speech or public assembly activities on campus must not:

  • Threaten passers-by.
  • Interfere with, impede, or cause blockage of the flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
  • Commit any act likely to create imminent safety or health hazards.
  • Interfere with or disrupt any other lawful or permitted activity by anyone in the same general location at the same time.
  • Post any materials on any buildings, walls, windows, doors, sidewalks, trees, light poles, or any other College owned equipment except in designated areas.
  • Conduct speech that includes words that by their very nature tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.
  • Engage in any other speech or action that is not allowed by law.
  • Engage in any speech that is likely to incite or produce immediate lawless action or that is, under current legal standards, either defamatory or indecent.
  • Damage or destroy any College owned property.
  • Intentionally cause physical injury to any other person, or threaten to do so.
  • Physically restrain or detain any person or remove any person from any place where he or she is authorized to remain.
  • Without permission, expressed or implied, enter into any private office, or an office used by an administrative officer or member of the faculty or staff.
  • Enter or remain in any building or facility for any purpose other than its authorized use(s) or in such a manner as to obstruct its authorized use(s) by others.
  • Without permission, remain in any building or facility after it is normally closed.
  • Refuse to leave any building or facility after being required to do so by an authorized campus official.
  • Deliberately disrupt or prevent the peaceful and orderly conduct of classes, lectures, and meetings, or deliberately interfere with the freedom of any person to express his or her views, including invited speakers.
  • Incite others to commit any of the acts prohibited.

Assembly Security
Onondaga Community College reserves the right to charge individuals wishing to use the Free Speech Areas for additional security at a rate determined by the Vice President of Campus Safety and Security. The Vice President of Campus Safety and Security will determine the need for and the number of additional Campus Security Officers to perform security functions during any public assembly event.

VIII. Forms/Online Processes  

  • Parade/March Permit (available from Campus Safety & Security)


Approved by the OCC Board of Trustees August 15, 2011