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  • Guidelines on Demonstrations in University Facilities

    The New School is committed by tradition and by its defining values to the freedom of speech, thought, inquiry, and artistic expression for all members of its community. It is equally committed to protecting the right of free speech of all individuals authorized to use its facilities or invited to participate in the educational activities of any of the university's academic divisions. The University vigorously reaffirms both its Policy on the Free Exchange of Ideas, adopted by the Board of Trustees on January 21, 1987, and the Statement on Freedom of Artistic Expression, adopted by the Board on October 4, 1989. The Policy on the Free Exchange of Ideas points out that:

    "A university in any meaningful sense of the term is compromised without unhindered exchange of ideas, however unpopular, and without the assurance that both the presentation and the confrontation of ideas take place freely and without coercion. In this context and because of its distinctive, educational role as a forum for public debate, the university has deep concern for preserving and securing the conditions which permit the free exchange of ideas to flourish."

    The exercise of free speech, including demonstrations, marches, rallies, leafleting and picketing and equivalent activities ("demonstrations"), has long been recognized as a legitimate form of self-expression in the university community. The University encourages exercise of free speech recognizing that at times the exercise of free speech and expression in a university community will result in exchanges that are heated, controversial, deeply passionate and even uncomfortable for members of the university community. The establishment of parameters for such activities does not arise from any desire by the University to control such activities or impose a civility code but, rather, is derived from the consonant principle that such activities must not materially disrupt other university functions or interfere with the freedom of others, or otherwise violate the rights of others.

    Demonstrations that take place inside university facilities, including all university buildings and the enclosed courtyard areas they bound, always have great potential to disrupt normal functions. Hence, it is necessary to give particular attention to the rights of all members of the university community when demonstrations take place in these facilities.

    As such, these Guidelines on Demonstrations in University Facilities establish rules for carrying out demonstrations – understood as speech activities and expression enjoying the basic protection of the right to free expression – in university facilities. They also establish procedures for supervising such demonstrations, protecting the rights of demonstrators, and protecting the rights of others and the University. These Guidelines are structured to balance the University's desire to strongly encourage the exercise of free speech as well as political and community activism by its students, faculty and staff with the desire to prevent or minimize incidents that result in suspensions, expulsions, arrests and/or significant disruption of university operations.

    The Elements of Time, Manner and Place

    The exercise of the freedom of expression does not mean its unlimited expression at all times, in all possible manners, in all places. Universities are large communities whose many members cannot all simultaneously exercise the right of free expression. How it is exercised at a given time and place can significantly affect the ability of others to make use of their right.

    The elements of time, manner and place are particularly relevant to speech and other expression when demonstrations are carried out in university facilities. The University's concern with these elements does not arise from a concern with demonstrations per se. Rather, it springs from the recognition that (1) the rights of individuals belonging to the university community or the public may well collide at such times, (2) the University has the responsibility to carry out its educational and administrative functions as well as to protect the rights of all members of the community, and (3) without prior content-neutral rules, any intervention to protect those involved in the demonstration, others in the university community, or the institution, may appear biased.

    Hence, the regulation of the elements of time, manner and place of demonstrations is a legitimate and necessary concern of The New School. The following are intended to clarify the conditions that make possible the exercise of free expression for all members of the university community:

    1. Members of the university community and outside guests shall have the right to peacefully protest any speaker, meeting or event, so long as the event being protested is able to continue without significant or material disruption. Any disruption including utterances of vocal dissent that, due to its repetitive or prolonged nature, inhibits the ability of the speaker(s) or other persons in attendance from speaking will be deemed significant and material for the purpose of this policy.
    2. Classes or other scheduled activities shall not be significantly or materially disrupted. A faculty member has discretion in determining what constitutes a significant or material disruption. For example, one faculty member may view a disruption that continues for 15 minutes as insignificant and immaterial due to the length of the class or activity whereas another instructor may view a disruption lasting only 5 minutes to be significant and material because it prevented the class or activity from continuing.
    3. No person may enter or remain in a university owned or operated facility beyond that facility's normal operating hours.
    4. Persons may not block or otherwise disrupt ingress and egress into and out of any facility that is owned or operated by the University or significantly impede the movement of people or disrupt regular or authorized activities in classrooms, offices, hallways, lobbies, studios, and laboratories.
    5. Persons may not engage in any conduct that threatens the safety and well being of the campus community and must refrain from any conduct that involves any form of physical violence or physical intimidation.
    6. Persons may not engage in any conduct that violates fire and building codes or any other code and regulation for public safety. Similarly, persons may not engage in any conduct that violates the University's policies and procedures, including the Code of Conduct, as well as any federal, state or local laws.
    7. Many of the University's facilities abut public streets which are under the sole jurisdictional control of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and not the University. It is the responsibility of those engaging in demonstrations on public sidewalks and streets to obtain the appropriate permits from NYPD.
    8. Similarly, persons engaged in demonstrations alongside public streets and sidewalks should refrain from blocking or otherwise interfering with the free flow of pedestrian, vehicular or bicycle traffic.
    9. Organizations or persons sponsoring or organizing demonstrations, leafleting or equivalent activities will be responsible for compliance with these Guidelines and any related violation of applicable university policies and procedures. Each individual participating in a demonstration or other equivalent event is accountable for compliance with these Guidelines and other applicable university policy or procedure.
    10. A substantiated complaint of a violation of these Guidelines and other university policy or procedure by a member of the University community may be grounds for discipline against individuals, the sponsoring or participating organizations, and/or organizing officers. The procedures for handling such disciplinary issues will be described below.
    11. Any person who fails to identify him/herself to a university delegate or fails to heed to the warning from a university delegate that his/her conduct violates these Guidelines will face disciplinary action as outlined in Section V.
    12. Persons unaffiliated with the University who engage in conduct that violates these Guidelines after being warned by a university delegate will be escorted off university premises and may be subject to civil or criminal prosecution.

    Permits and Notice of Demonstrations

    Scheduling Events

    The Office of the Provost, or another university officer designated by the President, will be responsible for approving requests to use space inside university facilities for demonstrations and for establishing any conditions for their conduct. If the request is denied, the applicant will be informed of the basis for the denial and may resubmitted after addressing the reasons for the initial denial.

    If a demonstration is planned to take place inside university facilities, that is, inside a facility that is owned or operated by the University including any enclosed courtyard areas, the organization(s) or person(s) desiring to demonstrate are required to notify the Secretary of the University at least 48 hours in advance in order to allow for the exchange of information and ensure proper administrative support, including the presence of delegates and additional security. The Application to Hold a Demonstration is filed online. Requests will be responded to within 24 hours and permits will be reviewed and granted on a content neutral basis i.e., logistical issues relating to whether appropriate space, security or insurance can be provided in a manner that properly facilitates the demonstration with minimal interruption to other university functions.

    The University may require demonstrations to be conducted 10 feet or more from any exit, entrance, staircase, etc. to allow access. It also may impose limits on the portion of interior floor space and the portion of exterior and interior walls of university facilities that may be used for speech activities.

    If the demonstrators wish to continue beyond one day, a permit must be secured to use a specific space for a specified period of time. Such permits will be renewable and subject to modification, given the university's need to consider competing requests.

    In the event of multiple requests from different organizations and/or persons attempting to use the same place and time, priority will determined according to the following: (1) to previously scheduled events and demonstrations (including but not limited to university-arranged events); (2) to events and demonstrations conducted by recognized university organizations, students, students organizations, and current faculty and administrative employees; and (3) on a first-come, first served basis. In the interest of fairness and in recognition of the University's space limitations, no more than 5 permits will be issued to any single organization in any given month.

    Spontaneous Demonstrations

    The University understands that events leading to the desire for unscheduled demonstrations may arise quickly and unexpectedly. Unscheduled demonstrations or similar events may be held without a permit as long as they do not present a substantial threat to the safety and security of the university community or substantially interfere with other university operations and as long as such activities otherwise conform to the elements of time, manner and place.

    It may be a violation of these Guidelines for any person to attempt to circumvent the requirements related to notice, approval and permits by designating planned events as spontaneous. In determining whether a demonstration is spontaneous or planned, the following factors may be considered: (1) whether signs or placards used at the demonstrations were commercially produced in advance, (2) whether participants used amplified equipment, (3) whether security was alerted, or media contacted, substantially in advance of the demonstration, or (4) any other information that evidences advanced planning by one or more of the persons or organizations involved.

    Implementation

    To assist in the enforcement of these Guidelines, the University will appoint a group of delegates who will be responsible for preserving the right to the exercise of free expression within the bounds of the time, manner and place restrictions. These delegates or first responders will be chosen from a broad cross representation of the university community and must include at least 12 persons including at least 2 full-time faculty members, one representative of each division as appointed by the Dean or Director, an appointee of the Senior Vice President for Student Services and an appointee of the Office of the President.

    Violations that Present a Serious, Substantial and Imminent Risk of Harm

    Any member of the community who believes that a demonstration violates these Guidelines or other policies of the University, should contact Security and request that a delegate be dispatched to the site of the demonstration. Security will notify all delegates of the demonstration but the first two delegates to be dispatched will be the official delegate for the particular demonstration. The delegates shall proceed to the site of the demonstration and gather as much information as possible and should consult with both the Director of Security and the Director of Facilities in determining whether the demonstration presents a serious, significant and imminent health, safety or security risk to the campus community.

    If so, the delegate, working in conjunction with Security and Facilities, will have the authority to obtain the identity and university affiliation of the individual(s) involved while advising such person(s) or organization(s) that the demonstration both violates these Guidelines and poses a serious, substantial and imminent risk to the safety or security of the campus community. The delegate should advise the person(s) or organization(s) to immediately cease and desist and of the likelihood of the imposition of discipline related to conduct at the demonstration.

    If the demonstrators fail to respond to the direction of the delegates, then the delegate along with the Director of Security and the Director of Facilities shall communicate to the President the determination that the demonstration presents a serious, substantial and imminent risk. The President will consult with the Provost and Executive Vice President in determining whether University Security personnel can safely and effectively remove or ameliorate the risk(s) without the assistance of external law enforcement. While it is desirable that the President consult with members of the campus community to the maximum extent practicable in determining whether to involve external law enforcement, these Guidelines in no way prohibit the President from acting immediately and expeditiously whenever, in his/her judgment, the demonstration presents a serious, substantial and imminent risk to the campus community.

    The delegates, the Director of Security and the Director of Facilities will each prepare a report detailing the event and their actions in arriving at the determination that the demonstration created a significant, serious and imminent risk that includes the identity of the demonstrators whose actions created such risk.; Such reports will serve as the basis for the imposition of any related disciplinary actions and must be forwarded to the President who will to the maximum extent practicable consult with the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Office of the Provost before imposing any discipline or initiating any criminal or civil action.

    Other Violations

    If the delegate, after consulting with the Director of Security and the Director of Facilities, determines that the demonstration does not pose a serious, significant and imminent risk to the campus community but, nonetheless, is a material violation of these Guidelines, the delegate may advise the demonstrators on the range of options for continuing the demonstration within the parameters set forth in these Guidelines. In the event that the demonstration violated these Guidelines, the delegate should prepare a report of the events that includes the identity of the demonstrators that should be forwarded to Office of the Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Office of the Provost for consideration of whether any disciplinary or other action is warranted.

    Judicial Proceedings Following Violations of the Guidelines

    Violations of these Guidelines are also violations of the University Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct indicates that when members of the university community are alleged to have committed a violation, "they will be accorded the due process to which they are entitled. Members of the university community are granted a fair hearing: they are fully advised of any charges against them, they are afforded ample opportunity to respond to accusations, and they are given a clear explanation of the right to an appeal."

    Individuals who are found to have violated these Guidelines or other university policies bearing on freedom of expression will be subject to a range of penalties. For students, the penalties indicated in the Code of Conduct are:

    • A warning that repetition of the wrongful conduct may be the cause for more severe sanctions following a clear instruction to desist
    • Restitution for damage or loss to either university or individual property
    • Placing the student on probation, so that a further violation of university rules and regulations while on probation may result in suspension or expulsion
    • Restriction in the use of certain university facilities or the right to participate in certain activities or privileges for a specified period of time
    • Suspension from all functions of the University for a stated period, and the possible requirement of a petition for readmission
    • Expulsion from the University for violations judged to be so serious that the student is informed that readmission will not be considered

    For faculty and staff members found to have committed a serious violation of university policy, the range of applicable penalties include: a written warning, probationary status, suspension (including suspension of salary), or the termination of appointment.

    The above listed penalties may be in addition to, and separate from, any penalties or liabilities pursuant to the laws of the United States, State of New York, or City of New York. The University may, at its discretion, depending on the gravity of the violation, file a criminal or civil complaint with the appropriate public official.

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