University Community Members and Visitors have the freedom to engage in Expressive Activities on University Property subject to restrictions that are consistent with established First Amendment principles and principles of academic freedom. This policy affirms the university’s commitment to the open exchange of ideas and values through Expressive Activities without intimidation or harassment and establishes parameters to help provide a safe environment, protect property and promote the proper functioning of the university’s teaching, research, economic development, and public service missions and business operations. The university strives to ensure intellectual freedom and free expression to fulfill its function related to the discovery, improvement, transmission, and dissemination of knowledge by means of research, teaching, discussion, and debate.
This policy is intended to protect the rights of individuals to engage in Expressive Activities, including but not limited to the rights of students to engage in Expressive Activities consistent with the principles set forth in the Higher Education Act of 1965. “Expressive Activities” is defined in greater detail within this policy and with certain exceptions, refers to speech, assembly, demonstrations, and any other expression protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or Article I of the Constitution of the State of Illinois.
The university shall not enforce this policy in a manner that discriminates against any person or group on the basis of any protected classification. A full list of protected classifications can be found in the university’s Nondiscrimination Policy.
This policy is not intended — and shall not be construed — to impair any right or activity, including speech, protest, or assembly, protected by the U.S. Constitution, by the Constitution of the State of Illinois and by other federal or state law, such as the Illinois Labor Dispute Act, the Illinois Public Demonstrations Law and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. Further, this policy is not intended — and shall not be construed — to supersede, nullify, modify or impair any faculty member’s exercise of academic freedom as set forth in University of Illinois Statutes.
This policy applies to all University Community Members and Visitors.
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Operations
- Expressive Activities Permitted. University Community Members and Visitors may use outdoor publicly accessible areas of University Property for Expressive Activities. Community Members and Visitors do not need to reserve outdoor publicly accessible areas of University Property to engage in spontaneous Expressive Activities permitted by this policy. If University Community Members or Visitors expect exclusive use of University Property or otherwise want to reserve University Property for an activity or event, reservations must be made in accordance with the university’s Reservation of University Property Policy. Use of University Property does not imply or signify the university’s endorsement, sponsorship, approval or disapproval of the views expressed in any Expressive Activity.
- Restrictions on Expressive Activities. Expressive Activities must comply with the following restrictions. In applying these restrictions, The university shall not consider the content or viewpoint of Expressive Activities permitted in this policy.
- Lawful Activities. Expressive Activities must comply with applicable federal, state and local laws, as well as university policies, rules and codes, including lawful directives and orders from federal and state governments, law enforcement agencies and public health authorities, including but not limited to 720 ILCS 5/21.2 (Interference with a Public Institution of Education) and 720 ILCS 5/26-1 (Disorderly conduct).
- Public Safety. Expressive Activities must not injure persons, damage or destroy property, or threaten to cause such injury or damage. Expressive Activities must not create safety hazards or harm or threaten the physical health or physical safety of any person. Conduct that harms or threatens the physical health or physical safety of any person, includes but is not limited to:
- causing bodily harm to a person;
- inappropriate and unwelcome physical contact with another person, including but not limited to pushing, slapping, or spitting;
- reckless disregard for the physical health or physical safety of any person; or
- any verbal threat or physically threatening behavior that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their physical health or physical safety.
- Substantial and Material Disruption with University Activities. Expressive Activities must not substantially and materially disrupt, impair, or interfere with the following:
- The teaching, study, research, or administration of the university;
- The authorized use of University Property, including meetings of university students, faculty, staff, administrators or guests; or
- The rights and privileges of other University Community Members.
Disruptive conduct may include but is not limited to the following:
- Obstructing, impairing, or interfering with university sponsored or authorized activities or University Property in a manner that is likely to or does deprive others of the benefit or enjoyment of the activity or University Property;
- Creating a volume of noise that impairs or interferes with university sponsored or authorized activities or University Property in a manner that is likely to or does deprive others of the benefit or enjoyment of the activity or University Property; and
- Using or threatening use of force against any University Community Member that substantially and directly bears upon the University Community Member’s functions within the University.
See the Demonstration Response Plan for guidance on demonstration response management, planning and procedures.
- Obstruct Access to Buildings or Impede Movement. Expressive Activities must not obstruct entrances or exits to buildings. Expressive activities must not obstruct vehicular or pedestrian traffic or restrict the free movement of persons on University Property.
- Conflicts with Reservations. Expressive Activities must not take place at a location that has been reserved by another University Community Member or Visitor pursuant to the university’s Reservation of University Property Policy.
- Alma Mater and Surrounding Area. The area immediately in front of and immediately surrounding the Alma Mater statue is designated for use by University Community Members to take photographs with the Alma Mater statue during the following periods:
- From the Sunday before the first day of instruction for the fall semester to the Sunday after the first day of instruction for the fall semester; and
- From the Sunday before university-wide commencement in the spring to the Sunday after university-wide commencement in the spring.
Expressive Activities in this area during these periods are subject to the same limitations as set forth in Paragraphs 2(c) and 2(e) of this policy.
For purposes of this paragraph, disruptive conduct includes but is not limited to:
- Blocking access to the Alma Mater statue;
- Preventing the orderly formation of a line for photographs with the Alma Mater statue; and
- Persistently obstructing, impairing or otherwise interfering with photographs with the Alma Mater statue.
- Open Flames. Expressive Activities must not include the use of open flame devices, bonfires or the lighting of any material on fire except hand-held candles, which may be used in accordance with regulations set forth by the university’s Campus Code Compliance and Fire Safety in Facilities and Services. This policy does not apply to the use of open flame devices in controlled settings as part of authorized university operations, such as laboratories for teaching or research, food service as part of a university event or activity, or construction and maintenance.
- Amplified Sound. Amplified sound is permitted as follows:
- Subject to all applicable limitations in Paragraph 2 of this policy, a handheld, battery-operated bullhorn may be used in connection with Expressive Activities permitted in Paragraph 1 of this policy. The bullhorn must be more than 50 feet from and directed away from the nearest classroom building, residence hall, library or the Student Services Building during hours of operation;
- As approved as part of a reservation request under the university’s Reservation of University Property Policy for an event or activity occurring after 5 p.m. or on weekends or if held at Anniversary Plaza or Quad Spaces, for an event or activity occurring from noon-1 p.m. Monday-Friday, excluding final exam periods; or
- As approved by the Chancellor’s Special Event Advisory Committee for an event or activity sponsored by a university unit or recognized student organization.
- Noise and amplified sound related to authorized university operations (e.g., approved university sporting or music events, authorized construction and maintenance, or authorized university classes) is not governed by this policy.
- Property Damage. Expressive Activities that result in or are substantially likely to result in damage or destruction of University Property or property belonging to other University Community Members or Visitors is prohibited. Persons or organizations causing such damage may be held financially responsible, in addition to possible consequences under other applicable policies and law.
- Posting Materials. University Community Members may post written or printed materials regarding any non-commercial topic on general campus bulletin boards and general campus kiosks.
- Affixing or physically attaching written or printed materials to University Property other than a designated area authorized by this policy, including but not limited to statues, doors, light posts, utility poles, walls, trees, and trash cans, is prohibited.
- Use of classroom bulletin boards is restricted to instructional information, as defined by the instructors who use that classroom. Classroom bulletin boards may not be used by other groups or individuals for other purposes.
- Use of unit bulletin boards that are assigned to specific university units is restricted to the assigned unit and may not be used by other groups or individuals for other purposes.
- The University Community Member who posted material for an event or activity is responsible for ensuring that the material is removed within 48 hours after the event or activity.
- An authorized official of the university may remove and destroy the following posted materials:
- Outdated, posted materials (g., materials publicizing a past event or activity);
- Duplicate materials posted on the same general campus bulletin board or general campus kiosk as needed to create space for other University Community Members to post materials as permitted by this policy;
- Any posted materials at the end of each semester;
- Materials posted to the general campus kiosk located on the main university Quadrangle on a biweekly basis; and
- Posted materials that violate university policy, including but not limited to Paragraph 3, the restrictions in Paragraph 2 of this policy, or state or federal law.
- University Community Members and Visitors must not remove, cover, or tamper with materials posted by another person or organization.
- Posting of written materials in residence halls is governed by applicable University Housing residence hall policies.
- Distribution of Written Materials. University Community Members and Visitors may distribute written or printed materials regarding a non-commercial topic on a person-to-person basis in outdoor, publicly accessible areas of University Property. University Community Members and Visitors may distribute written or printed materials regarding a non-commercial topic on a person-to-person basis inside the common areas (g., foyers, vestibules, or hallways) of publicly-accessible buildings while open to the public. The interiors of computer labs, designated study lounges, classrooms, auditoriums, museums, theatres, lecture halls, offices, gymnasiums, retail shops, and dining or social reception halls, as well as mailboxes, are not “common areas” for this purpose.
- Those individuals and groups engaged in the distribution of written materials must not litter and are encouraged to pick up any distributed materials dropped on the ground by others around the area of distribution.
- An authorized official of the university may remove any written materials left behind or unattended, and the university assumes no responsibility for the safety and care of such materials.
- Distribution of materials that violates university policy, including but not limited to Paragraph 4, the restrictions in Paragraph 2 of this policy, or state or federal law is prohibited.
- Distribution of written materials in residence halls is governed by applicable University Housing residence hall policies.
- Structures and Outdoor Displays. Placement of signs and structures into concrete or grass on University Property is prohibited without prior written authorization from the Architectural Review Committee in Facilities and Services or as may be permitted by an approved reservation of University Property. University Community Members may erect Outdoor Displays in accordance with the university’s Outdoor Displays Policy (FO-49). This provision does not apply to university operations (g., construction and maintenance) or to university personnel carrying out a duty or responsibility on behalf of the university. University units must comply with the university’s Lawn Signs Policy (FO-38).
- Chalking. University Community Members may use water-soluble chalk, easily removed by rain, for Expressive Activity regarding any non-commercial topic on university sidewalks. Other chalk or paint is prohibited.
- Chalking is prohibited:
- On University Property other than university sidewalks. For example, chalking is not permitted on vertical surfaces, buildings, walls, planters, doors, trash receptacles, steps, fountains, benches, tables, signs, poles, columns, bus stops, light posts, and trees; and
- Underneath any covering where chalk would not be washed away by rainfall.
- Chalking and other markings on University Property that violate university policy, including but not limited to Paragraph 6, the restrictions in Paragraph 2 of this policy, or state or federal law are subject to removal by an authorized official of the university.
- University Community Members and Visitors must not remove or tamper with chalking done by another person or organization.
- Camping. Camping, as defined in the university’s Reservation of University Property Policy, is not permitted on University Property except in accordance with the university’s Reservation of University Property Policy.
- Commercial Activity on University Property. Commercial Activity on University Property is prohibited unless authorized through a written contract with the university or otherwise authorized by university policy. This policy does not apply to official university activity or university-sanctioned activity, such as the Campus Charitable Fund Drive or solicitation or other activity by employees of the university acting in the course and scope of their university duties and authority. Commercial Activity in residence halls also must comply with applicable University Housing residence hall policies.
“Commercial Activity” means:
- Conducting a commercial transaction;
- Activity conducted for the purpose of advertising, peddling, or selling goods and services, offering goods and services for sale, or distributing samples of goods and services for sale; or
- Soliciting funds or financial contributions for an organization.
“Commercial Activity” does not include an isolated, personal transaction between individuals not in the course of repeated transactions of a like nature.
“Designated Official” means the individual who has been appointed by the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee to manage events and activities and to make decisions about use of specific University Property. If no Designated Official has been appointed for the specific University Property, then the Facility Management and Scheduling unit of the Office of the Registrar is appointed to manage such decisions with appropriate stakeholders.
“Expressive Activities” means speech, assembly, demonstrations, and any other expression protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or Article I of the Constitution of the State of Illinois with the exception of commercial activity. Expression and activities that fall outside First Amendment protection, such as obscenity, defamation, and true threats, are not protected under this policy.
“Non-commercial topic” means any campus event, student group activity, job opportunity, current event, news, political cause, opinion and other topics that are not primarily related to a commercial transaction or an advertisement to promote the sale of goods or services.
“University Community Members” means all university employees (including faculty members and staff), students, Registered Organizations, Registered Student Organizations.
“University Property” means all buildings, grounds and other internal and external spaces owned or controlled by the university.
“Visitor” means any individual or group who is not a University Community Member.
- A person engaged in Expressive Activities in compliance with this policy is not subject to discipline by the university. A violation of this policy or applicable law may result in discipline in accordance with applicable university policies and procedures or other consequence, such as potential civil or criminal action in accordance with applicable civil and criminal laws.
- A Designated Official and authorized university officials acting within the scope of their university duties may determine what actions are necessary to respond to alleged violations of this policy.
- Refer to the Demonstration Response Plan for guidance on demonstration response management, planning and procedures.
- Refer to the Campus Threat Assessment Policy (FO-19) for the campus community’s responsibilities to report and respond to potential indicators and threats of violent behavior, as well as the processes and resources available, and the Violence Prevention and Response Policy (FO-76) for information related to the university’s commitment to safety.
- Refer to the Nondiscrimination Policy (HR-48) for the policy and associated procedures to address complaints of discrimination or harassment based on the protected categories as set forth in that policy. Reports of discrimination or harassment, or questions regarding this policy, may be directed to the Office for Access and Equity.
- A University Community Member or Visitor who believes a university official has infringed on their freedom to engage in Expressive Activities permitted by this policy may complete an online complaint form available here. Complaints will be addressed following the processes established by the Office of the Chancellor available here. Complaints may be referred to another university body as may be appropriate, such as alleged violations of the Student Code, alleged violations of the university’s Code of Conduct, or alleged discrimination or harassment based on membership in a protected class as set forth in the Nondiscrimination Policy (HR-48).
Campus Threat Assessment Policy (FO-19)
Demonstration Response Plan
Lawn Signs Policy (FO-38)
Nondiscrimination Policy (HR-48)
Outdoor Displays Policy (FO-49)
Reservation of University Property Policy
University of Illinois Statutes
Violence Prevention and Response Policy
The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Operations