Free Speech

The college campus may be used for free speech purposes by third parties pursuant to the delegation of authority by the SUNY Board of Trustees (SUNY Policy #5603 – Use of Facilities by Non-Commercial Organizations).  The College reserves the right to determine the time, place, and manner of assembly or presentation in order to assure the continuity and quality of the educational process both in and out of class, the protection of property, and the safety of individuals.

The college recognizes an obligation to provide a free speech area of the campus for use by third parties (not part of or sponsored by the college or a registered student organization). This policy applies to third parties and does not apply to the college’s students, speakers officially sponsored by registered student groups, faculty or staff. The rights of students, faculty and staff regarding free speech are included in:

  • Regulations and Procedures for Maintaining Public Order on Campuses of the State University of New York
  • Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct
  • Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Faculty, Students, Administrators, Staff and College Council at Oswego

As a public entity partially funded by New York state tax dollars, the college will provide a designated public forum to third parties for the exercise of their free speech rights.  To comply with existing law, the college will assign resources to presentations by third parties, including staff time, for the management of the designated public forum and possibly using University Police or other administrative staff to provide for public safety of participants. Reservations for the designated forum will be addressed on a first-come, first-served basis.

In implementing this policy, the college weighs competing obligations and responsibilities to:

  • Meet its legal obligations as a public entity to provide a designated public forum for free speech by third parties
  • Meet audit and control responsibilities in managing New York State property under college jurisdiction
  • Provide for the orderly and safe operation of the college campus
  • Responsibly manage and allocate college resources in pursuit of its educational mission

 The college has determined specific time periods when the use of its campus or facilities, including outdoor spaces, are reserved exclusively for college related activities that are at the core of the primary educational mission of the college.  During these periods, no third party shall be permitted to reserve or use the designated public forum for free speech purposes during:

  • Student orientation days and opening weekends for the summer, fall and spring semesters
  • Reading and examination periods as set forth in the then current academic calendar
  • Graduation related activities and events including winter and spring commencement days
  • Major campus-wide celebrations and events such as Quest, Family and Friends Weekend, and Honors Convocation

  1. Designated Public Forum Location

     A.  The college has designated the following area as a public forum for third party free speech:  the south side of the recessed concrete surface in the academic quad between Hewitt Hall, Mahar Hall, and Lanigan Hall, commonly known as “The Sundial,” not including the east-west sidewalks surrounding The Sundial.

     B. The south side of Sundial is one of the most highly trafficked areas on campus by students, faculty, staff and visitors. No electronic amplification of sound is permitted in the academic quad, which includes the Sundial, due to the proximity of academic buildings in which classes are held. The risk of interfering with classroom instruction is too great to allow for the use of electronic amplification methods. Therefore, the use of electronically amplified sound is not permitted in the academic quad on class days from the time classes begin in the morning through the time that classes end in the evening.

  2. Application and Reservation Process

     A.  Third parties seeking to use the space designated as a public forum for third party free speech must complete a designated public forum application (pdf) and file the application with the department of campus life three (3) business days before the date when the applicant wants to use the designated public forum space.

     B.  Completed applications should be sent or hand delivered to:
          Department of Campus Life
         Attn:  Director of Event Management
        135 Marano Campus Center #3
         SUNY Oswego
         Oswego, NY  13126

     C.  Questions regarding the application process for use of the designated public forum may be addressed to the director of campus life at 315.312.2301.