Administration and GUSA release new free speech and expression policy

In an email sent today, Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson and former GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) issued an update to the University’s Speech and Expression Policy. Olson and Tisa had pledged to revise the policy at a free speech forum in January after members of GU Pride and H*yas for Choice, among others, raised concerns over the policy. The revisions are now complete and include expansions to on-campus free speech spaces and clarifications to the role of the Speech and Expression Committee.

According to a document attached to the email, Red Square is no longer the only area on campus available for demonstrations. The new policy states that now the Leavey Center lobby, Regents Lawn, and the Healey Family Student Center are all “public squares that are available, without prior arrangement, for individuals and groups during daylight hours for the purpose of exchanging ideas, subject to space limitations imposed by physical surroundings.”

The classroom reservation process is also getting an overhaul. According to Tisa and Olson, GUSA and the Center for Student Engagement will work to create a “fast-track” system to cut down the time it takes for an individual student to reserve a classroom.

Students who attend a thirty-minute training session on classroom use at the beginning of next semester will be able to reserve rooms as quickly as clubs can, which will make life a lot easier for groups like H*yas for Choice or GU Fossil Free.

The Speech and Expression Committee will now be required to meet once every month during the academic year, and will be open to requests for membership from “any member of the Georgetown community.”

A clarification on co-sponsorship of events was also issued. The policy now states that “groups that co-sponsor in good faith with any other group [read: H*yas for Choice, GU Fossil Free] may not be sanctioned in any way.”

WGTB DJs can now talk about whatever they want (like those evil condoms that are all the rage these days) on air, provided they don’t say things that “compromise safety, the functioning of the university,” or are “grossly offensive or grossly obscene on matters such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.”

What constitutes “grossly obscene” can be appealed by any student to the Speech and Expression Committee, which can vote to try to correct misapplications of this part of the policy with a two-thirds majority.

Also, if anyone rips something off of someone’s dorm room door (like a H*yas for Choice condom envelope), they can be disciplined for violating the Student Code of Conduct. So, late-night pranksters, watch out.

Photo: Georgetown Voice

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