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Ohio University announces details regarding interim Freedom of Expression Policy

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis and interim Executive Vice President and Provost David Descutner recently signed into effect an interim Freedom of Expression Policy, Policy 24.014, which will remain the University’s Freedom of Expression Policy until a permanent policy is developed following a consultative process with the University community.

Campus constituencies, including the Faculty, Administrative and Classified Senates, the Student and Graduate Student Senates, Deans, Chairs and Directors, the Chief of Police and the Executive Director of Baker Center, have received the proposed new policy for their feedback as part of the policy review process; each group has been asked to provide feedback no later than the close of business on Friday, October 6. Thereafter, all constituency comments will be reviewed by the Executive Staff Policy Committee, and necessary changes will be made before a final version of the Freedom of Expression Policy is formally adopted.

The interim policy affirms the rights of members of the campus community to engage in constitutionally protected speech in available outdoor spaces and inside University buildings, so long as they do not disrupt University operations. The long-standing prohibition of demonstrations and sit-ins inside buildings is continued, but the policy confirms that faculty, staff, students and community groups may reserve available facilities inside buildings for any legal purpose, including to engage in constitutionally protected speech, subject to applicable building rules and availability.

Through the adoption of a permanent policy, the University intends to memorialize our institution’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas and First Amendment principles while ensuring the safe operation of our campus.  

Use of Outdoor Space on the Athens Campus, Policy 24.016, is also being revised to make it consistent with the Freedom of Expression Policy. An amended version of this policy has been adopted on an interim basis and will be finalized following the same process outlined within OHIO’s official Preparation of Policies procedure (Policy 01.001).