Civil Discourse and Student Assembly Policy

North Carolina Wesleyan University encourages its students to be active global citizens. Global citizenship requires us to have an awareness of current affairs, different cultures, and issues of social justice at the local, state, national, and global level. The University recognizes that there will be times when members of its community will desire to bring greater awareness to a cause. As private citizens, students have a right to freedom of expression; as a North Carolina Wesleyan University student, students must adhere to the policies, values, and expectations of the University. Among the expectations of all students is to act with integrity and honor, embrace diversity, and treat each other with respect and civility. As we seek to learn from each other, the following guidelines and procedures are designed to ensure we maintain a safe, respectful, and civil atmosphere on campus while encouraging free speech activities. 

As a United Methodist Affiliated Institution, North Carolina Wesleyan University adheres to the Methodist principle of “being open to people of all perspectives.” As such, North Carolina Wesleyan University provides an environment for members of the campus community to express their political, social, and cultural beliefs constructively while respecting the rights of others to do the same. While differences may create disagreement, mutual respect for differing opinions must be maintained throughout these discussions. 

Civil Discourse 

When opinions differ, the University encourages its community members to engage in civil discourse with one another. Civil discourse includes: 

a. Advocating for a position;
b. Sharing opinions regarding beliefs;
c. Listening to opposing views; and
d. Asking questions that will help you have a better understanding of each differing opinion. 

Discourse can be passionate but should always be civil. Discourse may occur in formal settings, such as classrooms and University sponsored events, or in informal settings, such as between friends in the dining hall. Civil discourse may also be used to address concerns which a community member has related to the University community. If a student has a concern related to the University, the first step is to address that concern with the appropriate University official. If the student is unsure of the University official to address, the Dean of Students should be contacted. The Dean of Students will seek to understand the issue, provide remediation, or make a referral for redress. The student may also follow the formal Student Complaint Policy as outlined in the Student Handbook. 

Student Assembly & Free Speech Activities 

Awareness is often the first step to addressing social issues. When a student or student organization wishes to bring awareness to a particular issue or concern, the University has established the following guidelines and procedures to ensure that the campus community remains safe and secure while allowing for free speech activities. 

One of the fundamental responsibilities of the University is to protect the rights and freedoms of all members of the University community and of invited speakers and guests. To that end, and as provided by law, reasonable time, place, and manner requirements are included in this policy. Participants in outdoor assemblies and those distributing/petitioning must abide by the requirements listed in this policy. Forums, assemblies, amplification, and petitioning activities may not interfere with University operations. 

The University encourages contact with the University’s Event/Logistical Coordinator at 252.985.5348 to secure space, equipment, utilities, or support for free speech activities. Nothing in this document, however, should be interpreted as limiting the right of expression as long as the expressive activities or related conduct do not violate any other applicable University policies. 

The University supports the outdoor assembly of campus community members for free speech activities, including vigils, protests, demonstrations, and similar activities. Community members are reminded that outdoor spaces are also often used for University-sponsored events and activities. 

  1. Participants may not block or otherwise interfere with the free flow of vehicular, bicycle or pedestrian traffic. The right of way of streets and sidewalks must be maintained. 
  2. Participants may not obstruct, disrupt, interrupt or attempt to physically force the cancellation of any event or activity sponsored by the University or by any users authorized to use University property. 
  3. Participants shall not engage in unlawful words or conduct toward any person. 
  4. Participants on University property may be required to provide picture identification and to provide evidence of qualification to a University official upon request. Evidence of qualification means a current and valid NCWU identification card, or accompaniment by a NCWU community member that is a representative of the group that issued the invitation. 
  5. No outdoor assembly, vigil, or outdoor event may be conducted within 50 feet of any building. In addition, assemblies may not take place on the Southern Bank Green or the University’s front lawn (due to proximity to classroom spaces), within the confines of any campus recreation facility or athletic facility, or in areas adjacent to the President’s residence. No outdoor assemblies may take place in areas immediately adjacent to residence halls between the hours of 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. Exceptions to this may be granted by the Office of the Dean of Students, and must be requested in writing at least three business days prior to the event. 
  6. Notification to the University: Notification to the University shall be made in the following instances: 
    1. – Prior to an outdoor assembly reasonably expected to include a large crowd (more than 50 participants) 
    2. – Prior to an outdoor assembly with the potential for violence 
    3. – Prior to an outdoor assembly featuring an invited (non-campus affiliated) guest(s) speaker (see Non-campus Affiliated Speakers below)
      The event organizers must notify the Director of Campus Safety in writing at least 3 business days prior to the event so the University may institute any necessary safety measures. 
  7. Sales, solicitation, merchandising: This policy prohibits the sale of products or food, the exchange of goods, contractual arrangements, or services, or the barter or trade of merchandise or material by any unaffiliated person or group. Outside commercial activities are prohibited. The Office of the Dean of Students may authorize, in writing, exceptions to this provision based on written requests received at least three business days prior to the event or activity. 
  8. When using spaces that can be reserved, the group who has reserved the space has priority over any other group. When using space that cannot be reserved, the first group to provide notification to the University’s Event/Logistical Coordinator at 252.985.5348 as required above has priority to use it. 
  9. Those who participate in an outdoor assembly are responsible for any clean-up and/or damages associated with the event. 

Note: If the issue or concern being addressed relates to the University, students are asked to first address the issue or concern with the appropriate staff member. Please see the above section on Civil Discourse for more information. 

Assembly Restrictions and Student Responsibilities 

The top concern for any assembly or demonstration is that the assembly is peaceful and does not unduly disrupt the functions of the University. To ensure this, the following restrictions are placed on student assemblies: 

  • Sound amplification that does not violate the University’s Code of Student Conduct or other policies is allowed with the following reasonable time, place and manner requirements: Times: Amplified sound is allowed between the hours of 11:00am-9:00pm Sunday-Saturday. Amplified sound during this period may not exceed 85 decibels. 
  • Locations: Amplified sound is allowed in the following locations only:
    • Hartness Student Center lawn (at least 50 feet away from building) 
    • Fire Pit 
  • Manner: Electrically amplified sound requiring use of the University’s electricity must be approved in advance. Requests should be made via email to the Director of Student Engagement at least three (3) business days in advance. Electrically amplified sound must adhere to University policy and local noise ordinances. 
  • Commercial advertising using amplified sound is prohibited. 
  • Amplified sound which encourages violence, is obscene, or is defamatory is prohibited. 
  • Petitioning – Any member or affiliated student organization of the University community may petition in any exterior campus space that is permissible for outdoor assembly as noted above. Materials must be designed for informational (not commercial) purposes. All provisions of this policy related to outdoor assemblies also apply to petitioning and distribution activities. The University does not assume responsibility for the content of the materials. The University community member or organization is responsible for all cleanup and recycling of materials. 
  • Public Forums – If the assembly is to take place on public property, the member or affiliated student organization seeking to assemble/petition must seek any and all proper permits from the appropriate government agencies. 

Non-Campus Affiliated Speakers/Guests

Any speaker or guest not affiliated with the University seeking access to campus in any official capacity must receive sponsorship from a current and recognized student organization, Greek organization, current staff or faculty member, or academic department. All non-campus affiliated speakers/guests must be approved by the University Administration. The term “speaker” refers to any individual or group coming to campus for the purpose of communicating at an assembly. The term “guest” refers to any individual or group coming to campus for the purpose of petitioning or participating in an assembly. A written request (via email) must be made to the Office of the Dean of Students no later than ten business days prior to the scheduled event. The request should include: 

  1. The campus community member or organization sponsoring the speaker or guest; 
  2. The speaker’s name and affiliated organization(s); 
  3. If applicable, how much is being spent to accommodate the speaker; 
  4. The time, date, and location of the speaker (proper reservation of campus space must still occur); and, 
  5. A brief description of the content of the speech/presentation. 

The University Administration, via the Dean of Students, will respond to requests within two business days to approve the request, seek additional information, or deny the request. The sponsoring individual/organization takes full responsibility for the actions of their sponsored speaker or guest. 

Publications/Social Media Posts 

Students may use their voice through social media and other publications to express their views and bring awareness of a cause to others. The University encourages students to use the guidelines established in the civil discourse section. Social media is a powerful tool and can have both positive and negative consequences. The University does not regularly monitor the social media posts or publications of its students. However, if the University is made aware of content which could be a violation of the Student Code of Conduct or employment policies, the University will take appropriate action through existing processes designed to address violations.