Free Speech

In fulfilling its educational mission, the University recognizes the importance of free speech, and encourages the free expression of diverse ideas, opinions and thoughts; a right granted to all citizens under the First Amendment of the US Constitution,

  • Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And Article 1. Section 9 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana

  • No law shall be passed, restraining the free interchange of thought and opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print, freely, on any subject whatever: but for the abuse of that right, every person shall be responsible.

Freedom of speech includes the right to engage in “expressive activities” such as assembling, demonstrating, marching, distributing or posting materials, and other similar means of expressing thoughts and ideas, so long as such expressions are conducted in an orderly manner that respects the rights of others in the campus.

Members of Ball State University have an obligation to fulfill the responsibilities incumbent upon all citizens, as well as the responsibilities of their particular roles within the academic community. As citizens, members of the Ball State University community enjoy the same basic rights and are bound by the same responsibilities to respect the rights of others as all other citizens. Among the basic rights are freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, freedom of political beliefs, and freedom from physical force and violence, threats of violence, and abuse. The campus is not a sanctuary from local, state, and federal law.

What Limits Can Be Placed on Expressive Activities and Free Speech?

Ball State University may regulate the time, place and manner for engaging in expressive activities on University property, to ensure they do not endanger the health, safety and welfare of individuals or disrupt the University’s academic programs, as outlined in the Use of University Property for Expressive Activities Policy. The scheduling and approval of expressive activities are made on a content neutral basis; consistent with the law. The University may sanction individuals or groups for violations of the time, place and manner restrictions set forth in the expressive activities policy. This policy applies to all students, employees, visitors and other individuals while on the Ball State University campus and does not replace, but supplements, applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations.

What are My Rights and Responsibilities as a member of Ball State?

To learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a student of the Ball State community, check out Ball State University’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

Steps to Host an Expressive Activity On Campus

Things to Consider

As a student at Ball State your conduct in response to expressive activities should always reflect the expectations of the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities and national, state, and local laws. Students will be held accountable for conduct that violates the student code and the laws.

Here are some things you should consider in response to expressive activities:

  • If you would like to host a counter-expressive activity, you may choose to do so. Be sure to consult Appendix N of the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities - Use of University Property for Expressive Activities before planning a counter-expressive activity. Counter expressive activities may include silent protests or counter-protests and demonstrations.
  • Your actions should not infringe on the rights of anyone engaged in expressive activities to be heard. This includes but is not limited to disrupting, drowning out or speaking over the speaker. Actions like these are a suppression of free speech and may result in university judicial action or criminal charges.
  • If you are approached by anyone engaged in an expressive activity and you do not want to engage, let them know you are not interested in engaging and move away. Do not engage in threats, or physical altercations which may result in university judicial action and or criminal charges.
  • You may also choose to avoid the expressive activities completely by moving away from the designated area.

What to do if:

  • You are threatened or your personal safety is violated, call the Ball State Police (UPD) at (765) 285-1111.
  • Your physical access to the campus or campus buildings is blocked, call the Ball State Police (UPD) at (765) 285-1111.
  • Your right to free speech has been violated, call the Office of Student Rights and Community Standards at (765) 285-5036.

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