Free Speech on Campus
Free Speech Zones
Updated: January 20, 2009
Universities may not stop a speech or demonstration simply because they fear that the audience will be hostile to the speaker’s message. Some campus administrations have used reasonable crowd-control measures to maintain security, peace and order at demonstrations and counterdemonstrations. Authorities may, for instance, choose to use magnetometers to monitor anyone entering the rally area or physically separate the demonstrators from those opposing them. Free speech zones are often established at public universities to keep conflicting groups apart.
While the administration may have a compelling interest in limiting where on campus students may engage in speech, the university campus has traditionally been viewed as a forum for sharing viewpoints, and the administration should be cautious to avoid violating the First Amendment.