OU bans indoor protests with new speech policy
Ohio University’s new “freedom of expression” policy has been met with opposition by some students and faculty.
The Columbus Dispatch reports Ohio University announced the new speech policy Sept. 8. University officials last week extended a comment period on what it calls an “interim policy” by two weeks, to Oct. 20, noting it’s an issue many “care about deeply.”
Under the policy, protests and rallies are not permitted inside of university buildings. The shift in policy comes after 70 protesters participating in a campus sit-in to oppose President Donald Trump’s travel ban were arrested and charged with criminal trespass. University officials also cited violent rallies in Charlottesville in their decision.
Some students and faculty members fear the policy is too broad. Administrators say the university’s policy is a way to foster the exchange of ideas while keeping campus safe.
President M. Duane Nellis and Interim Provost David Descutner said last week that “it is clear that this is a significant issue.” They praised the leadership role of the University Senates and said they realize it would have been better to complete the policy in consultation with the bodies before submitting it to the university community to comment.
“I’m proud of the university for being so proactive in getting this policy initiated. Am I in favor of a lot of what it says? No,” said Student Senate president Landen Lama. “I am hopeful that this policy will be changed with the feedback from all constituencies affected by it,” he added.
Administrators say the university’s policy is a balance between fostering the exchange of ideas while keeping campus safe.