The free exchange of ideas is a cornerstone of the Connecticut College educational experience and our engagement with the broader society. At times, this means perspectives and beliefs will be challenged and individuals may be offended. In the spirit of the Honor Code and the Principles of Community, this policy is designed to ensure that community members understand the important balance between our commitment to freedom of expression, full participation, and the essential operations of the College.
Principles of Freedom of Expression
The Connecticut College community is committed to:
- teaching and learning that values the unique personal histories, backgrounds, and narratives of all its members
- acknowledging historical, economic, and social factors that have created inequities
- taking personal responsibility and holding others accountable for ideas, words, and actions
- critical thinking, independent thought, and the use of reason and evidence-based argument to defend positions
- the development of active citizens
- the right to dissent, including protests, demonstrations, and agreeing to disagree
Connecticut College Policies and Procedures for Public Inquiry and Freedom of Expression on Campus
Connecticut College affirms the Student Right of Inquiry and Expression in the Student Bill of Rights:
Students and student organizations are free to examine and to discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions concerning these questions publicly and/or privately. They are always free to support causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operation of the College.
Protected speech: This policy is not intended to stifle respectful dialogue, robust discussion, or intellectual debate, all of which are critical components of a rigorous liberal arts education. The College expects that the learning environment may challenge, and at times cause discomfort for, its participants as new ideas and ways of thinking are exchanged. Consistent with the College’s commitment to academic freedom, speech, visual and/or oral demonstrations, depictions or conduct that occur within a legitimate pedagogical context do not violate this policy. Specifically, this policy provides protection for the following forms of speech. However, these forms of speech are strongly discouraged for employees in a workplace environment.
- Speech that conveys reasoned opinion or principled conviction is not considered bias. Of course, the mere claim of engagement in reasoned opinion is not sufficient to lift the complaint of bias. Debates, discussions, arguments – however lively – do not typically provide grounds for discrimination and harassment charges.
- Political commentary and satire are not bias. Again, however, the mere claim of political commentary or satire cannot excuse what is really bias.
- Speech that occurs in the ordinary discussion of course content and teaching is protected. That is, any opinion has to be allowed for discussion and even advocacy in the classroom. Offensive or insulting language directed toward a particular person or group based on real or perceived membership in one or more Protected Categories, and unrelated to the academic content of the class, might, however, be deemed bias.
The following policies and procedures are in place to support student public inquiry and expression (including protests, gatherings, demonstrations, written postings) on campus and balance the needs of many individuals in the College community.
- Students need to follow the routine procedures for hosting a speaker on campus. This includes reserving space with the Events Office, adhering to advertising/posting policies, and coordinating the necessary arrangements to ensure safe management of the event.
- A point of contact (student name and cell number) must be identified as part of the event registration process.
- Institutional control of campus facilities will not be used as a device of censorship.
- The event may not interfere with the regular and essential operations of the College.
- The event needs to adhere to college policies, local, state, and federal laws (i.e. fire safety codes).
Other Forms of Public Inquiry and Expression (including, but not limited to, protests, demonstrations, gatherings, and written postings)
- Students are expected to respect the need for ensuring the safety and health of others (see Creating Dangerous and/or Unhealthy Conditions policy).
- Access to buildings, including handicap access, may not be restricted.
- The building or placement of structures needs to be pre-approved by the Director of Facilities and the Director of Campus Safety (or designees) to ensure the structures do not create a hazard or other safety issue.
- Students may not unreasonably disrupt or interfere with the orderly processes of the College involving teaching, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings, or other College activities (see Disruption policy). This includes:
- Unauthorized recordings
- Unauthorized entry into or occupation of private offices, work areas, teaching areas, libraries, laboratories, or social facilities
- Disruptive use of amplification equipment
- Depriving individuals of the opportunity to speak or be heard
- Physically obstructing the movement of those exhibiting freedom of expression
- Interfering with academic freedom (see protected speech)
- Students need to ensure College buildings, grounds, equipment, or educational materials or others’ property is not damaged, destroyed or misused (see Misuse of Property policy).
- Students are expected to provide factual and accurate information and comply with reasonable requests and directives of College and law enforcement officials (see Misrepresentation and Noncompliance policies).
- Students need to ensure their actions abide by established departments’ regulations.
- Postings, signs, flyers, chalking or other similar mediums need to adhere to the posting and advertising regulations.
Posting and Advertising on Campus
Students on campus and student groups and organizations may post items on campus that adhere to the guidelines listed below. Posted items or chalking that does not adhere to the guidelines may be removed.
When items are posted in public locations (including residence halls), the freedom of expression will be balanced with the right of employees to have a non-hostile workplace in which to work and with the knowledge that children and other guests of the College are invited into these spaces.
- Postings (including large banners) must contain contact information (a valid Connecticut College email address, a registered club/organization name, or sponsoring department/office name). Contact information needs to be located in the lower right hand corner of the item.
- Content cannot be defamatory to an individual (words or images that injure someone’s reputation), threatening, or violate other Honor Code/Student Code of Conduct policies.
- Postings in approved locations may not be vandalized or altered.
- Postings that do not include contact information or otherwise do not adhere to this policy will be removed immediately.
- Postings must be removed by the sponsoring individual/group within 24 hours after the event ends or at the end of the reservation period. All other postings for non-events (i.e. information only) must be removed two weeks.*
*Postings for resources on campus (i.e.Academic Resource Center hours, health-related services, AA meetings) may remain posted after two weeks if they are located in non- reserved locations (i.e the bulletin boards in Cro Connection).
- Items posted on doors, windows, glass walls, vending machines, mirrors, painted surfaces or other non-approved/unreserved locations will be removed.
- On occasion for major campus events and at the end of the semester, the College may remove postings that otherwise adhere to the policy.
Items may only be posted in the approved locations below.
- Bathrooms - SGA On the Can may be posted inside bathrooms/stall doors
- Bulletin boards and display cases in all campus buildings (i.e. Fanning stairwell bulletin boards)
- Crozier Williams Banner Space, Bulletin Boards, & Marble Wall
- Six public bulletin boards located in the Connection adjacent to the Bookstore
- Four "reserved" event bulletin boards located in the first floor lobby
- Marble Wall adjacent to the main stairs.
- Seven designated reservable banner spaces
- All other bulletin boards in the College Center are designated for specific purposes and are not to be used for general public posting.
- Dining Halls
- Students must receive prior permission from Dining Services to post anything inside the dining halls.
- Harris Dining Hall Elevator Rotunda
- Residential Spaces
- Each residential house has either one large or two small bulletin boards per floor. Residents may post on designated portions of the bulletin boards. The other portion of the board is for the Residential Education and Living house staff.
- Banners, flags, neon signs, decorative lights, etc. may not be displayed in windows or on the outside of residential houses.
- Sidewalks and Pedestrian Walkways
- Chalking (chalk only) is permitted only on sidewalks and other pedestrian walkways. Chalking is not permitted on any building or any other surface.
Per state regulations, banners or other items may not be displayed from the Route 32 pedestrian overpass.
Location Specific Regulations
- All Campus Mailbox and Residential House Stuffing
- Student organizations must receive approval from the Assistant Dean or Associate Director for Student Engagement & New Student Programs to stuff all campus mailboxes.
- Student organizations must receive approval from the Assistant Dean for Residential Education and Living to place items underneath the doors of students’ rooms.
- Crozier Williams
- Only non-permanent types of tape (i.e. poster tape) should be used.
- Reserving the Banner Space: space may be reserved via ConnQuest by student organizations registered with the Office of Student Engagement & New Student Programs.
· Banner space may be reserved for isolated dates or for week-long blocks.
· Banner space locations 3 & 4 cover a portion of the marble wall space and may be reserved for a month.
· Banners may not cover fire equipment
- If an individual student or unregistered student organization wishes to reserve a space, special permission must be given by the Associate Director of Student Engagement & New Student Programs or the Events and Catering Office. The wall space may be reserved for no longer than one month.
Disruption - Students may not unreasonably disrupt or interfere with the orderly processes of the College, involving teaching, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings, or other College activities. Actions disruptive to the orderly processes of Connecticut College include, but are not limited to, unauthorized recordings, disruptive use of amplification equipment, disruption of residential areas, unauthorized entry into or occupation of private offices, work areas, teaching areas, libraries, laboratories, or social facilities. It is also a violation to disrupt those who are exhibiting freedom of expression by depriving them of the opportunity to speak or be heard, by physically obstructing their movement, or by otherwise interfering with academic freedom.
Misuse of Property - Damaging, destroying, and/or misusing property off or on campus (including College buildings, grounds, equipment, educational materials), or the personal belongings of others, is prohibited, regardless of intent. This includes, but is not limited, to theft; manipulation of door locks, peepholes, or emergency doors; utilization of roof tops or balconies connected to residential houses, or any window as a means entering or exiting a College building (except in an emergency); alteration of duplication of College keys; and misuse of any fire or safety equipment or related fixtures.
Non-Compliance - Students are required to comply with reasonable requests and directives from members of the Connecticut College faculty, staff, and students (including REAL student staff and Honor Council) and members of law enforcement acting in the performance of their duties. In situations when a staff or faculty member is immediately unavailable and a policy violation is occurring, students and their guests are expected to follow a reasonable request by another student.