University Strengthens Policy Regarding Expressive Activity on UVA Property

University Strengthens Policy Regarding Expressive Activity on UVA Property

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan on Friday announced a revised policy regarding the time, place and manner of expressive activity by groups that are unaffiliated with the University meeting outdoors on University property.

The policy requires unaffiliated persons to make reservations to engage in expressive activity in certain designated locations, on certain days and during certain hours.

“The University of Virginia is committed to the constitutional principle of free speech and to the safety and security of every member of this community,” Sullivan said in a message regarding the policy revision to the University community.

Here are additional details about the University’s revised policy regarding the time, place and manner of expressive activity by unaffiliated groups:

What is the new policy?

The University of Virginia is a community in which the ideals of freedom of inquiry, thought and expression are respected and sustained. The University is committed to supporting the exercise of constitutionally protected expression in University-controlled facilities and property while maintaining a safe atmosphere free from disruption.

In consultation with the University Counsel’s Office, legal experts within the School of Law and the Dean’s Working Group, the University has been working to propose an amendment to the University’s policy regulating access to University property by persons unaffiliated with the University.

The time, place and manner provisions related to unaffiliated persons have been added to the University’s existing policy PRM-017, “Use of University Facilities and Limits on Direct Solicitation and Advertising.”

What is the effective date of the revised policy?

The revised policy is effective May 4, 2018.

Who does the revised policy impact?

The policy revisions are focused on the activities of outside individuals or groups and are designed to provide a framework for unaffiliated persons to peacefully assemble and engage in constitutionally permissible speech at the University. Unaffiliated persons include, among others, alumni of the University and independent contractors.

There are no substantive revisions to the policy regarding University students, faculty, staff and University-recognized student groups and organizations.

What are the new time, place and manner provisions?

Unaffiliated persons or groups wishing to utilize outdoor University property to engage in public speaking, to make public announcements or to distribute literature may do so in designated areas and must make a reservation for that space with the Reservation Officer no more than four weeks in advance and at least seven days in advance of the desired speaking date.

Reservations are allocated on a space-available basis, with priority given to student groups/organizations and affiliated persons. Reservations are for two-hour blocks, with a maximum of one two-hour block per speaker, per week. Use of spaces designated for public speaking or distribution of literature must conform with University regulations and policies and must not block pedestrian or vehicular traffic or impede normal University operations.

Events that are held in indoor University facilities and are open to the public or to select unaffiliated persons create a right to peaceful demonstration and protest on outdoor University property in specific relation to such events in a manner that one, does not impede normal operations or obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic; two, is consistent with University policies; and three, complies with any event-specific security requirements.

The policy revisions were modeled after time, place and manner provisions adopted by the University of Maryland and upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Where are the designated locations for unaffiliated individuals or groups?

The University has identified nine locations across Grounds for unaffiliated individual or groups to gather under the revised policy.

The locations are:

  • Nameless Field, which may be reserved by a group of up to 50 persons.
  • The triangular, grassy area on the west side of Brooks Hall, which may be reserved by a group of up to 25 persons.
  • The grassy field in front of Brown Residential College, facing Minor Hall, which may be reserved by a group of up to 50 persons.
  • Madison Bowl, which may be reserved by a group of up to 50 persons.
  • The grassy field between Shannon Residence Hall and Observatory Hill Dining Hall, facing Alderman Road, which may be reserved by a group of up to 50 persons.
  • Newcomb Plaza, the plaza located between the University Bookstore and Newcomb Hall, which may be reserved by a group of up to 25 persons.
  • McIntire Amphitheater, which may be reserved by a group of up to 50 persons.
  • The grassy square in front of University Hall, bordered by McCue Hall, which may be reserved by a group of up to 25 persons.
  • The Park complex located in the North Grounds area, which may be reserved by a group of up to 50 persons.

How do unaffiliated persons make reservations?

  1. Persons wishing to engage in public speaking or to distribute literature are required to reserve space by registering in advance with the Reservation Officer. Reservations are allocated on a space-available basis, with priority given to student groups/organizations and affiliated persons.
  2. Reservations are for two-hour blocks between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. A specific individual or group may reserve up to one two-hour speaking block per week. Reservations are valid only for the date authorized on the Unaffiliated Person(s) Reservation Form.
  3. A group making a reservation must designate one contact person for the group, and the contact person is permitted to reserve up to one two-hour block per week. The contact person is responsible for identifying people in the group. Additional reservations made for the same group under a different name are not permitted.
  4. Only one of the designated locations shall be available for reservation at a given time on a first-reserved basis. As soon as one location is reserved for a two-hour block, all the other locations will become unavailable to unaffiliated persons during that two-hour block.
  5. There shall be a 30-minute period between each reservation to allow for a peaceful and orderly transition.
  6. A copy of the Unaffiliated Person(s) Registration Form must be available for inspection upon request by University officials.

In addition to the reservation requirements, are there other procedures or requirements that unaffiliated persons must follow?

Yes. In accordance with Title 8 Education, Agency 85, Chapter 20 of the Virginia Administrative Code and University Policy SEC-030: Regulation of Weapons, Fireworks, and Explosives, persons who engage in public speaking or distributing literature in the designated locations are prohibited from carrying weapons, including guns, knives or instruments for cutting, stabbing or bludgeoning.

Unaffiliated persons wishing to speak publicly or to distribute literature must comply with these rules and with University policy, including the amplified sound policy and the prohibition on the sale or promotion of commercial goods or services. Unaffiliated speakers are prohibited from:

  • blocking pedestrian or vehicular traffic; and
  • impeding normal University operations.

Failure to adhere to the above described University procedures will result in revocation of an approved reservation, other appropriate administrative action, and/or prosecution for trespass or other offenses under state law.

Will the University periodically review the designated locations or other procedures within the policy?

Yes. The designated locations that unaffiliated persons may reserve shall be reviewed periodically. These designated locations must be reviewed after the construction of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers and also on July 1 of each year.

Media Contact

Anthony P. de Bruyn

University Spokesperson Office of University Communications