May 26, 2022  
Policies and Procedures Manual 
Policies and Procedures Manual

08:14:02 Freedom of Speech

Revision Responsibility: Vice President for Student Affairs
Responsible Executive Officer: Vice President for Student Affairs
Souce/Reference: TBR Policy 1:03:02:60



Walters State Community College (WSCC or College) regulates the use of its campus property and facilities in order to be consistent with the college mission and educational purpose through the implementation of reasonable, content/viewpoint neutral regulations. This policy, and all campus policies developed in compliance with this policy, shall be implemented and construed so as to ensure no undue disruption of that mission; promote an educational atmosphere on campus; prevent commercial exploitation of students; and, prevent use of campus property and facilities contrary to federal, state or local law or regulation, or the rules and policies of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and WSCC.

In establishing this policy, WSCC recognizes the importance to the educational process and environment for persons affiliated with the College, including officially recognized student organizations and other groups, to have reasonable access to, and use of, the educational facilities on campus, and to hear various views. Simultaneously, WSCC also makes clear that its facilities are not open public forums, but are instead intended solely for use consistent with the advancement and orderly administration of its educational mission for the benefit of its students, staff, and affiliated entities. As such, WSCC does not ordinarily make its buildings or other facilities available to outside individuals or outside groups. Exceptions may be made only if the proposed use is consistent with TBR policy and institutional policy and mission.




  • Constitutional time, place, and manner restrictions means restrictions on the time, place, and manner of free speech that do not violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 19 of the Tennessee Constitution that are reasonable, content- and viewpoint-neutral, narrowly tailored to satisfy a significant institutional interest, and leave open ample alternative channels for the communication of the information or message to its intended audience.
  • Faculty or faculty member means any person, whether or not the person is compensated by a public institution of higher education, and regardless of political affiliation, who is tasked with providing scholarship, academic research, or teaching. For purposes of this part, the term “faculty” shall include tenured and non-tenured professors, adjunct professors, visiting professors, lecturers, graduate student instructors, and those in comparable positions, however titled. For purposes of this part, the term “faculty” shall not include persons whose primary responsibilities are administrative or managerial.
  • Free speech means speech, expression, or assemblies protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 19 of the Tennessee Constitution, verbal or written, including, but not limited to, all forms of peaceful assembly, protests, demonstrations, rallies, vigils, marches, public speaking, distribution of printed materials, carrying signs, displays, or circulating petitions. “Free speech” does not include the promotion, sale, or distribution of any product or service.
  • Institution means an institution governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.
  • Student means: An individual currently enrolled in a course of study at the institution; and an organization that is comprised entirely of individuals currently enrolled in a course of study at the institution.
  1. General Principles

  1. Students have a fundamental constitutional right to free speech.

  2. Walters State is committed to giving students the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, learn, and discuss any issue, subject to constitutional time, place, and manner restrictions.

  3. Walters State is committed to maintaining a campus as a marketplace of ideas for all students and all faculty in which the free exchange of ideas is not to be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the institution’s community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical, or wrong-headed.

  4. Walters State students and faculty must make judgments about ideas for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress free speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose.

  5. It is not the proper role of the college to attempt to shield individuals from free speech, including ideas and opinions they find offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical, or wrong-headed.

  6. Although the college greatly values civility and mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect may not be used as a justification for closing off the discussion of ideas, however offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical, or wrong-headed those ideas may be to some students or faculty.

  7. Although all students and all faculty are free to state their own views about and contest the views expressed on campus, and to state their own views about and contest speakers who are invited to express their views on the institution’s campus, they may not substantially obstruct or otherwise substantially interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe. To this end, Walters State has a responsibility to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation and protect that freedom.

  8. Through shared governance with its faculty, an institution may determine for itself on academic grounds who may teach, what may be taught, how it may be taught and graded, and who may be admitted to the institution as a student.

  9. Walters State is committed to providing an atmosphere that is most conducive to speculation, experimentation, and creation by all students and all faculty, who shall always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, and to gain new understanding.

  10. The primary responsibility of faculty is to engage an honest, courageous, and persistent effort to search out and communicate the truth that lies in the areas of their competence.

  11. Although faculty are free in the classroom to discuss subjects within areas of their competence, faculty shall be cautious in expressing  personal views in the classroom and shall be careful not to introduce controversial matters that have no relationship to the subject taught, and especially matters in which they have no special competence or training and in which, therefore, faculty’s views cannot claim the authority accorded statements they make about subjects within areas of their competence; provided, that no faculty will face adverse employment action for classroom speech, unless it is not reasonably germane to the subject matter of the class as broadly construed, and comprises a substantial portion of classroom instruction.

  12. Walters State shall maintain the generally accessible, open, outdoor areas of its campus as traditional public forums for free speech by students. This does not mean that those areas are equally available to non-students.

  13. Walters State will not confine students’ free speech to certain areas of the campus, sometimes known as “free speech zones,” or otherwise create policies implying that students’ free speech is restricted to particular areas of campus.

  14. Walters State will not deny student activity fee funding to a student organization based on the viewpoints that the student organization advocates.

  15. Walters State will not establish permitting requirements that prohibit spontaneous outdoor assemblies or outdoor distribution of literature, although an institution may maintain a policy that grants members of the college or university community the right to reserve certain outdoor spaces in advance.

  16. Walters State will not charge students security fees based on the content of their speech, the content of the speech of guest speakers invited by students, or the anticipated reaction or opposition of listeners to speech.

  17. Walters State will allow all students and all faculty to invite guest speakers to campus to engage in free speech regardless of the views of guest speakers.

  18. Walters State will not dis-invite a speaker invited by a student, student organization, or faculty member because the speaker’s anticipated speech may be considered offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical, or wrong-headed by students, faculty, administrators, government officials, or members of the public.

  19. Students do not have the right to disrupt previously scheduled or reserved activities occurring in a traditional public forum.

  20. Walters State is not required to fund costs associated with student speech or expression.