Campus Free Expression Act
Recently, the Florida Legislature adopted the Campus Free Expression Act, which took effect in March. Very briefly, this law designates all outdoor areas of campus that are generally accessible to the UCF community as usable by any member of the public for any spontaneous expressive activity. This is a change from past practice at UCF, when members of the general public without an explicit invitation from the UCF community would be limited to using designated “free assembly areas” and were required to provide notice of their intention to use those areas.
With this change in law, members of the general public can come to campus without any prior notice to speak, carry signs, pass out leaflets, circulate petitions, record interactions in public areas of campus – and they can do so on any outdoor area of campus which is commonly open to members of the UCF community for use. Certain outdoor areas of campus are not open to the community and therefore are also not available for use by third parties – for example, the grounds of the Burnett House; recreational and athletic fields; the yards and courtyards of individual Greek Park housing units; and the grounds and playground of The Creative School for Children. Other areas – such as sidewalks, walkways, and grassy areas between buildings – are generally accessible to the UCF community and are, therefore, now also usable by members of the public for expressive activities.
Use of outdoor areas of campus by any individual or group for expressive activities is permitted as long as the use does not violate the law and does not materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of the University or infringe upon the rights of others to engage in expressive activities. The new law provides that students, faculty and staff cannot “materially disrupt” previously scheduled or reserved activities on campus occurring at the same time.
The University has rules related to use of campus that place reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of use of outdoor areas of campus to prevent disruption to University operations and other events. Disruption includes hindering the flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic; obstructing entrances and exits from buildings or parking structures/lots; violating any applicable law; threatening other individuals in a manner that an objectively reasonable person would interpret as a serious expression of an intent to cause a present or future harm to an identifiable person or group of persons; materially and substantially disrupting scheduled University events occurring at the same time; utilizing sound amplification except as specifically permitted by the University; or obstructing or attempting to physically force the cancellation or continuance of a speaker.
This law does not extend to or protect commercial speech – therefore, members of the public who wish to use the university campus for commercial purposes must still abide by the University’s commercial rules, including the University Regulation governing solicitation on campus (Regulation UCF-4.010).
For more information regarding this legislation, please read this FAQ