Freedom of Expression Policy

Bevill State believes that an important aspect of educating our students is the opportunity to listen to speakers who represent a wide variety of opinions and beliefs regarding important public issues. The following policies govern the campus appearance of speakers. These policies are designed to support the educational function of Bevill State, guarantee protection of First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, and ensure that students and student-sponsored organizations and speakers are given priority in scheduling and use of any Bevill State campus. A speaker’s appearance on campus does not imply an endorsement of his/her views by Bevill State, which includes its students, faculty, and/or staff.

Definitions of Policy Terms:

  • College Department: An official unit of Bevill State Community College.
  • Student Organization: A group officially recognized by and registered with the Office of Student Services in accordance with College policies and procedures.
  • Sponsored Speakers: Those persons or organizations invited to speak on any Bevill State campus by a College department or student organization in accordance with the guidelines set forth below.
  • Non-College Affiliated Speaker: Speakers who are members of the general public and those who are not acting on behalf of a College department or officially recognized and registered student organization.

Speech Policy Sponsored Speakers

Any recognized student organization or College department may invite speakers to campus. A student organization or College department planning to invite a guest to speak at a regularly scheduled meeting must register the speaker with the campus Director of Student Services as well as complete Request to Conduct Extracurricular and/or Fundraising Activities form. The campus Director of Student Services must also receive a Free Speech Request form no later than forty-eight (48) hours prior to the date and time of the reservation.

Non-College Affiliated Speakers

It is the policy of Bevill State to permit the limited use of facilities by the general community in a manner which does not compete with the ongoing programs of Bevill State. Speakers who are not sponsored by a student organization or College department may request permission to engage in speech activities on campus. The required Free Speech Request form is available in the office of the campus Director of Student Services and must be submitted no later than forty-eight (48) hours prior to the date and time of the reservation. Intervening Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays are not included in the calculation of the 48-hour period. This notice requirement is imposed in order to provide Bevill State’s staff sufficient time to process the request. Requests will be approved unless it is determined the speaker or speech will constitute or create a substantial likelihood of material interference with the normal orderly decisions and processes of Bevill State or with the requirements of appropriate discipline. In the event such a determination is made and a request is denied, the applicant may request a hearing as described below.

Bevill State shall assign all non-College-affiliated speakers to the Free Speech Area (FSA), designated on each campus and site during the scheduled operating hours of the campus. The speech within the FSA must be conducted in such a manner that does not disrupt the educational environment or the safety of those on campus. Aggressive confrontation or impediment of vehicular or pedestrian traffic is prohibited. The use of sound amplification equipment is prohibited during regular school hours. Subject to the days and times of operation, Bevill State shall assign speakers for the date and time requested, unless another event has already been made for the FSA at that date and time. In the event the space is already reserved, Bevill State will assign the speaker to the FSA for an alternative date and/or time as indicated by the applicant. If a conflict still remains, the applicant will be asked to provide additional alternative dates and times. In addition, no group or individual may reserve the space for more than three (3) consecutive days at a time. If, at the end of a three-day event, the space has not been reserved by another group or individual, the same group or individual will be eligible to reserve the space again. Under no conditions will a non-campus, non-sponsored speaker be permitted to sell items or solicit funds on campus. Members of the same group or organization dealing with the same general topic will be considered one speaker for purposes of this policy.

General Policies Related to Free Speech

A hearing may be called if it is determined that a speaker or speech will constitute or create a substantial likelihood of material interference with the normal orderly decisions and processes of Bevill State or with the requirements of appropriate discipline. A hearing committee, appointed by the Director of Student Services, composed of two faculty members, two students, and the campus Director of Student Services will convene to review the speaker’s application. If a request is denied, the organization or the speaker may appeal to the Director of Student Services, whose decision will be final. A hearing will be called if a speaker or speech advocates a call to action for any of the following:

  • The overthrow of any government
  • The willful damage or destruction of property
  • The disruption of Bevill State’s regularly scheduled functions
  • The physical; harm, coercion, or intimidation of Bevill State’s faculty, staff or students;
  • Other campus disorder of a violent nature.

A speaker will be stopped and escorted off campus by Bevill State’s security personnel if evidence of a call to action to accomplish any of the above becomes manifest during a speech.

Distribution of Materials

Handbills, leaflets and similar materials available free of charge may be distributed by campus or sponsored speakers, so long as such distribution does not interfere with the orderly operation of Bevill State’s affairs or the free flow of traffic and content is not inconsistent with policies associated with any accrediting or governing agency associated with Bevill State. Such materials may also be distributed in the FSA by noncampus, non-College-affiliated speakers who have reserved the FSA under the terms of this policy.

Free Speech Area On Each Campus or Site:

The Fayette Campus Free Speech Area is designated by a blue arrow:

Photo of Fayette Campus Free Speech Area - between library and quad

The Hamilton Campus Free Speech Area is designated by a blue arrow:

Photo of Hamilton Campus Free Speech area - near the dorm and parking lot

The Jasper Campus Free Speech Area is designated by a blue arrow:

Photo of Jasper Campus Free Speech Area - Behind Walker Hall, near Rotunda

The Pickens County Educational Center Free Speech Area is designated by a white arrow:

Photo of PIckens County Educational Center Free Speech Area - between PCEC and Tuscaloosa St.

The Sumiton Campus Free Speech Area is designated by a blue arrow:

Photo of Sumiton Campus Free Speech Area - Building 1200 Courtyard