What to expect at speech events

Statement on free speech

We, the members of the Executive Committee of the Academic Senate at the University of Utah, affirm the importance of the free exchange of ideas, free expression, and academic freedom. We also deeply value an inclusive community and support the continued efforts to make our university a diverse, safe place in which we treat one another with respect and dignity.

These principles are rooted in all facets of our institution and are core to our educational endeavors. They are also of special importance to us. For over 100 years, the Academic Senate has provided a forum for diverse voices and viewpoints to be heard and to take action as part of shared governance at the University of Utah.

— Executive Committee of the Academic Senate

On Wednesday, Sept. 27, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro will give a speech on campus as the guest of the student chapter of Young Americans for Freedom.

Although the event is free, the student chapter is requiring attendees to have tickets, which were distributed on Saturday.

A number of other events are being held on campus on Wednesday. Click here to see an updated “Happening on Campus” schedule.

Administrators and faculty have received many questions about the campus guidelines for speaker events, including free speech and protests. With that in mind, here is some helpful information.

As noted in the university’s speech policy, demonstrations are a legitimate means of expression that have played an important role in the university’s collective history. For this reason, university policy allows individuals to demonstrate freely, as long as their conduct is not violent, does not unduly disrupt the functioning of the university, interfere with the rights of other members of the university community or damage university or private property.

  • Picketing or demonstrating must be orderly at all times, must not violate the law and must not otherwise jeopardize public order or safety. Prohibited disorderly conduct includes, but is not limited to, fighting, assault, vandalism. In addition, to promote safety and help ensure orderly conduct, no masks, bandanas or other face coverings will be permitted on campus.
  • Picketing or demonstrating must not interfere with organized meetings or other assemblies in such a way as to invade the rights of others to assemble and the rights of speakers to free expression.
  • Picketing or demonstrating must not interfere with the entrances to buildings or the normal flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
  • Picketing or demonstrating must not interfere with classes and teaching, the use of offices or research facilities, and other university activities related to teaching or research.
  • Using amplified sound systems or otherwise creating noise levels that disrupt teaching, studying, research, administrative activities or the speaker event will not be permitted.

Young Americans for Freedom also are prohibiting participants attending the speaker event from bringing the following items inside the venue:

  • No backpacks or bags, including purses.
  • No weapons of any kind, except as expressly permitted by law.
  • No hard plastic, glass or metal bottles.
  • No balls or projectiles.
  • No food.
  • No sticks.
  • No signs.
  • No umbrellas.
  • No monopods or tripods.
  • No laser pointers.
  • No balloons.

The area around the BEH S auditorium will be blocked off to facilitate orderly access to the event. Many faculty who hold classes in the surrounding area have opted to move their classes to other locations. Students who have evening classes in the area should check with their professor to determine the location.

For those who wish access to the area, the sidewalk to the northeast, between the auditorium and the Film and Media Arts building, will be open. Some parking stalls in the adjacent lot will be blocked off, but the lot will remain open.

While University of Utah police will be at the event, all are encouraged to report any suspicious activity to the police so they can investigate. To reach campus police, call 801-801-585-2677.