Expressive Activities & Grounds and Facility Use
Context for Free Speech
GVSU is a community of scholars. Like most universities, our basic purposes are to advance, to disseminate, and to apply knowledge. An essential condition for achieving these purposes is freedom of expression and communication. Without this freedom, effective sifting and testing of ideas ceases, and teaching and learning are diminished. Read more from the Dean of Students.
Grounds and Facility Use Policy
Grand Valley is a public university, committed to upholding the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects free speech. We welcome freedom of expression and consider the university a "marketplace of ideas.” Many areas of campus represent a public forum for speech and other expressive activities including speeches, demonstrations, protests, and pamphleting. The university has created a Grounds and Facility Use Policy to ensure the university achieves its educational mission, while allowing for the exchange of ideas. The Grounds and Facility Use Policy addresses the use of space on campus, and tells students, registered student organizations, employees, and non-university groups and individuals where, when, and how they can use areas of campus for Expressive Activities. This policy applies to all buildings, grounds, and other spaces owned or controlled by the University. The full policy is available here.
Expressive Activities for Students and Registered Student Organizations
1. Can organize in areas that don’t block campus buildings or prevent access/exiting to the university, property, parking lot, building, facility, or event (generally a minimum of 25 feet).
2. Must take place at least 50 feet from academic buildings.
3. Must not obstruct traffic (vehicular or pedestrian).
4. Must be lawful.
5. Must not create a clear and present threat to public safety.
6. May take place in locations that have not already been reserved.
7. Must not use amplification devices.
8. Must comply with the university Posting Guidelines (www.gvsu.edu/posting/).
9. May solicit or accept donations, as long as space is reserved for these purposes.
10. Must take place between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., unless reserved to take place after 5 p.m. The Carillon Tower and the Transformational Link allow activities until 11 p.m.
11. May distribute materials in person.
12. Must clean up any printed materials or fees may be charged.
13. Must not use parking lots, ramps, or garages for expressive activities, and windshield flyers are prohibited.
14. May be assessed a fee if found to have damaged university property
15. For university employees, the Expressive Activity must address a matter of public concern.
16. Must not violate the Michigan Campaign Finance Act.
Other Expressive Activities or Events
Outdoor Spontaneous Activities
- Allowed, and must follow General Rules.
Indoor Spontaneous Activities
- Allowed, and must follow General Rules.
- Most activities should take place in the Kirkhof Center per Event Services reservation protocols.
- Distribution of written or printed materials is allowed in the Kirkhof Center if reserved.
- Guest speakers allowed if invited by Registered Student Organization or university office.
- Allowed, and must follow General Rules.
- Can use the area surrounding the Carillon Tower or the plaza surrounding the Transformational Link free of charge.
- A reservation takes precedence over a spontaneous activity, and reservations can be made through Event Services.
- Must stay within 50 feet of each of these landmarks.
- The Expressive Activity must end by 5 pm, unless specifically reserved to take place after 5 pm.
Frequently Asked Questions for Faculty
The FAQs provided below are intended to help create a healthy classroom environment. Please draw on the resources of the Deans’ Offices, the Dean of Students Office, the Division of Inclusion and Equity, the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center, and the Office of the Provost if you have further questions or concerns.
Guidelines to Assist Staff
These guidelines are meant to support staff and faculty in management of conversations with students related to campus political activity and demonstrations. In some situations, staff may walk a very fine line between personal views and our responsibility to our students. Below is a list of things to keep in mind:
- You are a representative of the University first when interacting with students.
- When expressive activities, including demonstrations or other potential disruptive campus activities, are known, information should be reported to your supervisor immediately, who should report to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students and the Vice President for Inclusion and Equity.
- Challenge your students and ask questions: If you advocate for students, you also have to challenge them. Employees cannot lose our sense of our responsibility as an educator first. A helpful case study/reading is available at the following link which is accessible via the GVSU library website: http://chronicle.com/article/When-Does-a-Student-Affairs/237069.
- If you believe anyone may be in harm’s way, contact GVPD, don’t step in. Call 911.
- Advocate and support students, but let them make their own decisions.
- As a public institution, we uphold the tenets of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects free speech. In addition, as a community, we believe a basic condition for achieving a liberal education includes freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas through open communication. This should be done with mutual respect and dignity.
- We give students freedom to express and must also attend to the campus environment ensuring there is not substantial disruption of the academic mission.
- Some employees may be called on, as part of their job responsibilities, to attend planned demonstrations. In these cases, employees' focus is not to pursue student code violations but to serve as relationship-builders and assist in de-escalating situations if needed. Code violations and notifications of code violations will be handled by the Dean of Students, or designee, and GVPD.
- GVSU employees should always strive to meet our goal of fostering student success. We do this by living our values as a University. We should all guide, support, and challenge our students to be the best Lakers they can be. We are all part of the GVSU community and have a responsibility to our students to remain fair and equitable even in challenging times. This must be done in a viewpoint-neutral manner.
- Many of the FAQs included above for faculty may be relevant to non-academic employees. You are encouraged to familiarize yourself with this information as well.
Contacts for Questions or Notifications of Expressive Activities
In the case of an emergency, please dial 9-1-1.
Otherwise, the following contacts are assigned as the Campus Expressive Activity Primary Response Team:
Jesse M. Bernal, Vice President for Inclusion and Equity
Loren Rullman, Vice Provost for Student Affairs & Dean of Students
Chick Blue, Vice President for Enrollment Development
Brandon DeHaan, Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police
Mary Eileen Lyon, Associate Vice President for University Communications
Anne Jbara – Staff Attorney
Commitment to Inclusion and Equity
Bias Incident Reporting
Grand Valley State University strives to create an inclusive and equitable campus community where people are treated with dignity and respect. If anyone in the Grand Valley community feels belittled, disrespected, or isolated based on their identity, there is a mechanism to report the incident. The university is committed to safeguarding individual’s constitutional rights to free speech and assembly and we are also committed to addressing incidents of bias that may negatively affect individuals and/or communities at the university. More information about reporting a bias incident is available at www.gvsu.edu/bias.
Harassment or Discrimination Reporting
Any member of the campus community or visitor may file a formal complaint regarding a possible violation of the university's Anti-Harassment Policy with the Office of Affirmative Action in the Division of Inclusion and Equity. Access the Anti-Harassment policy and link to the report form. A complaint must be submitted in writing.