Dear NC State Students, Faculty and Staff:
As I’ve stated previously, one of the great benefits of a university campus is the free and open exchange of ideas. At NC State, we continually strive to foster free speech in an environment where members of our community can learn from one another and where all are treated with dignity and respect.
Weighing the costs of moving forward to defend a lawsuit filed against NC State regarding the student solicitation and distribution of materials procedure, we have decided to settle this matter outside of the courtroom. Continuing to defend this lawsuit – a suit that really is about an administrative process — could have potentially driven up legal costs significantly and taken away resources better served in other areas.
As part of this decision, the university has revised and clarified its solicitation policy to better align with the intent and application of the procedure. Essentially, students, student groups, and their sponsored guests will no longer be required to reserve space to conduct non-commercial solicitation. These groups can reserve space in certain areas, such as in Talley Student Union, to ensure it will be available, but do not have to do so. Outside groups will still be required to reserve space.
To be clear, NC State has never required students to get permits to engage and talk to other students – regardless of the subject matter; the university’s administrative process for handling thousands of solicitation requests has never been applied in that manner. Individuals and groups have always been free to engage others in conversations about their faith on campus.
It is also important to note that no religious or faith-based organization has been treated differently or denied the ability to engage in conversations, distribute written materials or hold events. In fact, many faith-based groups regularly use campus space to distribute written information, host speakers, conduct bible studies and hold worship services – and will continue to do so.
The bottom line is that free speech remains alive and well at NC State; this university remains an environment that fosters and enables the healthy and free exchange of ideas and viewpoints by our students and community. And in the same manner, we are always open to discussion with the campus community about improving campus policies and procedures.