Free Speech — Alive and Well at NC State – April 28, 2016
One of the great benefits of a university campus is the free and open exchange of ideas. At NC State, we 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.
Earlier this week, the Alliance Defending Freedom organization based in Arizona filed a lawsuit against NC State over our student speech and distribution of materials policy. The Alliance group claims the policy is unconstitutional and unfairly enforced. Unfortunately, there is some misinformation being spread about the facts of this case.
To be clear, this lawsuit is without merit; the implication that an organization has been treated differently on our campus because they are a religious group is false. In fact, over the past year alone the university issued more than 20 permits to the student group in question, and no group has ever been denied a permit based on religion.
NC State University issues hundreds of permits each and every year to religious, political, healthcare, public and special interest oriented groups. Over the past 3 years, NC State University issued 2280 permits to student and non-university groups to either speak or distribute information on campus. Of those issued, close to 500 were issued to faith-based groups or individuals. None of these individuals or groups have ever been denied the right to speak or distribute materials based upon their message content or beliefs.
The university – along with all universities – is allowed to manage requests by speakers or those wanting to distribute materials based on permissible time, place and manner concerns. We do this to manage the volume of requests, pedestrian traffic concerns, prevent overlapping time and location bookings, and ensure the university can carry out its primary mission of teaching our students. NC State reviews requests solely for time, place and manner considerations without regard to messaging or beliefs.
Our University has a long history of engaging, thought-provoking discussions, public debate and the protection of varying viewpoints. NC State is committed to ensuring this proud history continues, and that one of our institution’s core values — freedom of thought and expression – will always remain alive and well at this great university.