Volokh comments on TPM free speech constraints proposal

Below is an exchange between UO GC Kevin Reed and UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh, a well known free-speech advocate and blogger, regarding Reed’s proposed policy  regarding restrictions on the time, place and manner of campus free-speech.

From: Kevin Reed [mailto:ksreed@uoregon.edu]

Sent: Friday, October 21, 2016 10:58 AM

To: Volokh, Eugene <VOLOKH@law.ucla.edu>

Subject: Any chance you’d be willing to comment on these?


When I arrived at UO, I discovered that the university had to time/place/manner policies in place – instead leaving the regulation of campus speech activities to the ad hoc discretion of various administrators in student life/event planning/campus operations/campus police, etc. 

I am trying to fix what I perceive to be a problem, by proposing a policy for the campus – here we will engage in a months-long policymaking process in which faculty and students will have input and advice on what we ultimately put into place. 

I would greatly value your views on the proposal I put forth here.  I have tried to err on the side of protecting speech over protecting peaceful campus operations, but I have also tried to be mindful that ours is a campus that is likely to draw voices that many in the faculty and student body will find offensive (anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion, etc.).  I confess I have already received some negative reaction from some faculty and students with whom I have shared previous drafts; some have argued, for example, that the lobby/waiting area in our main administration  building should be designated a limited public forum and that we should not restrict the posting of signs on the exterior walls of the administrative or classroom buildings.  I am personally unaware of any campus that has designated the exterior of its buildings or interior office/lobby space as available for speech activities, but would be interested in knowing if you are aware of any.

In any event, I greatly value your perspective on such things, and I have great confidence that if you have suggestions for improvement, it would make the policy better and allow me to give Mike Schill comfort that we are doing our best to let freedom ring here in the northland. 

I hope you are well, and thanks in advance for any advice you can give.

Kevin S. Reed | Vice President and General Counsel

Office of the General Counsel

219 Johnson Hall | Eugene, OR 97403-1226

(541) 346-3082 | ksreed@uoregon.edu


On Oct 30, 2016, at 11:57 AM, Volokh, Eugene <VOLOKH@law.ucla.edu> wrote:

                Kevin:  So sorry for the delay responding — I was traveling when you e-mailed, and this got buried in my mailbox.  I think the proposal is excellent, and I agree that you don’t want to make too many places into designated public fora, especially when it comes to unattended speech that is posted for an extended time rather than just said or displayed briefly by a person who is physically present.

                My advice would be to avoid the phrase “Free Speech Zones.”  That term that has gotten a lot of criticism when it refers to narrow limits on student (or staff or faculty) speech.  Here you are using it to limit outsider speech, a much more justifiable position, given that the university is set up for the benefit of students, not for outside speakers.  How about renaming it something like “Non-University Speaker Areas”?  It’s clunkier, but less likely to draw criticism that the policy doesn’t deserve. 

                Also, do you really want to institute that the guidelines for use of departmental boards be “content-neutral” as well as “viewpoint-neutral,” in “University Entities members may post Literature on departmental boards reserved for such use pursuant to viewpoint- and content-neutral guidelines established by the relevant departmental office”?  I take it departments might sometimes want to open boards for leaflets promoting student group events but not other matters, for leaflets advertising apartment sublets but not other things, and so on.  Might it be possible to make clear that department guidelines must be viewpoint-neutral and may not allow most subjects but exclude particular ones (e.g., they can’t have a rule that says “post on anything except abortion”), but may be open in viewpoint-neutral ways to specific subjects or categories of subjects (e.g., “apartmental rentals only,” “student group events only,” and so on)? 


From: Kevin S Reed [mailto:ksreed@uoregon.edu]

Sent: Sunday, October 30, 2016 8:23 PM

To: Volokh, Eugene <VOLOKH@law.ucla.edu>

Subject: Re: Any chance you’d be willing to comment on these? 

Thanks so much, Eugene. Extremely helpful. 

Would you be okay with my sharing your email with our Senate leadership?  They might, in turn, look to share on the blog the Senate has put up to assist in campus conversations. Would posting there be okay?  You can see the site at senate.uoregon.edu if you would like. 

I hope all is well in Westwood. 

Kevin S. Reed

Vice President and General Counsel

University of Oregon

From: “Volokh, Eugene” <VOLOKH@law.ucla.edu>

Date: October 30, 2016 at 9:04:03 PM PDT

To: Kevin S Reed <ksreed@uoregon.edu>

Subject: RE: Any chance you’d be willing to comment on these?

                Sure, please do.  All the best,


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