What is free expression?
Cuyahoga Community College is committed to providing a workplace and educational environment that allows for the free dissemination of knowledge by means of research, teaching, discussion and debate. It is the proper role of an institution of higher education to encourage diversity of thoughts, ideas, and opinions and to encourage, within the bounds of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the peaceful, respectful, and safe exercise of First Amendment rights. These rights include the rights of religious expression, affiliation, speech, and peaceful assembly pursuant to the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and the Ohio Constitution. Individuals or groups may express their views by demonstrating peacefully for ideas they wish to make known, and the College will protect these rights.
Religious Groups on Campus
In accordance with our Free Speech Policy (3354:1-60-03), the College, as a political subdivision of Ohio, is an “open campus” that allows for Free Expression under the First Amendment of the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions. To that end, we do not exercise restraint on the speech of any particular group, even a religious group, other than the reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions allowed by State and Federal Law.
We do not consider the act of allowing a religious group to pass out literature on campus as a violation of the separation of church and state doctrine, which, generally, restricts the following three actions: coercion in religious matters, creation of an expectation to support a religion against one's will, and practices that state or imply that religious liberty does not encompass all religions.
While there may be, from time to time only one visible group, it is because they may have been the only group to have requested space and not because of any affinity for or adoption of their message by the College. Nor is their presence meant to be a statement on the College’s expectations of our students or as a means of coercion. The College does not make any judgments on the content of a groups’ message and only requires that any group seeking space to exercise their speech do so in accordance with our Free Expression Procedure.
Finally, all groups are advised that they are not allowed to approach students or block the ingress and egress in the halls or walkways, per our Free Expression Procedure.
We understand that in operating as an “open campus” there may be groups on the campus that some students will disagree with. However, we welcome these conversations and will allow students to express their concerns consistent with their rights to Free Speech and Expression.