In the interest of clarifying issues raised by the Designated Outdoor Common Areas Policy, I offer the following information.
In response to several U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s, most universities developed regulations regarding the time, place and manner of public rallies. At the University of Michigan these regulations centered around the use of the Diag. The University of Michigan has had a policy on the use of the Diag since 1964.
What it is not:
The Designated Outdoor Common Areas Policy is not a new policy. It is a revision of policy that has existed for 19 years. It does not forbid or limit individuals from gathering on the Diag to express their ideas or opinions or to distribute literature (unless they use tables). It does not prevent anyone from speaking on the Diag on any issue. It does not make sponsors of an event criminally liable for the acts of its attendees.
How it differs from the last version:
This revision of the policy adds language that allows temporary three-dimensional structures, changes the time frame for reserving the Diag to seven days to allow for provision of staff and equipment as needed, prohibits graffiti, and requires that organizations pay for the real costs of events.
What it is:
The revised policy allows student organizations and University departments to guarantee space on the Diag and North Campus for events such as fund raisers (bucket drives), programs, distribution of information or materials (using tables) and temporary three-dimensional structures. It sets time and decibel limits on the use of amplified sound. The policy also regulates the use of banners and the kiosks.
The policy makes student organizations and departments responsible for events that they sponsor (this includes notifying attendees of University policies, requesting compliance to those policies and assuming the financial costs incurred by the event).
Some aspects of this policy have been changed to make it easier for student organizations to have bucket drives by reducing the red tape involved in scheduling such an event.
Some concerns have been expressed about this revision. The Michigan Student Assembly and I have agreed to meet and discuss some of the specific concerns for possible future revision. Currently, the seven-day advance registration and the prohibition of chalking on sidewalks have been proposed by MSA as some provisions of the policy they would like changed. If MSA and other student organizations are interested, one or more public forums on the revised policy will be sponsored.
Maureen A. Hartford,
vice president for student affairs