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What are CU Denver’s Freedom of Speech Policies?

Illustration: Alex Stallsworth · The Sentry
Students of all thought backgrounds receive constitutional protections.

Auraria Campus Police Department protects all opinions

In order to continue to live in a free society as individual citizens with equally individual opinions, free speech is a necessity. The concept of free speech is especially important in the learning environment, such as the one the students on Auraria campus experience almost every day. However, college campuses, like the one that CU Denver belongs to, is a magnet for all kinds of different opinions and voices, many of them opposing one another. So what are CU Denver’s free speech policies? 

According to the Chief of the Auraria Police Department, Michael J. Phibbs, the rules concerning free speech on campus are set, for the most part, by the United States Constitution.

“The free speech policy on campus is the same as everywhere…(although) we do have some limitations here on campus as to time, location, and manner,” said Chief Phibbs. “We don’t control what people say, but we do get to determine where people say it.”

 Officers also control whether or not amplified noise, such as the use of a bull horn or the setting up of a sound system while speaking, will be allowed and where. “We don’t like amplified noise because it interferes with classroom activities,” Cheif Phibbs explained. However, this doesn’t mean that these tools are completely unavailable to those who want to use them to speak their minds. Speakers who want to use such equipment to exercise their freedom of speech to the masses are required to get permits through AHEC, the owner of the land on which Auraria is situated and make proper arrangements with the Auraria Campus Police Department in advance. 

There are also areas on campus which were specifically built and designated for the set up and conduction of public gatherings and events. The two most popular locations are the Tivoli quad bandshell and the square located on the opposing side of the Plaza building and the Library. Often times, students and other organizations can be seen sitting at folding tables in these locations, however they had to get a permit to be there as well. Special permissions are also required to hang fliers on the bulletin boards located in buildings all around campus to ensure that no obscene, or offensive material is being displayed. Any materials that are deemed to be inappropriate by the universities, the Auraria Police Department, and or AHEC will be removed immediately. 

Hate speech is also not tolerated by the Auraria Police Department, and though it is not legally regulated by the Constitution, it is warrant for removal from campus. According to Officer Phibbs, hate speech is defined as the defamation of a protected class such as ethnic origin, sexual affiliation, race, religion or gender.  Hate speech combined with a legal crime such as yelling obscenities in public, otherwise known as harassment, enhances the issue and is then warrant for arrest.

CU’s mission statement emphasizes the importance of respecting diverse political thoughts. These protections work to ensure a safe environment in which students can speak thier minds without fear. Students are welcomed to invite speakers of diverse thought backgrounds to speak on campus after they receive the required permits.

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