AD02A Supplemental Policy for Speeches, Rallies, and Demonstrations




The Purpose of this Policy is to define how non-University individuals and groups may use University buildings and facilities for speeches, rallies and demonstrations. The intent is to ensure that University buildings and facilities are used to support and enhance the mission of the University, including teaching, research and service; to encourage the proper and efficient use of University resources; to support good community relations; and to support University constituents such as students, faculty and staff. It is also the purpose of this Policy to promote the University’s commitment to freedom of expression.

The Pennsylvania State University is committed to the free exchange of ideas and the principles of academic freedom, in accordance with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, the right to speak is not a right to speak at any time, at any place, and in any manner that a person wishes. Courts have long recognized that public colleges and universities have the right to set reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on the use of their campus facilities to maintain campus safety and prevent material and substantial disruption of the functioning of the universities or infringement on the rights of others. Simply put, this means that The Pennsylvania State University can delineate the “when, where and how” of free-speech activities, if it is applied in a content neutral way (in other words, it must apply to all speech, no matter how favored or disfavored) and it leaves ample opportunity for speech in alternative areas or forums.

The University’s time, place, and manner restrictions take into account, among other considerations: environmental, health, and safety concerns; wear and tear on facilities or outdoor space; the direct and indirect costs to the institution; appropriateness of the event to the specific facility/outdoor space and the specific building/outdoor use policies; and the overall impact of the event on the campus community, surrounding neighborhoods, and the general public. Examples of such restrictions include:

  • Regularly scheduled University activities take precedence over spontaneous activities.
  • University facilities and grounds may not be used in ways which obstruct or disrupt University operations, the freedom of movement, or any other lawful activities. No activity may obstruct entrances, exits, staircases, doorways, hallways, or the safe and efficient flow of people and vehicles.
  • Expressive activity may not create unreasonable safety risks nor an imminent threat, health, or safety hazard.


This Policy supplements Policy AD02 for all events involving non-University individuals and groups that primarily consist of a speech, rally or demonstration. Policy AD02 continues to apply to events within the scope of this Policy except where inconsistent with this Policy, in which case this Policy governs. Policy AD02 will apply to all other activities by non-University individuals and groups such as theatre productions, dances, athletic events, exhibitions, training/workshops, conferences and conventions, community meetings and weddings.

This Policy applies to all University facilities and buildings. If it is determined that exceptions should be made for a particular facility, then for good cause the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business may authorize an exception for the building or facility. Exceptions will not be made for particular events. The purpose of this provision is to allow for further consideration of whether particular venues should be considered for exclusion from parts or all of this Policy for all events at such venues.

This Policy does not apply to events at which individuals or groups are asked to speak at the University as part of an official academic or administrative program, such as a visiting classroom speaker, academic lecturer, or speaker series.



Non-University individuals or groups may not use University facilities or buildings for events within the scope of this Policy unless they are sponsored by a registered student organization or a University academic or administrative unit. Individual students, faculty and staff may not sponsor non-University individuals or groups under this Policy.

An authorized representative of the sponsoring registered student organization or University academic or administrative unit must be in attendance at the event and be present at the facility at all times of use. Sponsors will be responsible for ensuring that the individuals or groups that they sponsor adhere to University policies.


Admission and/or Ticketing:

All events within the scope of this Policy will be subject to any applicable admission and/or ticketing requirements. See, e.g., Student Fee Board Handbook. For events where the University reasonably anticipates that the number of attendees will exceed the space available, tickets will be required and the University will give priority to students, faculty and staff. In situations where the University has reasonable concerns about security and safety caused by the possible attendance of non-University individuals, the University will limit admission to students, faculty and staff with University identification cards.


Insurance, Indemnification, and Payment of Expenses:

For all events within the scope of this Policy, the sponsoring recognized student organization or academic or administrative unit will require as a condition of approval that the non-University individual or group sign an indemnification agreement in accordance with Policy AD02 and provide a Certificate of Insurance as required by the University’s standard indemnification agreement.

In addition to applicable security costs under the next section, and consistent with other University policies and procedures, the sponsoring recognized student organization or academic or administrative unit will pay or arrange for the outside individual or group to pay the normal expenses, charges, and fees for any non-University event such as charges for rental of the space, charges for rental of any equipment, and the costs of any necessary University personnel (audio-visual, IT, etc.). When the sponsor is a registered student organization, the University’s Policies and Rules for Student Organizations will apply.

The University will require that any payment under this Section be made in advance of the event and as a condition precedent to use of the space.


Safety and Security:

The University will require appropriate police, public safety and security measures for any event within the scope of this Policy. The University’s Police and Public Safety, in their sole discretion, will make the determination as to the level of police and other security measures that are required for the safety of University students, staff and faculty and the broader community. In advance of any event, the University Police and Public Safety will make an estimate of the total costs of security that are attributable to the event and, separately, they will estimate the portion of those costs that are attributable to anticipated hecklers, protestors and counter-demonstrators. The University will charge the non-University individual or group the difference between the total security costs that are estimated by Police and Public Safety to be attributable to the event and the amount estimated to be attributable to hecklers, protestors and counter-demonstrators.

The sponsoring recognized student organization or academic/administrative unit will obtain from the non-University speaker or group a payment, bond or other adequate financial undertaking, in a form satisfactory to the University, to cover the University’s estimated total security costs less the amount estimated to be attributable to hecklers, protestors and counter-demonstrators. 

The University will require that any payment, bond or financial undertaking under this Section be made in advance of the event and as a condition precedent to use of the space. 

The University will establish an annual budget for security costs attributable to speakers that, under this section of the Policy, the University itself will pay. Specifically, the budget will cover costs that are not charged to speakers because they relate to security costs attributable to hecklers, protestors and counter-demonstrators. If the University’s actual expenses for security costs in connection with speakers exceeds this budget in any given year, it will deny any requests from registered student organizations or academic/administrative units for any additional speakers that would result in the University incurring additional security costs in that fiscal year in excess of normal and ordinary security costs.


Modification, Rejection or Cancellation of the Event:

The University reserves the right to impose time, manner, and place conditions on use of University facilities and will modify any reservation made under this Policy in accordance with these conditions. 

The University will reject or cancel any event that does not meet the requirements of this Policy.  

In addition, the University will reject or cancel any event which it anticipates will substantially disrupt or interfere with the University’s operations, including closing buildings, cancelling classes, disruption of research activities and the like. In making this determination, the University will not consider potential disruptions attributable to hecklers, protestors or counter-demonstrators.

The University will also reject or cancel any event if it determines that safety and security concerns require this action. If, for example, the University determines based on advice of law enforcement that there are true threats or a risk of imminent violence or other criminal conduct that would endanger people or property and are likely to occur, the University will reject or cancel the event.


Cross References:

Other Policies in this manual should also be referenced, especially the following:

AD02 - Non-University Groups Using University Facilities


Revision History (and effective dates):

  • November 10, 2017 - New policy.

Date Approved: 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Date Published: 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Effective Date: 

Friday, November 10, 2017