The Arka Tech

Students encouraged to exercise free speech area

The First Amendment right of freedom of speech is a freedom also respected by the Tech community.

Amy Pennington, Arkansas Tech University dean of students, said students should read the current handbook to view rules and regulations for free speech zones around campus.

The current handbook designates areas for demonstrations, debates, speeches and other forms of expression, which includes Hindsman Bell Tower from 8 a.m. to midnight daily; the Doc Bryan Lecture Hall from 3-5 p.m. every Tuesday; and the Doc Bryan west courtyard from 8 a.m. to midnight daily.

Pennington said “tabling” is a freedom for Registered Student Organizations (RSO).

Tabling areas include Chambers Cafeteria, BazTech and Hindsman Bell Tower. To reserve these spaces, RSOs must be compliant with current RSO policies, also outlined in the student handbook.

Pennington said it’s necessary for campuses to have free speech areas.

“Every campus needs to have an area identified that flow of ideas and information can be exchanged in a civil discourse, where the speech is not limited in anyway,” Pennington said.

However, while federal law permits the first amendment right of free speech, Pennington reminded students Tech is an educational facility first.

Stated on Page 76 of the student handbook, the free speech policy states, “There must be no interference with educational activities inside or outside of buildings.”

This includes disruption of classes, obstruction of sidewalks and violation of fire code within buildings on campus.

“The university is neutral to content,” Pennington said. “Whatever content is being expressed in that area, we must remain neutral as to what that content is.”

Individuals and RSOs wishing to take advantage of the free speech zones on campus can register themselves and their organizations through the vice president’s office by contacting (479) 968-0238.