Understanding free speech and public assembly on Western's campus: A quick guide

The spring weather and an approaching national election cycle brings an influx of visitors, including speakers, exhibitors and peaceful protestors, to our campus. All members of our community — faculty, students, staff, and alumni — and the wider public, have the right to express their viewpoints in public outdoor spaces, including viewpoints that are contradictory to Western's values. Western does not restrict the activities of recognized university organizations or external organizations and individuals as long as they follow university policy and guidelines. 

As a public institution, we follow state and federal laws regarding free expression. Western’s website Regarding Public Expression and Assembly affirms our values, policies, and principles regarding where, when, and how expression at Western can be regulated — and where it cannot.   

It is also important to remember that interactions in public spaces with visitors to campus may be recorded by those groups. Western’s outdoor spaces are public spaces. Certain groups may record students and others with the express intention of pursuing legal action against them. Please be aware of this possibility. 

If you would like guidance related to engaging in free expression activities, or if you witness anything that may fall outside of legally protected forms of expression, we encourage you to contact the resources listed below. 

For students and clubs planning a free expression event, connect with staff in one or more of these areas: 

To make a report to the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX Compliance (for unlawful discrimination or harassment) or to the Bias Response Team, you may use the online report form.  

To ask questions about or report possible violations of policies related to freedom of expression activities, contact the Office of Student Life at (360) 650-3706. 

If you witness physical violence or have a physical safety concern, please help us keep our community safe by calling University Police at 911 or (360) 650-3911, or for non-emergencies (360) 650-3555. 

If you are emotionally impacted by a free expression event, you can seek support from campus mental and emotional health resources at the Counseling and Wellness Center (Old Main 540). The CWC offers phone consultation, scheduled and same-day appointments, and a 24-hour Crisis Support hotline.