President Neeli Bendapudi on the value of free speech

President Neeli Bendapudi on the value of free speech

Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi explains why adhering to the First Amendment is critical for ensuring free speech for everyone.

Use of Outdoor Areas for Expressive Activities at Penn State Wilkes-Barre


A university is inherently a marketplace of ideas, and Penn State encourages and protects the rights of members of the University community to express divergent viewpoints and opinions on matters of concern. At the same time, the University encourages persons engaging in expressive activity to demonstrate civility, concern for the safety of persons and property, and respect for University activities and for those who may disagree with their message.  All persons engaging in expressive activity on University property must  comply with University policies. The purpose of this policy is to provide for expressive activity to be conducted on the grounds of the University in a manner consistent with these principles.

This policy is applicable to University students, faculty, staff, and others who wish to engage in speaking, literature distribution, poster or sign displays, petitioning and similar noncommercial activities (generally referred to as expressive activity) at outdoor locations on University property. Use of University buildings and indoor facilities is addressed in other University policies. University grounds and buildings are reserved for use by students, faculty, and staff, except as otherwise permitted by policies of the University.

Locations for Expressive Activity

The following outdoor areas of the Wilkes-Barre campus have been designated as suitable for expressive activity:

  • Patio/lawn space near the Student Commons (right side, when facing)
  • Lawn space between Bell Center for Technology and parking lot, near the gazebo
  • Lawn space between the Murphy Center and the Science Center

Reservation of Location

Registered student organizations, or a group of three or more University students, faculty, or staff, may reserve any one of the identified locations for the use of the group, subject to the following:

  • All locations may be reserved between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
  • Events at these locations that incur costs from the University can only be reserved by registered student organizations or University departments.
  • A group may reserve only one location for each day.
  • The same group may not reserve the same location for more than one day in each calendar week.
  • Reservation must be requested at least 48 hours in advance of the proposed activity, or by the Friday preceding a Sunday or Monday.
  • Reservations will be accepted in the order of request, unless considerations of format, size and equitable distribution of locations requires allocation of locations.
  • Reservation is voluntary but encouraged to avoid conflicts and insure availability.
  • The group that has reserved the space has priority over non-reserved groups.

With a proper reservation, a group will have exclusive use of the reserved location and may not transfer the reservation to or allow use of the location by any other group. If a location has not been reserved, it will be available for use by a group, consistent with the other requirements of this policy. Registered student organizations and University groups will have absolute priority in the event of conflicting requests.

Registered student organizations, or groups of three or more University students, faculty, or staff should email the Office of Student Affairs and copy the Office of Business Services ([email protected] and [email protected]) to reserve a location.

Non-University Groups

Non-University groups requesting the use of University facilities should contact the Office of Business Services (570-675-9244 or [email protected]) to request use of and receive approval for the use of a facility.

Requirements of Use

In addition to other University policies and rules that generally apply to students, faculty, staff, and visitors, the following requirements specifically apply to expressive activities at outdoor locations by individuals and groups:

  1. Use of sound amplification equipment is generally prohibited.
  2. Pedestrian or vehicular traffic must not be impeded in any fashion.
  3. Disturbance of or interference with classrooms, offices, study facilities, libraries, or other University facilities and activities is prohibited.
  4. Creation of safety hazards is prohibited.
  5. Damage or destruction of property is prohibited. Should damages, destruction or clean up charges/cost occur, the organization, department, or individual who reserved the space will be responsible for any and all charges.
  6. Flashing or rotating lights and illuminated signs may not be used.
  7. Signs, placards, posters, banners, photographs, and the like shall not be affixed in any manner to University grounds and property, including but not limited to buildings, poles, gates, fences, trees, or other vegetation. All such materials must be removed at the conclusion of each day's use of the designated area. Any signage cannot obstruct the flow of traffic.
  8. Papers, pamphlets, and similar material must be distributed in person by sponsoring organization.
  9. Placing or erecting structures of any size or material is prohibited. These structures will be removed and the sponsoring organization, department, individual will be responsible for any and all charges.
  10. Tables must be staffed by the sponsoring organization and or group and may be used only in those areas designated for expressive activity. The use of tables must be stipulated at the time of reservation. The name of the sponsoring organization or group must be displayed at the table.