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Free speech policy updated at UL Lafayette

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Free Speech

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette announced an update to its free speech policy in an email sent to students, faculty and staff on Tuesday, June 18.

According to the policy text, the University cannot regulate speech to “shield” students and faculty from ideas, “including without limitation ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”

The policy update is in compliance with “federal and state laws, and in coordination with the UL System and Board of Regents,” according to the email.

According to a resolution passed by the Student Government Association in January of 2018, the policy previously barred students from producing anything “distasteful or offensive.” The resolution, at the time, called for the policy to align with the First Amendment.  

The policy explains the University's reasoning for adoption, details how students, faculty, staff and visitors can report violations of this policy, and defines acceptable free speech as “freedom of individual thought and expression consistent with the rights of others.”

While allowing for freedom of expression, the policy also outlines legal reasoning for the University to regulate some aspects of speech.

“According to the Supreme Court, public entities such as the University have discretion in regulating the ‘time, place, and manner’ of speech,” the policy reads.

For example, according to the policy, the University can control the time and location of guest speakers “to ensure the functioning of the campus and achieve important goals, such as protecting public safety.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Patricia Cottonham will oversee the enforcement of this update, according to the policy text.

Stay with The Vermilion, as this is an ongoing story.

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