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University affirms commitment to free speech, adopts new policies on campus expressive activity

Policies replace two interim policies implemented in August 2017

Dr. M. Duane Nellis, president, and Dr. Elizabeth Sayrs, interim executive vice president and provost/chair of the Executive Staff Policy Committee, sent the following message to the University community on July 27.

Dear University community members:

For nearly a year, the University community has been engaged in robust dialogue about the fundamental concept of the free and open exchange of ideas across Ohio University’s campuses. Throughout these conversations, students, faculty and staff all held firm to one central tenet­—that freedom of inquiry and expression is the foundation of an Ohio University education and is essential to our shared mission of discovery and dissemination of knowledge.

Today, we share three new policies that affirm our commitment to free expression and outline the permissible use of indoor and outdoor space for free expression. These policies replace the two interim policies implemented in August 2017.



In the fall of 2017, President Nellis appointed the Presidential Policy Advisory Group, which included representatives from each of our Senates. In addition to evaluating comments from the University community, this group was tasked with conducting their own research and holding discussions to ultimately guide policy development. The Advisory Group’s draft recommendations were released March 2, 2018, followed by a public forum on March 21, 2018. Their final report was released on April 2, 2018.

Based on these recommendations and additional feedback from the forum, the Executive Staff Policy Committee (ESPC) developed draft policies. In accordance with Policy 01.001, these draft policies were released to the University community on April 12, 2018, for a 30-day review period. ESPC gathered feedback during the review period, and continued to consult with students, faculty, and staff as they finalized these newly-adopted policies.

We want to express our deep appreciation to all members of the community who shared their thoughts, ideas, and concerns about an issue of such critical importance in higher education.


Dr. M. Duane Nellis

Dr. Elizabeth Sayrs
Interim Executive Vice President and Provost, Chair of Executive Staff Policy Committee