Safe Activism

TU is committed to fostering a welcoming community where ideas are shared freely, respect for each other is promoted, and students, faculty and staff feel valued and heard. Lawful protests and counter-protests are permissible in accordance with university policy, and the university encourages all students participating in such expressive activity to do so in a peaceful manner.

freedom of Expression AT TU

What is TU's position on student freedom of expression? 

TU values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas. The free exchange of ideas and information is central to higher education’s foremost obligation of fostering both intellectual development and the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. With certain exceptions, such as threats of physical violence and unlawful harassment, free speech and expression is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As a public institution, TU endeavors to protect each student’s free speech rights, and may not limit speech or expression, however offensive or disagreeable, based solely on the content or the views being expressed.

What can TU do about hateful or offensive expression? 

There is a very important distinction between “Speech or Expression” and “Behavior or Conduct.” While the First Amendment protects most speech and expression, even hateful or offensive speech and expression, discriminatory or harassing behavior and conduct are NOT protected by the First Amendment.

TU is tasked with protecting every student’s freedom to speak and to hear all views. Hateful or offensive speech that does not rise to the level of a true threat or unlawful harassment cannot be banned or punished. Exposure to all perspectives, including those that may be deemed disagreeable or even offensive, can be an essential part of the educational experience and can help foster a greater understanding of how to respect a person while communicating a differing opinion.

The protection afforded speech and expression by the First Amendment does not mean that we as a university community encourage hate, condone harassment, or in any way tolerate discriminatory behavior or conduct. TU also has support services available for those affected by hateful or offensive, but protected, speech.

More information about these and related topics may be found in the following policies: TU Code of Student Conduct; Chalking Policy (TU Policy 05-01.30); Policy Prohibiting Discrimination (TU Policy 06-01.00); Policy on Threats and Violence (TU Policy 06-01.10); Policy and Procedures for the Reporting of Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents (TU Policy 06-1.20); Policy on Sexual Misconduct (TU policy 06-01.60).

Can students participate in expressive activities such as protests or counter-protests on campus?

Lawful protests and counter-protests are permissible in accordance with TU policy, and the university encourages all students participating in such expressive activity to do so in a peaceful manner. Remember, while the expression of opinions and viewpoints are protected by the First Amendment, engaging in illegal, harassing, violent or abusive conduct and behavior is not and may result in legal and/or administrative action.

Additional information regarding student engagement in expressive activity on campus can be found in the university’s Policy on Time, Place, and Manner of Expressive Activity (TU Policy: 06-04.11) (PDF).

Are there any limits on freedom of expression on campus? 

Yes. TU may establish reasonable and view point-neutral restrictions on the time, place, and manner of speech and expression on its campus to address concerns such as significant public safety interests as we have done in our Policy on Time, Place and Manner for Expressive Activities (TU Policy: 06-04.11) (PDF)  to ensure that expressive activities on campus do not unreasonably disrupt university operations, violate the protected speech of others, put others in danger, or risk damage to university property. This policy DOES NOT, however, restrict the content or view point being expressed.

The university’s Policy on Time, Place and Manner for Expressive Activities is applicable to expressive activities on campus (i.e., university property). Expressive activities taking place on designated public space or on public rights-of-way (PDF), including those surrounding and bisecting campus such as the sidewalks along York Road and Towsontown Boulevard, and along Cross Campus Drive and Osler Drive are not covered under the policy.


Resources

TU Freedom of Expression Pocket Guide (PDF)

Policy on Time, Place and Manner for Expressive Activities (TU Policy: 06-04.11) (PDF)

University System of Maryland Freedom of Speech and Expression Value Statement and Guidelines (PDF) 


Tiger Advocacy Advisory Team

Under the leadership of the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity, the Tiger Advocacy Advisory Team (TAAT) is responsible for educating and supporting students on activism on and off campus, coordinating the appropriate level of response for different events, and to serve as the primary liaisons between administrators, the Towson University Police Department, and students.

The team will develop initial response strategies and approaches to activist students with customized intervention plans prior to and during controversial demonstrations, including but not limited to:

  1. connecting with event organizers, protesters and counter-protesters
  2. identifying trusted faculty and staff to aid in facilitating conversations
  3. providing support for logistics and de-escalations tactics

The team will also provide “just-in-time” guidance in the event of spontaneous demonstrations or those that are unknown to the team, including but not limited to:

  1. referring event organizers, protesters and counter-protesters to this website
  2. advising students on campus policies and local, state and federal laws
  3. providing printed resources with emergency contact information

Tiger Advocacy Advisory Team Members

About the Team

The Tiger Advocacy Advisory Team is made up of key university officials who have influence with students and who work with students on a daily basis. Some members of the team are selected because of their expertise in the areas of student activism and others are selected because of their work function on campus. 

Team Members
  • Vernon Hurte, Vice President of Student Affairs
  • Leah Cox, Vice President of Inclusion and Institutional Equity
  • Melanie Perrault, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Anthony Skevakis, Dean of Students and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs
  • Sean Welsh, Interim Vice President of University Marketing and Communications
  • Matthew Reinhart, Associate General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel
  • Matthew Lenno, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs in Campus Life
  • Tammie King Kelly, Coordinator of Student Success Programs, Office of Student Success Programs
  • Charles J. Herring, Director of Public Safety and Chief of TU Police, Administrative and Technical Services Bureau
  • Patrol Officers, TU Police Department, Patrol Bureau, TBD
  • Alison Peer, Director, Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education
  • Luis Sierra, Assistant Director for Civic Engagement
  • Scott Beyer, Director, Office of Events and Conference Services
  • Julie Ecke, Senior Event Manager, Office of Events and Conference Services
  • Corey Bailey, Director, Office of Student Activities
  • Mahnoor Ahmed, Interim Senior Director and Associate Director, Center for Student Diversity
  • Matt Palmer, Director of Media Relations & News, Communications and Media Relations
  • Senior Director, Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity
  • Patricia Bradley, Assistant Vice President, Title IX, Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity
  • Katie Maloney, Executive Director of Government and Community Relations
  • Molly Herman, Director of Counseling Center
  • Amy Morales, Manager, Student Case Management
  • SGA Representative, TBD 
  • SGA Representative, TBD
  • Asia Robinson, Senator, SGA Representative 
  • Juwan Grey, SAC, Student-Athlete
  • Tricia Brandenburg, Deputy Director of Athletics, Internal Operations
  • Cynthia Cooper, Professor, Communication Studies
  • Faculty Member, TBD
  • Faculty Member, TBD