Time, Place and Manner Policy

Time, Place and Manner Policy


Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance


Assistant Vice President for Operations





Effective Date:


Implementation History:

First version August 2023


Free Speech, Facility Use, Crowds.

Background Information:


Empire State University (SUNY Empire) respects and fully supports the rights of free speech guaranteed by the constitutions of the United States and the State of New York, as well as applicable federal and state laws. SUNY Empire values the free expression of ideas, including the right of all views to be voiced, as critical to our educational mission to prepare students to thrive in a democratic society. This policy reiterates our responsibility to educate students about the fundamental importance of free expression and tolerance for diverse viewpoints.

Consistent with this policy, as a public entity, SUNY Empire will provide a designated public forum for the exercise of free speech rights to campus constituents (students, faculty, and staff) and members the public. This policy applies to individuals and groups both affiliated and unaffiliated with SUNY Empire.

SUNY Empire promulgates this policy to provide meaningful opportunities for members of our community to express their views, along with policies that regulate time, place, and manner for the exercise of free speech so that the regular work of the campus is not disrupted.

This policy applies to university-affiliated speakers, including university-sponsored and operated classes, clubs, groups and other special events, as well as non-university-affiliated speakers. Non-university-affiliated speakers are defined as persons not affiliated with SUNY Empire, or a person or group not acting in their role as a student, employee, or volunteer, who addresses or intends to address persons on the campus grounds or in a SUNY Empire facility.

Non-university-affiliated speakers are not officially sponsored by the university and/or a student association or student club recognized by the university. Such individuals/groups are referred to in this policy as non-university-affiliated speakers and the speaking/free speech events conducted by them are referred to in this policy as free speech events. University- affiliated speakers are referred to in this policy as university-affiliated speakers. Their events are also included in the definition of “free speech events.”

The views of individuals and groups speaking at university locations are the views of the individuals alone and not the views of SUNY Empire.



Application of Policy

This policy governs the access to university facilities by members of the public and groups both affiliated and not affiliated with the university, and it specifies the time, place, and manner where free speech events can occur.

This policy applies to university-affiliated speakers and non-university-affiliated speakers for use of SUNY Empire facilities/properties for a free speech event.

University-sponsored events: University-affiliated speakers and others presenting events sponsored by the university or student association or student clubs and third parties that are using university facilities for public or private meetings should refer to the Facilities Use Policy and Procedures, SUNY Empire Policy 600.012.

Non-affiliated commercial use: Anyone wishing to use university facilities for business purposes or personal gain should reference the Commercial Use of Facilities policy, SUNY Empire Policy 600.039.


Policy on Content of Speech/Controversial Speech

Through this policy or otherwise, SUNY Empire does not regulate speech based on its content or identity of the speaker. SUNY Empire will remain a neutral venue and provide the same level of safety and respect to all speakers. SUNY Empire strives to ensure a safe environment for all constitutionally protected speech, regardless of its content, and encourages university community members to fully understand their right to free speech.

Individuals have the right to respond to a controversial speaker with protected speech of their own. While this may include respectful response, listeners may not threaten a speaker or commit any violent act against a speaker or create a situation in which the speaker cannot be heard.


Time, Place and Manner Policy Statement


The use of the designated public forum may be requested for up to a four-hour time block between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. during the academic year, and between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the summer if space is available and it is not during an exclusion period.


Exclusion Periods/Disruption of University Programs

 Events may not disrupt educational activities or university operations and administration. The university reserves the right to not approve a free speech event either due to risk of disruption or lack of security staff availability.

SUNY Empire has excluded certain periods on its calendar during which the use of university facilities, including outdoor spaces, is reserved exclusively for university-related activities that are at the core of its primary educational mission. SUNY Empire defines the exclusion periods to include university-wide events such as, but not limited to, university-sponsored conferences, academic residencies, commencement events, and/or during celebrations of the university, as well as other times when the president determines that such exclusion is in the best interests of the SUNY Empire community, such as a public health emergency. During these exclusion periods, use of all public forums shall be curtailed so as not to interfere with core, mission-centric programming.


Place - Designated Public Forum

SUNY Empire identifies the following areas as locations for free speech events (designated public forum areas):

The designated public forum area for free speech events in Saratoga Springs is the lawn area west of the 111 West Avenue building.

The designated public forum areas at the Rochester and Selden locations are the lawn areas outside of the main entrance of each building, located at 680 Westfall Road, Rochester, NY and 407 College Road, Selden, NY.

Appendix A provides an aerial view of all three locations.

Any public speaker who does not comply with the designated public forum area will be asked to leave and/or be removed from the university location and not allowed to return.

The president shall have the authority to change, either permanently or temporarily, the site of the designated public forum location to another area of the university to address concerns for the health, safety, and welfare of the university community.



First priority for the use of university facilities will be given to university programs offered as part of the university’s instructional, community, and/or public meetings or programs.

In compliance with the SUNY Rules for the Maintenance of Public Order, the director of emergency management and public safety makes recommendations to the university president regarding the risk to public safety. The university president has the authority to deny access based on risk to public safety.

Given the distributed nature of SUNY Empire, both university-affiliated and non-university affiliated speakers are reminded they must comply with the noise ordinances of the city and county. No amplification equipment may be used.

Subject to other provisions of this policy, SUNY Empire will act in accordance with the following for affiliated and non-affiliated individuals and/or groups seeking to present a free speech event consistent with this policy:

  • Applications will not be denied solely based on the topic, nature or content of the free speech
  • Applicants will not be charged an application fee or space rental fee to reserve or use the designated public forum area. Applicants must pay SUNY Empire the estimated cost of basic added security for the free speech event. These security charges are calculated on a case-by-case basis and are determined through an analysis of anticipated safety, attendance, and traffic impacts of the event. The director of emergency management and public safety will determine the need for and number of additional security/police officers to perform security functions during any public assembly
  • See statement on Security for Assembly herein
  • No insurance requirements will be imposed on the applicant/third party



Rules and Guidelines for Conduct, Speech, and Public Assembly

  • Speakers: In view of the desire of SUNY Empire to promote free speech, the designated public forum area is open to everyone who follows the provisions of this
  • The right to dissent: The speaker is entitled to communicate their message to the audience, and the audience is entitled to hear the message and see the speaker. While listeners have the right to disagree with the messages being conveyed, that disagreement does not give the right to disrupt the presentation. A dissenter must not substantially interfere with the speaker’s ability to communicate or the audience’s ability to hear and see the speaker. Likewise, the audience must respect the right to dissent.
  • Symbolic protest: During a presentation, displaying a sign, gesturing, wearing symbolic clothing, or otherwise protesting to the extent it is not a disruptive activity when it does not impede access, including, but not limited to blocking the audience’s view or preventing the audience from being able to pay attention.


Prohibited Conduct

The policies and procedures of SUNY Empire, especially those related to the safety and security of persons and property, must be observed at all times. In addition, those who schedule speech or public assembly activities at university locations must not:

  • Threaten passers-by
  • Interfere with, impede, or cause blockage of the flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic
  • Commit any act likely to create imminent safety or health hazards
  • Interfere with or disrupt any other lawful or permitted activity by anyone in the same general location at the same time
  • Post any materials on any buildings, walls, windows, doors, sidewalks, trees, light poles, or any other university-owned property or equipment except in designated areas
  • Conduct speech that includes words that by their very nature tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace
  • Engage in any speech or action that is not allowed by law
  • Engage in any speech that is likely to incite or produce immediate lawless action or that is, under current legal standards, either defamatory or indecent
  • Incite others to commit any of the acts prohibited
  • Bring or use dangerous instruments as defined by NYS Penal Law, including but not limited to poles, flag poles, bats and other similar athletic items, clubs, sticks (including sticks used to hold signs)
  • Post written and printed materials on vehicles. Failure to comply with this provision may result in future denial of use of the designated public

All groups or individuals wishing to leaflet, hand out or otherwise distribute noncommercial written or printed materials on SUNY Empire property must comply with university posting policies. The applicant shall be responsible for removing from the designated public forum any brochures, pamphlets, leaflets, or other handouts or any items brought to the forum during their speech and assembly and removing them from the SUNY Empire property or properly disposing of them in public recycling or garbage receptacles.

The university reserves the right to terminate any use of the designated public forum area if the speaker or a member(s) of an audience engage in conduct that violates the SUNY Rules for the Maintenance of Public Order, or other applicable laws, rules, policies, or procedures, in order to secure the orderly operation of SUNY Empire for the safety of the entire university community.


Applicable Legislation and Regulations

Free speech events must comply with all applicable laws (including, but not limited to Education Law Section 6430 and 8 NYCRR 535) and the policies of SUNY Empire and the SUNY System (including but not limited to SUNY Rules for the Maintenance of Public Order).

Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices

Related University Policies

Facilities Use Policy and Procedures

Commercial Use of Facilities

Firearms Policy

Bias Related Crimes Policy



Appendix A - Aerial View of Public Forum Areas (PDF 277kB)

Appendix B Application for Free Speech Event (PDF 157kB)