The interim policy that has been enacted fails this test of ensuring maximal expression. It is too broad in its prohibitions. For example, it institutes a complete interdiction on any type of protest action—“demonstrations, rallies, public speech-making, picketing, sit-ins, marches, protests, and similar assemblies […]”—inside university buildings even in cases when the action is non-violent and does not disrupt other ongoing and educational activities. It also bans any action that would "deter” passersby. Yet, public speech and protest aim precisely to challenge passersby and to elicit their reactions. Would this count as deterrence? This process of challenge, verbal or silent, is part of the expression and exchange of ideas and positions. Universities are supposed to be places for robust deliberation on matters essential to a society and to the world as a whole. These new interim policies potentially undermine this important function.
For this reason, we urge the administration of Ohio University, in open deliberation with the wider university community, to review and revise the interim policy on expression. There is a need for reasonable limits on expression primarily to ensure the right of speech and assembly of others and to safeguard the right to security for all—for example, through the prohibition against "fighting words" and hate speech that provokes violence. But, these restrictions must be specific and they must conduce toward the creation of conditions for the maximal expression of speech.
Loren D. Lybarger, President, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Ohio University AAUP