HCTC Free Speech Procedure | HCTC

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HCTC Free Speech Procedure

HCTC has always followed the letter and the spirit of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Section 1 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  Additionally, as a college within the KCTCS system, HCTC adheres to KCTCS Administrative Policy 3.3.15, the KCTCS Campus Speech Policy, which provides

a uniform basis on which KCTCS handled the use of KCTCS property by non-affiliated persons for free expression activities through content and viewpoint-neutral guidelines consistent with and in furtherance of KCTCS’s mission of providing education for college and workforce readiness, transfer education and workforce education and training.  

The original effective date of the policy was October 12, 2005.  The current effective date is January 11, 2016.  

In 2019, the Kentucky Legislature passed KRS 164.348, the Campus Free Speech Protection Act.  This act codified certain protections and established certain procedures.  

It is anticipated that KCTCS Administrative Policy 3.3.15 will be revised soon to update the section on invited speakers (3.3.15.2).  The rest of the policy is basically compliant with KRS 164.348.

Additionally, the Code of Student Conduct contains protections for student speech.  Article II, the KCTCS Student Bill of Rights, states in Section 1 that KCTCS students enjoy the rights set forth in the United States Constitution and all federal laws passed to support and defend that Constitution.  Section 2 incorporates the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  Additionally, other sections throughout the Code expand and reiterate the right of students’ free expression of speech, ideas, and assembly.  Article III, Section 4B delineates the process for students to appeal if they believe a violation of their academic rights has occurred.  

HCTC followed an unwritten procedure, incorporating all freedom of speech protections.  However, HCTC has not had a written procedure in place.  To provide clarity and to ensure compliance with applicable laws and policies, HCTC therefore establishes this written procedure.

The HCTC Free Speech Procedure incorporates all freedom of speech protections of the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, KRS 164.348, KCTCS Administrative Policy 3.3.15, and the Code of Student Conduct.  Certain areas of interest are highlighted below.

:  It is noted that free expression activities, as defined in KCTCS Administrative Policy 3.3.15, are not limited to particular areas of the campus often described as “free speech zones.”  Open outdoor areas on KCTCS property generally are available for free expression activities, regardless of whether planned or spontaneous.  However, such activities are subject to the guidelines set out in KCTCS Administrative Policy 3.3.15.

HCTC bulletin boards traditionally have been considered closed forums and, under this procedure, remain closed forums.  Only items produced by the HCTC Document Production Center, provided by officially recognized campus organizations under the Student Code of Conduct, or provided by regionally accredited post-secondary institutions may be posted on campus bulletin boards.  All other items are removed by the Chief Student Affairs Officer, or designee, upon notice.  A statement of this procedure will be posted on or near each bulletin board.

KRS 164.348 requires the publication of the procedure in the institution’s student and faculty handbooks and posting the procedure to a prominent location of the HCTC website.  Additionally, the procedure also may be emailed to students and faculty annually using their KCTCS email accounts or included in new student and/or faculty orientation programs.