Public Forum Free Speech

The following constitutes the University at Albany's 'time, place and manner' policy on the use of University at Albany ('the University') owned facilities by third parties (not sponsored by the University and/or by recognized student organizations) for free speech purposes as by the University Council pursuant to a delegation of authority by the SUNY Board of Trustees. (See SUNY Policy 5603 - Use of Facilities by Non-Commercial Organizations)

Reasons for this Policy

As an institution of higher education, the University respects and fully supports the rights granted to individuals under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution regarding free speech.  The University has adopted free speech policies with respect to its students, faculty and staff, but not for third parties, who are not sponsored by the University and/or a recognized student organization, but want to use the Campus for free speech purposes.

As a public entity, partially funded by NYS tax dollars, the University will provide a designated public forum to third parties outside of the Campus Community for their exercise of free speech rights.  To comply with existing law, the University recognizes that it will be dedicating its scarce resources to the third parties, including staff time for the management of the designated public forum, the cost associated/loss of revenue with the use of space itself, and possibly utilizing University Police and other administrative offices' staff, to provide for the public safety of participants.    

In drafting and adopting this Policy, the University weighed its competing obligations and responsibilities:  to meet its educational mission, to meet its legal obligations as a public entity to provide a designated public forum for free speech by third parties, to meet its audit and control obligations in managing NYS property under its jurisdiction, and to meet its obligations for the orderly and safe operation of its Campus, while responsibly managing and allocating its scarce resources in pursuit of its education mission for its students.   

Policy Application

This policy shall apply to all third parties, who are not sponsored by the University and/or a student group, who want to use the University's designated public forum for free speech purposes.  This policy does not apply to students, speakers officially sponsored by recognized student groups, faculty or staff as other reservation and use policies apply to those campus community members.


Black-out days
The University has 'blacked-out' certain days on its calendar wherein the use of the campus and its facilities, including outdoor spaces are reserved exclusively for Campus related activities that are at the very core of its primary educational mission.  During these blackout periods, no third party shall be allowed to use the designated public forum for free speech purposes.  

The University defines the black-out periods to include the following:

  1. During Opening Weekend for the commencement of fall and spring semesters;
  2. During reading periods and examination periods as set forth on the then current academic calendar;
  3. During graduation-related activities and events, including winter and spring commencements;
  4. During major fall or spring campus-wide celebrations, such as concerts, Homecoming, and Parkfest; and
  5. During the conservation shut down of educational buildings and administrative offices as defined on its calendar when the temperature of the offices shall be below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (typically between the end of the examination period when students leave campus for the winter holiday break and a few business days after the first of the New Year).   This time frame is included in the black-out period because the offices are typically closed for the receipt of applications and the Campus is virtually vacant in order to conserve energy and to save money to meet state budget reductions.

Designated Public Forum

The University identifies the following area as its designated public forum:  the outside area of the Campus Center bounded to the south by the front door of the Campus Center and to the north by the first tier of the Podium before the stairs to the Fountain, and to the west and east by the two exterior Campus Center walls that extend out onto the Podium and further out to the first tier of the Podium if such walls extended out.  Attached hereto and made a part hereof is a map outlining the designated public forum.   

The University designates this outdoor space for its designated public forum as this space is the most highly pedestrian trafficked area on the University Main Campus by students, faculty, staff, and visitors.  The Campus Center houses the food court, a convenience store, a bank, ATM machines, the Book Store, the Registrar, Financial Aid, the Bursar, SUNYCard, student recreation space, as well as several other student services offices, as well as the Patroon Room (faculty, staff and student dining), and frequently used meeting rooms for the University Campus Community, such as the Ball Room and the Assembly Hall.  The use of this space is also not likely to interfere with classroom instruction or dormitory residences.    

The President shall have the authority to change, either permanently or temporarily, the identity of the designated public forum to another area of the Podium and/or Collins Circle green space to address concerns for the health, safety, and welfare of the campus community.       

Third Party
person(s) who wants to use the designated public forum for free speech purposes and the person(s) is not a student, faculty or staff member at the University, and the person(s) is not officially sponsored by either the University and/or a Student Association recognized student group to speak at the University.


A.    The University is providing a designated public forum for use by third parties for their free speech purposes. 

B.    Reservation and Recordkeeping of the Use of Space:

a.    Third parties who seek to use the designated public forum must:

b.    Complete a designated public forum application; and file the application with the Office of the University Controller Office three (3) business days before the date the applicant wants to use the designated public forum (applications received after 3 p.m. on a given business day shall be considered as having been received on the morning of the next business day).  The application must be received by the University at least three (3) business days before the requested use date and the applicant assumes responsibility for proper delivery to the Office of the University Controller in a timely manner.   The Office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday for deliveries, except for holidays and certain University Black-out days as noted below. The University shall review the application and respond to the applicant no later than the close of business on the third business day prior to the date the applicant wants to use the designated public forum:

c.    If the application is completed fully and signed by the applicant and the date and time are available for use, the University shall inform the applicant of its approval to use the designated forum on the date and time so requested. 

d.    If the application is not complete and/or it is not signed, the University shall return the application to the applicant for completion.  The three (3) business days' time period will begin running again once the completed and signed application is received by the Office of the University Controller.

e.    If the space is already reserved to its capacity for the date and time requested, or if the date and time requested is during a "blackout period" as defined below, the University shall inform the applicant of the same and offer the applicant the next available date and time for the use of the space.

C.   The University shall not:

a.    Inquire as the nature or content of the free speech;

b.    Charge the applicant an application fee to reserve the designated public forum;

c.    Charge the applicant/third party for the use of the space;

d.    Impose insurance requirements on the applicant/third party; or

e.    Charge the applicant for any additional costs to the University that the University may incur due to the use of the space by the applicant/third party, such as security.

D.   The applicant/third party shall:

a.    Be responsible for any costs for parking on the campus as all students, faculty, staff, and visitors are charged for parking;

b.    Be responsible for picking up from the designated public forum any brochures, pamphlets, leaflets or other handouts or goods that the third party speaker brought with him/her to disseminate during his/her speech, and properly disposing of the same in public garbage receptacles or taking them with him/her.  The University has a regulation against littering on the Campus that applies to all students, faculty, staff and visitors.  Failure to comply with this provision may result in future denial of use of the designated public forum; and

c.    Not use megaphone equipment for the amplification of the speech; however, upon written request at the time of application, and on the application, by the applicant, and weather permitting to protect the University's equipment, the University will provide a microphone and sound system for the speaker.

E.    The University reserves the right to terminate any use of the designated public forum in the event either the speaker or a member(s) of an audience engages in conduct that violates the SUNY Rules for the Maintenance of Public Order, adopted in accordance with Education Law Section 6430 and 8 NYCRR 535, in order to secure the orderly and operation of the Campus for the safety of the entire Campus Community. 

Completed applications to use the designated public forum should be sent to or hand delivered to:

Office of the University Controller
Attn:  Stacy Stern
University at Albany
1400 Washington Avenue
UNH 212
Albany, NY 12222

All applications must be reviewed and approved by the Associate Vice President and University Controller.

Please call Stacy Stern at (518) 442-3414 or email her at with any questions about the application process. 

Approved by University Council December 9, 2011