The Seattle Community College District has tweaked the language of a proposed rule to regulate free speech on campus after the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington raised questions about the rule’s constitutionality last week.
The new language encourages off-campus groups to register with the college before engaging in free-speech activity on the campus. Previously, the rule required off-campus groups to register.
Last week, in a letter to the college, the ACLU voiced concerns that requiring registration before engaging in free speech was unconstitutional. ACLU spokesman Doug Honig said the group is reviewing the change.
In a letter to the college community, Chancellor Jill Wakefield said the ACLU voiced its concerns in a letter that arrived the afternoon before a public hearing, “when there was no time to incorporate and discuss any changes,” she said.
Wakefield said the new rules were drafted by a task force during a series of meetings that she praised as being collaborative. The rules, she wrote, make it clear that the district — North, South and Seattle Central community colleges — is “a limited public forum for First Amendment activities and are meant to provide a reasonable time, place, and manner for people to engage in First Amendment activities at the District. They also provide clarity around the use of the campus for First Amendment activities by both college and non-college groups.”
College officials decided they needed free speech rules after the Occupy Seattle movement made Seattle Central Community College its home base for several months in the fall of 2011. The new rule prohibits overnight camping.
The proposal will go to the school’s Board of Trustees Dec. 5 for a second reading and vote.