With Ohio University’s contentious interim “Freedom of Expression” guidelines nearing their expiration date, OU President Duane Nellis said he is inclined to renew the policy.
If approved by Nellis, the policy would be the same as the one approved in August, which bans "demonstrations, rallies, public speech-making, picketing, sit-ins, marches, protests and similar assemblies" and allows the university to limit conduct that disrupts its operations, interferes with student activities or poses safety risks.
The presidential policy advisory committee, led by Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth, has been reviewing public comments on the policy and will draft a series of recommendations for revisions. Titsworth said the committee knew it was “not really feasible” to draft the recommendations before the original policy expired.
“We are cognizant of the fact that the university policy will expire, that the university will have to do something about that,” Titsworth said. “But that’s not really our purview.”
Faculty Senator Jackie Wolf said the committee aims to have policy recommendations submitted by spring break, which runs March 12-16.
The committee will hold an open forum this semester to gather public feedback on potential policy revisions. An official date for the forum has been set, Titsworth said, but details will not be released until later this week.
“We know that it will not be before spring break,” Titsworth said. “It will be sometime roughly after spring break once we get the location figured out.”
Titsworth said the committee plans to have “at least a list” of draft recommendations released to the public before the forum so the forum can be a chance for the public to provide feedback on the recommendations.
After the last meeting, Titsworth said the committee did not discuss whether future meetings will be open to the public but said there is “still a possibility” the doors could be open.
“We haven’t made a final determination about remaining meetings,” Titsworth said. “When we start making plans for the next several meetings, we will continue to revisit that.”
In November, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio criticized the committee’s decision to hold meetings behind closed doors, calling it “counterproductive, back-room secrecy.”