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Freedom of Expression policy considerations will be released by next Wednesday

Correction appended.

Ohio University’s Presidential Policy Advisory Group will draft considerations for a new Freedom of Expression policy, which will be released next week.

The Presidential Policy Advisory Group has drafted 28 considerations, which will turn into recommendations to be discussed with the public at an upcoming open forum. Eventually, those recommendations will be sent to OU President Duane Nellis and interim Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs. 

The considerations will be included in a document that will be sent out through University Communications and Marketing by next Wednesday. 

“The considerations that we’re putting forward — some of those are very general about the principles that should underlie a new revision or a new policy, and others are very specific about things that should be in or not in the policy that’s created to replace the interim one,” Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth said.

On Monday night, the policy advisory group discussed how they will present and explain the considerations.

Although on Feb. 16, Nellis extended the interim policy for six more months, the group plans to have a new policy in place before the semester ends. The group will meet again after the open forum and spring break, which runs March 12-16.

“What we’re working on for the rest of this week is really individual members providing any additional editorial comments on the considerations,” Titsworth said. 

Members are working to finalize the format of the considerations. They are also compiling the list of themes, which resulted from comments made about the interim policy.

“When we release the documents, people in the university community will be able to see the list of themes that we observed inside the comments on the policies and then also a separate document will be able to look through the recommendations that we came up with,” Titsworth said.

The group’s work will conclude when it sends a report to Nellis.

The open forum will be held March 21 from 5:30-7 p.m. in Baker Center Ballroom A, University Spokeswoman Carly Leatherwood said. 

During that forum, students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to provide feedback on policy considerations. 

The policy regarding the use of indoor spaces prompted the Ohio ACLU to hold a forum Feb. 20.

“The list of considerations we will have, several of them will touch on the use of indoor spaces,” Titsworth said. “So that’s certainly being reflected in our deliberation right now and will be represented quite specifically in the consideration that we will release sometime next week or shortly thereafter.” 

The policy group allows public comments through its website, but Faculty Senate members have had direct contact with administrators about the policy. 

Before the policy was renewed, Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin sent an email to Sayrs  suggesting the removal of the provision banning “demonstrations, rallies, public speech-making, picketing, sit-ins, marches, protests, and similar assemblies” inside university buildings. 

“In the Freedom of Expression policy, there was one … section in particular that said the use of indoor spaces for all of these activities is prohibited,” McLaughlin said. “I just kind of reminded them ...  this is the paragraph that caused the trouble and was universally criticized.”

Because the considerations are not the entire final report, it will not include all the information that could be submitted to the president and provost. 

“There will be some other information that will go into the final report, so that will be a slightly larger document than what will be available in the next week,” Titsworth said. “But this is the crux of what we want people to look at in preparation of the public forum.”


Correction: A previous version of this report mischaracterized what would be released by next Wednesday. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information. 

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