Outdoor Area and Exterior Space Use Policy

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Policy Code: 
5205
Approval Authority: 
Chancellor
Policy Type: 
University Policy
Policy Owner: 
Student Affairs
Responsible Office: 
Student Affairs - 828.251.6474

I. Purpose

The University of North Carolina at Asheville strives to create an open marketplace of ideas, and places a high value on the constitutionally-protected freedom of speech, assembly and petition. Therefore, UNC Asheville strives to make all practicable areas on campus open to use by University groups, non-University groups in designated areas, or sponsored non-University groups, subject to reasonable requirements to protect property, to ensure the proper functioning of the University for its primary educational mission, and to allow activities directly incidental to its mission to occur without disruption. The purpose of this policy is to set forth the University’s guidelines and expectations regarding the utilization of campus outdoor areas/ exterior spaces by ‘University’, ‘sponsored Non-University’ and ‘non-University’ groups. Use of an outdoor area/exterior space does not mean that the University in any way supports, sanctions, or agrees with the policies and activities of the group using the space.

II. Scope

This policy applies to all University, sponsored non-University and non-University groups who may teach, conduct business, visit or participate in activities at the University and wish to utilize campus outdoor area/exterior space. For the purposes of this policy, a “University group” is defined as (a) a student organization officially recognized and sanctioned by the University, (b) a group established by the Chancellor, faculty, staff or administration, or (c) groups established by University departments. An individual with University affiliation (current faculty, staff or student) is combined and identified, for the purpose of this policy, as a “University Group”. A “sponsored non-University group” is any group, other than those identified as a “University group”, that receives an express invitation of sponsorship from a “University group” to conduct events or activities using the University’s outdoor area/ exterior space.  A “non-University group” is defined as any group other than those identified as a “University group” or “sponsored non-University group”. An individual with no University affiliation (not identified as current faculty, staff or student) is combined and identified, for the purpose of this policy, as a “non-University Group”. For the purpose of determining privileges for a group, a mixed group will be categorized by the predominant category of its attendees. University police are authorized to make this determination, and the University acknowledges this is done in the good faith exercise of professional judgment by its officers.

III. Overriding Principles

A. Any use of University facilities must not violate any federal or state law or regulation, or University policy, rules or regulations, including those addressing non-discrimination.

B. The fulfillment of the educational mission of the University has first priority in all decisions concerning any use of any facility under this policy. Facility use must be compatible with or complementary to the educational mission of the University.

C. Use of any University outdoor area/exterior space shall not be authorized where such use may inhibit or disturb the conduct of other University activities.

D. Use of any University outdoor area/exterior space must be appropriate for the size, design and purpose of the facility and must not pose an undue burden on University resources.

E. University departments and divisions shall have priority in the use of University outdoor area/exterior space. Other University-affiliated organizations, such as student groups, shall have priority over sponsored non-University groups or non-University groups.

F. The University reserves the right to cancel or modify reservations should the reservation conflict with functions central to the educational mission of the university.

IV. Policy

All authorized users of the University’s outdoor area/exterior space must abide by the following time, place and manner requirements:

A. Assembly and petitioning may not interfere with University operations.

B. Non-University groups are required to have a written invitation from a University group to be considered ‘sponsored’ by a University group.

C. The University group sponsor accepts responsibility for supervising the activities of the non-University group, including responsibility for assuring that the area is used for the purposes specified by the group. A minimum of 2 members of the sponsoring group must be present at the non-University group event for the duration of the event.

D. The University group sponsor must be clearly identified on a posted sign/banner no less than 2 feet by 3 feet in size.

E. University outdoor area/exterior space may be used for activities/assemblies under a “first come, first served” approach, but may also be reserved for exclusive use by authorized groups.  However, some outdoor area/exterior spaces require a reservation to be used.  University groups, sponsored non-University groups and non-University groups must respect the reservations made by other spaces users.  In addition, University groups, sponsored non-University groups and non-University groups must also abide by all applicable aspects of University Policy 4210, ‘Space Scheduling and Use’, which includes information on distribution of material.

F. The University reserves the right to regulate commercial speech in the form of merchandise sales, marketing of products/goods and commercial solicitation, subject to University approval. Fundraisers, and vendors desiring to sell merchandise, must be approved in advance by the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (or the official with contracting authority when the space use is authorized pursuant to a University Space Use Agreement) as outlined in University Policy 4210, ‘Space Scheduling and Use’.

G. Activities and assemblies cannot disrupt the flow of vehicle traffic, pedestrians, or bicycles.

H. Activities and assemblies cannot disrupt access to department, program or individual offices.

I. Persons shall not engage in unlawful speech or conduct, such as threatening, abusive or harassing speech or conduct toward or directed at other persons.

J. Persons shall comply with directions of University officials acting in their official capacity.

K. Persons will not deface or destroy campus property, and are responsible for damage and clean-up associated with the event.

L. Public address systems or amplified sound is only permitted on the University Quadrangle and only at times agreed in advance. Permission to use public address systems or amplified sound will be based on the following factors: (1) time of day, (2) number of anticipated attendees, (3) University schedule and (4) potential for disruption caused to other activities or University operations if public address systems or amplified sound is approved.

M. No assemblies shall take place within 50 feet of academic buildings during class hours, or in areas directly adjacent to residence halls between 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.

N. Assemblies with an expected attendance of more than 25 people must be reported no less than 48 hours in advance to the University police.

O. No permanent or semi-permanent structure, including but not limited to stakes driven in the ground, tents or trailers, etc. may be constructed or placed for any activities in an outdoor area/exterior space without the approval of Facilities Management and Emergency Management/Environmental Health and Safety.

P. No signs or banners may be hung, attached or taped to, affixed to or suspending from any building or building exteriors unless the item is placed pursuant to a University program or business and has prior approval.

Q. No paint may be used on any building, structure, wall, brick surface or other item of University property unless pursuant to a University program or business and has prior approval.

R. Open burning of materials is prohibited on campus with the following exceptions: (1)fires at the Mullen Park bonfire pit, UNC Asheville’s designated open burn location, if a part of a campus program or event (2) candles if a part of a campus program or event, (3) smoking as allowed by UNC Asheville’s smoking policy in designated smoking locations, and (4) when performed by UNC Asheville employees or other local, state or federal officials pursuant to their duties . Events having an open burn component at Mullen Park must follow approval procedures through Facilities Management and Emergency Management/Environmental Health and Safety (expressed above for permanent and semi-permanent structures), which provides permits and proper open burn training.

S. Chalking is permitted on horizontal, non-covered cement surfaces only, such as sidewalks and walkways which are openly exposed to weather.  No buildings, structures, walls or brick surfaces may be chalked, including the Ramsey Library steps. All chalking must also be in accordance with the Student Code of Community Standards. Spaces cannot be reserved for a group or individual to chalk, thus it is the University’s expectation that those wishing to chalk an area be respectful of any chalking which may already be present. No chalking should be removed by one group to be replaced by another unless it is for a dated event which has already occurred. Groups/individuals that do not follow the above will have the chalking removed and may face disciplinary or other action.

T. Persons using the University’s outdoor area/exterior space, or attending events or activities held on University property, may be required to provide picture identification and evidence of qualification to a University official upon request. Evidence of qualification means (a) a currently issued University OneCard or (2) written documentation of an invitation from an affiliated organization and an Outdoor Space Usage Group Information and Request Form. The group holding the event or activity will be asked to complete the Outdoor Space Usage Group Information and Request Form (if the group has not already done so) to ensure the University has appropriate emergency management/contact information.

U. Reasonable security costs may be imposed based on the particular anticipated needs of the event to ensure the safety and security of all parties. Cost assessments are guided by content-neutral narrowly drawn, reasonable and definite standards. 

V. The University may disapprove, retract an invitation or cancel/postpone a scheduled event based upon reasonable time, place and manner considerations or when an extenuating situation may demand. Should an event be postponed, an invitation to reschedule will be extended as quickly as possible. The University will determine the appropriate venue/location for an outdoor activity/assembly based only upon reasonable time, place and manner considerations.

Locations for University groups

University groups may conduct activities and assemblies without prior approval at any University outdoor area or exterior space location provided the assembly/activity aligns with the applicable requirements in sections III and IV, and the space is not required to be reserved (see University Policy 4210, ‘Space Scheduling and Use’).

Locations for Sponsored non-University groups

Sponsored non-University groups may conduct activities/assemblies without prior approval at:

1. Reed Plaza, immediately outside Brown Hall and Highsmith Student Union.
2. The lawn areas on either side of the steps in front of Ramsey Library, bounded by the concrete sidewalks, immediately in front of the University Quadrangle.

With prior administrative approval (i.e. after submitting the Outdoor Space Usage Group Information and Request Form and receiving a response (discussed below)), sponsored non-University groups may conduct any activity/assembly so long as it  aligns with the applicable requirements in sections III and IV (see University Policy 4210, ‘Space Scheduling and Use’).

Locations for non-University groups

Non-University groups who have not sought or obtained sponsorship by a University group may conduct activities/assemblies in the two outdoor spaces shown below without prior approval:

1. Reed Plaza, immediately outside Brown Hall and Highsmith Union
2. The lawn areas on either side of the steps in front of Ramsey Library, bounded by the concrete sidewalks, immediately in front of the University Quadrangle.

The use of these spaces is open to non-University groups provided the assembly/activity aligns with the applicable requirements in sections III and IV and is not currently reserved, in use by another group, or there is another adjacent area reserved which would require the space to remain open for programmatic or preparation reasons.

When planning to use one of the designated spaces listed above, Non-University groups are required to complete an ‘Outdoor Space Usage Information and Request Form’, preferably in advance, for the purpose of  collecting emergency management/contact information and supporting appropriate space scheduling.  If the form is not completed prior to the event, one will be provided to the non-University group when they arrive at the appropriate outdoor space.

Public Speaking, Petitioning and Distribution of Written Materials

Notwithstanding any contrary part of this policy, University groups or sponsored non-University groups may engage in public speaking, petitioning or distribution of written, non-commercial materials in any outdoor area/exterior space also suitable for assemblies without the need to seek approval or specifically reserve space, so long as such assemblies/activities align with the applicable requirements in sections III and IV. 

Non-university groups may conduct these activities at the spaces referenced in the ‘Locations for Non-University Groups’ section above, so long as such assemblies/activities align with the applicable requirements of sections III and IV.

All restrictions regarding assemblies apply to petitioning.

Reserving Outdoor Areas/External Space; Requesting Approval to Conduct Events

1. Outdoor Space Usage Information and Request Forms can be obtained from the Office of the Division of Student Affairs and the Information Desk at Highsmith Student Center.

2. For University, and sponsored non-University groups who choose to reserve outdoor areas/external space for their activities/assemblies, an Outdoor Space Usage Information and Request form is to be completed and submitted no less than  two (2) business days in advance of the planned activity or event for review. Failure to do so may result in the requested outdoor area/ external space being unavailable. Although no prior form submission is required  for the use of areas that do not require reservation (unless required to seek pre-approval based on the group type; see ‘Locations for Sponsored non-University Groups’ above), the group will be asked to fill out the Outdoor Space Usage Information and Request Form upon arrival for the collection of emergency management/contact information and for appropriate space scheduling.

3. For requests that require advanced approval (e.g. both space reservation requests, and permit requests for groups that are required to seek advance approval prior to their assembly/activity) , the request review process is begun when an Outdoor Space Usage Information and Request Form is turned into the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs or designated delegate at least two (2) business days in advance of the planned activity or event. The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs or designated delegate, in consultation with the University General Counsel, may waive the two (2) business day requirement for good cause, which shall include factors such as: 1) consideration of the number of people expected to attend the assembly/activity; 2) the availability of the space and whether other events are concurrently scheduled; and 3) whether the activity will disrupt normal University operations.

4. An approval or denial decision will be made after the Outdoor Space Usage Information and Request Form is submitted for consideration. An approved request will yield an Outdoor Area and Space Use Permit, which the group will receive and be expected to maintain with the group for the duration of the event.

Requests to reserve outdoor areas and external space space may be denied if:

1. The request has not been fully completed, or contains material misrepresentations.

2. A non-University group is not sponsored in writing by a University group. However, a non-University group may still use one of the outdoor areas listed in ‘Locations for Non-University Groups’.

3. Prior approval has been granted to another group for the same time and place.

4. The activity would interfere with previously planned University programs or which do not align with the requirements with sections III and IV.

5. The activity would pose an unreasonable danger to the health or safety of the applicant, members of the University community or the public.

6. Applicants are groups who have established a history of property damage, unlawful activities, personal injury, material misrepresentation or disruption of University operations.

V. Penalties

University groups, sponsored non-University groups and non-University groups which violate this policy may face a variety of penalties, including but not limited to, cancellation of the activity/assembly, removal from campus, disciplinary action, assessment of charges for damages or repair costs incurred, or referral to other avenues of collection. Law enforcement reserves the right to respond accordingly depending upon the nature of the policy violation.