Indiana University Southeast Code Requires Applications Before Students Express Opinion

Indiana University Southeast near Louisville, Kentucky is at the center of a free speech controversy over a school code that bars students from expressing opinions on campus except in designated free speech zones. The code flips the presumption of higher education: students must generally refrain from free speech and even apply for the right to express opinions. The code, first promulgated in 2004, is being challenged as an example of how universities are cracking down on free speech.


The IUS code is written poorly and conditions free speech on university approval. The code has an approval process for acts of “expressed opinions” which requires an application five days in advance. Thus in Kentucky you do not have a waiting period to buy a gun, but when in IUS you may have to wait for approval to engage in first amendment activities.

The guideline for students wishing to express opinions can be found here: Guidelines_FreeSpeech

It starts with this statement:

Persons wishing to express their opinions, distribute materials or assemble on campus in accordance with the state and federal constitution in relation to their right to free speech, must submit an Application to Schedule Facilities form. This form can be obtained from the Conference and Catering Office in the University Center of IUS. This Application should be submitted at least five (5) days prior to the event. Approval must be granted before an event can take place.

Notably, this is not limited to outside groups or non-students but anyone “wishing to express their opinions.” It also does not define the scope or meaning of “opinion.” Does this mean that I have to get permission to express my opinion on the Chicago Bears or my preference for skim over one-percent fat milk? The Code is written so poorly and broadly that it defies not just liberty but logic.

The regulation of speech, the school insists, is needed to prevent such speech from “endangering people or property.” Joseph Wert, associate professor of Political Science and Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Indiana University Southwest, defended the code by noting “Governments have the right to restrict the time and place of these things…” He noted that the code does not regulate on the basis for content and treats everyone the same. That argument however misses the central point. First, the Code allows officials to waive these requirements on a case-by-case basis — creating a danger of selective application. (“If the 5 day period is burdensome, and depending on what other activities are being conducted on campus, the 5 days period may be waived at the Director of Campus Life’s discretion.”). Second, even assuming that the school does not indirectly regulate speech on the basis of content in granting permission to speak, the Code asserts the need for students to speak only with permission — a dangerous lesson to instill in students in a free nation. These free speech zones have become the rage in universities around the country — allowing schools to create an enforced silence on campuses by restricting free speech to designated areas like smoking.

Moreover, Professor Wert’s argument goes too far since, under this theory, a school could all but ban free speech since it is treating all speech equally. The disruption so feared by the school is an essential part of higher education. Students come to colleges to be exposed to different ideas and people. In this environment, they experiment with different views and interact with a wide range of opinions. These free speech zones cabin free speech and free thought — reducing our campuses to the same level of interaction as a remote learning site.

58 thoughts on “Indiana University Southeast Code Requires Applications Before Students Express Opinion”

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  2. Indiana University Southeast near Louisville, Kentucky is at the center of a free speech controversy over a school code that bars students from expressing opinions on campus except in designated free speech zones. The code flips the presumption of higher education: students must generally refrain from free speech and even apply for the right to express opinions. The code, first promulgated in 2004, is being challenged as an example of how universities are cracking down on free
    ==============================================
    Tell Indiana that Purdue is better.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purdue_University

  3. David,

    “Is this what colleges are promoting ? Be quiet, the elders and the rich knows what is best”..david blauw

    http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199710–.htm

    Read Noam Chomsky on teaching young people. It is nominally about MSM, and using academia as a model, and then how young people are selected, and finally with the elite universities primarily as finishing school in how to function at high levels.

    Pop article, not treatise. But it still is Chomsky.

  4. Bettykath, I was being more cynical than fair. My intended point being college prepares the individual for future realities of life. I see no segregated free speech zones out in the world, or politics, or in boardrooms or life in general. A closed mouth and discretion can benefit one at times, but that is not the way of the world…or sadly it is… My cynicism suggests that this is exactly what zones of silence promote. (cone of silence…would you believe?) A neutered public neuters itself. Is this what colleges are promoting ? Be quiet, the elders and the rich knows what is best.
    Again my cynicism may be too great, but muffling free speech is not a strength. College students should speak and learn themselves. Sometimes they learn they’re wrong, sometimes they learn they’re right, most important ..they learn.

  5. this code was started in 2004. if memory serves this is the same time they were setting up “free speech zones” so george w wouldn’t have to hear people who disagreed with his liberation of iraq.

  6. Chaos he said.
    What about entanglement at particle level.

    I was thinking about why we ae “talking” this way.
    I pictured myself logged in, got redmarked picture temporarily on the screen with others pics, 6X8 at a time, puahed my button to talk and listened to all coming in, even talk-overs were possible. Hold up charts, type in or paste text with source atavar/name beside it at bottom of screen, or side screen for selection on demand etc etc. All techically possible—-NOW.

    Are we ready?

  7. Students today are a bunch of weenies. That is why they are laying down in the lounge at Indiana U SouthEast reading their iPods, on the dDads with mMollas mOney, and thinking about why they have to go to class at all.

  8. What Mespo said to Mayfly. You either have free speech or you don’t. Unless you are yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater, there should be no restrictions.

  9. Seems to me if unfettered access is their goal that is all the rule you need, there needs to be an opening of ( such and such space) for people to get by.
    Their respinse is claptrap. (think thats the word I want)

  10. There is an extra “not” in my previous post that absolutely changes it. I was trying to say that it is not a 25% discount, as their website indicates and then changed my wording but not all my words.

  11. Before this becomes a bash of “backward” Kentucky as Mr. Turley is apparently alluding when commenting on our gun laws, let me clear Kentucky’s name. IUS, Indiana University SouthEAST, is NOT in Kentucky or affiliated with Kentucky in any way; it just happens to be a few miles across the Ohio River from Louisville. (Do you have any idea where New Albany, Indiana is? I didn’t think so.) There is no IU SouthWEST.

    It is, in fact, part of Indiana University not a private school. We in Kentucky (or at least those of us in Louisville) can figure out that in-state tuition of $145.35 is not 25% of non-resident tuition of $482.05 and would contact our flagship school to correct their website. (Sorry, IU and UK. Go UofL!)

  12. Indiana University Southeast is a regional campus in the Indiana University system and is located in New Albany, Indiana, in Floyd County, which is in south-central Indiana and part of the metropolitan Louisville, Kentucky, area.

  13. Mayfly:

    My Translation of the reply you received goes like this. Innocuous free speak: encouraged; free speech that might actually accomplish something: quite taboo.

    We all know that in knowledge crazy Indiana teaching someone Bayes Theorem takes precedence over the cacophony of the put upon complaining to their corporate masters or citizens gathering to express ideas contrary to those of the majority.

  14. This is the response I received to my post on their website. I believe the expression is “nonpology”.

    Thank you for contacting us.

    The Guidelines Relating to Free Speech that the article you read referred to were certainly not intended to stifle free expression. However, we are using the recent interest in these guidelines as an opportunity to reexamine our approach, and we fully expect to debut a new set of guidelines before the beginning of class in August.

    IU Southeast values free speech. The guidelines in question were simply an attempt to protect the rights of our students to have unfettered access to educational facilities and activities on campus (in other words, the exercise of free speech rights should not result in blocking access to buildings or disrupting classes or campus events).

    Thank you again,

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