Although its campus is 200 acres, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) allows its students to assemble without prior approval in only two paltry “free speech areas.” FIRE believes, with good reason, that while administrators may enact reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, all of a public university is a “free speech zone.” And even within these speech zones, UNCG demands that students give 48 hours notice if they plan to assemble there. As we all know, college students are nothing if not able to plan their lives at least two days in advance. More importantly, protests are often impassioned responses to unfolding events, and cannot be planned in advance.
Those who follow FIRE’s work already know that UNCG dropped its charges against students who dared hold a peaceful protest outside of the “free speech areas.” It remains to be seen, however, if the university will go a step further and abolish the zones altogether. Perhaps those responsible for making such decisions should review this video of the actual November 16, 2005, protest, and listen to the words of the narrator: “Unpopular speech is the only speech that needs protecting; and you do not need free speech zones to protect it.”< Or you can tell them yourself: