Statement of Indian River Community College, February 1, 2005

Indian River Community College is strongly committed to fulfilling its responsibility to strike an appropriate balance between maintaining an effective, orderly learning environment and protecting the rights of our students. Acting on this commitment, IRCC has been working with an attorney specializing in Constitutional law to conduct a review of the College’s policies and procedures relating to student activities and events held on campus.

Through this review process, our legal counsel has confirmed that IRCC’s current  policy on public exhibits, displays and presentations is appropriate to address activities and events that take place on campus. However, it has been determined that this policy has not been interpreted and applied consistently throughout the College.

To assure consistency across the College in the handling of Constitutionally protected material, IRCC has made several changes, including strengthening the Cultural Affairs Review Committee by adding student and community representatives and new step-by-step procedures for student activities requests. Activity requests, including those made by student clubs and organizations, are now subject to the Committee review process. This will ensure that requests to conduct public exhibits, displays, presentations, activities, and events on campus will be consistently evaluated according to the “time, place and manner” guidelines set force in Supreme Court decisions for Constitutionally protected materials.

As a result, the IRCC Cultural Affairs Committee has reviewed the request of a student organization to show the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” and has approved it to be shown on campus. Further, as part of the legal review process, the Committee has determined that the R-rated movie designation established by the Motion Picture Association of America is not applicable to the college campus and will no longer be used as a criteria in approving student activities or events.

We want to emphasize that IRCC will continue to uphold its duty and responsibility to set appropriate parameters for activities and events that take place on campus, while respecting the rights of students. The legal review process confirmed that certain types of expression including obscenity, libelous speech, and language used to instigate violence or disruption are not protected by the Constitution.  These forms of expression will be considered incompatible with IRCC’s mission to ensure a high-quality learning environment for our students.

Schools: Indian River State College Cases: Indian River Community College: Ban on ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and Repression of Free Speech