In the past few weeks, the nation has seen a rise in demonstrations of white supremacy. The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville was preceded by a demonstration at the University of Virginia the night of Aug. 11th. Approximately 100 people walked through the campus while chanting white nationalistic slogans.
The University of Virginia, like Tech, is a public college. By law, any group is permitted to march on campus and express views, however provocative they may be.
In light of recent events, a review of national and institutional policy regarding demonstrations shows that activities in open areas of public colleges are protected by the First Amendment. Colleges serve their communities as centers of learning and should allow a free exchange of ideas, as controversial as they may be, as long as they do not incite imminent violence. Placing restrictions on speech undermines their purpose. In accordance with these principles, Tech allows and should continue to allow members of the general public to express their views at the Amphitheater near the Campanile as long as these requests are made in advance, regardless of the content of such demonstrations. Such requests are required of any group that wishes to reserve a public space, including clubs tabling at Skiles walkways, so it does not, in any way, hinder the right to assemble or protest. The Institute also has the right to have police monitor the event to protect demonstrators and members of the community. If a reservation is not made, the Georgia Tech Police Department may ask those gathering to leave until they apply through the proper channels.
Tech’s current policies regarding such demonstrations reflect the opinions of the Technique and protect the public’s right to free speech, allowing Tech to fulfill its role as a center of higher education and ensure the safety of its students.