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Policy 8.5
Campus Life Student Organization Speakers Policy

Responsible Official: SVP and Dean for Campus Life
Administering Division/Department: Campus Life
Effective Date: March 07, 1995
Last Revision: December 02, 2009

Policy Sections:


Emory University, as a staunch upholder of academic freedom, supports and encourages the

exchange of ideas within the University community, including ideas that may be unpopular or

controversial. At the same time, the University encourages civility and has the obligation to

address issues of safety and disruptive conduct.

Because student-sponsored speaker events (see Definitions) are the shared responsibility of

the University and the inviting student organization, the University will make every effort to meet

reasonable needs for security and facilities. The inviting student organization has the obligation

to advise the Emory Police Department of any security or safety issues it anticipates at the

speaker event. In such cases, notice must be provided to the Emory Police Department as

soon as possible, but no less than one week in advance of the event.  The University is

committed to providing a forum for divergent points of view at speaker events but is obligated to

address issues of campus safety. The President, or his/her designee(s), reserve(s) the right to

modify the circumstances or withdraw the invitation to speak in those cases where he/she

foresees a reasonable risk of violence or substantial disruption of the operation of the




Policy Details

8.5.1 Campus Life Student Organization Speakers Policy Guidelines

8.5.2 What If the Speaker or Topic Is Controversial?

8.5.3 Issues of Student Conduct


8.5.1 Campus Life Student Organization Speakers Policy Guidelines

On many occasions, inviting members of the general public to a program involving an invited

speaker is beneficial for the entire Emory community.  We would like you to consider the

following, as you plan your program:

A. Whom will you invite?

B. Is there likely to be considerable interest from the general public?

C. How will the invitation, poster, Wheel advertisement, etc., specify who is and who is not

invited?  Remember that any form of announcement you make is subject to rapid

dissemination via email. Some groups or individuals may be opposed to your speaker or

his/her topic and may attend even if uninvited.

D. How will you accommodate uninvited guests?

1. How will the Emory Police Department be asked to assist? (They should be contacted early

in the process of planning any event likely to prove controversial.)

2. How will the organization leadership respond to uninvited guests or hecklers?

3. If you anticipate a large public interest, how will you manage a fair and efficient system of

ticket distribution?

E. How, for the purposes of safety and visibility of all guests, will you handle use of placards,

posters, banners, etc? For example, will you ask guests to leave them outside, place them at

the back of the room, or put them on the floor during the presentation?

F. How will you make it clear that your program is principally for the Emory community and is

likely to be paid for from student activity fees? The primary purpose of the occasion should be

its educational value to this community.

8.5.2 What If the Speaker or Topic Is Controversial?

The University places a very high value on freedom of speech and on the opportunity for

intellectual stimulation that can be a product of controversial content. The University also

recognizes its responsibility to care about the well being of the entire Emory community. If you

are bringing a speaker who may be controversial, please consider the following:

A. Make contact with the Unity Task Force Executive Board, National Coalition Building Institute

(NCBI), or the Ethics Center to let them know that the speaker with whom you are contracting

may be controversial.  The Office of Student Leadership & Service can assist you in

getting in touch with these organizations.

B. Work closely with your organizational adviser, the Office of Student Leadership & Service or

the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services to seek guidance on

managing your program.

C. If you are not sure if your program will be controversial, discuss it with one of the above-

mentioned staff for advice.

D. Consider announcing the format for the program prior to the speaker introduction. Tell the

audience what they can expect, such as how questions will be handled and if follow-up

questions will be allowed.

E. Will you make explicit your expectations about the kind of behavior appropriate to the


8.5.3 Issues of Student Conduct

If you would like to read a statement about civility at the occasion, the Office of Student

Leadership & Service and the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services would be

happy to assist you in drafting one specifically for your program.

Here is an example of such a statement:

“Emory University is committed to creating public spaces and campus conversations

within the University where we can talk with passion, but with a serious effort to understand one

another, our commonalties and our differences on issues that affect the common good on this

campus and in the larger society. We invite you to learn the discipline of civil conversation.

Civility calls us to move beyond caricatures, stereotypes, and demonization of those with

whom we differ. Civility calls us to be respectful of other opinions, viewpoints and beliefs. I

would now like to present our guest speaker.”

Please note that there are several provisions of prohibited conduct that would apply to students

which could result in a conduct violation. Details of this provision are given in the University

Policies, as stated in the Campus Life Handbook. They relate to:

A. “disorderly or indecent behavior,”

B. “substantially interfering with the freedom of expression of others,” and

C. “interfering with normal University functions” (which explicitly includes public speaking).

See Policy 8.1 Undergraduate Code of Conduct or go to: 




A student-sponsored event is any event at which a student organization chartered by the

Student Government Association or any other student-controlled group invites a speaker who is

not a member of the University to speak on the property of the University.

General public is defined as people who do not attend or are not employed by Emory


Related Links

Contact Information

Clarification of Policy  Office of Student Leadership & Service  404-727-6169   
Policy Posting  Campus Life Central  404-727-4364   

Revision History

  • Version Published on: Dec 02, 2009 (12/2/2009-change name to Office of Student Leadership & Service)
  • Version Published on: Mar 28, 2007 (Original Publication)