FAQs

WHEN, WHERE & WHY

When and where is Spencer scheduled to appear?

The specific date and location of the speaking event have yet to be determined, but it will not likely occur until early 2018. The university is continuing to assess various logistical and public safety related matters in order to identify a time and place that will maximize public safety and minimize academic disruption. When we have a time, date and place confirmed, we will announce that information to the campus and wider community and this website will be updated. The event will not be officially confirmed until after a signed rental agreement is received from Spencer.  

 

Was Spencer invited by UC?

No one at UC invited him to campus.  In fact, as President Pinto conveyed in his original message to our community, “countless members of our community have courageously pointed out that his ideology of hate and exclusion is antithetical to the core values of a civil society and an academic community. I stand with you in condemning dehumanizing views and racist practices.”  Furthermore, the Board of Trustees recently passed a formal resolution reaffirming the university’s core values.

 

Why is Spencer allowed to speak on campus?

As a public institution, free speech issues on our campus are governed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and case law interpreting it.  First Amendment protection applies to loathsome speech with the same force and effect as it does to speech that is celebrated widely. Generally, we cannot prohibit groups or individuals from renting available space for speaking events based solely upon the content of their speech.  See our long-standing FAQ “Free Speech on Campus.”  We can place some limitations on the time, place and manner of the speech. 

 

Is this the first time a controversial speaker or event related to First Amendment rights has come to campus?

Over the years, several controversial individuals and groups have come to our public university with the clear intent to exercise their First Amendment rights via marches, demonstrations or speeches.  At times, their messages have stood at complete odds with the university’s mission, vision and values.  Nevertheless, the university has upheld its responsibility to maintain a safe environment while also respecting the constitutional rights of those involved, including protesters and counter-protesters.  Both then and now, the safety of our campus community is our top priority.  

 

What are the potential consequences of unlawfully restricting speech at a public university?

A federal court could intervene and require the university to allow the speech. This recently happened with Auburn University when it tried to deny Spencer from speaking on its campus.  If a court were to order UC to allow the speech, it could have the effect of limiting our ability to control the time, place and manner of the speech.  In addition to ordering the university to allow the speech on our campus, a court could also order the university to pay Spencer money damages.  This money could then be used by him to further spread his message.

 

FREE SPEECH & INCLUSION

Is hate speech legal?

The term “hate speech” is often misunderstood.  Hate speech is not a separate category of speech under the law. Even if speech is hateful or offensive, it is still likely protected by the First Amendment (unless it falls within certain exceptions under the First Amendment, like the “fighting words” exception,  explained more at Free Speech on Campus). However, it is important to remember that students, faculty, and staff are still governed by university policies, which prohibit harassment and other types of misconduct.

 

How can I exercise my free speech rights?

This website will continue to be updated with campus programming, events and activities that promote dialogue and understanding about what it means to be a public university committed to both inclusion and free speech.  We also encourage you to speak up and out—across various mediums—about what inclusion and free speech mean to you.  

 

How can we support a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all in our campus community?

Stand with President Pinto, the Board of Trustees and so many others in condemning hate, prejudice and racism.  UC’s Division of Equity & Inclusion also invites us to focus on three areas for building a more inclusive and welcoming environment:  

 

  1. Gain a deeper understanding of ourselves—knowing what informs our thoughts, feelings, and motives;
  2. Form meaningful relationships with each other through shared dialogue—seeking first to understand before being understood; and
  3. Speak up for those who are marginalized, put down or threatened in our community.  Counter every hate-filled utterance with messages that reaffirm the strength of our diversity, the positivity of our connections, and the power of inclusion.

 

We invite all members of our community to join the ongoing efforts to make the university increasingly inclusive.  More than words (as important as they are), our individual and collective action will tell our story of inclusion. Inclusion is about all of us, affects all of us, and is the responsibility of all of us.

 

SAFETY & SECURITY

What is the university doing to maintain safety on campus before, during and after this event?

There will be increased levels of security before, during and in the hours after this event. UCPD, in coordination with local, state and federal law enforcement, will work to maintain the safety of our campus community via our mutual-aid agreements.  UCPD officers are trained in effective crowd control techniques and have specific policies and procedures that will be followed related to crowd control and protest situations.  During this event, and at all times, pay attention to your surroundings and report anything unusual or out of the ordinary. If you feel unsafe for any reason, please call 911.

 

What can I do to stay safe and to stay informed about safety?

The university offers a text messaging service to alert students, faculty and staff about any emergencies. You can check if the university has your correct cell phone number via the UC directory.

As an opt-in service, an emergency text message, tweet, or email will be sent to anyone – whether parent or concerned citizen – who signs up for UC’s Campus Safety Network via Rave Alert.

Please download the Bearcat Guardian app to turn any smartphone into a personal safety device.

 

What if any member of the campus community or member of the public violates the law (or a campus rule) during this event?

Our goal is to maintain a safe environment while respecting the constitutional right to the peaceful, free expression of any viewpoint.  Applicable laws and rules of the university designed to foster a safe environment for peaceful assembly and free expression will be maintained. Violations of the law and of the student code of conduct or other university policy may bring appropriate consequences, including arrest, criminal prosecution and/or student conduct sanctions.

 

What are the restrictions around weapons on campus?

There are both state law and university rules concerning weapons on campus. Rules and regulations around open and concealed carry are available online.

 

University rules and policies as well as the Student Code of Conduct govern members of our campus community. For instance, the Student Code of Conduct prohibits the use, storage, or possession of a firearm, explosive device of any description, ammunition or anything used to threaten, harm, or disrupt the university community including, but not limited to firecrackers, compressed air or spring activated guns, pellet guns, BB guns, paintball guns, water guns, nerf guns, knives of any type, or any other items which would reasonably be deemed threatening by a reasonable person.

 

What are the costs associated with this event?

We will not have an accurate assessment of the costs associated with this event until more detailed information is known.

 

STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND STAFF

Will UC close?

The safety of our campus community is our top priority. We will plan for and address security needs both in advance of and during the expected speaking engagement. There may be some limited building or road closures depending on the location and time of the event. The university will only close in the event of an immediate and serious threat to public safety. Communication to the campus community regarding public safety and any closures will be ongoing as needed.

 

What if I don’t feel safe coming to class or work that day?

We understand this event may provoke fear and unease, especially for members of our community who are targeted by messages of hate and even violence because of skin color, religion, culture, sexual orientation, beliefs or other characteristics. Faculty are asked to be understanding with students on a case-by-case basis and/or make other arrangements to fulfill course requirements as necessary. Faculty should not cancel classes, however, without first consulting with their respective deans.

 

Employees are anticipated to work as scheduled.  We recognize, however, that some employees will have special concerns. These employees should speak with their immediate supervisor about alternatives—such as working from home that day (if feasible), flexing their work schedule or taking time off. Supervisors are encouraged to be understanding and address issues of concern on a case-by-case basis. If assistance is needed to identify how best to address an employee’s concern, please contact our Department of Human Resources.

 

CAMPUS RESOURCES

As a student, faculty or staff, what campus resources are available to me?

The Division of Equity & Inclusion provides numerous resources, including: standard and customized workshops, books and videos, short-term advising, avenues to report bias incidents, and college and unit partners to help build inclusive practices across campus (e.g. D&I Resource Liaisons, Student D&I Council).  This division also includes our Office of Equal Opportunity & Access as well as our Title IX Office, both of which are available for consultations, to receive reports of harassment and discrimination or to provide accommodations so members of our community can learn and work in a safe and supportive environment.

 

The Division of Student Affairs offers an array of resources to support students who are feeling unsafe, marginalized or would like to report inappropriate conduct. 

 

The Office of the University Ombuds provides a safe place for UC students, faculty and staff members to talk about university related conflicts, issues or concerns.

 

STAYING INFORMED

How does the university communicate in an emergency?

From severe weather to other public safety events, the university has a full array of emergency messaging capabilities that includes text, email, social media, a voice-activated building alarm system, web posting and more.

One of the most important things you can do as a member of the UC community is to be aware that a text message will be sent to everyone who has provided a cell number to the university. The University of Cincinnati offers a text messaging service to alert students, faculty and staff members about any emergencies. You can check if the university has your correct cell phone number via the UC directory. 

As an opt-in service, an emergency text message, tweet, or email will be sent to everyone who signs up for UC’s Campus Safety Network via Rave Alert.

 

As a concerned parent/guardian/citizen, can I sign up for emergency messaging?

As an opt-in service, an emergency text message, tweet, or email will be sent to everyone who signs up for UC’s Campus Safety Network via Rave Alert.

 

As a member of the media, how can I stay informed?

Media may sign up for UC’s text message, tweet or email service sent to everyone who signs up for UC’s Campus Safety Network via Rave Alert.

 

Media may revisit this site and FAQ for updated information.

 

Media may check in with:

 

Greg Vehr, University Spokesperson

Greg.vehr@uc.edu, 513-556-3028

 

M.B. Reilly, Director, Public Relations

reillymb@ucmail.uc.edu, 513-556-1824