FAQ’s: Use of Public Space

FAQ’s  USE of Public Space

  • Why is the area near the clock tower called a “free speech zone”?
  • When I witness an incident on campus that concerns me what should I do? Who should I contact?
  • Why does the university allow community organizations like the evangelist preacher and the pro-life organizations that show the picture of an aborted fetus on campus?
  • How do I know when it is okay to provide my personal information ( i.e. SS#, G#) to individuals/organizations on campus?

Why is the area near the clock tower called a “free speech zone”?

  • Calling this area a “Free Speech Zone” is not accurate. It is illegal to establish free speech zones on public universities in Virginia. Mason grounds, everywhere (not defined as a component of the educational enclave) is public space where speech is protected by First Amendment provisions of the Constitution, and Virginia House Bill 258.

When I witness an incident on campus that concerns me what should I do? Who should I contact? 

  • Always  contact University Police when a situation appears to involve illegal activity, or you have reason to be concerned about your safety or that of others.
  • The Virginia Administrative Code  8VAC35-31-50. Persons lawfully in charge   states that “In addition to individuals authorized by University Policy, George Mason University police officers are lawfully in charge for the purposes of forbidding entry upon or remaining upon university property in violation of this regulation.”
  • When an event is sponsored by a campus organization, it is appropriate to contact the organization hosting an event,  the office of events management and/or the Office of the Dean of Students for University Life.
  • In some locations specific individuals are authorized to manage areas (see space usage policy #1103) that are scheduled through the office of events management or affiliated with particular buildings  i.e. Johnson Center’s plaza areas, Arlington Campus’ Founders Hall, plaza area and the area xxxxxxxxxon on the Science and Technology Campus.

Why are community organizations like the evangelist preacher and the pro-life organizations that show the picture of an aborted fetus  allowed on campus?

  •  Just because an event occurs on campus does not mean it is a University sponsored or sanctioned activity. Because Mason is a public  funded university individuals visiting campus from the community distributing information (and in some cases setting up displays ) are not required to have a permit.

Is it okay to provide my personal information ( i.e. SS#, G#) to individuals/organizations on campus?

  • When asked for personal identifying information by individuals in public spaces on campus you should not assume that the activity is university related or sanctioned. Appropriate cautions should be taken at all times to protect personal  information.

How do I know if the individuals asking me to complete a survey is affiliated with the University? 

  • You should always ask the individual speaking with you how are they (and the project/survey) are affiliated with the University. Then, make sure you listen carefully and fully understand the response provided. Public research or solicitation of information by community groups is not regulated by the University, you should not assume the university is aware of or has sanctioned such activity.
  • Also, individuals doing fundraising are not regulated, monitored i.e. Human Rights Campaign, United Nations Refugee.
  • University Police are responsible for addressing conflict and concerns evolving from use of University (public) space. Immediately, report any suspicious activity to University Police.