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Use of Facilities by Third Parties for Free Speech

The following constitutes Purchase College’s “time, place, and manner” policy on the use of Purchase College (the “college”)–owned facilities by third parties (not sponsored by the college or by recognized student organizations) for free speech purposes as adopted by the College Council pursuant to a delegation of authority by the SUNY Board of Trustees (see SUNY Policy no. 5603, Use of Facilities by Non-Commercial Organizations).

Reasons for this Policy: 
As an institution of higher education, the college respects and fully supports the rights granted to individuals under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution regarding free speech. As a public entity partially funded by NYS tax dollars, the college is required to designate a public forum for the use of third parties who are not members of the campus community for their exercise of free speech rights. Accordingly, the college will dedicate a portion of its already scarce resources to making such a forum available. These resources include staff time for the management of the designated public forum, the loss of revenue associated with providing the space free of charge, and the cost of providing New York State University Police, where necessary, to provide for the public safety of participants.

In adopting this policy, the college carefully weighed many conflicting  considerations. On the one hand, the college is legally required to provide a designated public forum for free speech by third parties. On the other hand, the college is required to prudently manage NYS property under its jurisdiction; to meet its obligations for the orderly and safe operation of the campus; and to responsibly manage and allocate scarce state resources in pursuit of the college’s educational mission.

Policy Application:
This policy shall apply to all third parties who are not sponsored by the college and/or a student group, who want to use the college’s designated public forum for free speech purposes. This policy does not apply to students or to speakers officially sponsored by recognized student groups, faculty, or staff as other reservation and use policies apply to those campus community members.

Black-out days: The college has “blacked out” certain days on its calendar on which the use of the campus and its facilities, including outdoor spaces, are reserved exclusively for campus-related activities that are at the very core of its primary educational mission. During these blackout periods, no third party shall be allowed to use the designated public forum for free speech purposes. The college defines the black-out periods to include the following:

  1. During the Opening Weekend for the commencement of fall and spring semesters;
  2. During reading periods and examination periods as set forth on the then current academic calendar;
  3. During graduation-related activities and events, including winter and spring commencements;
  4. During major fall or spring campus-wide celebrations, such as concerts, Homecoming, and Culture Shock; and
  5. During the conservation shutdown of educational buildings and administrative offices as defined on its calendar when the temperature of the offices shall be below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (typically between the end of the examination period when students leave campus for the winter holiday break and a few business days after the first of the new year). This time frame is included in the black-out period because administrative offices are typically closed for the receipt of applications and the campus is virtually vacant to conserve energy and to save money to meet state budget reductions.

Designated Public Forums: The college identifies the following area as its designated public forum: the outside area of the Great Lawn bounded to the south by Crossroads dorm and to the north by the Olde Apartments, to the west by the Student Services Building and t the east by the Gym Building. Attached hereto and made a part hereof is a map outlining the designated public forum.

The college selected this outdoor space for its designated public forum area because it is a heavily trafficked pedestrian areaThe use of this space is also not likely to interfere with classroom instruction, dormitory residences, or the operation of administrative offices.

The college president shall have the authority to change, either permanently or temporarily, the identity of the designated public forum to another area of the college campus to address concerns for the health, safety, welfare, and o operation of the campus community.

Third Party: a person(s) who wants to use the designated public forum for free speech purposes and the person(s) is not a student, faculty member, or staff member at the college, and the person(s) is not officially sponsored by either the college and/or a recognized student group to speak at the college.

The college is providing a designated public forum for use by third parties for their free speech purposes.

Reservation and Record-Keeping of the Use of Space:

Third parties who seek to use the designated public forum must:

  1. Complete a designated public forum application*; and
  2. File the application with the Rental Office at least three (3) business days before the date the applicant wants to use the designated public forum (applications received after 3pm on a given business day shall be considered as having been received on the morning of the next business day). The applicant assumes responsibility for proper delivery to the Rental Office in a timely manner. The Office is open 8:30 to 5pm, Monday through Friday, for deliveries, except for holidays and certain college black-out days as noted below.

The college shall review the application and respond to the application in a timely manner.

  1. If the application is completed and signed by the applicant, and the desired date and time is available for use, the University shall inform the applicant of its approval to use the designated forum on the date and time so requested. 
  2. If the application is not complete and/or not signed, the college shall return the application to the applicant for completion. The time period of three (3) business days will begin running again once the completed and signed application is received by the Rental Office. 
  3. If the space is already reserved to its capacity for the date and time requested, or if the date and time requested is during a “black-out period” as defined below, the college shall inform the applicant of the same and offer the applicant the next available date and time for the use of the space.

The college shall not:

  1. Inquire as to the nature or content of the free speech;
  2. Charge the applicant an application fee to reserve the designated public forum;
  3. Charge the applicant/third party for the use of the space;
  4. Impose insurance requirements on the applicant; or
  5. Charge the applicant for any additional costs to the college that the college may incur due to the use of the space by the applicant/third party, such as security.

The applicant shall:

  1. Be responsible for any costs for parking on the campus as all students, faculty staff, and visitors are charged for parking;
  2. Be responsible for picking up from the designated public forum any brochures, pamphlets, leaflets, or other handouts or goods that the third-party speaker brought with him/her to disseminate during his/her speech, and properly disposing of the same in public garbage receptacles or taking them with him/her;
  3. The college has a regulation against littering on the campus that applies to all students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Failure to comply with this provision may result in future denial of use of the designated public forum; and
  4. Not use megaphone equipment for the amplification of the speech. Failure to comply with this provision may result in immediate termination of the designated public forum and result in future denial of use.

The college reserves the right to terminate any use of the designated public forum in the event either the speaker or a member(s) of the audience engages in conduct that violates the SUNY Rules for the Maintenance of Public Order, adopted in accordance with Education Law Section 6430 and 8 NYCRR 535, in order to secure the orderly and operation of the campus for the safety of the entire campus.

*Applications to use the designated public forum can be obtained by contacting:

Keisha L. Martin
914-251-6505 or email her at

All applications must be reviewed and approved. 

Revised October 2015