Campus Event Response Team (C.E.R.T.)

The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center is dedicated to fostering the free exchange of ideas and opinions and committed to the principles of free speech and expression.

The Campus Event Response Team was established to support student safety during free speech activities, demonstrations, protests and other campus events. Trained responders are asked to be on-site to provide observations, attend student needs, and be a general staff presence during select events which there is a potential for counter demonstrations or emotional triggers and responses.

University Statement on Speech and Assembly

The University of Oklahoma is committed to providing an environment conducive to the free, spirited, and safe exchange of ideas.

The University recognizes the historic significance of speech and assembly in society generally and on college campuses in particular. Expressive activity can take innumerable forms and may include picketing activity, silent symbolic speech, or even writing an opinion piece published on social media. Consistent with the Constitution of the United States and the Oklahoma Constitution, the University recognizes the rights of students and faculty to engage in all forms of protected activity. These rights are codified in the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities, which acknowledges the rights of students on all campuses to peaceably assemble, inform, or protest, and in the Board of Regents’ Policy 2.1.2, which adopts the principles of academic freedom for the faculty of the University of Oklahoma.

The right to freedom of speech and assembly are expansive but not unlimited. The University reserves the right to enforce reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on expressive activity as set forth in its policies governing facilities use. These policies are viewpoint- and content-neutral and are designed to limit disruption to the normal business, patient care, and academic operations on campus. All speakers, regardless of point of view, are prohibited from interfering with the campus community’s ability to move safely about campus and to conduct University business. The University also reserves the right to discipline or request that law enforcement remove any speaker unlawfully inciting violence against any person or group of people. Harassment, as defined in the University’s Nondiscrimination Policy, and Sexual Harassment, as defined in the Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination, and Harassment Policy, are not recognized as protected speech. In certain limited cases, speech that would otherwise be protected may also subject the speaker to discipline if it violates his or her duties as a student or employee of the University (e.g., dishonesty is prohibited conduct).

2019 Free Speech Report

Assembly and Demonstrations

Vital to the free and spirited exchange of ideas is that the exchange should be conducted in an appropriate forum. The outdoor areas of campus which are generally accessible to the public are available to be used for expressive activity on a first come, first served basis. The University does not limit demonstration activity taking place along its public roads and sidewalks, including leafleting and the dissemination of information, as long as the activity does not unreasonably restrict pedestrian traffic or cause damage to landscaping. In addition, there are several areas on campus with high visibility and historic significance that are particularly compatible with expressive activity (e.g., Bird Library Patio); those areas may be reserved in advance.

On the Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) Campus, the HSC Student Union is available to student groups and University departments as well as outside groups. Student organizations and outside groups can reserve space in the Founders Student Center on the OU-Tulsa Campus through the OU-Tulsa Student Affairs Office.  Interior spaces in academic buildings and business offices are not compatible with this type of expressive activity and are not available for reservation.  

Hosting Events

The University encourages student groups to host events and speaking engagements on campus. Reservation of interior areas or certain outdoor areas is subject to registration through the HSC Student Union (OUHSC Campus), or the Procedures for Use of University Facilities (OUHSC Campus). A list of University facilities that may be leased for events is available by contacting the Office of Enterprise Risk Management (OUHSC Campus).  OU-Tulsa campus departments can reserve space by contacting Kendra Guthrie in Academic Operations.  Outside groups wishing to book space in Tulsa should contact Shelly Fowler in the OU-Tulsa President’s Office.

Events such as 5K runs, Walks, and Bi-Athlons require extensive coordination between OU administration and public safety officials. On the OUHSC campus, a request should be submitted to the Enterprise Risk Management Office.

Campus Visitors

While the primary purpose of University facilities and grounds is to further its academic mission for students, employees, and their invited guests, the University welcomes members of the public to campus. Visitors to campus should feel free to engage in expressive activity, including leafleting, in the publicly accessible outdoor areas of campus as long such activity does not interfere with the conduct of University business, such as by impeding ingress and egress or causing harm to the facilities or landscaping. Visitors should observe the regulations set forth in the Procedures for Use of University Facilities for the OUHSC Campus, or the Facility Use Policies and Procedures as applicable.

Event Days

Please note that special rules apply on special event days and home football game days (Norman Campus) because of the high concentration of people moving about campus on those days.