Regulation 10: Freedom of speech within the University
The University is required by Section 43 of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 to
take 'such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech
within the law is secured on University premises for members, students and employees
of the University and for visiting speakers'. Furthermore, the use of University
premises, so far as is reasonably practicable, is not to be denied 'to any individual
or body of persons on any ground connected with: (a) the beliefs or views of that
individual or of any member of that body; or (b) the policy or objectives of that
The University, on the other hand, is under no legal obligation to allow
meetings to be held on University premises which are open to members of
These legal requirements are consistent with the University's long-established
policy on freedom of speech and, in particular, with its public declaration
that members of a University have a particular obligation not to seek to
prevent the expression of opinion but to counter argument with argument
and thought with thought. They are also in keeping with the policy of the
Students' Union as set out in its Constitution in accordance with University
For the purpose of these Regulations 'members' of the University are
as laid down in University Statute 2.
Members and employees of the University are required to
observe the principle of freedom of speech within the law at all times
whilst on University premises.
Any action by a member of the University or by an employee
of the University which is found by the University to be in deliberate
or reckless contravention of the requirement set out in 10.1 above or of
the particular provisions of the remainder of these Regulations shall be
a breach of University discipline and as such will be liable to lead to
disciplinary action against those concerned, irrespective of any action
which may be taken in law.
The meetings and activities to which these Regulations apply
are referred to throughout as 'meetings' and comprise all formal gatherings
on University premises which ten or more people will have the right to
attend. Except by the written consent of the Registrar and Secretary, the right to convene
meetings on University premises is restricted to groups whose constitutional
existence within the University is recognised by the University Council.
These shall include Departments, Boards of Studies, Colleges, Senior, Graduate
and Junior Common Rooms, the Students' Union and its constituent societies,
the Graduate Students' Association and its constituent societies, the York
Society, trade unions and such other societies or groups as may be approved
by the University Council for the purpose.
Subject to 10.4(a) below, a meeting shall be held only in a place which
has been booked for the relevant time through the Room Bookings Office,
or through the appropriate College, or has been allocated for the relevant
time to a group on whose behalf the meeting is called. Reference in these
Regulations to the Registrar and Secretary shall be interpreted as meaning also any employee
of the University to whom authority has been delegated to act for the Registrar and Secretary
for the purposes of these Regulations.
Code of Conduct for Special Meetings
A 'Special Meeting' is any meeting as defined for the purposes of 10.3
above which the organising group believes may prove problematical, or which
the Registrar and Secretary designates as a Special Meeting on the grounds that it may
prove problematical. 'Problematical' in this context means that, because
of the subject matter and/or speaker, difficulty may be anticipated for
the speaker in entering or leaving the building where the meeting is to
take place, or in speaking without unreasonable interruption.
Any group convening the meeting must appoint a named organiser with full
authority to act on behalf of the group in all matters concerning the meeting.
The organiser must obtain the Registrar and Secretary's written consent before issuing
a firm invitation to any speaker and before publication of any material
advertising the meeting.
Before giving written approval for a Special Meeting, the Registrar and Secretary must
be satisfied that all reasonably practicable steps will be taken to protect
the speaker and the rights of those who wish to hear what he/she has to
say. To that end, the Registrar and Secretary will have discretion to determine the time
and place for the meeting and to impose such conditions as in his/her opinion
may be necessary to enable the meeting to proceed in accordance with the
principles of freedom of speech within the law and in a way consistent
with the need to maintain good order. If not satisfied that adequate arrangements
can be made to maintain good order, the Registrar and Secretary may refuse permission
for the meeting. The Registrar and Secretary may also withdraw permission for a Special
Meeting at any time after issuing written permission for the meeting if,
due to changed circumstances, he/she is no longer satisfied that adequate
arrangements can be made to maintain good order. A decision to refuse or
withdraw permission for a Special Meeting will normally be taken only after
close consultation with the police.
Special Meetings held on University premises shall not be open to those
who are not members or employees of the University except by named invitations
proposed by the organiser and approved in writing by the Registrar and Secretary before
such invitations are sent out. The group convening the meeting will be
held responsible for the conduct of such invited guests while on University
The organiser of a Special Meeting may be required by the Registrar and Secretary to
regulate access to the meeting by the issue of tickets or by a stipulation
that those wishing to attend must produce evidence of identity and/or membership
of the University as a condition of admission. Any such requirements must
be stated clearly in any advertising material.
The organiser of a Special Meeting must provide the number of stewards
determined by the Registrar and Secretary as necessary to maintain good order during
the meeting. All stewards must be members or employees of the University,
and the Registrar and Secretary must be satisfied as to their suitability.
Any group convening a Special Meeting will be required to meet the full
cost of providing the services of as many porters as the Registrar and Secretary may
reasonably judge to be necessary within the meeting and for control of
access to it. Payment in advance or evidence of ability to pay will be
For the first Special Meeting convened by any group in a particular term
the University will meet the cost of such other security arrangements as
the Registrar and Secretary may reasonably judge to be necessary and will normally supply
free of charge a public address system. But the Registrar and Secretary may make it a
condition of allowing any other Special Meeting convened by that group
for the same term that the group agrees to indemnify the University against
any costs or damages arising from that meeting and to meet such further
conditions as the Registrar and Secretary may reasonably impose.
Any group convening a Special Meeting must appoint an individual to chair
the meeting and to be responsible for its conduct. He/she will be expected,
in particular, to take all reasonable steps to ensure that speakers comply
with the law and that the principles of freedom of speech are upheld. He/she
will also be expected to use his or her best endeavours to provide that
any questions to a speaker, or any contributions to a debate, are taken
from a broad cross-section of those attending the meeting and are not confined
to those of one particular view.
Facilities shall not be provided for the press and broadcasting media at
any Special Meeting except in terms agreed by the Registrar and Secretary and the organiser
of the meeting, and will normally be provided only for those whose audience
or readership is mainly within the University.
The Registrar and Secretary will normally nominate a senior member of the University
to attend the Special Meeting. If in the opinion of any senior member nominated
by the Registrar and Secretary to attend the meeting the conditions within the meeting
are such that it cannot properly continue, he/she may require the person
in the Chair to close the meeting forthwith. He/she will also be authorised
to decide whether assistance from the police should be summoned.
Where the use of the University's premises for a meeting is the object
of a commercial contract with the organiser or organising group, the Registrar and Secretary
must be satisfied that the University and those concerned in its government
will be indemnified against any loss, damage or expense arising from denial
(or alleged denial) of free speech at that meeting and, if he or she is
satisfied of that, the other requirements of section 10.4 shall not apply
to that meeting.
Appeals against decisions taken by the Registrar and Secretary in respect
of Special Meetings may be made to the Vice-Chancellor, whose decision
will be final. However, the Vice-Chancellor's decision must be notified
with a statement of the circumstances to the next meeting of the University
An advisory committee shall be established by the University
Council to monitor and report to the Council at the end of each academic
year on the implementation and efficacy of these Regulations and to advise
the Registrar and Secretary and the Vice-Chancellor on matters arising from them. Membership
of the Committee shall be: the Deputy or Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Chair);
one lay member of the University Council; two members of the University
Committee, one of them a student and the other a representative of one
of the Senate; and one member of the non-academic staff to be
drawn from the non-academic membership of the University Council.