The University of Texas at Austin (UT) requested that their faculty remove any outward facing signs from their office windows by Sept. 7. Some of the signs being removed were affiliated with Gunfree UT, an organization opposed to guns on the UT campus. The Daily Texan, UT Austin’s student newspaper, discussed the issue as it pertains to free speech.
In the Daily Texan article, a journalism professor gave two different perspectives on the request: eliminating signs from windows will give the university a cleaner look and allowing the signs is a form of free speech.
UTSA’s polices allow faculty the same free speech rights that students may exercise while on campus.
According to Joe Izbrand, UTSA’s associate vice president for communications and marketing and chief communications officer, UTSA faculty have free speech as long as faculty do not violate UTSA’s Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP) Policy 4.19, HOP Policy 4.22 and Texas or federal law.
“UTSA has designated its campuses a free speech zone for students, faculty and staff,” Izbrand said.
HOP Policy 4.19, Involvement of the University and University Personnel in Community or Political Affairs, states faculty must follow the UT System Board of Regents’ Rules and Regulations as well as keep their opinions from being affiliated with the university.
“Individuals should not use university stationary for communicating their views, positions or findings on topics such as those outlined in Section 4.22 of this Handbook,” HOP Policy 4.19 states.
Chapter III of the UT System Board of Regents’ Rules and Regulations, a regulation that all UT System schools must follow, states a similar policy as does UTSA’s HOP Policy 4.19.
“Every member of the faculty or staff who gives professional opinions must protect the System and its component institutions against the use of such opinions for advertising purposes,” Part One, Chapter III, Section 13.7 states.
Senior biology major, Adriana Arredondo, agrees with the UT System policy on keeping faculty opinions as not affiliated to the university. “Although they are part of the school, they are their own individual people,” Arredondo said. “Their views and stance on issues should not affect the university just because they work here.”
UTSA faculty and staff are permitted to hang signs in their classrooms and offices without going through any sort of process, since UTSA is a free speech zone. However, if anything is to be used with UTSA branding, University Communications and Marketing must be coordinated with to ensure that the material is in compliance with the university’s brand.
“Individuals, departments, offices and programs must contact University Communications and Marketing to ensure proper review of all promotional materials prior to production, distribution or delivery to ensure brand compliance,” HOP Policy 4.22, University Marketing, Branding and Communications states.