The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of assembly, but at Sinclair – like other public institutions – you have to get permission first.
“We (Sinclair) have an open campus, so anyone can come on campus and speak to people, but we have a campus access policy that they have to go by,” said Director of Public Safety Charles Gift.
The policy requires people to apply for a Request for Visitor Use of Space Form, according to Gift. Then, they have to fill out the paperwork and present it to Director of Business Services Jeff Miller one week prior to coming on campus.
“Business Services determines where that assembly will occur,” said Gift. “The problem arrives when someone doesn’t go through the proper channels for approval and they come on campus with loud speakers, signs and want to pass out literature – that is prohibited.”
On May 20, four demonstrators were arrested and one was given a citation at Sinclair.
“The only thing I can say about what occurred here (on May 20) is that they had been advised previously of the policies and procedures and they came back to campus and did not follow the policies and procedures,” said Gift.
Although Sinclair is a public college that is partially funded by tax dollars, court decisions have set precedence that allows Sinclair to decide how they regulate protests, according to Gift.
“The White House is funded by public money, but you can’t go on White House property unless you’re on a tour. You’ll get arrested by the Secret Service if you’re caught over the fence there,” he said.
These policies are in place to avoid disruption to the educational process and to protect students and property, according to the Sinclair Access Policy.
“If we didn’t have policies like this, where would we be if two or three groups that opposed each other all came together at the same place, at the same time to assemble and exercise their freedom of speech?” Gift asked.