Kansas State as a whole is a free-speech zone. This means that students are allowed to hold a speech, peaceful assembly or demonstration without having to “register” or “seek permission” from anyone, according to the most recent newsletter published by K-State’s General Counsel.
Lt. Bradli Millington, coordinator for support services at the K-State Police Department, also said everyone’s rights must be protected.
Annie Jewell, junior in public relations and public relations director for the Student Governing Association, said these rights provide students an opportunity to use their voices.
“Just being able to stand up for those beliefs and standing up for what you feel is important is going to give students the power to use their voice,” Jewell said.
Jewell also said with the election coming up, students have the right to openly express their political beliefs about the upcoming presidential election.
“We encourage people to be politically active and engaged in the political process, and I think that that is the type of expression that all student leaders and students in general should be free to talk about,” Jewell said.
Despite all these freedoms, the General Counsel newsletter also explained the limitations that can be set by university standards. For example, the university has an anti-discrimination policy that can apply in certain circumstances and policies that can “impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions that are content-neutral.”
While students are not required to request permission, Millington said that on some occasions protesters write letters to the K-State Police Department to inform them where they will be. Millington said this kind of information can be helpful in the department’s pursuit to protect free speech rights or respond to any incidents that occur.
“It’s just a safety issue,” Millington said. “We want to make sure their voices are heard, but also if there’s another group that wants to counter them, they have a right to counter them, too.”
“Pretty much everybody does what we ask them to do,” Millington said.
In addition to protesting on campus, students and other Manhattan residents alike can also protest off campus as well. However, off-campus protests require that an application be filled out and given to Customer Service at City Hall. Gary Fees, City Clerk for Manhattan, said that from there, the application is routed to the Riley County Police Department and a couple city departments before being approved.
“It’s a very straightforward process,” Fees said.
Additionally, Fees said protests can be held in a variety of locations throughout the city, including Triangle Park and other public areas. The city application for peaceful assembly is free and can be found on the city’s website.