Office of Legal Affairs

Expression on Campus

The First Amendment of U.S. Constitution as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment protects individual rights of free expression.  Universities and colleges as higher education institutions shape a society’s democratic culture and identity.  It is of paramount importance that educators adhere to our nation’s founding principles and protect everyone’s rights on campus. The University of Toledo, as a State Institution, is committed to protecting community members’ First Amendment rights, including free speech, press, and assembly on all our campuses. The University of Toledo is dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive learning environment in all aspects of our community, including the marketplace of ideas and intellectual diversity.

Expression on Campus Report in compliance with R.C. 3345.0214(A) submitted by The University of Toledo

What is free speech and what is not protected by the First Amendment?

All persons have the freedom of speech and expression as a right protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment. However, such an individual right does not extend to unlawful conduct that violates another individual’s rights.  Freedom of speech as a Constitutional right, needs to be exercised with respect to another person’s dignity, property, and their right to hold and express different beliefs.

Certain speech is not protected under the Constitution, including direct incitement to violence, fighting words, true threats, obscenity, and defamation.  Speech that directly urges or incites another to commit any offense of violence, including destructive conducts to public property and offenses to another person, are likely to be held illegal based on the immediacy between the speech and conduct. Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969). True threats, fighting words, and defamation, speech directed to inciting or promoting imminent lawless action that is likely to incite or produce such action falls outside of the scope of First Amendment protection

University Policies on Free Expression and Facility Use

University community members are encouraged to engage in free expression in a manner that shows respect and honor to each other.  While the University steadfastly protects constitutional rights and makes space available for University community members’ activities, the University in its discretion regulates use of university facilities for expressive purposes in a viewpoint neutral manner.  Relevant university policies include, but are not limited to:

Support Resources, and Related Policies on Campus Space Reservation:

Additional Information

When organizing events, all members of the university including students, faculty, and staff should also be familiar with the following codes of conduct and other applicable university policies:

Political Events



Last Updated: 6/27/22