As students have returned to campus this semester, so have groups interested in assessing or influencing UCCS students. Particularly when walking between classes in the central campus area, students may encounter political, religious or non-commercial groups who solicit votes, opinions or interest in information.
The facility use policy regulates canvassing and solicitation activity on campus based on student status, commercial content, scheduling and location.
According to UCCS Chief of Police Marc Pino, there have been some instances of canvassing that have violated the policy. Pino wrote via email, “The incidents that have been reported have involved some religious organizations doing recruitment in areas not approved by policy.”
The policy requires non-student university users and unaffiliated community members to schedule their activities ahead of time with facilities or limit canvassing to the Lower Level University Plaza, between the University Center and Centennial Hall, according to Pino.
UCCS students face fewer restrictions on canvassing than non-students or unaffiliated community members under university policy and are not restricted to specific free speech zones under Colorado legislature.
Canvassing may include surveys, attempts to engage in discussion about ideas or the gathering of support for a cause. Non-commercial solicitation may include the distribution of information, such as about a program or event, according to Law Insider.
Citing the facility use policy under section II.C.6.k, Pino said, “Current students may engage in unscheduled Canvassing on sidewalks and in other outdoor areas not otherwise scheduled for use, so long as such students maintain a 25-foot distance from building entrances and from areas scheduled for use.”
Unscheduled canvassing may not involve signs or banners larger than an individual student can hold, temporary or permanent structures, or tables, according to the same section of the policy. Students and non-student university users alike are prohibited from obstructing pedestrian traffic or buildings’ entrances or exits during canvassing. They also may not leave behind promotional items, fliers, samples or literature.
“The university is viewpoint neutral with regards to the content of soliciting, with the exception of commercial activity. All commercial activity must receive prior approval from the Director of the University Center,” Pino said.
Section II.C.8.a of the facility use policy states the Lower University Plaza is open for unscheduled, non-commercial solicitation or canvassing between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
If an individual believes canvassing or solicitation is occurring outside these rules, they may report it to campus police. “A UCCS Police representative may respond to determine if there is a violation of policy and will advise the person of the policy related to this section,” Pino said.
However, canvassing and soliciting events are not required to be recorded by police, according to Pino. “We do not require reports for these incidents because we do not want to document the activities of someone’s First Amendment protected activities unless it violates law or university policy,” he said.