These FAQs are intended to provide guidance about the application of the university’s Reservation and Use of Space policy, which is available in the Policy Library. If any interpretation of this guidance is inconsistent with the policy, please refer to the policy or policy owner to resolve any discrepancy.
Can the Compass be used for expressive activity?
In line with Return to Campus guidelines, and so as not to interfere with classes or university operations, the Compass is currently not available for any events, but individuals and groups, including those affiliated with the university, may hold an event in the Park Plaza. Noncompliance with university directives to move to this area will result in students being brought forward to Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.
What is the maximum number of individuals allowed to be present at an event?
Following CDC, State, and University guidelines, VCU will not have events with more than 10 individuals in attendance. This includes student organizations, who are encouraged to host virtual events. All on-campus events, meetings, and gatherings are limited to VCU faculty, staff, and students. Outdoor events must follow the same safety requirements as indoor events:
- Face coverings must be worn
- 6 feet physical distance between participants
- No more than 10 participants
Students or student organizations hosting gatherings, such as parties or other social gatherings, on or off-campus with more than 10 people, where such gatherings pose a threat to the health or safety of the VCU community, will be subject to interim suspension.
How is this policy applicable to VCU-affiliated students, faculty, and staff?
Any member of the university community (enrolled student or current employee) may generally use campus space consistent with university policy. The Reservation and Use of Space policy requires use of a reservation system in order to assure access to the university by all faculty, staff and students. The university designates outdoor areas that are not subject to reservation as generally available to promote student life and other co-curricular events organized by students or by university employees as required for their professional duties.
How is this policy applicable to persons who are not VCU students, faculty, or staff?
Members of the public may use university property only by invitation or reservation in accordance with the Reservation and Use of Space policy as described below. A member of the public under the policy is any person who is not a currently enrolled student or current employee of the university and includes a contractor, a participant in a university program such as continuing education, an intern, a donor, a prospective student, a friend or family member of a student or employee, a personal attendant for a student with a disability, an employee of the Health System who is not also employed by the university, and any other with an invitation to be on campus for limited purposes and with limited access. Violation of the Reservation and Use of Space or any other university policy governing use of university property is prohibited by the university’s Space Use regulation, 8 Va. Admin. Code 90-70-40(C), and may result in criminal trespass charges.
By invitation: University employees may invite members of the public to university property in order to participate in university programs, activities and services consistent with the duties and scope of their employment. For example, a participant in a continuing education program, who is not enrolled in an academic course, may access the classroom and other facilities for the purpose of participating in the program and may not use other university property without invitation.
University students who organize or plan an activity may invite members of the public to participate in the activity consistent with the Reservation and Use of Space policy and other rules applicable to student organizations.
Use of university property by any such invited member of the public is limited to the purpose and conditions of the invitation. Any member of the public so invited may participate in the activity consistent with applicable university policy and the organizer’s invitation.
By reservation: A member of the public need not be invited by a member of the university community to reserve and use the Park Plaza through the reservation process described in section II.B.3 of the Reservation and Use of Space policy, which permits reservation up to five days before the planned activity. The Park Plaza is the amphitheater marked by large VCU letters located on Park Avenue to the east of the Singleton Center (922 Park Ave.) and across the intersection from the Moseley House (1001 Grove Ave.). Additional reservation restrictions and information is available on Ram Voice.
What conduct by any person is prohibited on university property?
The university prohibits any person from interfering with university and authorized functions, activities, and events and from participating in unlawful conduct on university property. Section I.A. of the Reservation and Use of Space policy describes specific conduct that is prohibited no matter the relationship of the individual with the university.
Can political groups use space on campus?
Any person who is a member of the public, including any organization, may use university property in one of the ways described in FAQ #2 above. The university’s grant of permission to individuals and organizations to use its property under the conditions of the Reservation and Use of Space policy or any other university policy does not indicate support for or endorsement of any particular viewpoint, which may be expressed by any such individual or group.
Are groups charged?
As set forth in sections I and II.B of the Reservation and Space Use policy, the university may require any person to pay applicable rental or usage fees and comply with appropriate contractual obligations. All persons are responsible for costs of damage, repair and clean up arising from their use of university facilities. Examples of such costs include the cost of providing tents, platforms, special fixtures and equipment, or the assignment of maintenance or security personnel. The university will determine any fee for security based on viewpoint-neutral standards used to assess risk, such as the number of expected attendees as determined by the university, the location of the event, the time of day, and presence of alcohol or special equipment. Consistent with lawful protection of expressive activity, VCU will not charge security-related fees based on the content of the expressive activity, the likelihood of disruption caused by other individuals who are not participating in the event, or the actions of those who may protest the expressive activity.
What other requirements are in place for use of space?
The university office that manages a room, building or other area may set space use requirements in addition to and consistent with those set forth in the Reservation and Space Use policy, including restrictions for reservation, scheduling, insurance, and use of such space. For more information, consult the website of the responsible office or contact the office directly.
What is unprotected expression? What speech is prohibited on campus?
To pursue its academic mission, VCU embraces rigorous open discourse, argumentation, speaking, listening, learning, the exploration of ideas, and the exercise of protected speech on university property. To this end, as set forth in section I.B of the Reservation and Space Use policy, VCU prohibits expression that is not protected by law. The U.S. Constitution, its First Amendment, and the Code of Virginia do not protect certain expression, such as that expression described by the following legal terms: defamation, incitement to unlawful conduct, imminent threats of actual violence or harm, obscenity, fighting words, copyright or trademark violation, criminal or civil harassment, sexual harassment, trespass, and false advertising. For example, VCU prohibits “fighting words,” which are direct personal insults, which by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.
Which area is available to anyone, including the members of the public, for expressive activity?
To facilitate the engagement of the university community in the marketplace of ideas, the university designates the Park Plaza for use, including expressive activity, by anyone, including members of the general public who are not associated with the university, by reservation in accordance with section II.B.3 of the Reservation and Use of Space policy. The Park Plaza is the amphitheater marked by large VCU letters located on Park Avenue to the east of the Singleton Center (922 Park Ave.) and across the intersection from the Moseley House (1001 Grove Ave.). Unless by specific invitation, public speaking, distribution of literature, or other expressive activity by members of the public is prohibited on campus outside the Park Plaza. Additional reservation restrictions and information is available on.
Can items be sold on campus? Is commercial activity permitted?
Generally no. University property is for the educational and administrative functions of the university. Please see section II.A of the Reservation and Use of Space policy. Any commercial use of university space must be specifically authorized in writing in advance by the vice president with oversight of the unit managing the space or an authorized designee. Commercial door-to-door activities or solicitations are prohibited. Employees may conduct commercial activity only on behalf of the university as a required job function. Any sale of items or other commercial activity on campus in violation of university policy is prohibited by the university’s Space Use regulation, 8 Va. Admin. Code 90-70-40(C), and may result in criminal trespass charges.
How are events generally managed? Am I required to notify the university?
Section II.B of the Reservation and Use of Space policy requires organizers of certain events, namely Major Events and other events in reserved spaces, to provide advance notice to the university and receive written authorization through the [insert correct name of EMS reservation process and link]. However, organizers of all events are encouraged to provide advance notice to VCU Police prior to commencement of an event or activity to promote the safety and security of all persons on campus. University officials will coordinate with the primary organizer or responsible person regarding appropriate logistical issues related to safety, time, and location.
Notify VCU Police by calling the non-emergency dispatch at (804)828-1196. To be useful, advance notification must include the day, time, estimated size of group and items associated with the event, and the location where the event is expected to begin and be carried out as well as the full name and detailed contact information for the primary organizer and/or person responsible for the activity. University officials will consider factors such as the anticipated size, required accommodations, traffic, noise, time, relationship to nearby areas and activities, security needs, and other relevant facts and circumstances to determine to what extent (a) a suitable location exists and (b) special precautions or arrangements are necessary.
How is event space reserved?
Certain areas of campus may be reserved. Persons who desire to reserve campus facilities for any reason, including to conduct expressive activities, must submit their requests to the appropriate administrator with sufficient notice to allow for logistical support and to otherwise comply with the applicable facility requirements. Reservations will be approved on a space-available basis with priority given to university departments, registered student organizations, students, and staff and denied only if sufficient space is not available.
Can leaflets be distributed on campus?
Members of the public may conduct expressive activity, such as public speaking and distribution of literature, only in the Park Plaza with a reservation under section II.B.3 of the Reservation and Use of Space policy. Please see the response for more information.
What are major events?
Please see section II.B.1. of the Reservation and Use of Space policy.
What are the boundaries for expressive activity in the Park Plaza under the policy?
A map showing areas available for expressive activity including, if applicable, areas at a safe distance from these areas for expressive activity in protest, is here: 2019 Park Plaza Expressive Activity Space Diagram.
What size signs/messages can be displayed?
Signs that are held by individuals engaging in expressive activity may be no larger than three feet by three feet. Larger displays may be installed only in the areas designated on the map and in accordance with reasonable restrictions designed to securely install the displays and to protect the physical safety of persons participating in or observing the expressive activity.
May ‘counter’ expressive activities occur during expressive activities?
Yes, individuals may participate in expressive activity that protests or is ‘counter’ to the expressive activity of others. Such counter expression is subject to the same requirements under the policy, including that it may not disrupt or block the expressive activity occurring in the area designated for the initial expressive activity. Please review the map of the Park Plaza for information about the areas designated for such use. University officials may provide reasonable guidance to individuals participating in an expressive activity about the specific places in which they may engage in expressive activity in order to protect the safety of those individuals engaging in or observing expressive activity and passersby.
Does this policy apply to non-university property?
The Reservation and Use of Space policy applies only to university property and does not govern events or activities occurring on property not owned or controlled by VCU, including city, state, federal or private property. When the university is aware of events or activities on non-university property that may impact the university community or its operations, it will evaluate the potential impact and take reasonable steps, consistent with applicable law, to protect the safety of all members of our community and avoid unreasonable disruption.
Event Planning for Non-University Groups
Please refer to section II.B.3 of the Reservation and Use of Space policy and FAQ #2 for information about reserving the Park Plaza up to five days before intended use. The Park Plaza is generally available for one-hour periods from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday while regular classes are being held. The Park Plaza is not available if the university is closed or if classes are not held, for example during breaks, reading days, or exam periods. Consult the university's academic calendar for relevant dates. The Park Plaza is the amphitheater marked by large VCU letters located on Park Avenue to the east of the Singleton Center (922 Park Ave.) and across the intersection from the Moseley House (1001 Grove Ave.). To reserve the Park Plaza, complete the Park Plaza Reservation form.
Is chalking allowed?
Yes, chalk may be used on exposed (not below roofs or other overhangs) exterior concrete or asphalt sidewalks or walkways. Use of chalk on brick, slate, other stone surfaces, buildings, or other structures of any kind is strictly prohibited.Only non-permanent sidewalk chalk may be used. No paint, spray/adhesive chalks, markers or inks are allowed. Posted materials that are not in compliance will be removed by Facilities Management or other University officials without regard to content.