HVALF Supports Freedom of Speech at UM

The Huron Valley Area Labor Federation unanimously issues statement on draft Disruptive Activity Policy at University of Michigan.

The HOA is a voting member of the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation (HVALF). At its monthly delegate assembly last night, the HVALF issued a statement in support of freedom of speech at the University of Michigan and expressing concern with the newly proposed Disruptive Activity Policy.

The vote in support of the statement was unanimous:

HVALF Statement against UM’s draft “Disruptive Activity Policy”

On March 27, less than a week after the ceasefire/divestment protest at its Honors Convocation, the University of Michigan released draft language for its proposed “Disruptive Activity Policy.” 

The University already has policies prohibiting behavior that disrupts campus activities. With this unnecessary proposed policy, the University seeks to broaden its control over campus speech by prohibiting disruption by a wide range of activities. These include “obstructing lines of sight,” “making loud noises,” and “projecting light or images.”  This language could prohibit holding signs or chanting at rallies.  As well, the ban on “impeding the free flow of persons” on campus would endanger the existence of picket lines.  

This proposed policy may be unconstitutional and undoubtedly has the potential to negatively impact both the free speech  rights of the campus labor movement and the whole campus community.  The harsh punishments that the proposed policy empowers university-appointed hearing officers to dole out would allow the university to maintain strict control over public speech on campus, a possible contravention of the First Amendment. 

Huron Valley Area Labor Federation affirms the right of free speech of the workers and students at the University of Michigan, and condemns the University’s draft Disruptive Activity Policy as unnecessary and dangerous overreach.