Background: University Rules on Signage
The University’s Institutional Rules, as set forth in the University Catalog, bind all students and employees of this university. Those rules include provisions regulating the posting of signs, flyers, posters, and the like (hereinafter “signage”). The rules most relevant for signage are as follows:
a. “Sign” means any method of displaying a visual message to others….
b. Subject to the rules in this Subchapter and to the general rules in Subchapter 13–200 and Subchapter 13–300, a University person or organization may display a sign by holding or carrying it, by displaying it at a table (see Subchapter 13–600), or by posting it on a bulletin board or other designated location. Signs may not be staked in the ground or posted in any other location except for those areas allowed by long standing tradition or otherwise allowed by Subsections 13–304(a), (b), and 13–504(a). (emphasis added)
a. Each academic or administrative unit may authorize the posting of signs in spaces that unit occupies and controls. Such authorization may be granted by general rule, by stamping or initialing individual signs, or by long standing tradition.
b. Signs in spaces occupied by academic or administrative units may be:
- confined to bulletin boards or other designated locations;
- subjected to viewpoint-neutral rules limiting the size of signs, limiting how long they may be posted, requiring each sign to show the date it was posted and the name of the person or organization who posted it, and similar rules designed to facilitate fair and equal opportunities to post signs; and
- confined to official statements or business of the unit, or to certain subject matters of interest within the unit, or to signs posted by persons or organizations affiliated with the unit.
c. Each academic or administrative unit will post on or near each bulletin board or other designated location that it administers:
- either the rules applicable to that bulletin board or location, or a particular office or website where the rules applicable to that bulletin board or location may be found; and
- if a stamp or initials are required on signs before they are posted on that bulletin board or location, the name and office location of the person whose stamp or initials are required.
- This notice will be posted in the upper left corner of each bulletin board or other designated location for posting signs, or conspicuously in another nearby location. If no such notice is posted, then the only applicable rules are those contained in Subchapter 13–200 and Sections 13–301 to 13–304.
d. Within the scope of the subject matters permitted on a particular bulletin board or other designated location, no academic or administrative unit will discriminate on the basis of the political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic viewpoint expressed on a sign.
e. This Section does not apply to any enclosed bulletin board or display case that is accessible only to authorized personnel for official University business.
School of Law Policy on Signage
The School of Law implements the University’s Institutional Rules on signage as follows:
(a) Viewpoint neutrality
The School of Law at all times shall maintain viewpoint neutrality in the implementation of this policy.
(b) Authorized locations for signage (in general)
The School of Law maintains a wide array of bulletin boards that are authorized locations for posting signs, subject to the more-specific guidance set forth below. Here is a map to these locations.
There are no other designated locations authorized for signage other than these bulletin boards (nor is there a long-standing tradition of posting signage in other fixed locations).
(c) Bulletin boards for notice of events distinguished from general purpose bulletin boards
Bulletin boards to be used exclusively for notice of upcoming events:
Some of the Law School’s bulletin boards are to be used solely for posting notices of upcoming events. This is true for each of the mobile (rolling) bulletin boards for the small, framed, wall-mounted bulletin boards, the locations of which are marked on this map. Each of these events-only bulletin boards have signs identifying them as such.
General-purpose bulletin boards:
The rest of the School’s bulletin boards (identified as “General Purpose” on this map) may be used for any postings that fall within the boundaries of speech on a university campus protected by the First Amendment.
(d) Who may use the bulletin boards
The bulletin boards are for use by current University of Texas at Austin students, organizations, and employees/officers. They are not open for use by others.
(e) Signage size
Signs posted on our bulletin boards may not be larger than 11”x17”. If a sign has more than one page (for example, signage that contains a multi-page list) must be stapled or otherwise bound in a stacked manner, such that its posting occupies those same height and width dimensions (i.e. no larger than 11”x17”).
(f) Duplicative signs not permitted on the same board
Where multiple signs are materially-similar (taking account not only of textual and graphic similarities but also similarities in the communicative message of a sign) only one such sign may be placed on each distinct bulletin board.
(g) Managing space on individual bulletin boards
The School at all times has the right to take steps to preserve the availability of space for new signs to be posted on bulletin boards. Such steps may include (but are not limited to): rearranging existing signage into a more condensed layout; removal of out-of-date signage; elevating the visibility of signage relating to the events and other activities of student organizations (or of the School itself); and elevating the visibility of signs that relate to events or other matters that entail deadlines.
(h) Time limits
Signs giving notice of upcoming events (or other matters involving particular dates) should be removed by the original poster within two business days following the date of such events (or deadlines). The School also may remove such signs once the event in question has occurred.
Signs that do not relate to events or other matters involving particular dates must include the date of posting on the front or back of the sign. Such signs may remain in place up to one month, after which time the School may remove them. If such a sign is posted without such a date marking, the Law School will exercise reasonable judgment to estimate the original posting date for purposes of this rule.
All signs will be removed from all bulletin boards following the last class day of each semester.
(i) Classroom whiteboards
Classroom whiteboards are intended primarily to support the teaching that occurs in those rooms, and secondarily to facilitate other authorized activities that occur in those rooms. As a result, faculty (and other authorized personnel) using those rooms always have the discretion to erase anything written on those boards. Subject to that discretion, however, students may use the margins of classroom whiteboards to write short messages advertising events taking place at the law school within the next seven days.
(j) Mobile easels
On the day of an event, 1-2 mobile easels (i.e., mobile fixtures for holding signage) may be checked out from the Communication Center (subject to availability) and used directly outside the event location so long as the location chosen does not disrupt the flow of traffic in the building or otherwise interfere with the activities of others. In such cases, a full-size poster may be displayed on the easel(s). The easels must be returned to the Communication Center when the event is over. No other use of easels is permitted without advance approval of the Student Affairs Office.
(k) Unauthorized removal, defacement, covering, or alteration of signs
It is a violation of the Institutional Rules of the University, and also the Law School Honor Code, for any unauthorized person to remove, deface, cover (in whole or in substantial part) or alter any sign posted in the Law School (regardless of whether the impacted sign is itself compliant with these rules).
(l) Violation of these rules
The School will remove signs posted in violation of these rules, and will take other actions as reasonably necessary in the circumstances (to include referrals to the University’s Office of the Dean of Students – Student Conduct and Academic Integrity).