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Academic Affairs

Outside Speaker Process

(revised 2/20/17)

At SUNY New Paltz, we all share the commitment to a community of learning characterized by thoughtful and vigorous discussion of the full range of questions that occupy our intellectual, civic, and social lives. We value the freedom of speech and academic expertise that contribute to such an environment. This type of engagement is best served when our community can benefit from the knowledge and experience of experts both internal and external to the community. Additionally, we understand that campus events must be managed with careful attention to issues of public safety and the wellbeing of community members and speakers.

Thus, the goals of the outside speaker process are multiple:

  • to assist organizers in hosting successful events;
  • to position campus leadership to proactively support events involving controversial speakers or topics;
  • to facilitate effective and appropriate promotion of events;
  • to ensure that external visitors have the best possible experience while on our campus;
  • to coordinate event scheduling such that events do not overly strain our ability to provide the necessary support; and,
  • to consider appropriate steps needed for the safety of all participants.

As such, the following process should be followed for events that involve non-SUNY New Paltz employees or students speaking on campus:

  • In Class/Meeting Speakers – If the intended speaker/participant is not a political/public figure, and is speaking only to one class or a meeting for faculty/staff in a single department, the primary organizer should notify the department chair/unit head as far prior to the event as possible. This may occur in the syllabus submission process within departments, via email, or through a list of speakers submitted.
  • Out of Class/Meeting Speakers - If the intended speaker/participant is not a political/public figure, and the person is expected to do more than speak to classes within a particular program or faculty/staff in a particular division (i.e. if other students, faculty/staff from multiple divisions, or the community are being invited), the organizer should notify the Dean of the involved school/college (or unit head of a non-academic division) prior to an invitation being made. The dean or unit head will then determine what additional units on campus should be notified. If the event is not associated with a particular school/college/division, the organizer should inform the Provost.
  • Political or Public Figures - If the intended speaker/participant is a political or public figure, regardless of whether the event involves a single class or a larger audience, the organizer must notify the Dean of the involved school/college (or Vice President of non-academic divisions) and the Provost before any invitation is made, to allow time for addressing potentially complex concerns related to logistics and safety. For the purpose of this process, political or public figures would include speakers holding political office, speakers who have held prominent political office in the past, candidates for political offices, and public figures of a stature that may require additional security and/or promotion.

If an organizer is unclear regarding which of the above conditions apply, he/she should contact the appropriate Dean or unit head.