St. Mary’s College of Maryland has a rich history as an academic institution that promotes a lifelong
quest for learning. This is a place where people are engaged in an ongoing dialogue that values
differences and the unique contributions of others’ talents, backgrounds, customs, and worldviews.
Critical to achieving these objectives is exposure to diversity of thought through the free and open
exchange of ideas. As such, the College commits to the privilege of any recognized College organization,
unit, or group to sponsor an external speaker on campus to enrich the educational process through civil
discourse, discussion, and debate. Invitation and/or sponsorship of a speaker, however, does not imply the
College’s agreement with, endorsement of, or support for the ideologies presented nor does it preclude
opposing perspectives from discussion.
To adequately plan outreach, logistics, and other details to maximize a healthy exchange of views in a
safe and supportive environment, the College requires advance notice of external speakers. To that end,
the following guidelines are designed to (1) enable adequate institutional preparation for events that
involve external speakers and (2) ensure the College anticipates and plans for any risks involved,
including responsibilities under the law, public safety, and alignment with College policies.
Inviting an External Speaker
For the purpose of these guidelines, an invited speaker is a person or group invited by, or on behalf of,
recognized College groups or organizations or by College academic or administrative units and their
administrators, to give a speech, lecture, musical or artistic performance, or other live presentation at a
College facility. The guidelines do not apply to speakers invited by faculty or College employees who
engage external speakers for classroom presentations in credit- or non-credit- bearing College courses.
Prior to officially inviting an external speaker to campus, the sponsoring College organization, unit, or
group must submit its intent through the online External Speaker Intent Form at least 45 days before the
desired date of the event. The form must be submitted to either the Office of the Provost (required for
invitations for faculty and staff) or to the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs (for invitations
made by students). The Office of the Provost and/or the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
reserves the right to request additional information to thoroughly assess potential risk to the campus,
community safety, and alignment with the College’s mission and core values.
The External Speaker Intent Form will then be forwarded by the Office of the Provost or the Office of the
Vice President for Student Affairs to the Office of the Vice President for Institutional Advancement for
review to ensure timely scheduling of facilities and adequate institutional preparation for the event.
The sponsoring College organization, unit, or group should expect to work with the appropriate offices to
ensure that the following issues are addressed:
- Significant public safety risk such that the safety of students, faculty, staff, and members of the community is put in danger
- Serious concern that the sponsorship of the speaker will result in unlawful activity
- Significant risk of major disruption to the operation of the College’s activities
- Risk of substantial damage to College property
- Serious risk that the costs associated with making the event safe (e.g., facilities management, security) are likely to result in significant financial loss for the College
Freedom of speech and expression are at the core of academia. The open exchange of ideas intrinsically
involves the free expression of viewpoints other than those of the external speaker. The College welcomes
dissenting ideas within all public forums of learning. However, the expression of dissenting ideas must
not prevent or interfere with the right of others to consume the ideas of the invited speaker or those
offering dissenting views. The College, therefore, reserves the right to constrain the time and place of
those espousing dissenting ideas, as necessary, to facilitate an open exchange.
The following are intended as reminders to those officially inviting external speakers to campus.
External speakers are expected to act in accordance with the law and refrain from breaching the lawful
rights of others. During the course of the event in which he or she participates, no speaker shall:
- Act in violation of the law
- Incite hatred or violence
- Discriminate against or harass any person or group on the grounds of their sex, gender identity, race, nationality or state of origin, ethnicity, disability, religion and belief, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, etc.
- Raise or gather funds for an external organization or cause without express written permission from the Office of the Provost or the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
During the course of the event, all speakers shall:
- Comply with the College’s External Speaker Guidelines
- Present ideas and opinions, in particular those that may be contentious or potentially offensive, inthe spirit of academic debate, being open to question
- Follow the College’s policies and procedures regarding public safety
The External Speaker Intent Form can be found at The Event Submission Form »