Posting and Distributing Written Materials on Campus

Policy number18-02
Responsible officeStudent Engagement
ClassificationBoard of Trustees-delegated Policy
Category18. Student Affairs and Residence Life

Statement of policy

This Policy pertains to publishing and distributing non-political written materials on campus, such as posters and fliers.

Summary of contents/major changes

This policy has been updated and incorporates relevant portions of the 1988 Publicity Policy, the 1989 Political Activities Policy, the 1988 Racial and Ethnic Harmony Policy, the Common Area Academic and Non-Academic Space Event Policy, and facility-specific guidelines to create a single, uniform policy that addresses the posting and distribution of non-political written materials on campus.

  1. Purpose of Policy
    To ensure equal opportunity for posting and distributing non-commercial materials and promoting an informed campus community, while also protecting the limited locations for posting and the aesthetics of the University, the University places reasonable, content-neutral time, place, and manner requirements on when individuals or groups may post or distribute information on campus.  The University asks that all staff, students, faculty, or non-affiliated personnel who wish to post or distribute information on campus follow the Policy set forth herein.
  2. For Whom Policy will have most impact
    This policy will impact those individuals or groups who want to post or distribute information on campus.
  3. Key Definitions
    • 3.1. WMU-sponsored information: Information that University employees, while acting in their official capacities, have requested be distributed on campus. For example, information on Bronco Bash or the Benefits Expo in the Bernhard Center.
    • 3.2. Registered Student Organization (RSO): Officially recognized and registered organizations that create student groups around common interests.
    • 3.3. Content-neutral: Decisions regarding approving postings will be made without regard to the substantive information being communicated in the posting, so long as it does not constitute a “real threat” or is “obscene.”
    • 3.4. Time, Place, and Manner Restrictions: Restrictions the University places on posting and distributing information based upon physical or financial impact to the University.  Such restrictions shall be content neutral.
    • 3.5. Core Political Speech: Conduct or words that are directly intended to rally public support for a particular issue, position, or candidate relating to political change.
  4. Full Policy Details
    • 4.1. Generally:
      • 4.1.1. Notices may only be placed on University-provided exterior kiosks and bulletin boards. Unless specifically assigned to individual offices and departments, interior boards and all exterior kiosks are available for the convenience of university students, faculty, and staff.
      • 4.1.2. Due to limited space, only one flyer or poster per organization may be placed in any authorized location.
      • 4.1.3. The University, at its discretion, reserves the right to control conditions of time, place and manner under which posting will be allowed.
      • 4.1.4. The University recommends that all content conform to legal requirements and generally accepted standards of good taste.
    • 4.2. Posting and review criteria
      • 4.2.1. Because of limited space, individuals must register all materials with the Office of Student Engagement.  Registered material may only be placed in authorized posting areas.  If the material is not stamped for posting, it may be removed.  Materials posted over validly-placed flyers or posters may be removed.
        • Note that users must register materials for posting in Residence Halls with the Office of Residence Life, not the Office of Student Engagement. Such materials still must conform to the requirements set forth in this Policy.
      • 4.2.2. The University will not consider the content of any material for posting or distribution when reviewing it for use on campus.
      • 4.2.3. The person or organization submitting materials for review will be responsible for any actions or situations that arise from posting or distributing the material.  By posting materials, such persons or organizations agree to indemnify and hold harmless Western Michigan University from any and all liability that may arise as a result of any posting. This indemnity and harmlessness pertains to all damages, costs, attorney fees and discovery costs that might result from any related legal action. All materials must be removed no later than seven days after a related event has ended.  If there is no related event, all materials must be removed within fourteen days of posting.
    • 4.3. Rules relating to specific communication types
      • 4.3.1. Electronic Distribution: See
      • 4.3.2. Social Media Posting: See
      • 4.3.3. Placing materials on vehicle windshields: Materials may not be placed on vehicle windshields because campus maintenance costs are associated with cleaning up discarded windshield materials.
      • 4.3.4. Distributing written materials:  Advance review is not required for distributing written materials.  Individuals distributing materials must not touch, strike or physically impede the progress of passersby, except for incidental or accidental contact or contact initiated by a passerby, nor shall they force passersby to accept distributed materials.
      • 4.3.5. Chalking:
        • Chalking is permitted only on sidewalks of WMU grounds that are exposed to weather and not covered by a roof or overhang.
        • Only water soluble, environmentally friendly, non-toxic stick chalk may be used to mark sidewalks.  The use of markers, paints, oil-based products, spray chalk, or other types of markers or liquids, is prohibited.
        • If the chalking is associated with a specific individual or organization, the individual or organization’s name must appear within each chalk message.  Failure to identify may result in the message being removed without notice.
        • Chalking must be at least 20 feet from entrances and exits of all buildings to protect interior carpet.
        • Chalking is prohibited on all other surfaces.
    • 4.4. RSOs
      • 4.4.1. All RSO materials must comply with this Policy.
      • 4.4.2. Programs or projects sponsored by funds from the Western Student Association Allocation Committee requires the appropriate stamp and acknowledgment of funding.
    • 4.5. Non-WMU-affiliated groups
      Because of costs associated with maintaining University aesthetics, non-WMU-affiliated groups may only post materials on outside kiosks.  These groups should contact the Office of Student Engagement prior to such posting as described herein.
    • 4.6. Limitations
      • 4.6.1. In order to maintain the natural beauty of the campus and to preserve the quality of the buildings, trees and shrubs, there shall be no posting of notices on any trees, walls, windows, doors, wires, fire hydrants, parking meters, trash cans, public signs, sculptures, exteriors of buildings, etc.  Any posting in these areas will be removed.
      • 4.6.2. You may not distribute literature inside any athletic stadium, the fieldhouse, or adjacent parking lots.
      • 4.6.3. You may not distribute materials in academic facilities, including classrooms.
      • 4.6.4. You may not distribute materials in residence halls.
      • 4.6.5. Materials may not be used in a manner that interferes with or disrupts WMU’s educational mission or with free and unimpeded flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
      • 4.6.6. No flyer or poster may be used or displayed in a way that damages or defaces WMU property or the property of any other person.
      • 4.6.7. Incitement. No person shall make, distribute, or display on the campus any statements directed to inciting or producing imminent violations of local, state or federal law or ordinance under circumstances such that the statements are likely to actually and imminently incite or produce violations of law or ordinance.
      • 4.6.8. Do not mark, destroy, remove, or post-over materials posted by other members of the community.
      • 4.6.9. Individuals and organizations may not in any way represent that their activities, including flyers and posters, are endorsed, sponsored or sanctioned by WMU without the express written consent of the Vice President for Student Affairs.
    • 4.7. Obscene Materials—See WMU Obscene Materials Policy
    • 4.8. Appeals   A person or group that disagrees with a flyer/poster decision to deny may appeal the decision to the Vice President for Student Affairs by providing written notice on or before the third business day when WMU is in session after the date the person or group is notified of the decision being appealed.
      • 4.8.1. The notice of appeal must contain the person or group’s name and address, a brief description of the decision being appealed, the person or group’s reason for appealing, and the date the person or group received notification of the decision being appealed.
      • 4.8.2. When timely notice of appeal is received, the appealing party shall have an opportunity to meet with the Vice President for Student Affairs, or his/her representative, prior to receiving a decision on the appeal. The appealing party shall be notified of the date and time of the meeting at least one business day in advance.
      • 4.8.3. The University will consider appeals promptly and issue a decision within two business days from the meeting with the appealing party.
    • 4.9. Communication plan
      This Policy will be communicated to the University at-large through posting on the University’s Policies webpage and through standard departmental channels.
    • 4.10. Exceptions
      • Individuals who have been invited by a professor to speak in an academic setting may distribute materials under those circumstances.
      • Senior University Administration may make exceptions to posting and distribution limitations based on legitimate, content-neutral, educational interests.
  5. Accountability
    • 5.1. Failure to conform to this Policy could result in your materials being removed without notice or recourse.  Repeated violations could result in loss of posting privileges and, if applicable, loss of RSO status.
    • 5.2. The individual or organization who posts or distributes materials will be financially responsible for property damage or extra labor costs required for cleaning up the materials.
    • 5.3. Additional consequences for non-compliance include possible individual disciplinary action for failure to follow applicable University policies and requirements.
  6. Related Procedures and Guidelines
  7. Additional Information
    • 7.1. The University’s Policy on Political Activities addresses posting and distributing materials containing core political speech.
    • 7.2. As part of its duties to maintain the cleanliness of campus, WMU Landscape Services removes all posted materials periodically and at the end of each semester.
  8. FAQs
    • 8.1. What is the benefit of having my materials approved by the University prior to posting?
      Answer:  You can be sure that your materials will not be removed because they have been verified as conforming to this Policy and related facility-specific guidelines.  You will also generate good will with the offices involved should a dispute or issue arise.
    • 8.2. By placing these rules on posting, isn’t the University violating my freedom of speech?
      Answer:  No.  The University may place time, manner, and space restrictions on speech so long as those restrictions are content-neutral.  Because this Policy addresses non-political speech, the University’s restrictions must be rationally related to the purposes it gives for the restrictions.  The University’s purpose for placing the restrictions here in are to preserve the beauty of campus, to allow equal access to authorized posting places, and to limit labor costs involved with cleaning up materials placed in non-authorized places or distributed in a non-authorized manner.
    • 8.3. Whom do I contact about posting or distributing materials on campus?
      Answer:  Office of Student Engagement, 1903 W. Michigan Ave., 223 Bernhard Center, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5356, (269) 387-2115
    • 8.4. What happens if I do not follow this Policy or the related facility guidelines?
      Answer: See Section 5 of this Policy.

Related Policies

  • Political Activities Policy (available in hard copy)
  • Obscenity Policy (available in hard copy)


  • U.S. Const., Amend. 1
  • MI Const. Art. I, § 5
  • MCL § 752.361, et seq.




Effective date of current versionOctober 1, 2008
Date first adoptedJune 1, 1976
Revision history
Tuesday, June 1, 1976 - 21:16 Publicity Policy approved by Dean of Students.

Friday, October 1, 1982 - 21:17 Publicity Policy was revised in October 1982 and July 1988. This Policy and Procedure on Posting and Distributing Written Materials on Campus will rescind and replace the Publicity Policy. It adopts portions of the Obscene Materials Policy. Remove from list of BOT policies and redesignate as a Board-delegated Policy.
Proposed date of next reviewOctober 1, 2021


Certified by

Christopher Sligh, Office of Student Engagement

At the direction of

Diane K. Anderson, Vice President of Student Affairs