The University of Virginia has issued new rules that would keep torch-wielding extremists away from the Lawn or Rotunda where they marched on August 11th.
Putting limits on gatherings at public universities can be tricky since the First Amendment does protect the right to assemble and speak, but schools may limit the place, time and manner in which speeches are given and protests occur.
Groups not affiliated with the university must now apply for permission to gather at least seven days in advance, and administrators have identified ten areas where public gatherings may occur. None involve UVA’s signature building, the Rotunda, or its historic Lawn.
The policy revisions were modeled after those imposed by the University of Maryland – rules that were upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals. These changes do not put an end to the controversy caused by neo-Nazis who paraded across the lawn last summer. Students and faculty at the law school are still hoping to see criminal charges against them for breaking a state law against carrying burning objects that put people in fear for their safety.