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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Code of Practice on Meetings and Public Gatherings on College Premises

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    Code of Practice on Meetings and Public Gatherings on College Premises

    Adopted by Governing Body in March 2021
    Review Date: Lent Term 2024

    This Code should be read alongside the following College Policies:

    Section 43 of the Education (No2) Act 1986, referring to freedom of speech in universities, polytechnics, and colleges, requires the College to issue and keep up to date a code of practice to be followed by all Fellows, staff and students of the College for the organisation of meetings and other events which are to be held on College premises, and for the conduct required of Fellows, staff and students of the College in connection with such meetings and events. This Code of Practice therefore applies to all Fellows, staff and students of the College, in respect of all College premises, whether indoors or outdoors.  The Code should be read in conjunction with the University Statement on Freedom of Speech.

    Fellows, staff and students of the College are reminded that alleged breaches of the general regulations for discipline or of the rules of behaviour applicable to current registered students or of any relevant conditions of employment may be brought before the relevant disciplinary authority.

    Authority and approval processes for meetings and events on College premises

    Any meeting or event on College premises should have at least one organiser who is responsible for the meeting or event and is a Fellow, member of staff or student of the College.  If a meeting or event is proposed by an external group or individual without such an organiser, it may only proceed on condition that an individual to whom this Code applies is identified or nominated as the organiser responsible for the meeting or event.

    Authority is required for meetings and events to be held on College premises, whether indoors or outdoors.  It is anticipated that, in the vast majority of cases, the authority in question will straightforwardly consider the request as part of normal business.  However, in the exceptional circumstances that the authority in question considers that the holding of the meeting or event might reasonably be refused because of the duty to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism or for some other valid reason as indicated in the College’s Statement on Freedom of Speech, there is a process of escalation to the College Officers. Only the College Officers may refuse permission in this way and on these bases.

    The request should be forwarded to the College Officers with a statement of the concerns. This referral should be made at least seven working days in advance of the proposed meeting or event. Members of the College who are concerned that a particular forthcoming meeting or event should be escalated to the College Officers may do so directly. The College Officers will, in consultation as necessary, determine whether the meeting or event can go ahead as originally planned, or in alternative premises, at a later date, or in a different format. Only in exceptional circumstances, when there are risks which cannot be mitigated or the event organiser refuses to meet any conditions imposed, will permission be withheld.  An organiser who is unhappy with the College Officers’ decision has the right of appeal to Council.

    Any decision by the College Officers (including one upheld on appeal) that a meeting or event should not take place, or may only take place subject to conditions, is binding and takes precedence over any other decision which may have been taken by any other body or officer in the College.

    Organisation and management of meetings and events on College premises

    Once approved, the organisers of meetings and events must comply with any conditions set by the College authority concerned for the organisation of the meeting or event. Such conditions may include the requirement that tickets should be issued, that an adequate number of stewards or security staff should be available, that the the Police should be consulted and their advice taken about the arrangements, and that the time and/or place of the meeting should be changed. The cost of meeting the conditions, and the responsibility for fulfilling them, rests with the organisers.

    Other legal considerations

    The attention of organisers of meetings and events is drawn to sections 11 and 14 of the Public Order Act 1986, concerning the conduct of processions and assemblies. Other legal requirements may also affect the conduct of meetings and events. These include incitement to violence, to breach of the peace, or to racial hatred.  Meetings and events, even if directed to lawful purposes, cease to be lawful if they cause serious public disorder or breach of the peace. Attention is also drawn to the provisions of the Licensing Acts. These Acts require the licensee to maintain good order on licensed premises, and give the licensee the power to expel persons from the premises if they consider it necessary.

    The application of this Code

    Any person who is in any doubt about the application of this Code to any meeting or event in the College must consult the Events Manager, who, in consultation with the Bursar, will determine whether the provisions of the Code apply.