Public Event Guest Speaker Policy

The Guest Speaker Policy is an institutional guide for anyone wishing to hold a public event with a guest speaker. 

The  sponsor of the guest speaker must determine prior to approval of the event that the guest speaker's presentation aligns with the College's Mission and meets the criteria spelled out in the speaker policy. The sponsor must receive approval for the guest speaker from their academic chair, dean or supervisor.

External Speaker and Public Event Policy


Saint Mary’s College of California is a Catholic institution of higher education in the Lasallian tradition where the liberal arts inform, enrich, and shape all areas of learning and where special importance is placed on fostering the intellectual skills, habits of mind, and activities which liberate persons to probe deeply the mystery of existence and live authentically in response to the truths they discover.

Our mission challenges us to pursue truth wherever it can be found, confident that between faith and reason there can be no fundamental conflict. While we place a high value on freedom of inquiry and discussion, and on the opportunity for intellectual stimulation, which can be the product of controversial content, with this freedom also comes fiduciary responsibility. The policy which follows outlines reasonable precautions for the scheduling of controversial events, which are designed to foster authentic dialogue and to protect the reputation of the alma mater we all cherish.


1. Definitions

a. “Public presenter” means a person neither attending Saint Mary’s College nor otherwise employed by the College who is invited to make a public address or give a public performance.

b. “Public” qualifies audiences composed in whole or part of persons neither attending nor employed by Saint Mary’s College.

c. “Public” qualifies presentations, including performances or addresses, open to public audiences.

d. The following guidelines do not apply to faculty members in the teaching of their classes. (Cf. Faculty Handbook 2.9.1.b.)

2. Considerations for Public Presentations

a. Public presentations must serve the mission of the College, as provided in the Preamble.

b. All applicable procedures for contracting and scheduling, as provided in the Faculty, Staff or Student Handbook, must be followed.

c. Public presentations must be ticketed, if seats are limited.

d. Significant access for SMC students must be assured.

e. If the presentation involves audience participation (e.g., a question period), SMC students must enjoy priority.

f. Sponsors’ announcements or advertisements will declare that public presenters’ views are not necessarily those of Saint Mary’s College or the sponsoring collegiate entity.

g. The Office of College Communications must approve announcements and advertisements.

h. Sponsors will take reasonable steps to ensure that debate or discussion attending public presentations is conducted in a fashion worthy of a community of learning.

i. It belongs to the exercise of that deliberate responsibility for the common good which is supposed in the Preamble that sponsors of foreseeably controversial presentations take counsel with the appropriate Dean or other supervisor, who may in turn seek the counsel of the Provost or President.

3. Conditions under which the President may preclude, rescind or modify invitations to public presenters:

In extraordinary circumstances, the President may deny a requested invitation, reschedule or relocate the presentation, or rescind the invitation if in the President’s judgment one of the following conditions apply:

a. The presentation is egregiously contrary to the College’s mission;

b. The presentation presents an immediate and unmanageable risk to the physical safety of members of the College community or their guests; or

c. The presenter(s) or his/her (their) agent’s refusal to agree to the College’s expressed policies or contracting terms presents an unacceptable risk to the College.

The President will explain to the Senate a decision to deny or withdraw an invitation.

Approved,  Board of Trustees on October 16, 2009